Leaving The Scene Of An Accident in PA

What is “leaving the scene”?

Leaving the scene of an accident, also known as hit and run, refers to the act of a person involved in a traffic collision departing from the scene without stopping to identify themselves, provide assistance to the injured parties, or exchange information with the other parties involved.

This can include leaving the scene on foot or in a vehicle. The charges of hit and run accidents in Pennsylvania are a serious matter and should be treated as such. If you have been accused of leaving the scene of an accident, you may be at risk of facing jail time, probation, fines, payment of restitution to the other party (even if you were not at fault for the accident), and a suspension of your license.

This is why it’s so important to speak to an experienced and trusted traffic lawyer who can help you understand the appropriate steps to resolve the matter and defend your rights.

Overview of Hit and Run Law in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania law states that anyone involved in an automobile accident resulting in property damage, personal injury, or death, must immediately stop.

Instead of leaving the scene of the accident, one should provide identification, insurance information, and assist anyone who may be hurt in the motor vehicle accident. One should remain on the accident scene until law enforcement arrives. Under Pennsylvania law, the duty to stop occurs when someone is “involved” in a car accident.

The Extension of Hit and Run Penalties in PA

Our courts have extended this to cases where the person who left the scene started the chain of events that caused an auto accident; whether or not there was physical contact between vehicles involved. Therefore, even if you are not considered to be “at fault” for the accident, you could still face criminal consequences.

Not stopping to provide reasonable assistance as outlined above can turn even a minor incident into a major issue that can have life-altering consequences.

8 Steps to Follow if You Are at the Scene of an Accident

At the scene of an accident, it’s natural to feel scared, confused and emotional. This can make it hard to remember everything you should do to protect your rights in this situation.

Here are eight important steps you should remember when dealing with an automobile accident:

  1. Stop immediately and stay at the scene until a police officer arrives.
  2. Check on all drivers and passengers and call 911 if necessary.
  3. Call the police. Even if it is just a “fender bender,” it is important to always contact the police and to stay at the scene until they have taken their report.
  4. Exchange information with the other vehicle(s) involved.
  5. Talk to witnesses. Obtain their contact information if possible.
  6. Take pictures of damages and injuries.
  7. Inform your insurance company.
  8. Consider hiring a traffic attorney to ensure all appropriate expenses are covered.

Get Help From Experienced Accident Lawyers fro Hit & Run in PA – Free Phone Consultation

At Colgan & Associates, our experienced traffic lawyers are here to serve you. We understand Pennsylvania’s traffic law and can help ensure your rights are fully represented. Especially for accidents resulting in serious injuries or property damages, don’t take the chance of incurring hefty fines, penalties or jail time. 

Talk with an experienced lawyer who can advise of your best options to resolve your matter quickly and correctly. Our law firm has offices in Mechanicsburg, York and Lancaster.

Request a Free Hit and Run Consultation Here

Frequently Asked Questions About Hit and Run Charges

Is leaving the scene of an accident a felony in Pennsylvania?

The answer to this question can depend upon several factors. If no one is injured, the hit and run is a third-degree misdemeanour. If there is a physical injury, the charge is a first-degree misdemeanour. If, however, someone is seriously injured, the crime becomes a felony of the third degree.

What happens when you leave the scene of an accident in PA? 

Remember, leaving the accident scene in PA is a punishable crime. Depending upon the severity of the accident, and your involvement, you can face hefty fines and possibly even jail time.

How long can you go to jail for leaving the traffic accident scene in PA? 

A hit and run is a summary offence. It happens when a driver leaves the scene of an accident involving damage to another vehicle that is unoccupied without providing information. The driver should make reasonable effort to contact the owner of the damaged property. If you are involved in an accident and convicted of such a crime, you will receive a fine of $300, and/or a jail sentence of up to 90 days. For Felonies of the third degree involving serious bodily injury, the mandatory minimum jail penalty is 90 days. If death results, the mandatory minimum penalty is three years in jail.

How long after a hit and run accident can you be charged?

If the violation is a summary offence, the police have 30 days to file the charge after they discover the identity of the driver or complete their investigation, whichever takes longer. For felony leaving the scene, there is no time limit to charge someone. For misdemeanor hit and run offenses, the police have up to two years to bring charges.

How to get out of a leaving the scene of an accident charge?

The best way to avoid a hit and run charge is to remain at the scene of the accident long enough to provide basic information. Be diligent about exchanging or leaving all proper information for the other party to contact you or your car insurance company. Even if you fail to do this at the moment, you can and should report the accident within 24 hours to your local police. Doing so may help you avoid hit and run charges. 

If you have been charged with a hit and run crime, finding an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer is the next best thing to do. Speak with someone who will hear the details of your case and provide advice for what you should do next. Owning up to the matter and taking steps to rectify it will always be your next best course of action. 


All of the information on the Colgan & Associates, LLC web site is for informational purposes only. Merely visiting our websites does not create an attorney-clent relationship with the law offices of Colgan & Associates, LLC. Nothing placed upon this website is intended to be relied upon as legal advice. Our office accepts e-mails from parties that visit this website, but the sending of such e-mails does not create an attorney-client relationship and therefore these communications cannot be treated as privileged or confidential.

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611 Gettysburg Pike, Suite 201
MechanicsburgPA 17055

Phone: (717) 502-5000