Massachusetts Hit & Run Laws
A hit-and-run can make a car accident claim in Boston even more complicated. You may not know the identity of the at-fault party. This could mean no opportunity to hold someone else responsible for your injuries and damages. Luckily, Massachusetts’ no-fault law means you can file a claim with your own car insurance provider to receive financial benefits regardless of fault. Follow the state’s hit-and-run reporting laws to improve your odds of obtaining compensation. Speak with a Boston personal injury attorney to discuss your case.
What Is Considered a Hit-and-Run in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts’ hit-and-run law (General Law Part I, Title XIV, Chapter 90, Section 24) states that if a driver knowingly gets into an accident that causes injuries or property damages without stopping and giving the other driver his or her name, address, and vehicle registration number, that driver has committed the crime of hit-and-run. These are the legal requirements every driver has after getting into a harmful car accident in Massachusetts: to stop and exchange information.
How Does a Hit-and-Run Happen?
If a driver struck you or your vehicle and fled the scene without stopping, you are the victim of a hit-and-run. The same is true if the driver initially stopped but then left the scene before fulfilling his or her legal obligations. Giving a false name, for example, could constitute a hit-and-run. As soon as you realize you have been the victim of a hit-and-run accident, contact the police. The police can help you document your accident and initiate the claims process so you can pursue financial recovery as soon as possible.
How Long Do You Have to Report a Hit-and-Run in Massachusetts?
Always report a hit-and-run accident immediately in Massachusetts. Prompt reporting is critical if you want the police to be able to gather evidence from the scene of the crash that could resolve your case. If you wait to report the accident, key evidence might have already disappeared or been compromised. Prompt reporting can optimize the police officer’s odds of finding the culprit that caused your car accident. This could allow you to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver for the recovery of the full amount of your damages.
While you should call the police and report a hit-and-run as soon as you can to protect your rights, you lawfully have five days from the date of the collision to report a crash to the authorities in Massachusetts. Every driver has five days maximum from the date of a car accident to report it if it caused injuries, deaths or more than $1,000 of collective property damage. To officially report an accident, you must fill out and submit the Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report Form to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. You must also send a copy of the form to the police if you did not call 911 from the scene.
Do not wait to call the police or report a hit-and-run. Your insurance company may use reporting delays as a reason to deny your damage claim. Obtain the number associated with your official police report to give to your insurance company. Keep a copy of your accident form for the insurance provider as well. Official crash reports and hit-and-run accident documentation can help you receive fair compensation through a no-fault first-party insurance claim.
What Is the Penalty for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Massachusetts?
If someone leaves the scene of a damaging car accident in Massachusetts without stopping, checking for injuries or exchanging information, that person could face criminal charges and severe penalties. The consequences of a hit-and-run conviction include fines, jail time and driver’s license suspension.
If the crash caused property damage only, the at-fault driver could face a fine of up to $200 and/or up to two years in jail, plus six months of driver’s license suspension. If the crash caused injuries or deaths, the hit-and-run driver will receive a minimum of six months in jail (up to two years), a fine of up to $1,000 and one year of license suspension. The driver will also be civilly liable for victims’ damages if caught.