Minnesota Hit-and-Run Accidents and Laws

Minnesota Hit-and-Run Accidents and Laws

Why you should NEVER flee the scene of an accident

A hit-and-run is a serious charge in Minnesota. Fortunately, if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run accident, Minnesota’s no-fault insurance system makes it easier to recover damages.
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If you’ve ever bumped into a vehicle in a crowded parking lot and sped off without leaving a note, you’re not alone.

If you’ve ever walked up to your parked car and found a large scratch that wasn’t there when you parked it, you’re not alone.

A “hit-and-run” is when a person is involved in a car accident and flees the scene without identifying themselves or rendering aid to anyone who needs assistance. In this article, we’ll answer some common questions about hit-and-run accidents in Minnesota.

How common are hit-and-run accidents?

Hit-and-runs are a serious problem—not only in Minnesota but across the United States.

More than 1 hit-and-run crash happens every minute in the U.S., according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

In Minnesota, hit-and-run crashes make up roughly 11% of all car accidents. In 2019 alone, there were 8,374 hit-and-run crashes in the North Star State (up slightly from 2018).

Real Life Example:Jordan Jewell, a 26-year-old Arden Hills tow truck driver, was charged in connection to a deadly hit-and-run crash in South Minneapolis. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

According to Minneapolis police, the accident occurred near Bloomington Avenue and East Lake Street. Although Jordan’s tow truck was not at the scene when the officers arrived, video surveillance showed a red tow truck striking the victim. The video surveillance also showed the red tow truck returning to the scene several minutes later before driving off.

Investigators determined that the tow truck was from Cedar Towing and were able to identify the driver after contacting the company.

What do I need to do to avoid a hit-and-run charge?

There are several steps you’re required to take following an accident in Minnesota. Failing to take these steps may result in a criminal hit-and-run charge.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Stop your vehicle at the scene of the accident (or as close to the scene as possible),
  2. Provide your name, address or e-mail address, and registration plate number to any person involved in the crash,
  3. Render reasonable assistance to anyone injured, and
  4. Report the accident to the local police (if someone suffered an injury or died).

But what happens if you hit an unoccupied vehicle?

If you collide with an unoccupied vehicle and cause damage, you must:

  1. Stop your vehicle at the scene of the accident, and
  2. Locate the owner of the vehicle or leave a written note providing your name and contact information.

If you’re involved in a collision that damages a fixture (such as a fence or building), you must:

  1. Stop your vehicle at the scene of the accident, and
  2. Locate the owner of the property or report the accident to local law enforcement within 10 days.

What are the penalties for a hit and run?

The penalty for committing a hit-and-run violation depends on 2 things: (1) whether or not you caused the accident, and (2) the nature of the damage.

Penalties for a hit-and-run when someone else caused the collision
Nature of the damage Penalty
Property damage Imprisonment up to 90 days and/or a fine of up to $1,000
Bodily harm Imprisonment up to 1 year and/or a fine of up to $3,000
Great bodily harm (an injury that creates a high probability of death) Imprisonment up to 2 years and/or a fine of up to $4,000
Death Imprisonment up to 3 years and/or a fine of up to $5,000
Source: Minnesota Statutes Section 169.09
Penalties for a hit-and-run when YOU caused the collision
Nature of the damage Penalty
Property damage Imprisonment up to 90 days and/or a fine of up to $1,000
Bodily harm Imprisonment up to 1 year and/or a fine of up to $3,000
Substantial bodily harm (temporary but substantial impairment or disfigurement) Imprisonment up to 3 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000
Great bodily harm (an injury which creates a high probability of death) Imprisonment up to 5 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000
Death Imprisonment up to 15 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000
Source: Minnesota Statutes Section 609.2113

In addition to the penalties outlined above, your driver’s license can (and almost certainly will) be suspended for a period of time if you’re found guilty of a hit-and-run, regardless of whether you caused the accident or whether it resulted in significant damage.

What should I do if I fled the scene of an accident?

Fleeing the scene of an accident is never a good idea. Nevertheless, mistakes happen and good people sometimes make bad decisions. There are a number of reasons why you might flee the scene of an accident. For example:

  • You might panic
  • You might be afraid to confront the victim
  • You might be intoxicated
  • You might be uninsured
  • You might not realize that you hit something until you get home

A number of scientific studies have attempted to identify the factors that contribute to hit-and-run accidents. These studies have drawn some interesting conclusions, including:

  • The greater the visibility of a potential crash (more witnesses, better lighting conditions, etc.), the less likely a hit-and-run will occur.
  • The age of the pedestrian factors into a driver’s decision to flee. Pedestrians under the age of 6 and over the age of 80 are the least likely to be victims of hit-and-run accidents. What’s more, women are less likely to be victims of hit-and-run accidents than men.
  • Drivers in hit-and-run fatalities are more likely to be young males and have a history of DUI charges or license suspensions.
  • Drivers in hit-and-run accidents tend to drive older model cars.

If you flee the scene of an accident, you should call the nearest police station as soon as possible and provide notice of the accident, along with your contact information. Doing so might not save you from a hit-and-run conviction, but it’s the right thing to do and it may result in you receiving a lesser sentence than if you’re caught.

What should I do if I’m the victim of a hit-and-run accident?

If you’re hurt in a hit-and-run accident, your first reaction may be to chase after the fleeing driver. This is always a bad idea. Chasing a fleeing driver puts you and everyone else on the road in danger.

Instead, follow these steps:

  1. Move your vehicle to a safe spot off the road, if you were hit while driving.
  2. Call the police and provide them with any information you have about the hit-and-run vehicle (make, model, color, license plate, distinguishing features, physical description of the driver, etc.).
  3. File a claim with your insurance company.

Minnesota is a no-fault insurance state. This means that, among other things, all drivers are required to carry 2 types of insurance that will provide you with financial compensation if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run accident:

  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) provides basic economic loss benefits (such as medical expenses) if you’re injured in an accident. These costs are paid no matter who is at fault for the accident. What’s more, PIP will typically provide coverage if you’re a pedestrian or bicyclist hit by a driver who flees.
  • Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage pays for your medical expenses after you have exhausted your PIP benefits and when the other driver is held responsible for the accident or cannot be located.

Hit-and-run accidents can be incredibly frustrating, but you don’t have to handle the aftermath alone. If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run accident, use our free online directory to contact a personal injury attorney in your area today. Most initial consultations are free.

 

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