Hit-and-run accidents have become a major concern in and around Baton Rouge, particularly on the busy interstate I-10.
Drivers on this highway are often speeding and distracted, leading to a high number of collisions. In many cases, drivers involved in accidents flee the scene, leaving victims without the necessary information to pursue legal action or obtain insurance compensation. These incidents not only cause physical harm but can also lead to emotional and financial strain for those affected. As a result, it is crucial to raise awareness about the importance of staying at the scene of an accident and the legal consequences of failing to do so.
If you are involved in an accident as a driver, it’s important that your next steps do not make your situation any worse.
In states like Louisiana, there are certain steps drivers are required to take after an accident — and fleeing the scene is actually considered a crime (even if you are the accident victim!).
For more on Louisiana hit-and-run laws from our experienced car accident lawyers at Pierce & Shows, keep reading.
What are Louisiana’s hit-and-run laws?
According to Louisiana law, after an accident, drivers must:
- Stop and offer help to those in need,
- Call for emergency care,
- Exchange contact information,
- Move their vehicle out of the way if they can (especially on busy roads and highways like I-10), and
- Call the police to report the accident.
If you are negligent towards any of the steps listed above, it can lead to serious trouble.
If you attempt to flee the scene after an accident, things will worsen even if you are the accident victim. This is because laws across the country frown at people fleeing from an accident scene. In Louisiana, for instance, it is a criminal offense, especially if any of the other parties is seriously injured or killed.
If you find yourself in such a situation, the first thing to do is speak to a hit-and-run defense attorney.
(And if you believe you are about to be the victim of a hit-and-run, do your best to get out of your car and take a picture of the other car/driver before they drive away!)
However, there are some penalties you should expect. In Louisiana, the penalty for a person involved in a hit and run depends on the factors surrounding the crime. The person can either be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the alleged facts.
Louisiana Misdemeanor Hit-and-Run
Louisiana law states that:
Whoever commits the crime of hit-and-run driving where there is no death or serious bodily injury shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.
If nobody dies during the accident or has no serious bodily injury, the maximum punishment should be a fine of not more than $500, jail time of not less than ten days, or more than six months.
If there is proof that the defendant consumed alcohol or drugs, which led to the accident, the defendant can get a combination of fine and jail time.
Felony Hit-and-Run Accidents in Louisiana
In cases where a party involved in the accident is either dead or there is serious bodily injury, there may be a felony charge.
Once the persecutor can prove that the driver could have stopped the accident from happening, the court can fine the defendant up to $5000, sentence them to imprisonment with or without hard labor for not more than ten years, or both. The exact details of the punishment are determined by the accident’s situation, the driver’s state of mind, and the extent of the injury.
Here’s what Louisiana law says:
Whoever commits the crime of hit-and-run driving where all of the following conditions are met shall be imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not less than five years nor more than twenty years:
(a) Death or serious bodily injury is a direct result of the accident.
(b) The driver knew or must have known that the vehicle he was operating was involved in an accident or that his operation of the vehicle was the direct cause of an accident.
(c) The driver had been previously convicted of any of the following:
- DWI, on two or more occasions within ten years of this offense,
- vehicular homicide,
- vehicular negligent injuring, or
- first-degree vehicular negligent injury.
Contact Pierce & Shows Today
If you have been in an accident — and particularly a hit-and-run — in Baton Rouge, the first thing you need to do is to contact a car accident attorney. You might be tempted to handle the case yourself, but it can often be more difficult than you think. Whether you were hit downtown, on I-10, or even outside the city, our attorneys at Pierce & Shows have years of experience handling car accident cases and we are happy to put our experience to work for you. Contact us today to schedule your first appointment.