Can Passengers Face Hit and Run Charges? | Studinski Law, LLC
March 16, 2021

Can a Passenger Be Charged With a Hit and Run?

Generally speaking, only the driver of a vehicle can be charged with a hit and run. However, there are certain circumstances in which a passenger may face legal consequences for leaving the scene of an accident. For example, if the passenger successfully persuaded the driver to flee the accident scene, or took the wheel and drove away from the crash site, the passenger may bear some liability.

If you or someone you love was involved in a hit and run accident in Wisconsin, the experienced car accident attorneys at Studinski Law, LLC may be able to help. We have the knowledge, skill, and resources necessary to investigate the details surrounding your case and we will do whatever we can to uncover all parties that may be responsible for your injuries.

What Are the Penalties for a Hit and Run in Wisconsin?

Drivers in Wisconsin are required by law to stop their vehicles after being involved in an accident with an occupied vehicle, unattended vehicle, or person. If a driver flees an accident scene without offering help or exchanging information, he or she can be charged with a criminal offense.

If the hit and run accident caused only minor or moderate injuries, the at-fault driver who fled may face a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and up to 9 months in jail. If the crash resulted in catastrophic injuries, however, the at-fault driver may be charged with a felony, which is punishable by up to a $50,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison. If the hit and run led to someone’s death, the at-fault driver may face a higher-level felony and up to a $100,000 fine and up to 25 years in prison.

Can I Recover Damages After a Hit and Run Accident?

If you’ve suffered injuries in a hit and run accident, contact the police immediately. Emergency responders will take steps to find the other driver involved in your crash and ensure you get the urgent medical care you need for your injuries. It is then crucial to speak with a car accident attorney as quickly as possible. Your first priority should be to obtain any medical care you may need, and then work with your attorney to try to find the driver and owner of the vehicle that injured you. A seasoned car accident lawyer will know how to work with the police to find out who hit you. Once the potentially at-fault driver is identified, your attorney can move forward with your personal injury case.

An experienced car accident lawyer is well-versed in state law and settlement negotiations. An attorney will assess the facts in your case, calculate the value of your current and future damages, and pursue compensation on your behalf. A lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company and take your claim to court, if necessary.

Depending on the details of your case, you may be able to seek compensation for:

  • Medical costs
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish
  • Disfigurement
  • Disability
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of companionship

Do I Need To File a Police Report After a Hit and Run Accident?

Following a collision, it is always important to contact the police and file a police report, even if the other driver flees the scene of the accident. You should do this for a number of reasons, including:

  • Law enforcement may locate the hit-and-run driver, especially if a witness was able to obtain the fleeing vehicle’s license plate, model, and other details.
  • A police report documents the fact that an accident occurred, and that the other driver fled the scene.
  • If the other driver is located, a police report will be needed to file a claim with the insurance company.
  • You’ll need a copy of the police report to file a claim with your own insurance company, even if it is only for your vehicle repair costs under collision coverage.

Why Do Drivers Flee the Scene of a Car Accident?

Even in the face of severe consequences for leaving the scene of an accident, hit and runs continue to be far too common. Common reasons why drivers choose to flee accident scenes include:

  • The driver was operating the vehicle without a valid driver’s license, or with a suspended license
  • The driver was operating an employer’s vehicle
  • The driver has an outstanding warrant for arrest
  • The driver hopes to evade potential insurance rate increases
  • The driver is worried about his or her driving record and the subsequent consequences of a ticket
  • The driver may be operating a stolen vehicle or driving without permission
  • The driver was intoxicated and wants to avoid DUI charges

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Wisconsin

The experienced car accident attorneys at Studinski Law, LLC understand the fear and frustration that accompany hit and run accidents. We are committed to doing everything possible to help locate the driver who fled the scene and hold those responsible for your injuries accountable for their wrong-doing.

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If you’ve been hurt in a hit and run accident, please call (715) 343-2850 today for a free case review. Our car accident lawyers welcome clients from Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point, Plover, Marshfield, Wausau, and all of Wisconsin.

Jason Studinski Injury Attorney
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