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Traffic Accident: Hit and Run: Who is at Fault?

If you are involved in a traffic accident and do not provide your information to the other driver, then you are in violation of the vehicle code, "Hit and run" even if the accident is not your fault.

Determining who is at fault at the scene of an accident is a matter of figuring out which person was careless, negligent or disobeyed a common traffic law.

Some situations are obvious making it easy to determine who is at fault while other situations need more information to determine if there was any negligence or thoughtless carelessness.

Each state has a written rulebook of traffic laws that each person who passes a driver’s test must learn, understand and know.

Your duty when involved in a traffic collision 

If you are involved in a traffic collision involving another car, person (pedestrian) or someones property it is your duty to stop and provide your information such as your name, driver’s license number, car license number, insurance information and contact information.  Note: (Do not give anyone, except your insurance company, your home address).

Definition of hit and run 

If you knowingly get into a traffic collision, you intentionally flee the scene without stopping, and complying with the law by providing your information, even if it is NOT your fault then it is a violation of the vehicle code, “hit and run”.  

Common scenarios

Scenario 1:  You park your car at the local shopping store parking lot, perhaps parked correctly, perhaps not, and you took up two parking spaces or you are slightly off and over the line into another parking space and then you leave to go inside and shop.  An hour later, you return to your car and see a large dent along the side of your car.  There is a note on your window from a witness, saying that they saw a car try to pull in to park next to you and hit your car and then drove away.  The witness leaves their name, contact information and license plate number of the car that hit you.  Who is at fault?  What do you do now?

Answer:  A shopping center or mall parking lot is private property open for public parking.  You can park in two parking spaces, one and a half parking spaces or parked sideways if you like, it does not matter, and you are in no violation of any vehicle code.

The car that hit your car and drove off is guilty of “Hit and run” and the person who left the note is your witness.  You may file a Police report for a hit and run accident.

Scenario 2: You are involved in a traffic collision and it is NOT your fault.  For whatever reason, you have no insurance, no driver’s license or you think you do not have to stop because it was your fault anyway etc, so you decide not to stop and flee the scene of the accident failing to provide your information to the other driver.  Who has the fault?  

Answer:  You are guilty of, “Hit and run” even though you did not cause the accident.

The other driver may be guilty of a traffic violation that caused the accident only.

Scenario 3: Your car is parked illegally on the street in a red zone and a car collides into you.  The driver of that car refuses to give you any information because he said because you were parked illegally he does not have to give you his information and then he leaves the scene of the accident without providing you with his information.  Who’s at fault?

Answer: the car that ran into your illegally parked car is at fault for “Hit and run” if they leave the scene without providing you any of their information.  The fact that you parked illegally in a red zone or parked in the middle of the street is not a factor.  You are only guilty of a parking ticket while the other driver has to maintain control of hitting any fixed object. 

Scenario 4: You parked in front of your house on the street legally and your neighbor’s tree falls on top of your car.  Who’s fault?

Answer:  This is not a traffic accident but a civil matter.  However, your neighbor is responsible for damages to your car. 


If you are involved in any kind of accident, for whatever reason that caused the accident, you must both stop and provide your information to each party involved.

Be safe.

This article is also posted on Associated Content by Scott Hallock

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