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I hit someone at a gas station while backing out from the pump. The other driver left without getting out of the car nor exchanging information with me. Should I leave and would it be considered a “hit and run” if I do?

submitted by Kit W.

The Injury Legal Team’s answer:

Your question is a bit unclear.

After any collision with another car that causes property damage, California law requires you to stop and identify yourself to the other driver and present your driver’s license and vehicle registration information upon request. If you do not do so and intentionally leave the scene of the collision, you could be guilty of a hit and run violation.

If the other driver was aware of the collision and chose to leave the scene on his or her own, then you did not have an opportunity to comply. In fact, you can probably safely assume that the other driver did not believe that the contact was an issue and, by implication, waived any further action on your part.

Assuming you were at fault and the other driver was just not aware that there was a collision, it is a gray area. If the other vehicle did not sustain any property damage, you do not have any obligation to do anything – even  if your car sustained property damage.

If the other car did sustain property damage, you must do whatever you can to locate and notify that driver. If you did not get a license plate number, you might be able to identify the driver by asking the gas station to look at their surveillance cameras. If there is any way to determine the license plate number, you should attempt to contact the driver. If you cannot contact the driver, to be completely safe, you should make a report with the local police department (whether you have the license plate of the other driver or not) and probably leave your contact information with the gas station owner so if the other driver wants to find you, he or she can do so. This way you’ve done everything you can, and you would protect yourself against any “hit and run” allegations. In this day of age, you don’t know who is watching and recording events with Go Pros or cell phones, so it is dangerous to merely leave and not do anything.

IMPORTANT: This answer and all others on this site are for informational purposes only. None of the information or materials provided are legal advice. None of these answers should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. While we try to give the best answers possible, we are responding to brief questions and there could be many factors not provided that could alter an answer if they were known. Further, while we try to be accurate in responding to a specific question, we do not guarantee accuracy.

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IMPORTANT: This answer and all others on this site are for informational purposes only. None of the information or materials provided are legal advice. None of these answers should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. While we try to give the best answers possible, we are responding to brief questions and there could be many factors not provided that could alter an answer if they were known. Further, while we try to be accurate in responding to a specific question, we do not guarantee accuracy.

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