A car accident in St. Joseph ended with several people fleeing the scene. The incident draws out some important distinctions in Missouri’s hit-and-run law.
People Flee Scene of Car Accident in St. Joseph
The accident happened on Saturday evening, August 7, 2021, at the intersection of North Belt Highway and Faraon Street. According to the police, a vehicle going south on the Belt Highway hit two other cars. One of the vehicles flipped over in the collision.
While no one was hurt in the accident, police say that several people fled the scene of the crash.
Is This a Hit-and-Run?
Most people are familiar with the concept of a hit-and-run accident. However, these crashes usually involve a vehicle that hits another car or an object, and then the driver and the whole vehicle flee the scene.
Here, we have people fleeing the scene, but the vehicle remaining.
In Missouri, Missouri Statute 577.060 covers hit-and-run accidents. This statute makes it illegal for someone to leave the scene of the accident when:
- They are the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash that led to the someone else’s injury, death, or property damage, and
- The person leaving the scene knew of the crash and left without stopping and providing the necessary information to the other driver or to police.
The key part here is the fact that the law only covers actions of the driver. Passengers in a vehicle cannot be liable for a hit-and-run, which makes sense: They did not cause the crash.
Because Missouri’s law does not cover passengers, it is unclear if this is a hit-and-run accident. If everyone who fled the scene were passengers in one of the cars, it would likely not be a hit-and-run.
Why Does It Matter If a Passenger Leaves?
Just because it is not illegal for a passenger to leave the scene of a crash does not mean that it is unimportant. When passengers flee the scene of a car wreck, it raises some immediate suspicions about the vehicle, like:
- There was illegal activity going on inside at the time of the crash
- The driver and others were under the influence of drugs or alcohol
It also deprives law enforcement of a potential witness to the accident, and turns the driver into a witness or even a suspect of a crime: The driver will be asked about who they were, why they left, and what they did to want to run off before police arrived.
Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
The personal injury and car accident lawyers at the Smith Law Office represent accident victims in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, and the rest of western Missouri. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373 for help in recovering the compensation that you need and deserve.