In Missouri, leaving the scene of an accident after hitting someone or something – also known as a hit-and-run – is illegal. If you flee from the scene and are later caught, you’ll be facing additional penalties that wouldn’t have otherwise been in the equation if you had just remained at the accident site until police arrived.
Hit-and-run cases are typically associated with actual drivers or pedestrians being struck by a vehicle which then flees from the scene. However, Find law points out that an accident can be considered a hit-and-run if certain factors are met. For example, if you hit a parked car or someone’s fence and then leave without notifying the owner, that is legally considered a hit-and-run accident. At a minimum, if you are caught after fleeing the scene of an accident, you will likely end up with a traffic ticket. In some cases, you could even end up with a felony charge, though this is highly dependent on your case details.
When involved in an auto accident where other people are on the scene, you should call the police immediately and take down all necessary information like the names, addresses, and insurance information of the others involved. If you strike a vehicle and no one is around, or damage someone’s property, you still need to leave a note. “Reasonable effort” needs to be made in regard to alerting the owner what happened to their property before you leave the scene.
This is not meant to be taken as legal advice, but it’s still important information to keep in mind. It’s understandable that anyone involved in an accident might panic. Their kneejerk reaction could be to leave the scene. However, knowing what you know now about the additional penalties, you likely understand why staying is even more important.