A car accident can be an incredibly scary experience, especially if you have never been involved in one before. What can make a car accident even scarier is if the car you hit is a police car or emergency vehicle. You may not know if more extreme or serious penalties come along with hitting a police vehicle than with hitting a normal vehicle. At Overson Law, PLLC, our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer has years of experience dealing with accidents of all types throughout the state. Below, we explain what you should do if you are in an accident and if there are any particular steps you need to take in the case of colliding with a police vehicle.
Accidents Involving a Police Car vs. Accident Involving Civilian Car in Utah
There is no real difference between an accident involving a police car and an accident involving a regular car in the state of Utah. The one exception would perhaps be if the accident occurred as a result of you fleeing the scene of a crime and sending the police care on a high-speed chase. In this case, there may be additional penalties you could face for failing to cooperate with the officers in the first place.
However, other than this situation, if you are involved in a car accident with a police car it will not be any different than any other car accident you are involved with. The police officer may choose to issue you a ticket for reckless driving or some other offense, but this is possible in situations involving a crash with a non-officer as well. Such tickets will be considered as evidence, but will not be considered dispositive, when determining where fault for the accident lies. So, if you believe you are not at fault, even if the officer issues you a ticket, you can still make a claim through your insurance agency.
What to Do Following an Accident with a Cop Car in Utah
A car accident can be a traumatizing experience. The first thing you need to do is get help for any injuries sustained in the accident and make sure the person in the other vehicle gets help for their injuries as well. Under Utah law, you are required to help anyone in the other vehicle who is incapacitated because of the accident by either contacting emergency services or transporting them to a medical care center as soon as possible.
The next thing you will need to do is exchange information between yourself and the individual who was driving the other vehicle, assuming that person is able to do so. You are required to give your driver’s license and identification information as well as your insurance information. For minor collisions, this may be sufficient, but for serious incidents, the police will usually come to the scene and make a report.
Be sure to meticulously document the scene of the accident if you believe the other driver may have been at fault or partially at fault. Take pictures of both vehicles that you can provide to a Murray criminal defense attorney later on if the person you hit or their insurance company claims you are liable for excessive damages. When dealing with a police vehicle, it may be intimidating to take such pictures and demand the information to which you are entitled, but officers are not infallible, and the accident may have been their fault. If it was, you should not be required to pay for their vehicle repairs and, in fact, they may be required to reimburse you for any damage or injuries caused.
Hit and Run Accidents in Utah
One way you can make an accident with a police vehicle, or any vehicle, much worse is by leaving the scene of the accident in a way that constitutes what is known as a “hit and run.” If you leave the scene of an accident, you automatically transform the situation from a civil matter to a criminal one. Hit and runs are taken very seriously by law enforcement in Utah.
A hit and run is any accident where you leave the scene of the crash without stopping to confer with the other person and exchange information. If you hit a parked vehicle, you are required under the code to try to find the owner of the vehicle if possible. If you cannot find the owner of the vehicle, you are required to leave some sort of note on the car with your contact information so that you and the owner of the vehicle can sort things out later.
If you flee the scene of an accident where you merely caused vehicle or property damage, you can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and face up to 90 days in prison and up to $750 in fines. If you flee the scene of the accident where bodily injury is caused to someone, you will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and face jail time of up to 1 year and up to $1,500 in fines. Finally, if you flee the scene of an accident causing serious bodily injury or death, you will be charged with a third-degree felony and face penalties of up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $5,000. Our Salt Lake City hit and run defense lawyer can help you avoid these penalties.
If You Have Been Involved in an Accident with a Cop Car, Call Our Experienced Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
Most of the time, a car accident where you hit a police vehicle instead of a normal vehicle will be handled the same way as any other car accident. You and the officer will exchange information and the insurance companies will decide what you have to pay if you are at fault. However, if you are not sure you are at fault, you should be sure to document the scene and get in touch with an experienced car accident defense attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC as soon as possible. The worst thing you can do is flee the scene and bring additional charges on yourself, but if you have done this, our lawyers know how to mount a successful defense for you in court against hit and run charges. For a free consultation, call us today at (801) 758-2287.