New Jersey Residents in California Hit & Run Cases

Sports car rushing to hit pedestrian
A man at a pedestrian crossing seen through the window of oncoming sports car

Table of Contents:

New Jersey Hit and Run Laws.

Under both California and New Jersey Law, the criminal consequences for injuring a victim and leaving the scene of the accident are severe. Although California does not have varying degrees of felonies, both states have jail time as a penalty. A resident of Jersey accused of a California hit and run will need a criminal defense attorney. But your lawyer can’t hail from Jersey unless also licensed in California.

For educational purposes, we have included a copy of the New Jersey law on a hit and run. No double jeopardy applies interstate. So if you’re convicted here, you don’t risk a Jersey trial for the same offense. If you are a California resident involved in a Jersey hit and run, you will need to get a lawyer in that state to explain this, but below is the New Jersey Statute:

Drivers leaving an accident that is fatal in the state of New Jersey will receive a felony charge. Crimes in NJ range from 1st to 4th degree. This particular crime is considered as a 3rd degree crime. Drivers charged with this crime may be imprisoned for three to five years in the state prison. The presumption of no imprisonment for 1st time offenders is not applicable. Sentencing is enforced consecutively on convictions of vehicular homicide or aggravated manslaughter – N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1.
Section 39:4-129
(a) A driver having knowledge that he was involved in a motor vehicle accident that caused personal injury or death must stop immediately at or as close to the accident scene as possible. He must stay at the accident scene until each of the requirements listed in subsection (c) of this section have been fulfilled.
Any driver that does not fulfill the requirements of this subsection is to be fined from $2,500 to $5,000, serve a prison term of 180 days, or both. The prison term required in this subsection will be enforced when personal injury or death is the result of the accident or a person suffers injury other than the driver that is held responsible by conviction for violating this section.
When an accident occurs causing personal injury or death to another person other than the driver, the prison term listed in this subsection will be imposed.
The right to operate a vehicle over state highways shall be forfeited by a person convicted of a crime under this section. The forfeit term shall last one year on the first offense and starting on the day of conviction. A person with subsequent convictions must forfeit his privilege to operate a vehicle permanently over state highways.
(b) A driver having knowledge of being involved in a motor vehicle accident that caused damage to a vehicle or property a person is attending must stop immediately at or as close to the accident scene as possible. He must also stay at the accident scene until each requirement of subsection (c) has been fulfilled. When violations have been made to this subsection, the guilty party may be fined $200 to $400, receive a jail term up to 30 days, or both on first offenses. On any subsequent offense, the guilty party will be fined $400 to $600, imprisoned for 30 days to 90 days, or both.
For first offenses, the driver must also forfeit his right to drive a vehicle in the state. This shall remain in effect for a six month period, starting at the conviction date. The right to drive is to be forfeited for one year for a subsequent offense.
(c) A driver having knowledge of being involved in an accident that causes property or vehicle damage, personal injury, or death, must provide his name, address, vehicle registration number, and driver’s license to the injured person, owner of a damaged vehicle, or owner of damaged property to a witness or police officer, and occupants of the other vehicle involved. The driver must also provide a reasonable amount of assistance to any injured person. This includes transportation or arrangements for transportation to a medical or hospital facility when it is needed.
If the driver is unable to provide this information to the people listed above and a police officer is not at the scene, and each requirement listed in subsections (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, the driver must then provide an accident report that includes the information above to the county police, closest police department, or state police.
(d) A driver having knowledge an accident has occurred causing damage to an unattended vehicle or property must stop immediately and attempt to locate the owner or operator to notify them of his name and address. If the owner or operator cannot be located, the driver must leave a written notice in a conspicuous area. The notice should include his name, address. If the owner or operator cannot be located, the driver must notify them of the accident as soon as possible. He must also notify the closest state police department, county police department, or closest police station. When violations are made to this subsection, the driver will receive the punishment listed in subsection (b).
(e) When an accident has occurred causing personal injury, death, or property or vehicle damage in excess of $250 and the driver must be presumed to be aware of the accident, the nature of the presumption must be rebuttable.
As long as a driver has knowledge an accident occurred, being unaware of injuries and their extent or the extent of damage cannot be used as a defense.
Section 2c:12-1.1
A driver having knowledge of a vehicle accident that flees the accident scene, which is in violation of the provisions of R.S. 39:4-129, is considered to be guilty of a crime in the fourth degree if the vehicle accident caused serious injury to someone else.

Also, never leave the scene of an accident unless you exchange required information. Also, follow the codified guidelines. Ok, how does this help me if the event takes place in California?

New Jersey Residents Dealing With California Hit and Runs.

The good news for vacationing victims is that California hit and run law consequences are quite similar. So if you get in a wreck, call the cops and wait till they show. Exchange info and make a record if the police or EMS refuse to come. CYA. The first step is to avoid becoming a criminally accused.

The next step is to get medical help and try and make something of what just happened. Were there any witnesses? Can you find the person who caused the wreck? Assuming you find the hit and run driver, you are still not out of the woods. For example, the culprit may have illegally entered and been uninsured. Often victims give up and contact their own insurance company. But usually they are told they did not purchase voluntary Uninsured Motorists coverage (UM.)

Even if you did have UM coverages, your insurance company may still try and escape liability and refuse to cover the costs of repairs to your rental vehicle. You may feel like a dummy, but don’t give up. It could be that after a reasonable investigation, they catch the evildoer who caused the crash and that even though the criminal is an illegal alien, he could have been working in the course and scope of employment duties, such as delivering goods or services in a company or private vehicle.

In such a case, the business is liable to pay. In other situations, an investigation could reveal that the government failed to maintain a roadway or intersection in a safe manner, and that caused the hit and run driver to hit you. In that case, you may have a government claim for damages.

But until you hire a lawyer and conduct a proper investigation you could lose. Lawyers can track down witnesses, videos, and other evidence. If favorable to your case, you are in a stronger position. Typically, you need to retain local counsel. Also, if holed up in a hospital, your first call should be to a seasoned lawyer.

You could be laid out for quite some time. And that means you are far away from home, family, and friends. Having the strength of a lawyer by your side is important when you are so vulnerable in what seems to be a foreign country. An attorney can help deal with the rental car company and liaise between you, creditors and your liability/medical insurance carrier.

It could also be the case that your carrier unreasonably and in bad faith, is refusing to cover the event. In such as case, you may also need to sue your own carrier, in New Jersey, which would require a licensed attorney in your home state. The reverse is the same for a California tourist involved in a hit and runs in New Jersey.

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