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What are the consequences for leaving the scene of a crash?

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2024 | Traffic Offenses

It’s never smart to leave the scene of a vehicle crash without at least checking to see what kind of damage or injuries to others occurred. Unfortunately, people do it all too often.

Sometimes, they simply panic – especially if they know they were in the wrong. In some cases, they have other legal issues or traffic violations and don’t want to deal with law enforcement. They may even tell themselves they didn’t actually hit anything.

What’s important to know is that leaving the scene of an accident – no matter who caused it – can have serious legal consequences regardless of which side of the Missouri/Kansas border you’re on. That’s particularly true if someone has been injured or killed. Let’s take a brief look at the law in both states.

Missouri law 

It’s illegal to leave the scene of a crash if it caused “injury or death or damage to property of another person” and the person who left had “knowledge of such accident.” Drivers must stay at the scene and exchange identification and vehicle information with any other parties involved as well as provide that information to law enforcement. 

How serious the offense is depends on the severity of the crash. If the damage was greater than $1,000 and/or if anyone was injured, it’s a Class E felony to leave the scene. If anyone suffered fatal injuries, it’s a Class D felony. 

Kansas law

Kansas law states that a driver who is involved in a collision “resulting in injury to, great bodily harm to or death of any person or damage to any attended vehicle or property shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene…” or, if they can’t stop, return to the scene immediately.

There are some differences between Kansas and Missouri law in the level of criminal offense. If the damages total over $1,000 and/or anyone was injured, it’s considered a “class A person misdemeanor.” If anyone suffered “great bodily harm,” it’s a “severity level 8, person felony.” If anyone was fatally injured, a driver could be looking at a severity level 5 or 6 felony.

Note that no matter where the crash occurs, these charges may be compounded by other charges related to impaired driving, manslaughter and more – depending on the circumstances of the crash. If you’ve been charged with leaving the scene of an accident, it’s crucial to take the matter seriously. Getting legal guidance will help protect your rights.