It could happen to you. You might be late to that meeting or rushing to pick up the kids from soccer practice. All of us are guilty of negligence on the road at some point or another, but if the stars align just right, your speeding or carelessness can cause damages with eternal consequences. The most obvious way to avoid causing harm to someone’s person or property when you are behind the wheel is to follow the laws: no speeding, no drinking, and no texting. However, none of us are perfect and accidents can happen. It all comes down to those crucial moments after an accident. If you play your cards right, you might be able to mitigate the damage you have caused, but if you panic and make a mistake, you are most likely just going to dig a deeper hole for yourself.
You may have seen the news coverage of the fatal hit and run accident in Vancouver on January 19th. A driver allegedly struck and killed a 45-year-old woman and her 28-year-old daughter. In the panic of the moment the defendant fled the scene rather than calling 911. The police were able to track down the suspect through witness accounts within a matter of days. Unfortunately for the defendant, enough time had passed for his situation to become much, much worse. Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 811.700 and ORS 811.705 require a driver involved in an accident to stop and assist when there has been damage to person or property. For this reason, the defendant, his girlfriend, and his mother were ultimately arrested and accused of witness tampering on top of the defendant’s charges of hit-and-run and vehicular homicide.
Morality may tell us that stopping and helping after an accident is the right thing to do, but any of us can find ourselves making mistakes in the panic of the moment. Unfortunately for the defendant in these situations, the law is not as flexible as morality. This is why it is necessary to have a quality criminal defense attorney for matters like these. Just remember, if you ever find yourself behind the wheel at the scene of an accident, do what the law requires you to do.