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Michigan Traffic Offenses – Leaving the Scene of an Accident (Personal Injury)

Home Blog Criminal Cases Michigan Traffic Offenses – Leaving the Scene of an Accident (Personal Injury)

While only my own observation, and based solely upon my experience as a Criminal Defense Lawyer, the majority of leaving-the-scene cases involve property damage, rather than personal injury. Unless a Driver strikes a pedestrian, even colliding with someone on a bicycle is likely to cause property damage. Thus, most personal injury accidents involve some degree of property damage. That said, when someone does, in fact, leave the scene of a personal injury accident, there is a strong suspicion, from a Law Enforcement perspective, that the Driver did so because he or she had been drinking. Generally, negotiating out of a PI charge is a lot harder than negotiating out of a PD charge, not only because the potential consequences are so much more serious, but also because most people in their right minds don’t leave a potentially injured person stranded just because they “panic.”

This is not to say that people don’t legitimately and honestly take off from a PI accident out of sheer panic. Of course, if it’s believed the Driver who took off had been drinking, the sympathy factor for that person hovers around a solid “zero.” Negotiations in these cases are exceedingly hard. When the Defense Lawyer can show, or at least convincingly argue, that the Driver who took off was NOT drinking, then the likelihood of working out some kind of deal rises proportionally. Still, though, when its considered from the point of view that a person took off, not knowing whether another person was injured or not, it’s likewise assumed that they didn’t really care all that much, and, in turn, doesn’t deserve much of a break, if any.

The job of a Defense Lawyer is to overcome those assumptions and demonstrate that, whatever else, the client was so overcome by panic that for that reason alone, they weren’t able to think with their right mind, and fled.

It may sound dire, but unless there is a way to avoid a conviction for this offense, there’s not really much to look forward to. In these situations, absent winning the case completely, a Defense Lawyers real value is in damage-control. Given the general anger toward Drivers who leave the scene of a personal injury accident, every little bit of damage control is profound.