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Detailing the Duty to Render Aid in Pennsylvania


When considering hit-and-run accidents in Pottsville, most may immediately think of auto-pedestrian collisions. However, a hit-and-run includes any instance where the driver of a vehicle that caused an accident flees the scene, regardless of whether the accident involved pedestrians or other vehicles. Despite the perception that it is common knowledge that such activity is considered unlawful, hit-and-run accidents continue to occur in high numbers across the U.S. Information shared by the Insurance Information Institute showed an increase in hit-and-run fatalities of 1,274 to 1,449 from 2009 to 2011.

Aside from requiring that the driver at fault be present to accept responsibility, another major reason why fleeing the scene of an accident is illegal is that it ignores one’s duty to render aid. Oftentimes, intervention to assist an accident victim could potentially save his or her life. Pennsylvania state law has assigned this duty in the Miscellaneous Provisions of its code addressing the safe operation of motor vehicles. It states that any driver involved in an accident “shall render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance.” This includes arranging transport to a medical facility for treatment if it is seen that it is needed or if an accident victim requests it.

The law also goes on to assign the same responsibility to those who were traveling as passengers in a car that caused an accident. For example, if both drivers in a two-vehicle collision were injured and incapacitated, and a passenger of the vehicle responsible for the accident is able to, he or she must seek assistance for both drivers by calling 911 or through some other means. A failure to meet this duty could not only open up anyone in a car that caused an accident to criminal charges, but civil liability as well.