In Oregon, section 811.705 of the state code indicates that drivers who are convicted of “failure to perform the duties of a driver to injured persons” are subject to a one year suspension of their drivers’ license. In simple terms, this means that drivers who hit-and-run or who don’t stop after an auto accident can have their license suspended. Our Portland, OR accident attorneys also know that some drivers who hit-and-run can face criminal penalties and jail time if accident victims they left at the scene are seriously hurt or killed. Further, drivers who hit-and-run in an accident that causes death can face a five-year suspension.
While the penalties that are in place aim to deter drivers from fleeing an accident scene, they are not serious enough to be a sufficient consequence given the serious harm that can be done by a hit-and-run driver. As such, lawmakers are considering a new Oregon hit-and-run bill which unanimously passed the house with a vote of 57-0. According to Oregon Live, the new hit and run bill, House Bill 2542, should help to discourage drivers from leaving an accident scene, making everyone on the roads safer.
The New Oregon Hit-and-Run Bill
The new Oregon hit-and-run bill aims to impose a three year license suspension on drivers who leave the scene of a crash, up from the current one-year license suspension. The bill was prompted by a lawmaker who read an article by an attorney lamenting the fact that the penalty wasn’t harsh enough for hit-and-run drivers.
The new changes to the hit-and-run law are also necessary because currently drunk drivers are rewarded for leaving the scene of the accident and later turning themselves in after there is no longer evidence they were drunk. This is because the intoxicated drivers face lesser penalties for a hit-and-run than for a drunk driving offense.
The Hit-and-Run Bill Could Help Accident Victims
If the new hit-and-run bill is signed into law, it could be a big help to accident victims. First, as experts testified in support of the bill, every second counts after a crash. If the driver who hits your car flees the scene, it is possible that no one will call for help right away. In fact, if you are in a remote area and no one witnessed the crash, it could be a very long time before anyone seeks aid for you. If you cannot use your cell phone because the accident has incapacitated you, then you’d be left alone with injuries potentially getting worse.
If the driver sticks around, on the other hand, then he can call 911 and get you help. The hope, of course, is that the tougher penalties for hit-and-run will prompt the driver to stick around.
When the driver who caused the crash remains at the scene, this also makes it possible to get his or her contact information. You’ll need these details if you wish to file a claim for damages to obtain compensation from the driver who caused the crash. When a hit-and-run happens, it is not possible for you to take legal action to recover monetary damages unless the other driver is found, which could mean you’re left without recourse or forced to turn to your own insurer. Hopefully, with tougher hit-and-run penalties, fewer drivers will flee and you’ll be better able to enforce your rights to car accident compensation under Oregon law.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in the Portland area, contact Zbinden & Curtis. Call (503) 287-5000.