You probably know that it's illegal to leave the scene of a car accident; doing so can attract criminal charges. The law is designed to help accident victims get prompt medical care and identify the liable parties. However, there are exceptions to this rule; here are a few examples of those exceptions:
The duty to stay at the scene of an auto crash only applies to the drivers involved in the crash. It's true that passengers can also stay and assist the victims, but they are also free to leave and won't face criminal charges if they leave. Therefore, if you crash into another car while driving your spouse to work, your spouse can take a cab and proceed to work without fear of criminal consequences.
You don't have to stay at the scene of the accident if your injuries have left you incapacitated. In fact, doing so would defeat the purposes of staying at the scene in the first place. For example, if you are injured and are incoherent, you won't help anyone or even exchange information by staying at the scene of the crash. In such a case, it's your duty to seek prompt medical care, and nobody will charge you for going to the emergency room.
Temporary Leave for Seeking Assistance
You also won't get into any legal trouble if you leave the scene temporarily to seek assistance. For example, if your phone has been damaged in the crash, and no witness can call for assistance, it's okay to leave the scene and go to the nearest town, center, or service station to borrow a phone. Of course, you are expected to go back to the scene and wait for the police after making the call.
Lastly, the authorities don't expect you to remain at the accident scene if doing so would put your life in danger. In such a case, you need to get to the nearest safe area and call for help. Take an example where you have collided with a truck that was ferrying dangerous chemicals, which ends up spilling on the road or emitting dangerous fumes. In such a case, get as far away from the crash site and call for emergency services; nobody will penalize you for it.
As you can see, the circumstances on the ground determine whether or not you can be convicted of fleeing an accident scene. Therefore, if you are facing such charges, consult a criminal law attorney at a law firm such as Larson, Latham, Huettl Attorneys to help you defend your case.