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N Cal Atty
N Cal Atty, Attorney
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 9411
Experience:  Since 1983
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I left the scene of an accident. It was in stop-and-go

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I left the scene of an accident.

It was in stop-and-go traffic on the freeway. I was trying to merge into the moving stream of traffic on the right in order to exit, and in doing so, I rear-ended the car in front of me. My car has no damage and his has no visible damage, and seeing as it was stop and go, I couldn't possibly have rear-ended the car very fast or hard. I briefly looked over (upon exiting) and saw that that the driver was the only one in the car.

I didn't mean to flee. I just panicked. I'm home now and I'm scared. I live in California. I'm licensed and I have insurance. What's likely to happen to me? I can't calm down right now. I really need to know. I might be blowing up the issue, but I feel like my life is over. I've never been in trouble with the law. Thank you.
I am sorry to hear this.

Please calm down.

You might have violated Vehicle Code § 20002, but if there was no property damage then you are not guilty under that code section.

Here is the statute:
20002. (a) The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident
only in damage to any property, including vehicles, shall
immediately stop the vehicle at the nearest location that will not
impede traffic or otherwise jeopardize the safety of other motorists.
Moving the vehicle in accordance with this subdivision does not
affect the question of fault. The driver shall also immediately do
either of the following:

Bumpers are designed to withstand bumps. If there was no visible damage to the other vehicle and the other driver did not try to follow you or contact you, it is very probable that there was no damage to the other vehicle, so you could not be charged for leaving the scene or sued for damaging the other vehicle.

I hope this information is helpful.
N Cal Atty and other Traffic Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you so much. I feel a little calmer receiving an answer. I believe you explained it well. Given the information. The driver did actually make a half-hearted attempt to follow me, but that might've been his exit anyway, I'm not sure.


Given what happened, should I confess this to any legal department as a pre-emptive measure for the other party possibly reporting it, or leave it alone for now? I can pay a fine if necessary for leaving the scene, but is there any likelihood of jail time?

I'm glad you're feeling calmer.

You might notify your insurer that you had a small accident that did not cause any apparent damage, but that is not necessary unless your insurance policy requires it. Most policies require the insured to tell the insurer about claims, and not just about accidents, although I do not know what your policy says.

You would only be inviting trouble if you notify the police, and they do not need to be notified unless there was an injury or property damage. My experience with several police agencies in California is that they will not even file a police report unless the damage is over $500.

I hope this information is helpful.
Thank you for the Excellent rating!