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What do you do at the scene of a crash in Detroit – if you fear for your safety?

June 13, 2014 by Steven M. Gursten

Michigan Auto Law attorney Robert Raitt tells Fox 2 News that drivers can legally leave the scene – if their lives are in danger


Driving away from the scene of a car accident in Michigan is a crime. But what if you fear your life might be in danger if you remain at the scene? This question was posed to my law partner, Bobby Raitt, by Monica Gayle of Fox 2 News.

The question was raised after another incident in Detroit that left a car accident victim beaten and hospitalized – after he tried to do the right thing by getting out of the car to check on the other driver.

Nathaniel Szczerbinski, 34, of Grosse Pointe Park, said he accidentally drove the wrong way down a one-way street in Detroit’s east side and was T-boned by a van. When he got out of his vehicle to check on the other driver, he was attacked by the driver and two other passengers from the van, according to published reports.

This followed the brutal attack of 54-year-old Steven Utash of Clinton Township by about a dozen men, after he struck a 10-year-old boy with his pickup truck in Detroit, and exited his vehicle to check on the boy.

But, as Bobby told Fox 2, there is a way to protect yourself:

“The law is that you have to remain at the scene of an accident. There is an exception, however, if you have a reasonable believe that more harm will take place if you do remain. And then the law tells you that you have to contact the police, either by going to the nearest police station or by calling 911 and contacting them with all of the information you have relative to that accident.”

Failure to stop at a scene involving serious injury or death carries a penalty of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. But if you report the accident and go to the nearest police station, you should be protected from the penalties of a hit and run accident.

Detroit is notorious for hit and run accidents. In fact, hit and run deaths in Detroit account for nearly 40% of the fatal hit and runs in the entire state, according to the Michigan State Police Office of Highway Safety Planning.

Now these recent beating cases may be adding to the problem, as people fear for their safety if they get out of their cars.

Said Bob:

“The problem , especially in the city of Detroit, has always been with the high insurance premiums that are charged by one of the most profitable industries in this country – the insurance industry.  There are a lot of uninsured drivers. About 50% of drivers in the city of Detroit are uninsured, so the hit and runs have always been high because of that fact. This will only add to that.”

Related information:

Top 7 facts about hit and run accidents

Uninsured drivers in Detroit: How this has become a civil rights issue

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