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Let's say that I'm in an car accident in which the driver of the other vehicle is injured. I originally stop to render aid and do what little I can to help the other driver, but they appear to have suffered serious injury and I'm afraid to attempt to render further aid for fear I may cause more harm then good.

The accident happened in the middle of the night on a remote mountain road where there are no witnesses, and I currently don't have cell phone reception. If I were to get into my vehicle and drive away in hopes of finding either an residence with a landline or a location where I have sufficient reception to call for an ambulance would I still be guilty of fleeing the scene?

Does it matter that I first stopped to render aid before leaving? Would it matter rather or not I return to the original scene of the accident after calling for help?

I'm looking for US perspective. I'm in Maryland if specific jurisdiction matters.

  • a part of the estimation might be "Is the other person in a stable circumstance, e.g. would i.e. be ok to leave them alone to take means necessary to get help?" – Trish Mar 18 at 22:37
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    I will be a little pedantic. It is illegal to flee the scene of an accident. Leaving the scene of an accident to get help is not fleeing. – emory Mar 19 at 1:07
  • IANAL but if I were in such a situation once I was able to call 911, I would follow the dispatcher's directions wrt returning to the scene of the accident. – emory Mar 19 at 1:09
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    General comment on the law: No one is trying to jam you up. In the worst timing (or you looking bad), a policeman comes upon the accident and finds you a mile down the road driving away. You explain to him that you were looking for help. Worst case, you need to convince a prosecutor or judge. The facts supporting your claim will help, like that you stopped first and tried to assess the situation. I'm not a lawyer but I am a doctor. We teach that in some situations with a single rescuer, leaving to get help (or equipment) is the right thing if yelling or calling to get help is not possible. – Damila Mar 19 at 20:18
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    Backing up @Damila, I worked as a lifeguard at a series of single guard pools (in Maryland to boot) and in the scenario where the lone swimmer at my pool starts to drown, I would need to call 911 before I began rendering aide (or more pointedly, I begin rendering aide by calling 911, jumping in and pulling the guy out is step two.). The scenario is avoided if there are other patrons as I can order someone to make the call for me. The best callers to order was the parent of the drowning kid... you don't want them watching CPR on a child... it's not as clean as the tv will have you believe. – hszmv Mar 21 at 20:21
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Taking the stated facts at face value (i.e. you can prove them in court).

Md. TRANSPORTATION Code Ann. § 20-102

§ 20-102. Driver to remain at scene -- Accidents resulting in bodily injury or death

(a) Bodily injury. --

(1) The driver of each vehicle involved in an accident that results in bodily injury to another person immediately shall stop the vehicle as close as possible to the scene of the accident, without obstructing traffic more than necessary.

(2) The driver of each vehicle involved in an accident that results in bodily injury to another person immediately shall return to and remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has complied with § 20-104 of this title.

So, you must stay there until you have complied with § 20-104.

Md. TRANSPORTATION Code Ann. § 20-104

§ 20-104. Duty to give information and render aid

(a) Rendering assistance. -- The driver of each vehicle involved in an accident that results in bodily injury to or death of any person or in damage to an attended vehicle or other attended property shall render reasonable assistance to any person injured in the accident and, if the person requests medical treatment or it is apparent that medical treatment is necessary, arrange for the transportation of the person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical treatment.

(b) Duty to give certain information. -- The driver of each vehicle involved in an accident that results in bodily injury to or death of any person or in damage to an attended vehicle or other attended property shall give his name, his address, and the registration number of the vehicle he is driving and, on request, exhibit his license to drive, if it is available, to:

(1) Any person injured in the accident; and

(2) The driver, occupant of, or person attending any vehicle or other property damaged in the accident.

(c) Exhibiting license. -- The driver of each vehicle involved in an accident that results in bodily injury to or death of any person or in damage to an attended vehicle or other attended property shall give the same information described in subsection (b) of this section and, on request, exhibit his license to drive, if it is available, to any police officer who is at the scene of or otherwise is investigating the accident.

(d) If no one able to receive information. -- If a police officer is not present and none of the specified persons is in condition to receive the information to which the person otherwise would be entitled under this section, the driver, after fulfilling to the extent possible every other requirement of § 20-102 of this title and subsection (a) of this section, immediately shall report the accident to the nearest office of an authorized police authority and give the information specified in subsection (b) of this section.

So, not only is it legal to leave to seek aid, its required.

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