Hit and Run cases in India: Punishments, Compensations and applicable Laws
Team SoOLEGAL 21 Jun 2023

Hit and Run cases in India: Punishments, Compensations and applicable Laws

Introduction: A hit and run case is a grave offense that involves a person fleeing the scene after being involved in a motor vehicle accident, without stopping to provide assistance or exchanging information with the affected party/victim of the incident. In India, such incidents are taken seriously, and the legal system has provisions to ensure that justice is served. In recent times, the occurrence of hit-and-run accidents is on the rise in India. To put it simply, a hit-and-run accident refers to a situation where a driver collides with another vehicle and then quickly leaves the scene without taking any responsibility. According to both criminal and civil standards, it is the driver's obligation to report any road mishap involving their vehicle.

Recently, in January 2023, a horrifying incident occurred in West Delhi that shook the nation. A young woman, aged 20, lost her life when her leg got trapped in the front axle of a car. The car, carrying five young males in their twenties, had collided with her two-wheeler on January 1. In a brutal turn of events, her body was mercilessly dragged for nearly 13 kilometers under the vehicle.


Where in our law is this incident defined?

Hit and Run is defined under Section 161 (1) (b) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 as, “hit and run motor accident” means an accident arising out of the use of a motor vehicle or motor vehicles the identity whereof cannot be ascertained in spite of reasonable efforts for the purpose


What are the Laws Governing Hit and Run Cases in India?

The punishment for hit and run cases in India is primarily governed by the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and the Motor Vehicles Act. These statutes aim to deter such acts and protect the rights of victims.

Under the IPC, several sections come into play depending on the nature and consequences of the accident:

Section 279 (Rash driving or riding on a public way): This section deals with cases where the accused drives recklessly, endangering others' lives. It prescribes imprisonment for up to six months, a fine, or both.

Section 337 (Causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others): When the hit and run results in injuries to a person, this section applies. The punishment can be imprisonment for up to six months, a fine, or both.

Section 338 (Causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others): If the accident causes grievous hurt to a person, this section comes into play. The offender may face imprisonment for up to two years, a fine, or both.

Section 304A (Causing death by negligence): In cases where a hit and run accident leads to the death of a person, this section applies. The punishment can range from imprisonment for up to two years, a fine, or both.

Besides the IPC, the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 contains provisions related to hit and run offenses:

Section 134: This section casts a duty on the driver of the motor vehicle, in case there is any accident, to help the victim in reaching the nearest hospital or take any reasonable effort to provide medical attention unless not practicable to do so by reasons mentioned therein.


What to do if you are involved in a Hit and Run incident?

After experiencing an accident, it is crucial for the victim to handle the situation with a calm demeanor, despite the inherent stress. It is highly recommended to gather relevant information, particularly about the driver at fault, as this increases the likelihood of identifying and holding them accountable. Moreover, if there are any witnesses present, it is important to obtain their names and contact details. In addition to this, it is advisable to take note of the following details:

Time and location: Make a written record of the exact time and location where the accident occurred. This information serves as essential documentation for future reference.

Scene of the accident: Capture photographs of the accident scene, including the positioning of the vehicles involved, any visible damages, and relevant road conditions. These visual records can provide valuable evidence later on.

Your vehicle: Take pictures of your vehicle from various angles, highlighting any damages caused by the accident. These images can substantiate your claim and support your case, helping to demonstrate that your insurance claim is legitimate.

By adhering to these guidelines, you not only enhance your chances of receiving a fair settlement from your insurance company, but you also establish credibility by providing concrete evidence of the accident's occurrence.

For the driver: It is always advisable not to leave the scene of the accident in order to secure the necessary medical attention to the injured.

What are the circumstances which a motor vehicle hit and run can happen?

1.     Accident: A driver may accident hit someone by his/her motor vehicle.

2.     Driving under influence: A driver, under the influence of alcohol or any other legal or illegal contraband which is not allowed when you drive, may hit someone by his/her motor vehicle.

3.     Driving in a reckless manner: An accident happens of a motor vehicle due to reason that the driver was driving in a reckless manner.


How compensation is awarded to a victim in a hit and run incident?

The Motor Vehicle Act talks about various kinds of compensation i.e:

Section 140: Liability to pay compensation in certain cases on the principle of no fault.

Section 141: Provisions as to other right to claim compensation for death or permanent disablement

Section 161: Special provisions as to compensation in case of hit and run motor accident.

Section 163A: Special provisions as to payment of compensation on structured formula basis.

The Hon’ble Apex court has differentiated between Section 140 and 163A and has held to that regards in Deepal Girishbhai Soni v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd., (2004) 5 SCC 385 that By reason of Section 163-A, therefore, the compensation is required to be determined on the basis of a structured formula whereas in terms of Section 140 only a fixed amount is to be given. A provision of law providing for compensation is presumed to be final in nature unless a contra-indication therefore is found to be in the statute either expressly or by necessary implication. While granting compensation, the Tribunal is required to adjudicate upon the disputed question as regards age and income of the deceased or the victim, as the case may be. Unlike Section 140 of the Act, adjudication on several issues arising between the parties is necessary in a proceeding under Section 163-A of the Act.”

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What are the penalties under the law for hit and run offenders?

A hit-and-run incident can have severe consequences, including the cancellation of the driver's license, substantial penalties, and even imprisonment. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) provides relief to victims of hit-and-run accidents under Sections 279, 304A, and 338.

Section 279 of the IPC states that anyone operating a vehicle recklessly on a public road may be deemed in violation. If a motorist negligently drives or causes harm to someone on the road, they may face imprisonment for up to six months, a fine of Rs. 1,000, or both.

When a driver, who is not intoxicated, causes the death of another person in an accident, the offense falls under Section 304A of the IPC. The driver can be sentenced to one year of imprisonment, which may be extended to two years, along with a fine exceeding Rs. 1,000 or both.

In summary, hit-and-run cases are subject to legal consequences, including potential imprisonment and fines, as specified by Sections 279 and 304A of the IPC. These provisions aim to uphold public safety and ensure accountability for negligent driving and accidents resulting in injury or death.

We have tried to cover as many queries a possible. However in case we have missed any, please reach out to us at +91 9810929455 or on email via

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