When it is not possible to file a police report at the scene of the accident due to the escape of any of the parties involved, the party who considers himself/herself affected may file a complaint, either for hit and run, or for the damage caused to public or private property. This complaint should be formalized at the police station nearest to the location where the accident occurred.
The complainant should do so within a period not exceeding forty-eight (48) hours from the occurrence of the event. Once this deadline is met, the complaint must be submitted to the duty Traffic Judge within a term not exceeding eight (8) calendar days after the traffic event occurred.
Once the complaint has been formalized, it becomes the responsibility of the National Police of Panama to conduct an investigation into the reported incident. The National Police of Panama shall coordinate with the Traffic Court that admitted the complaint to carry out the necessary judicial proceedings. These proceedings may include:
- Issuing summonses to individuals involved in the complaints as outlined above.
- Request the cooperation of officials in other jurisdictions to find the presumed perpetrators.
- Take statements under oath from those involved, as well as from witnesses and other individuals who may be useful in the investigation.
- Preparing a report for the Institute of Forensic Medicine in cases involving injuries resulting from the accident.
- Any other actions deemed necessary for the investigation and authorized by the Traffic Judge.
Citations issued during the processing of these files shall adhere to the regulations specified in the Law governing the Administrative Procedure in all public entities in Panama.
Once the accused person has been located, the National Police of Panama will proceed with the reconstruction of the accident and prepare the corresponding report, which will be submitted to the Traffic Court overseeing the investigation. At this stage, the Traffic Court must admit pleadings and powers of attorney as requested by the affected parties, in accordance with the rules of termination of proceedings and the provisions of Law.
The Traffic Court responsible for the case, after completing the investigation and preparing the police report or report, will proceed to hold the corresponding hearing.
It is the responsibility of the complainant to follow up on the processing of his/her complaint. Complaints will not be processed in cases where it is proven that there has been an out-of-court settlement (‘amicable agreement’) between the parties involved in the traffic accident, and they have decided by mutual agreement not to wait for the traffic inspector at the scene.
If any person is injured as a result of a traffic accident, the perpetrator may face criminal charges in Panama. On the other hand, it is advisable to promptly notify and request assistance from your insurance company, which will provide support in accordance with your vehicle policy contract.
If you require the services of a Panamanian lawyer with experience in hit-and-run cases, please contact us.