Hit and run accidents occur far too frequently on South Carolina roads. The state recorded nearly 4,000 hit and run accidents in 2018, the last year for which statistics are available. State law defines a hit and run as leaving the scene of an accident in which you were involved. South Carolina law requires all drivers to stop at the scene of their accident, render aid to injured parties, exchange driver contact and insurance information, and report the accident to authorities. Hit and run accidents don’t just apply if another vehicle is involved. The victim may also be a pedestrian or bicyclist, or the damage can be to a parked car or other structure such as a fence or mailbox. Drivers who flee the scene of an accident can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the extent of the injuries caused.
Why do drivers flee?
There are a number of reasons why a driver would flee the scene of an accident. They do not want to deal with the police, or they may be afraid of the consequences. The driver may not have insurance, they may not have a valid drivers license, or their license may be suspended. A driver may have an outstanding arrest warrant or a criminal record. They may be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They may not be aware that they hit someone. Do not attempt to pursue a hit and run driver. That puts you and others at risk.
What to do if the other driver leaves the scene
- Call 911 and file a police report, even if the other driver leaves.
- Get prompt medical attention for you and your passengers, even if you believe the injuries are minor. Some injuries only get worse over time.
- Write down information about the other vehicle and driver before you forget details. Write down the license plate number if you were able to get it. Note the make, model, and color of the vehicle. If you were able to see the driver, note any details you can remember. This information may help police track down the other vehicle and driver.
- Talk to witnesses and get their contact information. They may have valuable information that can assist in the investigation.
- Take photos of the accident scene and damage to your vehicle.
- Report the accident to your insurance company. You may have coverage that helps pay for your damages.
What recourse do you have?
The Uninsured Motorist (UM) portion of your auto insurance will help pay your damages. Uninsured Motorist protection is mandatory in South Carolina. Other optional insurance like Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and MedPay coverage may pay for medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of fault. If the other driver is found, you can file a personal injury lawsuit. If you are the surviving family member of a person killed in a hit and run accident, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Compensation can be awarded for medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, vehicle repair costs, pain and suffering, and the costs to modify your home if you become disabled due to the hit and run accident.
Often, the hit and run driver is never caught. Pursuing compensation can be complex and difficult. At Ryan Montgomery Law, we recommend consulting an experienced wrongful death and personal injury attorney to help you navigate the process. Our team is here to provide free case reviews.