A car accident is both painful and stressful. You might know what to do if you have been involved in a car accident with another driver. When the at-fault driver rushes away from the scene, however, you might worry that you will not be able to receive the compensation you need for your personal injuries and property damage. In South Carolina, you have rights after a hit-and-run accident, even if you cannot identify or locate the other driver. The car accident attorneys at HawkLaw, P.A. understand your frustration and are here to help you assert your right to fair compensation under South Carolina law.
Is Leaving the Scene of an Accident a Felony in South Carolina?
Leaving the scene of an accident can be a criminal offense in South Carolina. Chapter 56 of the South Carolina Code directs drivers to stop if they are involved in an accident involving an attended vehicle or an unattended vehicle, but it only imposes criminal penalties for failing to do so when the accident resulted in injuries or death.
In any motor vehicle accident involving property damage to a vehicle, personal injury, or death, § 56-5-1230 of the South Carolina Code requires drivers to stop, provide contact information to other drivers or passengers, and render aid to anyone who needs it until emergency responders arrive. Contact information includes one’s name, address, driver’s license, and vehicle registration number.
A person who flees the scene of an accident may face criminal charges under § 56-5-1210 of the South Carolina Code. The severity of the offense depends on the extent of the injuries caused by the accident:
- Personal injury, but no great bodily injury or death: A misdemeanor punishable by thirty days to one year of jail time and a fine of $100 to $5,000
- Great bodily injury: A felony punishable by thirty days to ten years imprisonment and a fine of $5,000 to $10,000
- Death: A felony punishable by one to twenty-five years in prison and a fine of $10,000 to $25,000
State law defines “great bodily injury” as any injury that “creates a substantial risk of death,” “causes serious, permanent disfigurement,” or results in the long-term loss of the use of “a bodily member or organ.”
What Steps Should You Take After a Hit-and-Run in South Carolina?
If you have been involved in a hit-and-run crash, you should take the following steps:
You or someone else at the scene may need prompt medical attention. The police will prepare an accident report, which you will need for an insurance claim.
Seek Medical Attention
Be sure to let the 911 operator know if you need medical care. Even if your injuries do not seem that bad immediately after the accident, you should seek medical attention. Some car accident injuries are not apparent right away but can manifest later.
Write Down Any Information About the Other Vehicle
Write down or record anything you can remember about the vehicle. A license plate number is tremendously helpful, but even just a description of the vehicle can go a long way towards helping law enforcement track down a hit-and-run driver.
Hopefully, witnesses who saw the accident can remain at the scene to talk to the police. You should get their contact information in case you need to talk to them when you are preparing your insurance claim.
File an Insurance Claim
You can submit a claim to your own insurance company even if you never identify the hit-and-run driver. Uninsured motorist coverage is mandatory in South Carolina. Your insurance policy will have information on how to make a claim. A personal injury attorney can help.
When Does the Statute of Limitations for a Hit-and-Run in South Carolina Expire?
South Carolina law sets a deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit known as the statute of limitations. For a claim involving bodily injury or property damage after a hit-and-run accident, § 15-3-530 of the South Carolina Code states that you have three years from the date of the accident. For wrongful death claims, you have three years from the date of the death caused by the accident.
Does Insurance Cover a Hit-and-Run in South Carolina?
Your insurance will cover your damages, after a deductible, if the hit-and-run driver flees and you cannot locate them. State law requires all insurance policies to include uninsured motorist coverage. This provides coverage for a policyholder if an at-fault driver does not have their own insurance or, in the case of hit-and-run accidents, remains unidentified. Plus, if the police catch the hit-and-run driver, your insurance company can seek reimbursement from the driver’s provider. This should result in a refund of the deductible you paid.
Before you settle your uninsured motorist claim, your insurance company should pay for your medical expenses under your Medical Payment coverage. You can simply submit your medical bills to your insurer.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Hit-and-Run Accident?
The days and weeks after a car accident can be a very confusing and frustrating time. Time is often of the essence, though, when it comes to personal injury claims. If you suffered injuries in a hit-and-run accident, you may be so focused on your own recovery that you miss critical information or overlook important deadlines, which is completely normal for accident victims.
Personal injury lawyers have extensive experience dealing with insurance claims and the rest of the legal process. They understand all of the legal jargon associated with personal injury claims. They can provide you with legal advice and guidance so that you understand your rights, and they can take on the burden of asserting your claim for damages so you can deal with recovering from your injuries.
Are You Frustrated With Nobody to Blame?
An experienced South Carolina personal injury lawyer can fight for your right to compensation for your injuries after a hit-and-run accident. Call 888-HAWKLAW or complete the online contact form today to request a free consultation* with a member of HawkLaw’s team.