Pedestrians, drivers, passengers and even bicyclists can have their entire world turned upside down when a negligent driver causes an accident.
Stopping, exchanging information and ensuring no one is severely injured is the responsible thing to do. Unfortunately, some people choose to flee the scene of an accident. This leaves victims with no one to hold responsible for their medical bills, lost wages and emotional suffering.
There’s no justice for the victim of a South Carolina hit-and-run accident if the negligent driver isn’t caught. That’s why South Carolina car accident lawyers will do everything they can to support victims of hit-and-run accidents, including collecting evidence, negotiating with insurance companies and ensuring victims get the best medical treatment.
The main goal of a South Carolina car accident lawyer is to take on all aspects of a hit-and-run case so victims can focus on healing properly.
Importance of knowing how to proceed after a hit-and-run accident
When a negligent driver flees the scene of an accident, they take almost all the evidence with them. Consequently, the moments during and after a hit-and-run accident are the most important. It’s imperative that drivers recognize when they’ve been in a hit-and-run accident and know how to proceed.
There are almost 4,000 hit-and-run accidents in South Carolina every year, according to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. In the United States, there’s a hit-and-run accident every 43 seconds.
The more knowledge a driver has about hit-and-run accidents, the better their chances of obtaining full compensation for any damages that occur during the accident.
Hit-and-run laws in South Carolina
In South Carolina and throughout the rest of the U.S., the phrase “hit-and-run accident” means the same thing. However, each state has different laws that govern hit-and-run accidents.
In South Carolina, the main hit-and-run law is as follows:
“The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any person or damage to any vehicle which is driven or attended by any person shall give his name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle he is driving and shall upon request and if available exhibit his driver’s license to the person struck of the driver or occupant of or person attending any vehicle collided with and shall render to any person injured in such accident reasonable assistance, including the carrying or making arrangements for the carrying of such person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary or if such carrying is requested by the injured person.”
Essentially, it’s the duty of all drivers involved in a hit-and-run accident to stop, exchange information and assist any injured persons. If a driver fails to do so, it’s considered a hit-and-run accident. The same laws apply when a pedestrian is struck by a driver. Even if the vehicle is unattended, the state of South Carolina requires drivers to stop and inform the vehicle’s owner verbally or through a written note.
Collecting evidence after a South Carolina hit-and-run crash
When involved in a hit-and-run in South Carolina, it’s extremely important to notify the police right away so the scene is documented and any evidence is collected. Evidence retrieved at the scene will be documented in the police report. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to place at least part of the blame on the victims of hit-and-run accidents in order to lower the amount of compensation they receive. A police report may prevent the insurance companies from doing so.
In the event a driver is involved in a hit-and-run accident, they should try and collect as much information as possible, including:
- Where the fleeing vehicle was damaged
- Make, model and color of the fleeing vehicle
- License plate number of the fleeing vehicle
- Direction the fleeing vehicle was headed
- Date, time, location and cause of the accident
- Photos of any damage to the victim's vehicle or body
- Nearby surveillance footage (if available)
- Testimony from eyewitnesses
- Copy of the police report when it’s available
Seeking medical treatment following a hit-and-run crash
Even if the victim doesn’t have any visible injuries, they should seek medical attention immediately.
There are many internal injuries that can occur during a car accident that don’t have immediate symptoms. Therefore, it’s extremely important for a victim of a hit-and-run accident to seek medical attention to ensure they don’t have any serious internal injuries. Adrenaline is also known to mask the symptoms of internal and external injuries. If the victim doesn’t seek medical attention, they could develop serious or even life-threatening medical conditions.
Another reason why hit-and-run accident victims should seek medical attention is to prove to insurance companies that the injuries were sustained in the accident. Any and all injuries will be documented by a medical professional. Having a medical record of each injury will be very important to prove that the injuries are legitimate and significant when requesting compensation in court or from an insurance company. When the victim also records their symptoms on their own, they will essentially have a paper trail to prove any pain and suffering.
An experienced South Carolina car accident lawyer will be able to collect all of this evidence and present it in a way that will support the victim’s case.
The types of injuries that can be sustained in a hit-and-run car accident include:
Any time you are prescribed medication, you will want to keep track of side effects. Especially if you are considering a personal injury lawsuit, it is crucial to document every effect on your life.
Hit-and-run crashes involving parked cars
The owner of a parked car that is struck by a hit-and-run driver typically doesn’t witness the collision. As a consequence, hit-and-run accidents are handled a little differently when they involve parked cars.
If your parked car is hit by someone else, you should still contact the police to document the incident and collect all of the evidence you can. However, it will be almost impossible for anyone to identify the driver without the hit-and-run driver’s vehicle information, an eyewitness or video footage. For this reason, it’s important that you look for witnesses and request video footage from the surrounding businesses.
Penalties for a hit-and-run offense in South Carolina
A violation of South Carolina’s hit-and-run statute carries potentially hefty penalties. The severity of the penalty depends on the seriousness of the injuries sustained by the victim.
When injuries are minimal, the hit-and-run offense is a misdemeanor. A hit-and-run misdemeanor carries the following penalties:
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- 30 to 365 days in jail
When bodily injuries are severe, the hit-and-run offense may be a misdemeanor or felony. In these cases, the hit-and-run driver may face the following penalties:
- Up to 25 years in prison
- Up to $25,000 in fines
- Loss of the right to own a firearm
- Many other life-altering consequences
Finally, when a hit-and-run accident results in wrongful death, the offense is a felony and carries penalties such as:
- 1 to 25 years in prison
- Up to $25,000 in fines
- Loss of the right to own or carry a firearm
- Many other life-altering consequences