Hit-and-Run Accident Claims in South Carolina

Hit-and-run laws in South Carolina

What happens when the at-fault driver flees the scene?

Although it’s more difficult to recover damages after a hit-and-run accident, it’s not impossible. Here’s everything you need to know about hit-and-run accidents in the Palmetto State.
Jump to section

 

What’s more stressful than getting into a car accident?

Getting into a car accident and watching the driver who caused the accident flee the scene.

The penalties for violating South Carolina’s hit-and-run statute can be severe, but penalties don’t help the victim—especially if the at-fault driver is never found.

In this article, we’ll take a look at hit-and-run accidents in South Carolina, including your options for recovering damages from a driver you can’t locate.

Hit-and-run statistics

In the United States, a hit-and-run accident occurs roughly every 43 seconds. What’s more, hit-and-run accidents are becoming more common every year.

“Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. (source)

Facing factsIn South Carolina, there were 3,932 hit-and-run accidents in 2018 (the most recent year for which data are available).
South Carolina hit-and-run accidents (2018)
Fatality Serious injury Other injury Property damage only Total
11 30 729 3,162 3,932
Source: South Carolina Department of Public Safety

What constitutes a hit-and-run in South Carolina?

South Carolina requires all drivers involved in an accident to stop at the scene of the accident and take certain steps. Someone who fails to stop at the scene and take the required steps violates South Carolina’s hit-and-run statute.

The specific steps a driver needs to take depend on the nature of the accident:

Type of accident Required steps
Accident involving injury or death All drivers must stop at the scene, exchange their information with the other drivers (name, address, and registration number), render reasonable aid (call 9-1-1, etc.), and report the accident to the local police.
Accident involving damage to attended vehicles All drivers must stop at the scene and exchange their information with the other drivers (name, address, and registration number).
Accident involving an unattended vehicle The driver must stop at the scene and take reasonable steps to locate the owner of the vehicle in order to provide them with the driver’s information. If the owner can’t be located, a note with the driver’s information must be left on the vehicle.
Accident involving a fixture (such as a fence or building) The driver must stop at the scene and take reasonable steps to locate the owner of the fixture in order to provide them with the driver’s information. If the owner can’t be located, a note with the driver’s information must be left on or near the fixture.

Penalties for fleeing the scene of an accident in South Carolina

Again, the penalties for a hit-and-run range from a misdemeanor to a felony depending on the nature of the accident:

Type of accident Criminal offense for leaving the scene Penalties
Accident involving great bodily injury or death Felony Minimum imprisonment of 30 days (not more than 10 years) and a minimum fine of $5,000
Accident involving injury Misdemeanor Imprisonment (not less than 30 days and not more than 1 year) and/or a fine (not less than $100 and not more than $5,000)
Accident involving damage to attended vehicles Misdemeanor Imprisonment (not less than 30 days and not more than 1 year) or a fine (not less than $100 and not more than $5,000)
Accident involving an unattended vehicle Misdemeanor Imprisonment (not less than 30 days and not more than 1 year) or a fine (not less than $100 and not more than $5,000)
Accident involving a fixture (such as a fence or building) Misdemeanor Imprisonment (not less than 30 days and not more than 1 year) or a fine (not less than $100 and not more than $5,000)

In addition to the penalties described above, a hit-and-run violation can result in a suspension of your driver’s license.

Real Life Example:On December 22, 2020, Tony Johnson was killed in a hit-and-run accident in McColl, South Carolina. Two days later, police officers arrested Kassidi Danielle Herndon, an emergency medical technician and resident of Bennettsville.

In addition to a felony charge, both Kassidi and her mother were charged with obstruction of justice and destroying physical evidence in an effort to hinder the investigation.

Although a civil lawsuit has not yet been filed, the surviving family of Tony Johnson will undoubtedly file a wrongful death lawsuit against Kassidi.

Does insurance cover a hit-and-run accident?

If you’re able to identify the hit-and-run driver, you can file a third-party insurance claim against the driver’s insurance company or a personal injury lawsuit against the driver.

If you’re unable to identify the hit-and-run driver, filing an insurance claim becomes more complicated. Your own insurance policy may provide coverage if you purchased the necessary optional coverage.

Examples of optional coverage that might cover your hit-and-run accident include:

  • Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage provides coverage for bodily injury and property damage sustained by you or the passengers in your vehicle as a result of an accident involving an uninsured driver or a driver who can’t be located.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage provides coverage for medical expenses, lost wages, and other expenses associated with the accident regardless of who’s at fault for the accident.
  • MedPay coverage provides coverage for “reasonable and necessary” medical expenses regardless of who’s at fault for the accident. MedPay is typically limited to $10,000 or less. 

What to do after a hit-and-run accident

The problem with a hit-and-run accident is that the at-fault driver doesn’t provide you with their contact information after the accident.

To remedy this problem, you need to do everything you can to gather information that might help you identify the at-fault driver. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Take photographs of the at-fault driver’s vehicle (if possible) and write down any identifying information (license plate number, make and model of the vehicle, any unusual features)
  • Call the police immediately
  • Get the contact information for any witnesses who may have seen the accident or the aftermath

Additionally, you should contact your insurance company. Most insurance companies require that you file an accident report within a specific amount of time, or you could lose your ability to recover from a claim.

Finally, you should NEVER chase after a hit-and-run driver. Doing so puts you and everyone else on the road at great risk.

Want to explore your options for recovering damages after a hit-and-run accident in more detail? Use our free online directory to contact a South Carolina personal injury attorney near you.

 

Downloads:
Free personal injury guides for download to print or save. View all downloads.

Tell your story:
Tell your story - What would you want others to know? Tell us what happened in your accident, and how life has changed for you.

Find an attorney:
Search our directory for personal injury law firms.
See our guide Choosing a personal injury attorney.