Imagine you’ve just been hit by another car, and then you watch in horror as the other car drives away from the scene. What can you do? Leaving the scene of an accident in South Carolina is against the law. It can result in a misdemeanor or a felony charge, including fines and possible jail time. But this does little to help victims of hit-and-run accidents. Should you find yourself the victim of a hit-and-run, it is crucial to follow these steps to protect your legal rights to just compensation.
Steps to Take at the Accident Scene
After a car accident on South Carolina roads, drivers are legally obligated to exchange information. With a hit-and-run accident, you don’t have that opportunity. This makes it even more important to follow these crucial steps while still at the scene of the collision. While you may be tempted, never chase after the other driver. This can put you and everyone else in danger. Instead, do as many of the following as possible.
Note Details About the Other Vehicle
Write down as much information as you can about the other vehicle. Take photographs, if possible. Save your dashcam footage. Make a note of any identifying information while it is still fresh in your head. This can help identify the vehicle later on, even if it’s only partial information. This includes:
- Make and model
- Color of the vehicle
- License plate number
- Any distinguishing features
- The direction the driver went when fleeing the scene
Call the Police
When it is safe to do so, pull over to the side of the road and call 911. Or, ask someone else at the scene to call the police for you. The officers at the scene can prepare an official accident report. You will need this to file your insurance claim. Involving the police can help support your claim. They may even try to track down the other vehicle while they are still in the area.
Seek Medical Care
At the same time that you call 911 for the police, it is wise to ask for an ambulance. One of the top mistakes people make after a car accident is not seeking immediate medical attention. Tending to injuries is the top priority. Even if you don’t think you’re hurt too badly, the paramedics can assess your injuries. After this, make an appointment with your doctor for a more complete assessment.
The medical reports that result act as evidence. Delaying medical care can undermine your claim. The defense can argue that you were never actually injured. Or, they may assert that your injuries are not due to the accident. Build evidence to support your case from day one.
Just like in a car accident where the other driver doesn’t leave the scene, you should document the accident. Take pictures of the scene, noting the weather and road conditions. Photograph damage to your vehicle and any injuries you may have. Do not rely on your memory to recall the details of the accident later on. Write them down while they are still fresh in your mind. Describe your version of what happened.
Make a note of the exact time and location. Investigators may be able to get security footage from nearby gas stations and intersection cameras. As you look around, note if there are any cameras from nearby businesses or homes that may help.
Collect Witness Contact Information
Eyewitnesses are especially important in South Carolina hit-and-run accidents. They can corroborate your version of what happened, confirming details about the other vehicle. Or, they can fill in any gaps in your story, like if they noticed the license plate number and you didn’t. Get their contact information in case you, your lawyer, or someone else needs to speak with them.
What to Do After a Hit and Run
After you leave the scene of a hit and run, it’s important to keep taking steps to protect your rights.
Hire a Skilled Attorney
One of the first things to do is to call an experienced car accident lawyer in South Carolina. Christopher Pracht and the team at Pracht Injury Lawyers have helped dozens of South Carolina residents through difficult times. Our skilled attorneys can investigate your case and assemble the strongest claim possible. We can ensure you don’t miss any important deadlines and can speak on your behalf with the police, insurance companies, and other interested parties.
Navigating legal issues after a car accident can be confusing and overwhelming. Let the skilled personal injury lawyers at Pracht help protect your rights and put your mind at ease. We will provide you with helpful insight and advice on how best to proceed with your claim. You may be unsure about the next steps. Hiring the right lawyer can make all the difference.
File an Insurance Claim
It may be prudent to consult with your attorney before contacting your insurance company. Your insurance company may require you to file an insurance claim, whether or not you are at fault, within a certain timeframe. This includes hit-and-run accidents. If you do not report your claim in a timely fashion, you may forfeit your ability to recover costs.
All vehicles in South Carolina are required to carry uninsured motorist coverage (UM). Your lawyer can further explain this coverage to you. A driver who flees the scene, as in a hit-and-run, is treated similarly to one who does not have car insurance. You may also recover costs via medical payment (MedPay) coverage if you have it.
If the other driver is eventually found, you should receive a refund for any deductibles. You may then also file a civil lawsuit against them.
Document Your Injuries and Follow Medical Advice
Much like seeking emergency medical care at the accident scene, these steps are also to protect your health and well-being as well as support your accident claim. By showing that you are doing everything you can to recover from your injuries, you present a stronger case for fair compensation. Choosing to forgo treatment weakens your case.
Why These Steps Are Important
Your car insurance may cover some damages from a hit-and-run accident, but there are limits to your uninsured motorist and MedPay coverage. You don’t know if they will ever be able to track down the other driver. By following these vital steps, you protect your rights to pursue legal action and seek possible compensation for damages. If you have any questions whatsoever, seek the counsel of Christopher Pracht and the team at Pracht Injury Lawyers.