Hit-and-Run Crashes in the Carolinas
Being involved in an accident or a crash is frustrating. But what happens when the other driver flees the scene? Frustration can quickly turn to outrage. What should you do after a hit-and-run? What it you’re hurt? Who will pay for the damage to your car or other harms and losses you suffer?
Hit-and-run crashes can be more complicated than other kinds of car accidents for a few reasons, the most obvious being that the other driver is gone. There’s so much that goes into hit-and-run crashes that we dedicated an entire blog post to them, and why we recommend consulting with an experienced hit-and-run lawyer to evaluate your case.
While hit-and-run injury lawyers generally do not deal with criminal law, it is important to know that anyone who leaves the scene of a traffic collision in North or South Carolina is breaking the law!
In North Carolina, according to § 20-166, a driver who flees the scene of an accident can be held criminally liable.
In South Carolina, according to section 56-5-1210, a driver who flees the scene of an accident can be held criminally liable.
5 Steps You Should Take After a Hit-and-Run Accident
So you were involved in a crash, but the other driver has fled the scene. What do you do next? Stay calm and follow these steps. If you’re injured, the first step should always be to call 9-1-1 to seek medical assistance – take care of yourself first and foremost, and any of the passengers in your vehicle. If applicable, here are the next steps:
- DO NOT PURSUE. If you do, you would also be leaving the scene of the accident. You’re not a police officer. Trying to pursue a hit-and-run driver could be dangerous in many ways, including breaking more traffic laws or causing another accident. Record a description of the other vehicle, after you have attended to the health and safety of yourself and others involved, if you can while it’s fresh in your mind. Whether you write it down, type it into your phone or even record it with your phone’s camera, get the best description you can.
– What color was it?
– How old was it?
– Were there any identifying marks or stickers?
– Can you describe the driver?
– Did you get some or all of the license plate?
- Call the police. They have a process for dealing with traffic accidents. They’re going to take your statement and record evidence. Write down your own account of the crash, and include as many details as you can including locations, directions, and traffic conditions. Take pictures – lots of them.
- See your doctor as needed. Even if you don’t feel bad right after the crash, you may feel the effects in the coming days. Some injuries, like whiplash, can take time before symptoms form. Monitor your health carefully. If you have new aches or pains, trouble sleeping, feel dizzy or nauseous, or anything out of the ordinary, consult with your physician and tell them about the crash.
- Call an attorney. The authorities may never catch the hit-and-run driver, and either way, you’re going to have an insurance claim. If the other driver is caught, they may not even have insurance. An experienced hit-and-run lawyer will be able to guide you, protect your best interests, and deal with the insurance company and paperwork. This is especially helpful if you’re injured, as it allows you to focus on recovery while a legal professional focuses on the insurance claim.
- Call your insurance provider. If the other driver cannot be located, or if they are and have no insurance, your own insurance policy should end up covering the damage. How this is handled depends on your policy. No matter what happens, remember that your insurance company makes money by paying out as little as possible. Having an attorney means you can refer the insurer to your lawyer to avoid dealing directly with them.
Does My Insurance Have to Pay for a Hit-and-Run Crash?
It might. If the other driver cannot be found, the only avenue left is your own policy. That’s why you have one, after all. In this case, the damage to your vehicle may be covered by your policy.
If you are injured, you’ll again be turning to your policy. You have medical coverage – it is required in the Carolinas, though the amounts may vary based on your location.
Even if the other driver is located, you may still have to lean on your policy. That driver may not have insurance – which may be the reason they fled the scene in the first place! If the driver does have insurance, they may not have enough, which is when underinsured motorist policies kick in.
In North Carolina – Uninsured Motorist coverage is required, but Underinsured Motorist coverage is optional. If you opt for the minimum required policy, you only have Uninsured Motorist coverage. Also, North Carolina requires physical contact between the vehicles in Uninsured Motorist cases.
In South Carolina – Uninsured Motorist coverage is required, but Underinsured Motorist coverage is optional. In South Carolina, contact between the vehicles is not required – you can still recover if you have a witness willing to provide an affidavit under threat of criminal penalty if the statement is false.
Contact an Attorney to Protect Your Rights
Being in an accident and not knowing what to do next is a lonely, stressful feeling. If you’ve been injured in a hit-and-run accident, contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin to protect your rights. Call us at 1-866-900-7078, contact us online, chat or just text with us. We’ll evaluate your case for free.