What Is a Hit-And-Run Accident?
A driver can face serious legal penalties and consequences after fleeing the scene of an accident. Despite this reality, many drivers are spurred by fear or personal circumstances to speed away after injuring another motorist or pedestrian. In fact, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has completed research that proves there is at least one hit-and-run crash in the United States every 60 seconds.
Drivers frequently commit hit-and-run crimes for the following reasons:
- The driver doesn’t have a driver’s license
- The driver didn’t realize they hit a person
- The driver is already facing other legal troubles
- The driver doesn’t have an insurance policy
- The driver is drugged or intoxicated
- The driver is afraid of the legal consequences
It can be difficult to parse through the shock and stress to know what actions to take after a collision occurs. In an ideal world, the at-fault driver would pull over after an accident and call 911 for emergency assistance. The driver could then exchange insurance information with the victim(s) while waiting for law enforcement officials to arrive. In a worst-case scenario, and if needs must, this driver could also help an injured party to the best of their ability.
Understanding South Carolina General Statutes 56-5-1210
Regardless of fault or inculpability, a driver commits a hit-and-run crime the moment they leave the scene of an accident without checking on the other parties and waiting for law enforcement officials to arrive. The only exception is if the driver temporarily leaves to seek out immediate assistance for any injured parties.
This duty is explained and enforced by South Carolina General Statutes 56-5-1210, which states that “The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or the death of a person immediately shall stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible. He then shall return to and in every event shall remain at the scene of the accident until he has fulfilled the requirements of Section 56-5-1230. However, he may temporally leave the scene to report the accident to the proper authorities.”
5 Steps to Protect Your Health & Personal Injury Claim
To help future victims of hit-and-run accidents, our Charleston hit-and-run accident lawyers have compiled this list of 5 critical steps you must follow if you intend to pursue justice and restitution.
Step #1: Take in the Details
This is the first and most challenging step for any victim of a hit-and-run accident. Being hit by a motor vehicle is an incredibly shocking experience. Even so, your case may depend on taking as many mental notes as you can about the driver and their vehicle.
This information can help police officers track down the driver:
- The physical characteristics of the driver, including: age, gender, race, etc.
- The model, color, and license plate number of the vehicle
- The vehicle’s distinguishing features, such as: scratches, bumper stickers, etc.
Step #2: Call 911
Your next step is to check on any injured parties and call 911 to report the accident and request emergency services. When law enforcement officials arrive, you can help them complete their report by giving them the information from Step #1.
Step #3: Compile Evidence
It’s important to document the scene of the accident by collecting photographic evidence and talking to witnesses. This information can serve as critical evidence for your legal team. Of course, if you’re too injured to take this step yourself, you can always call a trusted friend or a legal representative to assist you.
Collect the following evidence after the accident:
- Take pictures of your injuries, your vehicle, any relevant property damage, and the overall accident scene
- List the names and badge numbers of any police officers who show up at the scene
- Write down witness names and phone numbers
- If you’re a rideshare passenger, take screenshots of your receipt
Step #4: Go to the Hospital
You need to seek medical attention after an accident even if you don’t believe you’re seriously injured. Only a trained medical professional has the insight and experience to properly identify your symptoms and provide life-saving treatment options. This step is particularly important if your head was jostled during the collision. Many accident victims confuse brain contusions and concussions with the symptoms of whiplash. Without medical attention, these injuries can quickly develop into devastating physical and cognitive disorders.
This step is also important because your updated medical record can be used to validate your personal injury claim.
Step #5: Retain the Services of an Experienced Attorney
Contact Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC if you’ve been injured by a hit-and-run driver. Our knowledgeable and trial-tested legal team can investigate your case, evaluate your legal options, and negotiate with insurance company representatives on your behalf. With our help, you can secure a payout and/or damages that facilitate your recovery and prepare you for the next chapter of your life.
Call Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLCat (843) 968-0886 to schedule your free consultation.