Yes, there are ways to recover damages if you’ve been injured by a missing hit-and-run driver. A hit-and-run car accident occurs when a vehicle involved in a crash leaves the scene without:
- Exchanging information with other drivers involved
- Reporting the accident
- Helping anyone who is injured
Reasons for Fleeing the Scene
Although leaving the scene of a car accident in Mt. Pleasant can result in fines and/or jail time, at-fault motorists might flee for a number of reasons:
- Fear of contact with law enforcement due to outstanding warrants or parole violation
- Driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs
- In the process of committing a crime
- Drugs/stolen goods in the vehicle
- Ignorance of the law
- No driver’s license
- Stolen vehicle
- No insurance
Even if you didn’t cause the accident, you’re required to stay at the scene unless your injuries are so serious that you’re immediately transported to a hospital. If you collide with a car that is stationary and unattended, you should still report the accident and leave your contact information for the driver to find. In South Carolina, leaving the scene of a wreck that causes any damage or injury is a crime. Nonetheless, the American Automobile Association (AAA) ranks our state ninth in the U.S. for the number of fatal hit-and-run crashes, which doubled between 2014 and 2016.
What to Do After a Mt. Pleasant Hit-and-Run Car Accident
If you’re the victim in one of these increasingly common car accidents, there are several things that you can do at the scene to improve your chances of getting fair compensation for your damages. If you are physically able to, you should:
- Get photos of the fleeing vehicle or at least try to remember the make, model, and color of the car, as well as the appearance of the driver.
- Note all or any part of the license plate number.
- Call 911 and report the accident to the police when they arrive.
- Get contact information from any witnesses to the wreck.
- Contact your insurance company.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible even if you don’t think you’re seriously injured.
- Consult a car accident attorney.
Recovering Damages Following A South Carolina Car Accident
Under normal circumstances, if you’re injured in an accident in Mt. Pleasant, you may file a claim against the negligent driver’s insurance company for your damages:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
In a hit-and-run accident, however, you don’t know whom to file against unless the police apprehend the at-fault driver. While you wait for the unknown driver to be caught, South Carolina law allows you to file a “John Doe/Jane Doe” lawsuit against that driver as long as:
- You report the accident within a reasonable period of time.
- Your injury or property damage was caused by physical contact with the other vehicle, or the accident was witnessed by a third party who will sign an affidavit attesting to the facts of the crash.
- You have not been negligent in failing to identify the “John/Jane Doe” who caused your accident.
If that driver is eventually caught, you may then file a claim against the insurance company to recover damages. If the guilty driver is never caught or is uninsured/underinsured, though, you might not be able to collect enough money to cover your damages through the normal processes. In such a case, you could still receive compensation from other sources:
Your insurance company.
Every South Carolina driver is required to purchase uninsured motorist (UM) insurance with minimum bodily injury coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. You also have the option of purchasing higher levels of UM coverage, as well as underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. When you file a claim for your damages with your own company, however, its adjusters and attorneys might try to dispute or deny your claim to save the company money.
Your health insurance company.
If you were walking, cycling, or skateboarding at the time of the accident, you could get compensation from your own health insurance.
A civil lawsuit.
If the negligent driver is apprehended and convicted of hit-and-run, you have grounds to sue that driver and demand out-of-pocket payment for your outstanding damages.