Suffering injuries in a car accident can be traumatic and overwhelming. However, when the at-fault driver speeds away after crashing into you, you will probably also feel a profound sense of anger. Attaining the justice you deserve depends on identifying and apprehending the hit-and-run driver. The hit-and-run investigation process may require a great deal of patience. How long will it take? It depends. In some cases, the driver can quickly be identified. In other cases, they might never be found. However, it is crucial to remember that you may have options to recover compensation for your injuries and other losses even if law enforcement officers never find the wrongdoer.
South Carolina’s Hit-and-Run Accident Laws
Like most states, South Carolina requires drivers to remain at the scene after being involved in an accident. According to §56.5.1210, offenders face the following consequences:
- 30 days to one year in jail and a fine of one hundred to five thousand dollars if the accident results in injury
- 30 days to ten years in prison and a fine of five thousand to ten thousand dollars if the accident results in severe injury
- One to twenty-five years in prison and a fine of ten thousand to twenty-five thousand dollars if the accident results in death
In addition to these criminal consequences, offenders may face civil penalties requiring them to pay compensation to injury victims and family members of those who lost their lives in the accident.
South Carolina Hit-and-Run Accident Statistics
Most people take their driving responsibilities seriously, complying with the law instructing them to remain at the accident scene. However, hit-and-run accidents are far more common in South Carolina than most people realize. A recent year saw 3,514 hit-and-run collisions across the state. These numbers underscore the seriousness of the issue in the Palmetto State.
What to Do Immediately After a Hit-and-Run Accident
If you have suffered injuries in a hit-and-run accident, it is crucial to take certain steps immediately.
- If your injuries allow you to do so safely, call 911 to report the incident to police.
- Provide a description of the fleeing vehicle and its license plate number, if possible.
- Seek any necessary medical attention. Even if you feel fine initially, some injuries, like concussions or internal bleeding, may not be immediately apparent.
- Document the accident scene by taking photos of property damage, skid marks, debris, etc. Getting proof of how the collision occurred can help investigators and strengthen an injury claim later.
- Write down or record specifics you remember about the accident while they’re fresh in your mind.
- Exchange contact and insurance information with any witnesses. Their accounts can be vital evidence during a hit-and-run investigation and claim process.
- Save medical records and receipts, repair estimates, accident scene photos, and any other evidence related to crash injuries or losses. This documentation will support your account of your losses when you file an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Hit and Run Investigation Process
After reporting the hit-and-run accident, investigation and search for the at-fault driver falls primarily on law enforcement. Officers will complete a traffic crash report using accounts from victims and witnesses, along with evidence from the scene.
Investigators can check pieces of the perpetrator’s vehicle that were left behind, like a bumper or side mirror, for identifying details. They may also pull security camera footage from buildings near the accident site. If witnesses provide a license plate number or vehicle description, officers can access DMV records to identify potential suspects.
In more severe incidents, law enforcement may issue a BOLO (“be on the lookout”) alert for the vehicle. This allows agencies statewide to assist in locating the hit-and-run driver. Depending on the severity of injuries to the victim, investigators may prioritize the case accordingly. However, hit-and-run probes can remain open for weeks, months, or longer before a suspect is identified.
Recovering Compensation If the Driver Is Not Found
If the police do not locate the hit-and-run driver, you will still have the option to recover compensation through your uninsured motorist (UM) policy. South Carolina requires that all vehicle owners carry a UM policy with minimum limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily injury coverage. Furthermore, the law requires minimum UM coverage of $25,000 for property damage. You can claim compensation up to the policy limit if you have purchased coverage with higher amounts.
You can also run your medical expenses through your healthcare insurance.
A knowledgeable South Carolina hit-and-run accident lawyer can help you calculate and recover your losses.
Contact Murphy Crantford Meehan Today
If you have suffered injuries in a hit-and-run accident in South Carolina, you need an experienced car accident attorney who can help you get the compensation you deserve. The seasoned legal team at Murphy Crantford Meehan has a proven track record of securing favorable results for injured individuals across the state. Contact us today at (843) 396-3840 for a free consultation, or reach out to us online to learn more about how we can help you.