A hit and run accident, in which the person responsible for the crash leaves the scene without stopping, is one of the most frustrating things that can happen on the road. Victims are left shaken, sometimes seriously hurt, and are potentially on the hook for thousands of dollars in medical bills, repair costs, and other expenses from the accident.
Here is what you should know you are the victim of a hit and run. This includes what to do if you are involved in a crash, common reasons why these types of accidents happen, what consequences a hit and run driver can face if caught, and how you can get legal help if you have been hurt.
What to Do After a Hit and Run
The first thing you should do if you are hit by a driver who fails to stop is to stop your vehicle safely and pull over. Never try to chase the other driver down. Not only could you get into big trouble for fleeing the scene yourself, but you do not know who the other driver is or why they are fleeing. You could be putting your life seriously at risk at the hands of someone who has already shown that they are willing to violate the law once.
Once you are pulled over safely and have made sure that you are okay, here are some steps you can take:
- Call the police. Don’t wait on this, especially if you or someone else has been injured. Contact the authorities immediately to report that you have been a victim of a hit and run. A hit and run crash is a criminal offense, so even if nobody has been hurt you should still call the police now. Not only is it the right thing to do, but your insurance company may not cover the damage if you wait.
- Collect your evidence. Do your best to recall the make, model, and color of the car that hit you, and any other identifying marks. Try to recall as much of the license plate as you can, because even a partial match can help. If you saw what part of the other car struck yours, it could help identify the vehicle later. Write as much as you can down and take pictures of the scene if you are able and can do so safely.
- Find witnesses. If there are any witnesses to the accident, ask for contact information and write down what they say they saw. It could help the authorities identify the other driver later.
South Carolina requires you to have uninsured motorist coverage as a part of your insurance policy, so you will want to contact your insurer to get the claims process started. If the other driver is not found, your insurance could be the only way that you can receive financial help after the crash.
Why Hit and Run Accidents Happen
One of the most common questions that victims have after a hit and run is to wonder why the other driver fled. While there are as many answers to this question as there are stars in the sky, there are a few reasons that pop up time and time again. Frequently, it is that the driver thinks that the consequences of fleeing are less than the consequences of some other illegal activity that they were doing at the time of the accident—such as driving with a suspended license or without insurance.
It was also once “common knowledge” that the legal consequences of being caught after fleeing the scene were less than the consequences of a driving under the influence charge (DUI) in Texas, but this is no longer the case. Leaving the scene of an accident is now considered a felony, especially if that accident resulted in serious bodily harm or death. Even if there is no injury, failure to stop and render aid when you are in a crash is still a felony and carries the risk of considerable jail time.
Get Legal Help Today
If you or a loved one has been injured in a hit and run accident, a personal injury attorney can help you discover what your legal options are. Even dealing with your own insurance company to get a fair settlement can be a challenge without legal representation. Remember, insurers do not make money by paying out claims and may do everything they can to minimize the value of your claim. You may need help protecting your legal rights. A personal injury attorney can also help you pursue compensation from the other driver when he or she is caught.
Wayne Wright LLP has been standing up for the rights of those who have been injured by the negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing of others for decades—and we are here to help your family receive the justice you deserve in a court of law. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced legal professional, call us today, use our contact form to send us an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.