You or someone you love is in an accident. Now you’ll have to come to grips with the costs of damaged property, medical bills and missed paycheck. If the worst case is involved, the death of a loved one, the losses are beyond any calculation.
But what if the other driver takes off without giving their name or waiting for police? What can you be thinking about to help you move forward?
Leave the scene is a crime
South Carolina’s statutes (starting at section 56-5-1210) specify that a driver must “immediately” stop, offer up identification and contact information, try to give reasonable help to injured people, and report everything to the police.
Fleeing the scene of an accident, a driver looks like they have something to hide and was hoping to hide it. When police cite or arrest the driver, or a judge or jury determines their guilt, or jury awards damages, fleeing seems like evidence of not only of guilt, but awareness of guilt.
Filing a lawsuit against the driver
Escaping justice is not appreciated by the criminal justice system. That’s why fleeing the scent of an accident, especially when someone has been injured or killed, tends to be a high priority case.
In South Carolina, failing to stop and comply if there’s great bodily injury is a felony meaning prison for up to 10 years and/or $10,000. If a death occurs, it’s up to 25 years and/or $25,000.
If someone is arrested and found guilty, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit to seek damages. Getting a clear idea of the prospects for a lawsuit can only be assessed by consulting an experienced and skilled personal injury attorney.
South Carolina is a comparative negligence state
South Carolina has its own method of calculating. Instead of deciding who was at fault, the state assumes both drivers may be partially at fault and adjusts awards accordingly. So, if your damages totaled $100,000 and you were 25% at fault, you may be awarded $75,000.
Statute of limitations
You have 3 years after the date of the accident to file a claim. An except is a wrongful death lawsuit, in which case you have 3 years from the date your loved one died as a result of succumbing to the injuries that resulted from the accident.