A hit and run occurs when a driver causes property damage, injury, or death and leaves the scene of the crash without first stopping to render aid, wait for the police to arrive, or exchange info with the other parties following the wreck. It can be stressful for the victim of a hit and run to figure out how to proceed and who to seek compensation from. If you have been involved in an accident, a South Carolina car accident lawyer from Auger & Auger can help.
After a hit and run accident, the steps you take are crucial to your recovery. While it is normal to feel overwhelmed and angry, it is important to remain level-headed and work your way through the situation step by step. Let us take a look at what you need to know and how you can protect yourself and your future.
Take stock of the situation. Immediately following the accident, you may feel stunned, unsure of what happened, and fearful. Focus on your breathing and try to ground yourself.
Determine if you or your passengers are injured in any capacity, and call 911. Police officers will respond to your call, as will emergency medical services. When the police arrive, they will ask for information about the crash. Provide as much detail as possible. You may remember the other car’s make, model, color, or partial plate. Try to also recall a physical description of the driver, if possible. Any information you provide can help police figure out who hit you and fled the scene.
Car accident injuries vary significantly based on the speed at which the crash happened, the type of crash, the size difference between the vehicles, and the victim’s age and health status.
While there are some types of injuries that are immediately noticeable, it is important to understand that some injuries, particularly internal damage, are often invisible to the naked eye.
It is imperative to be looked over by medical professionals as soon as possible after the accident. Common injuries include broken bones, whiplash, and other tendon or muscle injuries, head injuries, and lacerations and contusions. Failing to seek medical attention could also jeopardize your compensation, as the insurance company may say your injuries were not as severe as you claim because you did not see a doctor immediately after the crash.
While identifying a hit and run driver can be challenging, you can increase the chances of the police finding the driver if you immediately write down information after the crash. Anything you note could be of use to the police or your attorney. Police may also have access to security cameras from local shops, private property, or traffic lights.
Depending on where the crash occurred, you may also be able to collect information from other drivers or pedestrians who witnessed the crash. If possible, get their contact information. Your lawyer will likely contact them when building your claim.
Hit and run claims can be challenging for victims to win, especially if the driver is never identified. To improve your chances of receiving full and fair compensation for your losses, it is in your best interest to seek guidance from a personal injury attorney.
When you meet with a lawyer from Auger & Auger, they will review your claim and determine if legal action is available to you. They can investigate the crash, value your claim based on your injuries and damages, and handle negotiations with the insurance companies involved.
The value of your claim includes economic and non-economic losses like medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. In the event the settlement offer from the insurance company is not enough to cover your damages, they can advise you on how best to proceed to maximize your recovery.
Please note, it is generally the position of an experienced car accident lawyer that you should never speak to an insurance company (even your own) following a car accident without first speaking to an injury attorney.
In a typical accident where both parties remain at the crash scene, the at-fault party’s insurance company is responsible for paying for the victim’s damages. The situation is more complex in the event you have been in a hit and run.
Once the police have filed their report and you can leave the scene, contact an attorney who can work with your insurer to file a claim. If possible, try to file the claim the same day. Whether the insurance company pays for your losses depends on your policy. For example, collision coverage pays to repair or replace your damaged vehicle, so you could have a valid claim even if the other driver is never found. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, your insurance company could pay you for medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage, depending on the policy coverage available. Remember, if you are in a position to file an uninsured or phantom driver claim, your own insurance company may stand in the place of the non-existent insurance coverage from the at-fault driver. Remember, the information that you give them about your injuries and how you are feeling after your accident can be used against you to devalue your claim. Again, it is always a best practice to speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer prior to speaking to any insurance company!
In the event police are able to identify the hit and run offender after your accident, they could be held criminally liable for their actions.
In South Carolina, hit and run penalties vary depending on the consequences of the accident. For example, a hit and run driver who caused an accident resulting in injury could be charged with a misdemeanor and face a penalty of 30 days to one year in jail and a fine of $100 to $5,000.
In the event the crash results in death, the driver could be charged with a felony and face one year to 35 years imprisonment and a fine of $10,000 to $25,000.
After a hit and run, the steps you take will play a significant factor in your recovery. At Auger & Auger, our attorneys know how precarious the aftermath of accidents can be. We are here to support you and guide you through the legal process to ensure you receive the compensation you need to get your life back in order.
When you reach out to us, we will evaluate your situation, determine your legal options, and help you decide the best way to proceed given your unique situation. The sooner you get in touch with us after a crash, the sooner we can try to help you!
To learn more about your rights or the car accident claim process, contact us online today or call us at 800-559-5741.