Insult is often added to injury when it comes to hit-and-run collisions. If the at-fault driver fled the scene, you may be left with questions such as:
- Will I have to pay a deductible for my property damage?
- Who will cover my medical bills?
- How am I going to find the other driver?
- Will I have to hire a car accident lawyer?
All of the uncertainty around a hit-and-run only adds to the frustration that comes with being in a car wreck. So how can you hold someone accountable if you don’t know who they are? You may have more options than you think in South Carolina. I put together the following list of things victims should know about hit-and-run accidents to make the situation less daunting.
1. We often find the hit-and-run driver.
The key to identifying the criminal is to provide law enforcement and an attorney with as much information as possible. Some of the information that has led to catching these drivers in the past includes:
- The other car’s make, model, color, and license plate number – even partial numbers can be helpful.
- The names and contact information of anyone who may have witnessed the accident.
- The exact time and location of the wreck, as camera footage from security cameras at nearby intersections, gas stations, and other businesses can be downloaded to identify the suspect.
2. Your insurance company has a duty to pay your property damage and injury claim if the hit-and-run offender is never caught.
In the event the driver responsible for the accident is not found, you can file a claim with your insurance provider. Two types of insurance that are especially helpful in these scenarios are uninsured motorist and medical payment coverage.
- Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage - which South Carolina law mandates come with every insurance policy - helps protect you against uninsured drivers or, in the case of a hit-and-run collision, an unidentified at-fault driver. When you don’t know who the driver is, you can’t file a claim with his or her insurance company, so you must rely on your own insurance provider. While your insurer may charge you a deductible for property damage, they might actually owe you more than the total value of the car based on the punitive damages that are available in hit-and-run cases. Likewise, UM coverage acts to compensate you for medical expenses and all other “damages” related to any injury.
- Medical Payment (medpay) coverage is designed to cover your out of pocket expenses even before you settle your UM claim. If you have medical payment coverage, you simply submit your initial bills to your insurance company, and they should issue you a check based on your coverage limits. For more information on “medpay,” you can watch this short video: Medpay: What It Means And How It Can Help.
3. You should be reimbursed any deductible if the at-fault driver is found.
Should the hit-and-run driver be identified after you were charged a deductible for your property damage, you must be repaid. Your insurance company will also seek to be reimbursed by the negligent driver’s carrier in a legal process call subrogation.
As I mentioned above, punitive damages are always at play when drivers cause harm then flee the scene of the accident. So, you may be owed far more than the deductible. If you have questions about this issue, feel free to contact us at no charge.
4. A lawyer can help navigate the legal path after a hit-and-run accident.
Personal injury attorneys often get a bad rap due to obnoxious television ads and news stories concerning frivolous lawsuits. However, most personal injury firms do not advertise, nor file, meritless claims. In fact, an experienced lawyer can lead you from confusion to certainty, and prevent the even greater injustice that comes with having the financial burden of a hit-and-run fall on your shoulders. Whether it is working with private investigators, sifting through camera footage, tracking down potential witnesses, securing additional evidence, or effectively communicating with insurance companies, the right lawyer can make a big difference.
Let Us Help You – We’ve Done This Before
If you have been involved in a hit-and-run, we are here to serve you just as we have helped other clients who have been in your shoes.
We recently had a couple come to us after being the victims of a hit-and-run collision involving two tractor trailers, both of which illegally left the scene. Our client’s car went airborne during the wreck. His vehicle was totaled and his back severely injured. Medical bills were piling up, and he was out of work.
Within days, we were able to secure dashcam footage from a witness. This allowed us to get a physical description of both 18-wheelers – though we still did not have license plate numbers. We then reviewed security camera footage from local businesses and were able to identify the vehicles based on the D.O.T. placards on the side of the tractor-trailers. Because we found the companies and drivers responsible for the accident, we are now pursuing a case against them for medical expenses, lost earnings, non-economic damages (e.g. physical pain), and punitive damages.
If you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident in South Carolina and do not know what to do next, contact us today. We would be honored to help you seek answers and justice.