In every car accident, the law requires a driver involved to notify law enforcement, stop and render help if a person is injured, or notify the owner in the event of property damage. But, this isn’t always the case.
Car accidents can be costly, so it’s common for some drivers to flee the scene of the crash to avoid paying for another driver’s or the victim’s damages. By doing so, they are committing a hit-and-run offense.
Hit-and-run, or leaving the scene of an accident, is a serious offense in South Carolina and could lead to penalties and fines. Please read on to learn more about hit-and-run laws in South Carolina and your entitlement to compensation as a victim.
What’s Hit and Run in South Carolina
Leaving the Scene of an Accident or Hit and Run under the South Carolina Criminal Law 56-5-1220 is a criminal offense (either a felony or misdemeanor) where the driver in an accident knowingly fails to stop and leaves the scene to give their details or aid to the injured party. They avoid speaking to witnesses and law enforcement, too.
To prove and ascertain that the defendant or at-fault driver committed a hit-and-run offense, a prosecutor has to establish each element of the act, which are:
- There was property damage to attended vehicles
- The defendant was driving a vehicle
- The vehicle was involved in an accident that caused property damage
- The other vehicle contained victims
There some instances, the defendant is excused to leave the scene of an accident. For instance, one can momentarily leave the scene to contact law enforcement. However, one must adhere to the South Carolina Criminal Law 56-5-1230 before they’re permitted to leave the scene of an accident.
South Carolina Hit and Run Laws
South Carolina’s hit and run statute mandates every driver involved in an accident to stop at the scene of the accident and take the necessary steps, including contacting law enforcement, helping those injured, or informing the owner whose property has been damaged. Failure to do so implies violation.
Here are the applicable South Carolina hit and run laws depending on the type of accident, the steps the at-fault driver is supposed to take, criminal offenses, and penalties for leaving the scene.
1. Accident Involving Death or Injury
Under South Carolina Code Section 56-5-1220, a driver must stop when a collision occurs, causing injury or death to another. The driver must stop at the scene, exchange the necessary information with other drivers, render reasonable help, and report the accident to local police.
Fleeing the scene of an accident results in a misdemeanor if an injury is involved without death, attracting a minimum of 30 days imprisonment but not exceeding 10 years and a fine of between $5000 and $10000.
If a felony conviction is granted and there was death, the driver can be imprisoned for between 1 to 25 years or a fine of between $10,000 and $25,000.
2. Accident Involving Damage to Attended Vehicles
56-5-1220 provides that all drivers must stop at the scene of the accident and exchange the necessary information, including name, address, and registration, with the other driver(s). If it’s possible to move the damaged vehicle off the road to prevent traffic congestion, the driver is permitted to do so.
The driver can only leave the scene for a while to report to or contact local law enforcement. Otherwise, they commit a misdemeanor and can face imprisonment for between 30 days to a year or a fine between $100 and $5,000.
3. Accident Involving Unattended Vehicle
56-5-1240 requires that all drivers try to locate the owner if they hit an unattended vehicle. If they cannot locate the owner, they’re supposed to leave a note in plain sight on the vehicle with their information for the owner to reach them. Not doing so is a misdemeanor that can result in imprisonment of up to a year or a fine of up to $5,000.
4. Accident Involving a Fixture(s) on or Next to the Road
South Carolina Code Section 56-5-1250 requires that if a driver strikes a fixture such as a building, fence, or signage on or next to the highway, they must take the appropriate steps and notify the owner or local law enforcement and provide information necessary for identifying them. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor that could attract a sentence of between 30 days and 1 year and/or a fine of between $100 and $5,000.
The Bottom Line on South Carolina Hit and Runs
- You must stop immediately after the accident, remain at the scene until you exchange information with the other driver, and report to law enforcement. If you struck a property or unattended vehicle, find the vehicle or property’s owner, provide your information in person or by leaving a note on the property or vehicle, and contact the authorities.
- Besides the penalties, hit and run offenses can also result in your driver’s license being suspended.
- The penalties mentioned above are solely for hit and run offenses and are combined with other penalties for misdemeanors such as driving under the influence (DUI), traffic light violation, or reckless driving.
- If you’re a minor with a misdemeanor or felony conviction in your records, you must report them when applying for college, university, employment, and other professional licenses.
- NEVER chase after a hit and run driver, as that puts you and other road users at risk.
If you find yourself in a hit-and-run accident and don’t know what to do, David Aylor Law Offices is your go-to partner. We’ve been operational since 2007 and stay dedicated to serving our clients. Our highly-experienced attorneys are always ready to help you receive the compensation you deserve. Don’t hesitate to contact us today.
South Carolina Hit and Run Laws FAQs
What is considered a hit and run?
A hit and run offense occurs when an at-fault driver drives away, flees the scene of an accident, or leaves their vehicle and takes off on foot. It can also mean a driver hits an unattended or parked vehicle or property and fails to leave a note with their information for identification.
What am I supposed to do after a hit-and-run accident as the victim?
Since the at-fault isn’t there to give you their information, it’s advisable to take steps that would help identify them. These steps include taking photographs, contacting law enforcement immediately, getting the contact information of any witnesses, and contacting your insurance company.
Does insurance cover a hit-and-run accident?
You can file a third-party insurance claim against the at-fault’s insurer or a personal injury lawsuit against the driver if you are able to identify them. Otherwise, your insurer can cover you if you have the proper coverage.