Nobody ever wants to be in a car accident, and if they are, they hope fervently that it is a minor wreck. But what happens when you or a loved one is involved in a car accident where another driver or passenger is injured or killed?
The Law Requires You to Stop
South Carolina law requires drivers who are in an accident to stop their vehicles at the scene, or as close to the scene as possible, and stay there until law enforcement arrives. The drivers also have an obligation to not obstruct traffic, if possible. The only reason a driver may ever leave the scene is to report the accident to the authorities.
The driver of each car involved in a car wreck has a duty to report the accident to the local police department using the fastest means of communication possible. This usually means calling 911. If the driver of either vehicle is not physically capable of making a report to the authorities, the passenger is required to notify law enforcement. Also, if the driver of a vehicle is not the owner of the vehicle, and is physically incapable of reporting the accident, then the owner has five days to report the accident to authorities after learning about it.
What Happens Once the Police Arrive?
The police or the department of transportation may move the debris from the accident scene, and even move the disabled vehicle. However, when great bodily injury or death is involved, the vehicles may not be moved until the officer in charge allows it. The law defines great bodily injury as bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death, or that causes permanent, serious disfigurement, or long-term loss or impairment of the function of an organ or other body part.
Even before the police arrive, all drivers who are involved in the car accident are required to provide their name, address, and registration number of the vehicle in question. If asked, drivers must also show the other driver a copy of his or her driver’s license. Finally, drivers are legally obligated to provide reasonable assistance to any injured person, including calling for emergency medical attention.
What Are the Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident?
Leaving the scene of a car accident can result in the following criminal penalties:
- Where there is injury but not great bodily injury, a driver is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, can be imprisoned from 30 days to one year or fined between $100.00 to $5,000.00 or both;
- Where there is great bodily injury, a driver is guilty of a felony, and, upon conviction, can be imprisoned from 30 days to ten years and fined between $5,000 to $10,000; and
- Where there is death, a driver is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, can be imprisoned from one year to 25 years and fined between $10,000 and $25,000.
Additionally, if you are convicted of leaving the scene of an accident which involves serious injury or death, the Department of Motor Vehicles must revoke the convicted person’s driver’s license.
Insurance companies often contest claims for UIM and UM, and it is important to have an experienced auto accident attorney by your side who knows how to deal effectively with insurance companies and gain access to UIM coverage. You bought it for a reason, so call or email us today, and let David Aylor Law Offices help you recover the money you are entitled to, and help you get your life back on track.