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The Steps You Should Take After You’ve Been in a Hit-and-Run Accident in Columbia

Car Accident On Shoulder Of Highway Stock Photo

A hit and run involves a collision where a driver flees the scene without leaving personal information or stopping to see if anyone else involved needs help. This collision can be with another vehicle, a pedestrian, a fixed object or, depending on the location, an animal. Regardless of whether the driver caused the accident, if a driver leaves the scene of the accident without identifying themselves, they are guilty of a hit and run. The only exception is if the driver leaves the scene momentarily to seek assistance, such as to find a neighbor to obtain cell phone service, and returns immediately afterwards.

If the driver did not attempt to assist you, however, and you have sustained an injury resulting from a hit and run car accident in the South Carolina area, contact a Columbia personal injury attorney at Harris and Graves for legal council.

Criminal Punishments

Those guilty of hit and run car accidents are subject to criminal penalties based on the location and circumstances of the accident. Even if no one is hurt, a hit and run generally results in at least misdemeanor charges for the driver resulting in up to one year in jail and fines up to $5,000. If the hit and run resulted in someone being injured, the driver may be charged with a felony, resulting in up to 15 years in jail and fines anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000.

Administrative Punishments

On top of criminal charges, those guilty of a hit and run usually receive administrative penalties dealt out by their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Their driver’s license is typically automatically suspended or revoked for six months to three years, although more serious cases cause lifetime revocation of their driver’s license.

Civil Punishments

As the victim of a hit and run, you may have the right to sue the guilty driver for compensation for any property damage, medical bills or lost income that resulted from the accident. You reserve the right to do this even if the other party was at fault but did not flee the scene of the accident. For most hit and run car accidents, the court will likely impose “treble damages” onto their charges. “Treble damages” triple the amount of money they owe you for your losses and cannot be covered by their auto insurance. Additionally, most auto insurance companies cancel the car policies of clients who are guilty of a hit and run.

Get Help from a Columbia Personal Injury Attorney

In order to ensure you are never charged with hit and run charges, always remain at the scene of an accident as long as necessary to provide the other party with your contact information. Always drive insured vehicles, and make sure your insurance policy includes uninsured motorist coverage. If, however, you are the unfortunate victim of a hit and run that resulted in physical injuries, Harris and Graves will provide you with a local Columbia personal injury attorney to ensure just punishment for the driver and fair compensation for your losses.