Nothing is worse than being hit by another driver just to have that driver flee the scene, leaving you to pick up the pieces. We would like to think that people would own up to their mistakes, but unfortunately, sometimes people leave you behind. Our Columbia car accident lawyers are familiar with the confusion, anxiety, and anger that happens when someone flees the seen of an accident. When you have been injured by a hit-and-run driver, you need an experienced Columbia personal injury lawyer on your side.
Contact Shelly Leeke Law Firm for a free consultation and case review.
State Law Forbids Leaving the Accident Scene
When someone is in an accident, they have a legal obligation under South Carolina law to stay at the accident scene. In fact, a person who is involved in a car accident has several duties under the law, including:
- Waiting for the police
- Giving the police their name, address, and vehicle registration
- Showing you their driver’s license upon request
- Immediately reporting the accident to the police
- Giving “reasonable assistance” to you if you are hurt, including calling an ambulance.
The failure to do any of these things, or in the case of a hit-and-run, all of them, is a violation of the law. This will make it much easier to prove your case. Your hit-and-run accident lawyer in Columbia will take advantage of their illegal actions to get you the compensation that you deserve.
Leaving the Scene of the Accident Might Be an Admission of Fault
Sometimes, when a driver leaves the scene of the accident, this can be viewed as an admission of fault for the accident, especially if you are injured. Oftentimes, there will be much better evidence that the other driver was at fault, such as evidence that you were rear-ended. However, if the other driver leaves the scene of the accident, it will typically help your case in the long run.
How to Determine if Someone Was at Fault for a Hit-and-Run Accident
In most car accident cases, including hit-and-run accidents, your lawsuit against the at-fault party will allege negligence. To prove negligence, you must prove four “elements,” or separate parts of the case.
Duty means that the other person had a legal obligation to act reasonably. In car accident cases, every person who drives a car has a general duty to act reasonably and not injure other people.
Breach of Duty
Breach of duty means that the other person acted in a manner that was contrary to their legal obligations. Generally, a person breaches their duty when they fail to act in a manner that an average reasonable person would have acted in the same or similar circumstances. This can be shown with evidence that the driver was speeding, texting while driving, or other similar evidence.
The next thing that you have to prove is that the other person’s negligent actions were the cause of your injuries. This is normally expressed as a “but for” statement, as in, “but for the other driver’s actions, you would not have been injured.” In car accidents, this element is typically one of the easier to prove.
The final element is that you were injured. This is not difficult to prove because you will be allowed to have your doctors testify or present your medical records as evidence.
Negligence Per Se
Another thing to be aware of is the legal rule of negligence per se. Negligence per se means that the other driver has violated the law and is, therefore, automatically considered negligent. This legal rule is very helpful to your case because, in most cases, you have to prove that the other driver was negligent, but in negligence per se cases, the other driver must prove that they were not negligent.
What You Should Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident
When you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident, there are certain things that you should do in the immediate aftermath, if you are able, to help your case. The most difficult aspect of hit-and-run accidents can be finding the driver of the other vehicle. That’s why you should take these steps:
- Try to remember details about the other car (color, make, model).
- Look around and try to remember the location of nearby security cameras.
- Try to catch and remember the other driver’s license plate number.
- Ask nearby witnesses if they saw anything.
- Contact the police as soon as possible.
Experienced hit-and-run accident lawyers in Columbia also have several methods by which they can help you find the perpetrator of a hit-and-run accident.
What if You Were Partially at Fault for the Accident?
The situation becomes slightly more complicated if you were at fault for the accident. However, leaving the scene of an accident is illegal in all circumstances, even if you were totally at fault, so the other driver is never completely blameless.
South Carolina is a comparative negligence state. This means that, as long as you were not mostly at fault for the accident, you will be able to recover something. If you are 50% or less at fault for the accident, you can still recover damages, but your award will be reduced by the amount of the accident that you were at fault for.
For example, if you are awarded $500,000, but the jury finds that you share 10% of the blame for the accident, 10%, or $50,000, of the reward will be deducted. Your hit-and-run accident attorney in Columbia can help you by showing the jury that you were not at fault.
Contact a Columbia Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in a hit-and-run accident, you do not need to deal with it alone. You can enlist the help of highly skilled Columbia hit-and-run accident attorneys.