Hit & Run Collision: My Personal Experience

This morning while traveling on Augusta Street in Greenville, South Carolina around 9:10 a.m.,  I was in the right hand lane headed to drop off our two dogs when suddenly and without warning a Ford SUV came directly into my lane striking the driver's side quarter panel and causing me to run into and over the right side curbing. Prior to contact I was edging to the right and pressing on the horn in an effort to prevent the collision but to no avail. After being run into and over the curbing I pulled into the exit of DryClean USA , I checked on the dogs that were a little shaken up in the back seat but more importantly noticed the other driver continuing down the road. I felt confident he knew what had happened considering he jerked back into his lane then put on brakes to stop but after I went off into a parking lot, continued on. 

Needless to say I was furious but more importantly I knew, not having a witness or third party to verify what had just happened, I was SOL (not a lawyer term). Why would I be &*^* out of luck you ask? Well in South Carolina in order to utilize your own uninsured coverage against someone that is unknown to you several circumstances have to happen, one of those being a witness to the collision. (  S.C. Code 38-77-170).  I got back onto the road and noticed he had been paused by a stop light further down the road. In an expedient manner, but not over the speed limit, I was able to get beside him to try and wave him over. Short of shooting me the bird, he simply gave me a facial expression I will keep throughout the process and waved back at me. I then got behind him and dialed 911 to pass along the make, model, and license tag number of his vehicle. After doing so, I then pulled beside him again and mouthed, "P-O-L-I-C-E" and showed him my phone. A funny thing happened, he pulled over. 

After pulling over into a church parking lot, I got off the phone with 911 and told them I would call back if I needed police assistance. He rolled down his passenger window and I said, "Man, you ran me off the road and kept going! What's your deal?". A lot of my "fight or fight" response lowered when I saw he had two minors in car seats in his back seat. He immediately apologized saying, "I'm sorry, I must have had the sun in my eyes and just didn't see you there beside me." I said, "Well, you saw me go off the road then you didn't stop when I flagged you down. Why was that?" He just shrugged his shoulders and asked if anything was wrong with my vehicle and told me he had Travelers Insurance. Rather than wait on hour on police to do a report from conversations they hear from both of us, I simply used my Iphone to record down him saying his information, along with the date and time of the collision.  (I DONT RECOMMEND ANYONE ELSE USING THIS METHOD! ALWAYS NOTIFY POLICE).  In addition to having police come if you want to document things with your phone, go ahead. 

A more thorough evaluation of the vehicle indicates a noticeable impact point on the driver's front quarter panel, ground up passenger front rim, and alignment that needs to be inspected at this point. My right shoulder and wrist are a little jammed from impact of curb but we will have to let medical professionals determine any injuries. Depending on how cooperative the at fault driver is in disclosing the truth to his own insurance company will be the true test of character. I will provide his name, work information, address and other particulars as needed, if needed to help with any further revelations. 

Most times the investigating officer will not write a ticket for "hit & run" if the other driver is actually there. Don't get upset, just try and get the other driver to admit to it while you record them. 

LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM A LEGAL AND PRACTICAL STANDPOINT

  • If you are ever side swiped, run off the road, or struck by another vehicle that does not stop you need to be able to prove an impact occurred, you need to have a witness, and you need to try and notify police of the make, model, and license tag number of the vehicle. Otherwise you are SOL;
  • Always call the police and have them do a report, then you have all information on the other driver you need without "trusting them to do the right thing";
  • Never trust the other driver will tell the truth later down the road or do the right thing, always get it documented, recorded, videoed, or some verification at that time or place. 

SEE ALSO

Hit-and-Run Accidents in South Carolina: What You Need to Know

Hit-and-Run Accidents in South Carolina: What You Need to Know

I would imagine lawlessness abounds greatly in every state but lately it seems so many people are driving without any automobile insurance and/or not even stopping after being involved in a collision if they are able to drive away. 

South Carolina law is clear on the requirements a driver involved in a hit-and-run must meet in order to pursue their own "uninsured" insurance coverage.  S.C. Code 38-77-170 copied below states:

 SECTION 38-77-170. Conditions to sue or recover under uninsured motorist provision when owner or operator of motor vehicle causing injury or damage is unknown.

If the owner or operator of any motor vehicle which causes bodily injury or property damage to the insured is unknown, there is no right of action or recovery under the uninsured motorist provision, unless:

(1) the insured or someone in his behalf has reported the accident to some appropriate police authority within a reasonable time, under all the circumstances, after its occurrence;

(2) the injury or damage was caused by physical contact with the unknown vehicle, or the accident must have been witnessed by someone other than the owner or operator of the insured vehicle; provided however, the witness must sign an affidavit attesting to the truth of the facts of the accident contained in the affidavit;

(3) the insured was not negligent in failing to determine the identity of the other vehicle and the driver of the other vehicle at the time of the accident. (emphasis added).

Some people will try and manipulate the system so there have to be checks and balances to ensure some validity to what is being offered. Otherwise in rural areas of South Carolina every accident "avoiding a deer" would be claimed as a hit and run. Too bad the deer don't carry insurance or have assets.