A mid-20s youth pastor in the area was a passenger in an eastbound truck that was hauling a trailer, when the driver lost control of the truck, the trailer wobbled and the truck overturned in the median. According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, neither the driver nor the passenger was wearing a seatbelt, and both were thrown out of the truck and landed on the westbound lane. Another vehicle struck the pastor and did not stop. The youth pastor died at the scene and an investigation is now underway to determine whether the initial car crash or the hit-and-run is the cause of death.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident is a Crime
Under Section 56-5-1220 of South Carolina’s Uniform Act Regulating Traffic on Highways, a motorist who is involved in an accident with another vehicle is not allowed to leave the scene except to briefly call authorities for aid. If the only damage is to a vehicle, the hit-and-run driver will be charged with a misdemeanor and if the driver is convicted or enters a guilty plea then the driver might be imprisoned for a year or fined between $100 and $5000 or both. Although a fender bender and other vehicular accidents may seem minor, it is important to remember that unlawfully leaving the scene of the incident can cost a driver a year of freedom.
Under Section 56-5-1230, a motorist who is involved in an accident that resulted in a death, a bodily injury or vehicular damage is required to give his or her name, address and vehicular registration number. If requested, the motorist must also show his or her driver’s license to the other motorist and passengers. Some motorists are unaware of this law and assume that they only need to show their identification to law enforcement officials.
Under South Carolina law, the motorist is also required to render reasonable assistance such as calling emergency services or helping make arrangements for the injured to be transported to the hospital if medically necessary. The law is not clear on whether the motorist is required to physically assist the injured, and there has been medical literature advising civilians to not physically move the injured until emergency personnel have arrived.
Finally, under Section 56-6-1260, the motorist is required to immediately report an injury or a death to the county sheriff or the nearest South Carolina Highway Patrol office. During an accident, the difference between life and death can be a matter of minutes—if not seconds—and delaying a call to the authorities will not reflect favorably on the motorist, and could even be a basis for an award of punitive damages. After an accident occurs, law enforcement officers may be among the first responders, and it is important that a motorist remain at the scene to answer all questions as fully and truthfully as possible. In the event you are injured in an automobile accident, an experienced car wreck attorney can help.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.