North Carolina Hit and Run Accident Lawyer

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North Carolina law prohibits anyone involved in a motor vehicle collision from fleeing the scene, but it still happens. If you or your loved one has been involved in an accident where the driver at fault left the scene, we at Tatum & Atkinson: The Heavy Hitters can help.

A closeup of a car's broken front bumper and headlamp after a hit and run collision.Compensation for an accident in North Carolina must come from whoever was responsible for causing the collision. If the driver whose negligence resulted in the accident decides to leave the scene without exchanging identification or insurance information, pursuing compensation for the damages you have suffered is definitely challenging.

Hit-and-run accidents are actually quite common. According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there were approximately 737,100 hit-and-run incidents in 2015. That means there was a hit-and-run accident occurring every 43 seconds somewhere in the United States.

There are also a large number of pedestrians and bicyclists who fall victim to being struck by vehicles that do not remain at the scene of the accident. These victims have a higher chance of severe injuries that will require expensive long-term medical treatment and rehabilitation if they survive at all.

When the driver responsible for the accident drives away, the victim faces possible financial devastation on top of their injuries and property damage.

Tatum & Atkinson are here to help the victims of hit-and-run accidents. We offer our full dedication to your case and will provide all your legal options for seeking compensation for the damages you have endured as a result of the hit-and-run driver’s negligence.

With over 65 years of combined legal experience, we have in-depth knowledge of how to help the victims of hit-and-run crashes.

Why Do I Need a North Carolina Hit-and-Run Accident Attorney?

Even filing a claim with your own insurance company can be challenging. All insurance companies are businesses, and they have to protect themselves against fraudulent or embellished claims in order to stay in operation and to keep their customers’ premiums as low as possible.

Hit-and-run accidents are difficult to prove, especially when the damage appears to have been caused by your own actions. Witnesses and a detailed police report will help you in these circumstances, but an experienced hit-and-run accident lawyer will be your greatest asset.

Skilled hit-and-run accident attorneys will conduct an investigation of your accident to try to identify the driver who caused the collision and left the scene. They will use all the information and descriptions that you can provide for them, as well as the police report.

They will question any documented witnesses and procure any available surveillance footage. Depending on the circumstances, they may even consult with an accident reconstruction specialist to determine exactly what happened during your collision to prove that the fault lies with the driver who left.

Is Leaving the Scene of an Accident Illegal in North Carolina?

Leaving the scene of an accident in North Carolina is illegal. When a driver is involved in a collision that results in an injury or death, that driver must remain at the accident site until police arrive and are given permission to leave.

The driver may be transported to a medical facility by emergency medical personnel if necessary. Otherwise, leaving the scene of an accident is a violation of the law and a felony offense.

North Carolina has strict penalties for drivers who do not stop and stay after a collision, especially when an injury or death is involved. The penalty for leaving the scene of an accident involving an injury depends on the severity of the injury and ranges from a Class F felony to a Class 1 misdemeanor.

When there is only minor property damage of under $1,000, and there are no injuries, the drivers are still required to exchange information including:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Driver’s License Number
  • License Plate Number
  • Insurance Information

Minor accidents that did not cause injuries and where any property damage will cost less than $1,000 to repair do not require police involvement. If the other driver leaves the scene after a minor accident, contacting the police will give you official documentation of the incident, which will help you when you file a claim for compensation.

What Must a Driver Do After an Accident in Order to Adhere to the Law?

Drivers involved in a collision must contact the police and alert medical personnel if someone has been injured. They must stop and stay at the scene until the police give them permission to leave.

Drivers must also exchange information with other drivers or people who were involved in the accident, such as passengers, pedestrians, or bicyclists. This information has to be shared with the owner of any property that was damaged in the collision, a parked vehicle, for example.

The information that must be exchanged between drivers and anyone else involved in the accident includes the following:

  • Names
  • Contact Information, such as a phone number
  • Address
  • Driver’s License Number
  • License Plate Numbers of all vehicles involved
  • Insurance Information, including the company name and policy number

What Should a Driver Do if the Collision Involves an Unoccupied Vehicle?

When a driver collides with an unoccupied vehicle, that driver is required by law to make an honest attempt to find the owner of the vehicle to exchange information. If the owner is unable to be located, the driver is still responsible for providing their information to the owner and reporting the accident.

Many drivers choose to leave a note for the owner to find when they return to their vehicle.

Why Are Hit and Run Accidents So Prevalent?

Drivers who choose to drive away from a collision are risking felony charges for this serious offense. If convicted, they would face a criminal record and would likely spend time in a state prison.

Despite this, many people decide that leaving the scene of the accident is their best option. The most common reason why drivers choose to flee the scene of the accident is to circumvent serious criminal charges, which may include the following:

  • Driving while impaired or intoxicated by alcohol or drugs
  • Having a warrant for their arrest
  • Driving a stolen vehicle
  • Driving without a valid driver’s license
  • Driving without state-mandated insurance coverage
  • Possible deportation due to residency status

There are occasional instances where the driver did not realize that a collision occurred. These situations typically involve distracted driving, driver intoxication, high speeds, or driving during times of low visibility.

What Can I Do if the At-Fault Driver Cannot Be Found?

Unfortunately, victims of hit-and-run accidents are not able to sue for compensation for the damages they have suffered when the driver responsible for causing the accident cannot be found. Every collision is different, but your hit-and-run accident attorney will give you advice on your legal options, given your unique circumstances.

Most often, you will be able to file a claim with the uninsured motorist coverage in your own car insurance policy.

How Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Help After a Hit and Run Accident?

North Carolina requires all registered vehicles to have at least a minimum amount of insurance coverage. This insurance must include an uninsured and underinsured motorist policy as well as property damage and bodily injury coverage.

The property damage and bodily injury policies will pay for any claims filed against you if the accident was caused by your negligence and there was damage to someone else’s property, or someone was injured.

North Carolina requires a minimum of $30,000 for bodily injury of one person and $60,000 for multiple people injured. The minimum coverage for property damage is $25,000, but more is often purchased by policyholders.

Your hit-and-run attorney will file an uninsured motorist claim with your insurance company if the driver responsible for your injuries cannot be located or identified. The policy limits for uninsured motorist coverage are equivalent to the limits of your property damage and bodily injury coverages.

What Should I Do After an Accident If the Other Driver Decides to Hit and Run?

If you find yourself involved in a hit-and-run accident, you may feel tempted to follow the other vehicle. Any attempt to chase another vehicle is extremely dangerous and should not be considered an option.

The best thing you can do is stay at the scene of the accident, call the police, take pictures of the accident scene and your own vehicle, and record as much information about the other vehicle and driver as possible. Some information that will be very helpful for your case includes:

  • The type of vehicle that hit you, including the make and model
  • The license plate number, even a partial number, can help
  • The color of the vehicle
  • Any unique features of the vehicle, such as bumper stickers or aftermarket modifications
  • Any noticeable damage to the vehicle, both from your accident and pre-existing damage
  • A physical description of the driver
  • Contact information for any witnesses willing to give a statement about your accident

How Does North Carolina’s Contributory Negligence Law Impact a Hit and Run Accident Claim?

North Carolina’s contributory negligence law prevents anyone who has a share in the cause of an accident from receiving any compensation for damages they have suffered. Essentially, people are not able to collect compensation for damages that they caused to themselves.

In a hit-and-run situation, the insurance company may try to argue that you caused the accident or were partially responsible for the collision and, therefore, are not eligible for compensation. Your hit-and-run accident attorney will work to determine the true cause of the collision and will fight to protect your legal rights.

Contact a Knowledgeable North Carolina Hit and Run Accident Law Firm Today

Fleeing the scene of an accident is cowardly and illegal. Tatum & Atkinson: The Heavy Hitters are experienced hit-and-run accident attorneys who will make sure that you get the compensation you need to recover from the damage caused by the driver who left. With over 65 years of experience, Tatum & Atkinson know what you are going through and how to deal with difficult insurance companies.

Call North Carolina’s Heavy Hitters today at (800) LAW-0804 for a free consultation. We give all our clients personalized advice and care because we understand that every situation is unique.

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