In general, if injuries occur in a car accident in South Carolina, you must report the crash to the police. If you fail to report the collision – even one that you may believe to be a minor one – can be a serious crime. If the injuries are minor, you may face a misdemeanor. If the injuries are more serious, it could be a felony.
In addition to reporting your car accident to the police, you should also notify your insurance company. Your insurance contract likely has language in it that requires you to notify the insurance company in a timely manner. You don’t need to provide a ton of details to the insurance company. You can stick to basic facts.
Reporting a Car Accident to Police in South Carolina
Under S.C. Code § 56-5-1210, you are required to report a collision if it results in any injury or death. Of course, a problem with this requirement is that you may not always know if someone has been injured in a crash. People often feel fine at first only to gradually begin to feel the effects of the crash. Some symptoms of whiplash, for example, can take weeks to fully show up.
So, if there is any reasonable chance that someone could be injured in a crash that you have been involved in, including yourself, you need to follow these guidelines:
- Step 1 – Immediately stop your vehicle at the scene of the crash. If you cannot do that, then you should stop as soon as possible and return to the scene as quickly as possible.
- Step 2 – Call the police or other local emergency authorities right away and report the accident. If you must leave the area for some reason to do so, it’s OK. For instance, you may be unable to get cell phone reception, or the road or weather conditions may temporarily make the situation dangerous. However, if you leave, you should return as soon as possible.
- Step 3 – Do your best to avoid blocking traffic or posing a hazard to others. Get off the road, stick to the shoulder if possible and stay in your car if you are on a highway or Interstate.
- Step 4 – Stay on the scene until help arrives. Stick around so that you can make a statement and get a document from the police which provides you with helpful information about the other driver, their insurance company and the facts of the crash.
Reporting a Car Accident to the SCDMV
The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles must find out about all collisions involving property damage and/or bodily injuries. This is important for a number of reasons, including the fact that it helps the state to improve roads and monitor safety on the highways of our state. You can report a crash to the SCDMV in one of two ways:
Report your crash to the police – If you call the police, and the police investigate the collision, then an official crash report will be generated by the investigating agency. The agency will then send that report to the SCDMV. You can obtain a copy of your report here.
Report to the SCMDV on your own – If it was a minor crash, and you and the other driver merely exchanged information and did not tell the police, then you must complete a Form 309 and submit it to the DMV yourself. You can do this online or via regular mail.
Should You Report Your Car Accident to Your Insurance Company?
For three important reasons, you should report your crash to your own insurance company. Here, we examine each of those reasons. As you read through them, you will see how having a lawyer early in your case can make a difference.
- Your contract requires you to report the accident – Your auto insurance policy probably has a specific requirement that you report the accident in a timely fashion, or else you run the risk of losing coverage.
- You may have optional benefits that can help you – You might not even know all the benefits your insurance policy offers. For instance, do you know if you carry medical payments coverage? What about underinsured motorist coverage? Also, if you have property damage, your own insurance company might be able to assist you in getting the repairs done faster than waiting for the other driver’s insurance company to get around to it.
- Defending you – If the other driver blames you for the crash and files a claim through your liability insurance, your own insurance company will act as your defense team by hiring and paying for a lawyer to defend you in any lawsuit which the other driver files against you.
Our Rock Hill Car Accident Attorneys Can Help You
At McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC, we have decades of experience with handling complex auto accident cases throughout South Carolina, including Rock Hill and surrounding communities. If you suffer serious injuries in a car accident, and you need help with collecting insurance benefits or pursuing other compensation that you deserve, then you owe it to yourself to call us for a free consultation. Even if you just need help with reporting a minor crash or have questions about a minor injury in a car accident, we might be able to help you.
We carefully review the facts of each case and identify all sources of compensation available to our clients. We handle all aspects of filing a claim and/or filing a lawsuit. We also work hard to negotiate settlements, and we prepare to take cases to trial when insurance companies challenge liability and/or the amount of damages sought. Throughout the case, we make ourselves readily available to our clients, return their phone calls and answer their questions.
To learn more about how we can help you after an auto accident in South Carolina, call or reach us online. Our initial consultations are always free.
Gary C. Lemel is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Wake Forest University School of Law who has deep background as a criminal defense attorney in Rock Hill. Over the course of his career, he has handled everything from traffic violations to death penalty litigation. His current practice spans multiple counties and focuses on cases involving driving under the influence, drug charges and high-level felonies. He also serves on the board of the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and as a member of the South Carolina Bar’s Judicial Qualifications Committee and Public Defender Standards Committee.