Few things are as troubling as a car accident. At best, you may walk away with some property damage. At worst, someone could be seriously injured or killed. Whatever the case may be, there are certain steps drivers should take after experiencing an accident. Take the time to learn about what to do after a car accident in Greenville so that you can avoid more trouble in an already troubling situation.
What Should I Do Immediately After the Crash?
Stop Your Car at or Near the Scene
Make sure to stop your car as soon as you can safely do so, as leaving the scene of an accident it a crime. The law requires you to stay nearby until you have completed all of your duties. Below, you'll find descriptions of those duties.
Every driver involved in an accident must provide the other drivers with certain information, including:
- His or her name and address
- The vehicle registration number
In addition, the driver must produce his or her driver's license if other drivers request to see it.
Provide "Reasonable Assistance"
The South Carolina Code of Laws requires drivers to provide "reasonable assistance" to anyone else injured in the accident. This can include providing transportation to receive medical care or making arrangements for transportation. The South Carolina Bar Association (SCBA) recommends that you call a doctor or ambulance to the scene if someone is seriously injured. It's typically best not to move an injured person because you may cause further injury.
Report the Accident to Law Enforcement
Generally, you're legally required to report the accident to your local law enforcement. If you're reporting an emergency, you should call 9-1-1. Otherwise, you can call the Greenville Police Department at (864) 467-5333. Here are some other local agency phone numbers that may come in handy:
- Greenville County Sheriff's Office: (864) 271-5210
- South Carolina Highway Patrol: (864) 241-5026
- Mauldin Police Department: (864) 289-8900
- Travelers Rest Police Department: (864) 834-9029
- Simpsonville Police Department: (864) 967-9537
- Greer Police Department: (864) 848-2155
Take Notes About What Happened
The SCBA strongly recommends that you take notes after a car accident in Greenville, or anywhere. First, record the names and addresses of any witnesses. Politely ask them to write down what they saw. It may take an officer a while to get to the scene, and the witnesses may not have long to wait. By taking down the witnesses' information soon after the accident, you'll be doing everyone a favor.
The SCBA also recommends that you fill out a copy of its accident information form. You may want to print out a copy of the form and keep it in your glove compartment. If you don't have a copy on hand, write down the key details, especially the answers to these questions:
- How fast were both cars going?
- Did the other driver signal properly?
- Did both drivers have their lights on?
- How far away was the other car when you noticed it?
- What were the road and weather conditions like?
Write a Report
If you were involved in a collision that caused an injury, death, or property damage above $1,000, you may be required to write a report. Typically, a law enforcement officer will do so, but in some circumstances the drivers may be required to fill out the Traffic Collision Report on DMV Form FR-309. In such a case, you would be required to submit this report to the DMV within 15 days of the accident.
The owner of the vehicle is allowed to write this report instead of the driver, if he or she elects to do so. Finally, if the driver and owner are physically unable to write a report, a passenger who was in the automobile at the time of the accident may write it. Submit Form FR-309 to:
S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 1498
Blythewood, SC 29016
What Will Law Enforcement Do?
If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of at least $1,000, an officer must investigate what happened. The officer will likely interview you and others involved within twenty-four hours of the wreck. He or she will then write a report and send it to the DMV. If you would like a copy, send a request to the officer's law enforcement agency (police, sheriff's office, etc.), stating your name, address, and intended use of the report.
Alcohol and Drug Tests
A law enforcement officer may request a chemical alcohol or drug test after you've been involved in a crash. If your blood alcohol content is at or above 0.08%, you can be convicted of driving under the influence(DUI). Search FindLaw for more local information on DUIs in Greenville.
What Are the Possible Legal Consequences of an Accident?
Liability for the Accident
A driver is usually only liable for an accident if he or she was at fault. In many cases, several drivers may be at fault to varying degrees. Whether or not you caused the accident, you should notify your insurance provider to start a claim.
Receive Compensation for Your Losses and Injuries
If the accident was not your fault, you may have a personal injury claim against the driver responsible. A successful personal injury suit will allow you to receive compensation for any medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, or pain and suffering that resulted from the injury. You should talk to an attorney to get help with your claim.
Some car-related activities are treated as crimes, including many DUI-related offense. If a court finds you guilty of a crime, the punishments may vary depending on the seriousness of the charge. Penalties can include fines, jail or prison time, probation, counseling, and more. If you are questioned about any traffic crimes, you should contact an attorney. Check FindLaw for more information on Greenville criminal cases.
Contact an Attorney After a Car Accident in Greenville
If everything goes relatively smoothly after a car accident, then it's usually resolved with a few phone calls and trips to the body shop. The insurance companies involved usually will get you the compensation you deserve, but there may be situations where you'll want the help of an attorney. If you have any legal questions about a car accident, talk to a South Carolina injury attorney today.