After being in a collision, you need to know what happens if you do not report a car accident in South Carolina. If you fail to report, you could get charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
Also, if you do not complete and return the insurance verification form from the police within 15 days, the state could suspend your driver’s license. Finally, if you do not report an accident to your automobile insurance company, your carrier might refuse to cover the accident and might cancel or refuse to renew your policy.
You Have to Report Motor Vehicle Accidents in South Carolina
S.C. Ann. § 56-5-1210 says that every driver in an accident that involves an injury or a fatality must stop the vehicle immediately and remain at or near the scene. Involved parties must exchange information with the other drivers and help injured people. A driver may temporarily leave the scene to report the collision to the appropriate authorities.
Under S.C. Ann. § 56-5-1260, every driver involved in an accident that causes injury or death to any person must immediately notify the local police department if the accident happens within the municipality.
If the collision happens in a different location, the driver must notify the County Sheriff’s Office or the nearest office of the South Carolina Highway Patrol. The driver must use the quickest means of communication available, whether oral or written.
When Other People Are Allowed to Report an Accident
Sometimes, a driver cannot report an accident because of physical incapacity. Often, the reason for this incapacity is an injury or death caused by the collision or a medical emergency that might have led to the accident. If there was another occupant in the vehicle at the time of the crash who could make a report, that occupant may make the report for the driver.
In situations where the driver cannot make a report, and there was no occupant, or all occupants lack the physical capacity to make a report, S.C. Ann. § 56-5-1280 provides yet another option. If the driver did not own the vehicle, the owner must make the report within five days of becoming aware of the collision.
How to Report a Minor Collision With No Police Involved
South Carolina law does not require drivers to call the police for every little fender bender, but what looked like a minor collision could result in surprisingly high repair bills. Someone might not notice an injury at the time but later develop symptoms of wounds.
If the total property damage was $1,000 or more or someone got hurt or died, and the police did not get called or did not make a report, you must then report the accident to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV). The SCDMV keeps track of motor vehicle crashes throughout the state.
You must send the completed form FR-309 to the SCDMV within 15 days of the collision to report the accident. The form requires information about:
- The date, time, and location of the accident
- The identity and contact information of all drivers and other relevant parties, like injured pedestrians
- Points of vehicle damage and repair estimates
- Other property damage, like fences or buildings
- Insurance coverage of the drivers
- Injuries and where the victims went for medical treatment
- Witnesses and their phone numbers
- Seat belt usage
- A narrative of how the collision happened, including contributory factors
The SCDMV could suspend the vehicle owner’s driving privileges and vehicle registration if the DMV does not receive the FORM-309 by the deadline.
Why Your Automobile Insurer Needs to Know About Every Accident
You might not think that you caused the accident, but you should report your car accident in South Carolina to your automobile insurer, no matter how minor the accident, or if no one appeared injured at the scene. It is understandable to be concerned about your insurance premiums going up after an accident. However, the penalties for failing to notify your insurer could vastly exceed a possible increase in the amount of your premium.
Here are a few reasons why you should immediately notify your automobile insurance company:
- People who appear to be uninjured at the scene can discover later that they did get hurt. Some symptoms do not become noticeable for hours or days. The injured person might blame you for the accident. If you did not notify your insurance company, it could deny coverage. You might have to pay thousands of dollars in damages out of your pocket.
- Despite how things looked at the time, the at-fault driver might lie and claim that you caused the crash. If you notified your insurance company immediately after the accident, they could defend you. You could secure a copy of the auto accident report to prove your losses. If, however, you did not notify your insurer, they might not have any legal obligation to act on your behalf.
- You might need to access benefits under your automobile insurance policy, even if the other driver caused the collision. For example, your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage could be a godsend if the other driver did not have insurance or carried only the minimum required coverage. Your insurer might not have to provide those benefits if you did not provide timely notification of the accident.
- Nearly all automobile liability insurance policies require the insured to report accidents promptly. If you do not report the accident to your insurer right away, they might declare you in breach of the insurance contract and cancel your coverage, refusing to provide any benefits for the collision.
Depending on the terms of your automobile insurance policy and the circumstances of the accident, there could be additional consequences for failing to promptly report the accident to your insurance company.
Your Lawyer Can Protect Your Right to Car Accident Compensation
You can call George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers today at (888) 612-7001 for a no-obligation, free consultation. Our car accident lawyers can use your accident report to fight for a fair award for your losses. If you did not file a report, we can talk about your options.