Under North Carolina law, if you have been injured due to the negligence of another driver, you can hold that driver liable for your damages through a personal injury lawsuit. But what if you can’t find the negligent driver?
Some North Carolina residents face this difficult question after they have been hurt — or a loved one has been killed — in an accident caused by a hit-and-run driver.
Recently, the North Carolina Highway Patrol announced that officers had arrested a woman in connection to a hit-and-run accident that left a pedestrian dead. According to news reports, firefighters reported to the scene of a minor car accident near Bladenboro recently. While firefighters were watching, an 18-year-old woman who was involved in the accident stepped out of a vehicle to inspect the damage. While she was standing outside the vehicle, another car struck and killed her. According to police, the driver of that car fled the scene.
A firefighter followed this driver’s car and helped law enforcement to locate the driver. She was arrested and charged with drunk driving offenses and felony hit-and-run.
The recent story helps illustrate some important points. First, under North Carolina law, all drivers have a duty to remain at the scene if they were involved in an accident in which someone was killed or badly injured. Failure to do so can lead to serious charges. In some cases, these can be felony charges, meaning that they carry penalties including more than a year in prison.
But criminal charges are just part of the story. If police find a hit-and-run driver, the injured or the family members of a person who was killed may hold the driver liable for their damages. These damages may include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and more. In cases involving a wrongful death, the family’s damages may include loss of future income and companionship.
However, in many instances, the hit-and-run driver is not found. In these cases, the injured may need to rely on their uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to help them with their expenses related to the accident.