In order to claim damages for a road accident, you usually need the contact and/or insurance details of the person responsible for the accident. So, what do you do if the driver responsible for the collision flees the scene? If you find yourself in this situation, here’s how you should proceed.
What is a hit and run?
A road accident counts as a “hit and run” if a driver leaves the scene without providing their details to the other party or parties involved. This is considered a criminal offence, and the offending driver could face charges of reckless or negligent driving.
Hit and run accidents include situations in which a driver hits an unattended, parked vehicle or a pedestrian and then drives off without providing their details.
What to do if you’re the victim of a hit and run
If you’re involved in a hit and run accident while driving, pull over to the side of the road as soon as it’s safe to do so and switch on your hazard lights. Don’t chase the offending driver, and don’t leave the scene of the accident yourself.
Whether you’re involved in a hit and run as a driver, cyclist or pedestrian, it’s important to gather as much information at the scene as you can. This may help the police catch the driver who hit you, as well as improving the likely success of any insurance or Road Accident Fund claim you make.
After a hit and run accident, you should:
- note the license plate number, make, model and colour of the offending vehicle if you can
- record the location, time and cause of the accident, the direction that the offending driver was headed and any other specifics
- if possible, take photos of the damage to your vehicle/person, as well as any evidence such as skid marks or damage to barriers and signs
- gather witness statements – if the police are not present at the scene to complete a report, gather written statements from any witnesses; each statement should include the name, contact details and address of the witness
- if someone is injured at the scene, call the police and emergency services; if no one is injured but your vehicle is damaged, you must visit a police station to file a report within 24 hours of the accident
- notify your insurance company of the accident if you plan to make a claim; they’ll inform you of what further information you need to provide.
Claiming compensation from the Road Accident Fund
Under South African law, road accident victims can seek compensation from the wrongdoer for damage to their vehicle. However, victims cannot pursue the individual responsible for the accident for any bodily harm suffered.
Rather, any person who’s seriously injured in a road accident that wasn’t solely their fault is entitled to claim compensation from the Road Accident Fund (RAF). The compensation for hit and run victims may include medical expenses, loss of wages, and pain and suffering resulting from injury due to the accident.
In addition, if an individual who’s a breadwinner has been killed in a road accident, their dependants are entitled to claim for loss of support, as well as cover for funeral costs.
How long after an accident can you lodge a claim
Road Accident Fund claims must be lodged within two years of an accident if the identity of the responsible driver is unknown, as is typically the case in hit and run accidents.
For road accidents where the identity of the responsible driver is known, claims must be submitted within three years.
Claiming for a hit and run
To maximise your chance of a successful Road Accident Fund claim, you should seek the assistance of an attorney with experience in personal injury claims.
How DSC Attorneys can help
At DSC Attorneys, our highly qualified attorneys can help you gather all relevant evidence and supporting documentation to substantiate a claim, guide you through the claim process and represent you in legal proceedings. We operate on a “no win, no fee” basis.