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'The driver showed no remorse or responsibility' - Here's what to do if you've been involved in a hit and run

2018-08-21 15:00

Robin Classen

Image: iStock

Crashes and road accidents are a sad reality of driving in South Africa. They can be traumatic, high-pressure situations even when the damage done is relatively minor.

What happens if you've been the victim of a hit and run?

Fleeing the scene is a crime

READ: Fleeing the scene of a 'hit-and-run' is criminal in SA... even if it's just a scratch

A Wheels24 reader sent us an email detailing their hit-and-run ordeal. Legal experts, LawForAll, share valuable advice for all readers below. We've included the full version of reader's email at the end of this article.

Reader: My partner and I were involved in a hit-and-run incident when a guy drove into the back of our car. He fled the scene, almost knocking me down in the process. We called the police and they claimed that they can do nothing about it since no one was injured. What can we do?

Law for All answers: A driver intentionally fleeing the scene of an accident is probably one of the most frustrating experiences a motorist can have. This illegal act also makes it difficult for a motorist involved to hold the driver responsible for the damage caused, because it will be almost be impossible to obtain the necessary info for a court case or insurance claim. 

It doesn’t matter whether a driver knocks a car and drives away, damages a car parked in a lot, or hits a pedestrian, it remains a serious criminal offence, and an offender can face charges of negligent or reckless driving.

Thankfully, there are still good Samaritans who stand up for justice and will go out of their way to help when an irresponsible driver flees an accident scene.  If you witness a hit-and-run, here’s what should do:
 
• Don’t attempt to follow the driver, it could prove dangerous and result in more reckless driving. It is more important to assist the victim, especially if they were injured. Contact the SAPS (10111) as well as medical services (10177 or 112) if necessary.

• Then, try to gather and memorise as much info at the scene as possible. This could help the authorities catch the offender and assist the victim with their claims. Take note of the offending vehicle’s registration number, make, model and colour.

Pay attention to the location, time and cause of the accident, or any other circumstances, and report this to the authorities If you can, take photos of the accident scene (e.g. damage to vehicle, skid marks etc.). If the police do not come out to the scene, make a witness statement and give your name and contact details to the victim.

Here is the full question asked by the reader:

My partner and I were involved in a hit and run on Sunday afternoon. We were at the robot stationary when a guy drove into the back of us. We got out and asked him for his license. He locked his door. He refused and started reversing. We immediately phoned the police.

While my partner was on the phone with the police, the passenger of the car got out and tried to run. The driver again tried to get away, in the process attempting to drive over me. I had to hold onto the car to get out of the way. He fled the scene and we couldn't stop him. We told the police officer on the phone that he just got away, we said we would go home and wait for the police as we live 5 minutes away.

We received a call later from the police saying we needed to go into nearest police station the next day. Which we did. The police then told us that there is nothing they can do about it because no one was injured! Even though we have a photo of the man and his license plate. They said the only thing we can do is open an accident report.

We don't want to claim from our insurance as the damage was minimal but what I don't understand is that its a hit and run and they are not willing to do anything about it. Any advice please, as we cannot just let people like this get away. The driver showed no remorse or responsibility and didn't care whether he drove over us while trying to get away. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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