North Carolina Hit-and-Run

If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run in North Carolina, report the incident to the police within 24 hours. You have up to three years to file a claim.
Written by Jason Tushinski
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
In North Carolina, a hit-and-run can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the incident, and can result in criminal fines and up to 41 months in prison.
If you are involved in a traffic accident and the other vehicle flees the scene, do your best to identify that vehicle and then report the incident to the police. If you carry collision or uninsured motorist coverage, you can file an insurance claim. 
It is illegal in all 50 states to leave the scene of an accident. If you are involved in a collision, exchange contact and insurance information with any other drivers involved. Each state determines the specific punishment for leaving the scene of an accident.
Hit-and-runs can happen, unfortunately. That’s why the
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has put together everything you need to know about being involved in a hit-and-run in North Carolina. We’ll go over what constitutes a hit-and-run, your responsibilities as a driver if you are involved in one, and any penalties you can face if you cause a hit-and-run.
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What is a hit-and-run? 

A hit-and-run occurs when a driver fails to stop after being involved in an accident. You are required by law to stop after an accident with another vehicle or property and exchange contact and insurance information with the other drivers or owners, in case they want to pursue a claim.
Remember, leaving the scene of an accident is illegal. Even if you didn’t cause the accident, leaving before police allow you to can be punishable by fines or even imprisonment. Always remain on the scene until the police allow you to leave.

What happens if you commit a hit-and-run in North Carolina?

It is normal to panic if you’ve been involved in an accident, but you will face serious legal penalties if you leave the scene of an accident, whether you are at fault or not. 

Is a hit-and-run a felony in North Carolina?

Depending on the circumstances, a hit-and-run can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony in North Carolina. If property damage or a minor injury is involved, the incident will be treated as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
If an injury results from a hit-and-run, it will be treated as a Class H felony.
If a serious injury or death results from a hit-and-run in North Carolina, the incident will be treated as a Class F felony.
In North Carolina, an injury is considered serious if it results in the following:
  • A substantial risk of death
  • Permanent disfigurement or pain
  • Extended hospitalization 

What is the punishment for a hit-and-run in North Carolina?

Penalties for a hit-and-run in North Carolina depend on the circumstances and severity of the incident and any injuries or fatalities involved. Here is how punishments are determined:
Result of accident
Possible punishment
Property damage, minor injury
Up to 120 days in jail
Criminal fines
Both imprisonment and fine
Between 4 and 25 months in jail
Criminal fines
Both imprisonment and fine
Serious injury or death
Between 10 and 41 months in prison
Criminal fines
Both imprisonment and fine
Along with fines and prison time, a hit-and-run conviction will likely result in your license being suspended in North Carolina.

How to avoid a hit-and-run charge

According to
N.C.G.S § 20-166
, if you’re involved in an accident in North Carolina, you must:
  • Stop your vehicle
  • Ensure any injured parties get any medical care necessary
  • Remain on the scene until police arrive
  • Allow police to investigate and leave the scene only when allowed

What should I do if I experience a hit-and-run in North Carolina?

If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident, try to remain calm and do your best to gather any relevant information at the scene. Report the incident as quickly as possible, ideally within 24 hours.

At the scene

If the other vehicle involved in a collision leaves the scene, do not follow it. Instead, make sure you and your fellow passengers are not injured. If anyone is in need of medical attention, call 911.
Record as much information as you can about the accident, including:
  • Circumstances of the collision
  • The other vehicle’s make, model, color, and license plate number
  • The other driver’s appearance
  • The direction the other vehicle was headed in
  • Any distinguishing characteristics of the fleeing vehicle, including any bumps, dents, scratches, bumper stickers, etc.
If there are any witnesses, get their contact information. Take the scene in and get as much information as you can, and if possible, take pictures of any damage and note the location.

After you leave the scene

In North Carolina, you are required to report an accident within 24 hours or as soon as possible. Do your due diligence and ensure the responding police officers filed a report of the accident, which can act as corroborating evidence for your insurance claim.
You have up to three years in North Carolina to file an insurance claim for a hit-and-run that resulted in either property damage or injury.
If the driver that fled the accident can be identified, their liability insurance should cover any damages on your part, and your insurance claim will be processed normally.
If the driver is unable to be found, the situation becomes more difficult. If you only carry liability insurance, you will be forced to cover your own damages. But you may be covered if you have any of the following:

What insurance covers a hit-and-run?

Insurance type
Will it cover a hit-and-run?
Collision coverage
You may be required to pay the deductible first
Uninsured motorist coverage
Ask your insurance provider if your policy covers hit-and-runs
Medical payments (MedPay) coverage
Only covers what health insurance won’t; you may need to pay deductible
Personal injury protection (PIP)
is not available in North Carolina.

How to find affordable insurance for collisions and more

Accidents such as hit-and-runs can happen, so you want to make sure you are protected with a robust
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If you are the victim of a hit-and-run, and you stay at the scene as required by law, your insurance premium will not increase.
If you cause a hit-and-run, you can expect your insurance premium to rise significantly.
If you cause a hit-and-run, it is highly recommended that you consult an attorney.
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