An early morning crash in Elizabeth City, North Carolina (NC), on Valentine’s Day 2022 left a pedestrian hospitalized and a driver facing felony charges. The collision happened near the intersection of North Hughes Boulevard and Beech Street.

Elizabeth City Police responded to the scene at 6:15 am and found a 30-year-old pedestrian in the roadway with life-threatening injuries. The vehicle involved was not present, but an eyewitness supplied a detailed description. That allowed police officers to locate the car parked nearby and, then, to track down the driver who had fled the scene.

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The driver was taken into custody, and an investigation continued into the following day. The pedestrian was transported to Sentara Norfolk General hospital. My personal injury law firm colleagues wish him a full and speedy recovery.

Hit-and-Run Victims Have Legal Options

First, and very importantly, fleeing the scene of a crash that leaves another person injured or dead is a felony. As section 20-166 of the North Carolina General Statutes explains:

The driver of any vehicle who knows or reasonably should know:

  1. That the vehicle which he or she is operating is involved in a crash; and
  2. That the crash has resulted in serious bodily injury, as defined in G.S. 14-32.4, or death to any person;

shall immediately stop his or her vehicle at the scene of the crash. The driver shall remain with the vehicle at the scene of the crash until a law-enforcement officer completes the investigation of the crash or authorizes the driver to leave and the vehicle to be removed, unless remaining at the scene places the driver or others at significant risk of injury.

Prior to the completion of the investigation of the crash by a law enforcement officer, or the consent of the officer to leave, the driver may not facilitate, allow, or agree to the removal of the vehicle from the scene for any purpose other than to call for a law enforcement officer, to call for medical assistance or medical treatment as set forth in subsection (b) of this section, or to remove oneself or others from significant risk of injury. If the driver does leave for a reason permitted by this subsection, then the driver must return with the vehicle to the accident scene within a reasonable period of time, unless otherwise instructed by a law enforcement officer. A willful violation of this subsection shall be punished as a Class F felony.

This potential for criminal culpability may contribute to drivers’ decision to flee. Researchers who have studied the behavior of hit-and-run drivers conclude fleeing drivers want more than anything to avoid responsibility. Many go so far as to place all the blame on the people they hit and injure or kill.

Thankfully, it appears the driver who collided with and hospitalized the Elizabeth City pedestrian will not escape either criminal charges or liability for inflicting serious personal injuries. If the flee attempt had succeeded, however, the pedestrian would have the option of filing claims under the uninsured motorist provisions of their own car insurance policy. In either situation, an experienced personal injury attorney would be able to provide expert advice and legal representation.

EJL