Suppose you are driving down the highway and a car moving in the opposite direction moves into your lane, causing you to run off the road.  The car drives off, leaving you injured, not to mention with a wrecked car.  What can you do?  Will your insurance cover the accident?

The state of South Carolina does have an option referred to as a “John Doe” statute.  It was first enacted in 1963 and acknowledges an insured’s right to receive uninsured motorist coverage for injuries caused by unknown drivers.  Throughout the years, the state has put safety measures within the statute to prevent citizens from bringing false “John Doe” actions:

  • First, the state required physical contact by the unknown vehicle.
  • Second, in 1987, the state amended the statute to allow insured persons to bring a “John Doe” action regardless of physical contact, BUT there had to be an independent person who witnessed the accident.
  • Finally, in 1989 the state again amended the statute, stating that the independent witness must provide the court with a signed affidavit confirming to the unknown vehicle’s involvement in the accident.

What constitutes an independent witness?  According to S.C. Code Ann. § 38-77-170(2), an independent witness is someone other than the owner or operator of the insured vehicle.

In the above scenario, in order for you to collect damages from your insurance company from your uninsured motorist coverage for the negligence of an unknown driver, you MUST have an independent witness with a signed affidavit confirming the details of the accident.

If you or a loved one has been in an accident caused by an unknown driver, please contact The Kerr Law Firm toll free at 843-785-3330.  You may also feel free to email us at info@kerrlf.com.  We would be happy to offer you a free consultation.

 

 

South Carolina Statutes

§ 38-77-170. Conditions to sue or recover under uninsured motorist provision when owner or operator of motor vehicle causing injury or damage is unknown trailer movie Sherlock: The Final Problem

If the owner or operator of any motor vehicle which causes bodily injury or property damage to the insured is unknown, there is no right of action or recovery under the uninsured motorist provision, unless:

(1) the insured or someone in his behalf has reported the accident to some appropriate police authority within a reasonable time, under all the circumstances, after its occurrence;

(2) the injury or damage was caused by physical contact with the unknown vehicle, or the accident must have been witnessed by someone other than the owner or operator of the insured vehicle; provided however, the witness must sign an affidavit attesting to the truth of the facts of the accident contained in the affidavit;

(3) the insured was not negligent in failing to determine the identity of the other vehicle and the driver of the other vehicle at the time of the accident.

The following statement must be prominently displayed on the face of the affidavit provided in subitem (2) above: A FALSE STATEMENT CONCERNING THE FACTS CONTAINED IN THIS AFFIDAVIT MAY SUBJECT THE PERSON MAKING THE FALSE STATEMENT TO CRIMINAL PENALTIES AS PROVIDED BY LAW.