2 Sep

Everything You Need To Know About Florida Hit-And-Run Accident Claims


Florida hit-and-run accident

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), 25% of all annual auto accidents in Florida are a hit-and-run situation, where one or more of the drivers involved in the collision does not stop following the crash. Florida is also ranked among the top three states with the highest per capita rates of fatal hit-and-run accidents, according to a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety published in 2018.

Leaving the scene after an accident is a crime, because it can have dangerous consequences for injured victims who need help. In Florida, fleeing the accident scene is punishable by law, and it can also be prosecuted civilly. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident in Florida, regardless of the specific circumstances of your case, it is important to contact an experienced local hit-and-run accident injury lawyer who can help you understand your legal options.

The Florida Law Group is ranked among the top 1% of personal injury law firms nationwide; we fight for hit-and-run accident victims to get the maximum compensation they deserve! Call one of our eight Florida locations today to schedule a free consultation.

What constitutes a hit-and-run accident?

The term “hit-and-run” encompasses a broad range of accidents. Traditionally, when people think “hit-and-run”, they think of an incident where a driver collides with another vehicle and speeds away, failing to exchange contact information or make sure everyone is alright. But if a driver hits a parked car in a parking lot or garage and leaves without notifying the owner, that is also a hit-and-run situation. If a driver hits a pedestrian or bicyclist and does not stay to contact emergency responders, that is a hit-and-run situation.

What is the punishment for fleeing the scene?

Fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime in all 50 states, even if you did not cause the accident, and even if the accident was not on a public road.

In February of 2012, Aaron Cohen, a 31 year-old cyclist and father of two, was struck and killed by a driver under the influence of alcohol who fled the scene of the crash. This led activists to create the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, which imposes a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 4 years for a driver convicted of leaving the scene of a crash that results in a fatality.

For drivers leaving the scene of a crash that resulted in only property damage, it is considered a second degree misdemeanor and the legal penalty is up to 60 days in prison and a $500 fine. For drivers leaving the scene of a crash that resulted in injuries, it is considered a second or third degree felony and is punishable by a revoked license for at least 3 years, a $5,000 fine, and up to 5 years in prison (see Florida statutes 316.061, 316.027).

However, perpetrators may also be forced to pay reparations to injured victims and their families if the case is tried in civil court.

Why do drivers flee the scene of the crash?

When drivers are involved in an accident, and especially if they have caused it, a fight or flight response may be triggered, and fear is a natural reaction, particularly for drivers who were acting recklessly or who have something to fear from the law. However, drivers know the law and the consequences of a hit-and-run, and it is not only illegal but inhumane to leave the scene of an accident if someone else may be hurt.

Drivers may hit-and-run because they were intoxicated and afraid of being arrested, because they did not have insurance (which is required by law in Florida), because they were driving a stole the vehicle, because they didn’t want to get another ticket, because they didn’t want their insurance rates to increase, because they are illegal immigrants, or because they are driving without a license.

Regardless of why they left, though, they had no excuse that was greater than the obligation to stay, and they are liable for any costs associated with injuries that victims incurred as a result of the crash!

What should I do if I am injured in a hit-and-run accident?

  1. If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident, the first thing you should do is call 911/emergency responders/and local police immediately. They will be able to file a police report and take care of you if you are injured.
  2. If you are able to, you should take pictures of the scene before you leave to seek medical attention.
  3. Even if you do not feel seriously injured, you should be fully examined by a medical professional as soon as possible. Because the other driver is not present to account for their actions, the only evidence of the collision will be the accident/police report and the medical records.
  4. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. Hit-and-run accident claims are complicated, particuarly if the other driver is never found. They can help you understand your legal options, navigate the insurance claims process, and make a solid claim for compensation!

What happens if the driver who fled cannot be identified?

Many people think that if they cannot find the hit-and-run driver, that they are just stuck with the total cost of their injuries, but that is not the case. There is hope for compensation! Florida is a no-fault state, which means that all drivers are required to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection insurance (PIP) . When an accident occurs, both drivers are required to go through their own insurance to obtain benefits first. For Florida victims of a hit-and-run accident, this means that you can still recieve compensation for your injuries through your PIP coverage. However, PIP only covers 80% of medical bills, 60% of lost wages, and $5,000 in death benefits. The costs of the accident for you may exceed that amount when you factor in out-of-pocket costs like hospitalizations, ambulance rides, surgeries, medications, medical devices, imaging tests, doctor’s visits, rehabilitation, lost wages, etc.

How much do I stand to gain in a settlement?

How much you can receive in a settlement depends on the circumstances of your case, the extent of the injuries you suffered, who you are attempting to retrieve compensation from, and who you choose to represent you.

The more severe your injuries are, the larger your settlement may be, but that depends on whether or not the driver can be identified and how cooperative your insurance company will be. If the other driver is found, you could potentially retrieve compensation from them directly (although their assets may not be worth much) or from their insurance company. If the other driver is never found, your insurance company may offer you a low settlement or try to devalue your claim.

That is why it is important to work with a skilled Florida hit-and-run accident attorney who has a winning track record and can help you understand what your case is really worth, then make a strong claim for compensation. The Florida Law Group is a proud member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. We have secured millions of dollars for injured accident victims. We are unintimidated by insurance companies and we know what it takes to successfully recover the damages you deserve, and that you need to heal! Our lawyers proudly offer all of our legal services to our clients on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you do not pay us anything until we win your case! Call now for a free consultation.