Is There a Difference Between a Hit and Run and Leaving the Scene of an Accident?

Serious hit and run accidents continue to occur in Florida and throughout the United States. Accident victims and their families are often left with devastating injuries and accumulating medical expenses for years to come. Drivers who leave the scene of an accident could face hefty fines and possible imprisonment.

While leaving the scene of a serious car crash is illegal in Florida, there are many other reasons why this violation has severe consequences. In the event of an accident, all able drivers are required to help any individual involved in a crash, even if the crash was caused by the other driver. Ignoring an injured individual could cause them to suffer more debilitating injuries that may have been prevented, had they received immediate help.   

While the term “hit and run” may be considered more severe compared to “leaving the scene of an accident,” both terms are often used interchangeably. Read on to learn more about the similarities and differences between the two and how Florida law interprets this type of violation.

If you or someone you love was injured in a hit and run crash, it is important to seek immediate legal representation. Having one of our reliable attorneys at the law office of Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers on your side means your rights to seek legal compensation are protected. If you have a valid injury claim, our attorneys can discuss your legal rights in a no-cost, initial evaluation.  

Florida Hit and Run Laws

When someone leaves the scene of a crash without stopping to offer assistance or their contact information, it is often referred to as a “hit and run.” According to Florida Statutes 316.061-316.063, drivers can only leave the scene of an accident that resulted in property damages if they stop their vehicle immediately at a safe distance from the scene of the crash and:

  • Provide their contact information, including name, address, phone number, vehicle registration, and insurance information.
  • Show their valid driver’s license to the other driver or victim who suffered the damages.
  • If the damaged property is unattended, the driver must leave a notice with his or her contact information, including name, address, and vehicle registration information.
  • Offer reasonable help to injured crash victims, such as calling an ambulance. 
  • Call the police and file an accident report if the other party is too injured to exchange information.

If you decide to leave the scene of a crash that caused property damage without fulfilling these steps, you could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable for up to 60 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. If the accident resulted in an injury to the other party, leaving the scene means you could be facing a third-degree felony, which could cost you up to five years in prison or probation and/or $5,000 in fines. 

If the crash caused a serious injury and you failed to perform the tasks listed above, you could be charged with a second-degree felony, up to 15 years in jail, and up to $10,000 in fines. Leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death is a first-degree felony, which could mean 35 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. 

In addition to the penalties listed above, you could also face charges such as speeding, reckless driving, running a red light, vehicular manslaughter, driving with a suspended license, and/or driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (if applicable).

Property Damage vs. Bodily Injury or Death

While no two accidents are exactly alike, there is an important difference between crashes that result in property damage versus those that cause bodily harm or a fatality

As the plaintiff, you must prove that the other driver willfully decided to flee the scene of the crash in cases involving injury or death. On the other hand, if the collision only caused property damage, the plaintiff only has to prove the damaging act was committed by the defendant and not their willingness to flee.  

What if I Leave the Scene and Come Back?

Sometimes drivers who leave the scene of a crash start to feel guilty and decide to return. You may be wondering if your charges will be dropped since you returned.

However, this is not the case at all. Although it is the right thing to do, you may still be charged with leaving the scene of the accident, depending on the details of the situation. This is because you were aware of the crash and decided to flee without offering immediate assistance. 

Speak to a Licensed Lawyer With Experience

If you or someone you love was injured in a hit and run accident, speaking to a licensed lawyer who has relevant experience is highly recommended. Injury victims and/or surviving family members of a hit and run crash could be eligible for compensation to pay for medical costs, lost wages from missing work, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, property damage, and more. 

The distinguished attorneys at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers offer free initial evaluations for victims of hit and run crashes throughout the Port St. Lucie area and beyond (by appointment only). Our reputable firm has more than four decades of combined legal experience while handling more than 6,000 cases. Our licensed lawyers are committed to helping the people of Florida by protecting their rights to seek fair compensation for their injuries and other damages. We take pride in serving our community by helping our clients pursue the compensation they need from negligent parties, including cases involving hit and run crimes.

We offer free initial consultations to discuss whether your claim is eligible for financial compensation. Your personal information is kept private and there is no obligation to continue working with us if you decide otherwise. 

Call the law office of Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Let our team of qualified professionals guide you through the complexities of the legal process to pursue the compensation you may deserve after suffering from a hit and run accident. 

Contact a licensed lawyer today by calling (561) 800-8000 or fill out a free online form.

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