Hit and run accidents are serious crimes where the driver involved in an accident flees from the crash scene without identifying themselves to anyone else involved. These types of accidents have varying consequences depending on the unique circumstances of the crash.
Feelings of fear, anger, or confusion are common after any car accident, but they can be especially intense after a hit and run. Unfortunately, hit and run accidents frequently occur in Florida.
Hit and run accidents account for about 25% of all accidents in Florida. This has led to the state legislature establishing hit and run accident laws to hold at-fault parties accountable.
These types of accidents don’t just happen between two vehicles. They may involve bike riders, pedestrians, or property damage. If you or a loved one are the victims of a hit and run, a Fort Lauderdale hit and run lawyer can help you get the justice you deserve.
Understanding how to handle a hit and run in Florida can help ease the stress related to such accidents. Read on to learn valuable tips on what to do after a hit and run.
Hit and Run Accidents in Florida
According to Florida law, one can be charged for a hit and run in The Sunshine State if they:
- Leave the accident scene before exchanging identification with other involved parties.
- Fail to render appropriate medical aid to anyone injured in the accident.
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety (FLHSMV), over 300 people lost their lives on Florida roadways in hit and run accidents in 2021. While there are severe penalties for hit and run drivers, these types of accidents are increasingly common in Florida.
Top Reasons for Hit and Run Accidents
Hit and run accidents often happen because the at-fault drivers usually flee the scene rather than face the legal repercussions for causing an injury or death. The motorist could have escaped the site of the accident for reasons such as:
- Outstanding arrest warrants
- Drunk or intoxicated driving
- Driving without a license
- Auto theft
The at-fault driver may decide that staying at the scene of the collision will be more trouble than it’s worth, so they’ll flee. However, not having insurance is the primary reason drivers flee the scene of an accident.
About 20% of Floridian motorists reportedly lack auto insurance this year. The Sunshine State also ranks sixth among the states with a high number of uninsured motorists.
Hit and Run Laws and Penalties
After a hit-and-run driver killed a cyclist and father of two in 2014, the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act (section 316.027, Florida Statutes) was passed, outlining a stricter Florida hit-and-run law.
Penalties for hit and run accidents in Florida vary widely based on the severity of the accident:
- Hit and runs that cause property damage only: This is a second-degree misdemeanor that can lead to a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail.
- Hit and runs that involve injuries: These are second or third-degree crimes punishable by up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, and the suspension of driving privileges for at least three years.
- Hit and runs that cause fatality: Leaving the scene of an accident when someone was killed is a first-degree felony punishable by a fine of $10,000 and jail time of four to thirty years.
These fines are contingent upon the driver being identified. If the hit-and-run driver cannot be identified or located, you may still be financially protected if you have adequate insurance.
Florida’s no-fault insurance statute means that motorists hurt in hit-and-run accidents can still get compensation.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage on a private auto insurance policy is mandatory for all vehicle owners who register their vehicles in the state. Nonetheless, in states that don’t mandate it, visitors from out of state may have problems claiming financial compensation if they have injuries while visiting.
The state minimum limit for PIP is only $10,000, which can be quickly depleted between medical expenses and lost wages. PIP payments may be the only recourse if the court rules against pursuing the fleeing driver for additional damages.
What to Do After a Hit and Run Accident in Florida
If someone strikes you with their car as you walk, drive, or even ride a bike, and the driver flees the scene, you’re the victim of a hit and run. You might be left with severe injuries, ballooning medical bills, time away from work, and other damages even if the motorist is apprehended by authorities and brought to justice.
After an accident, you can improve your chances of getting fair compensation by taking the steps below:
Move to Safety and Call the Authorities
Get to a safe location and call 911 to report the accident. This gives the police a better chance of locating the at-fault driver quickly and lets you know who is responsible for your damages.
Take pictures of the accident, your injuries, and the damage to your property while you wait for help to arrive. If you don’t have a camera or smartphone, have someone help you out.
Gather Witnesses’ Contact Details
If there were any witnesses to the accidents, their testimonies would be valuable to your claim. Limit your conversations to talking only with the police or witnesses.
Don’t sign anything beyond what the police ask, and don’t accept liability for the collision. Also, avoid talking to insurance adjusters.
Seek Immediate Medical Treatment
If you are not taken to the hospital by police or paramedics, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible after the accident. Keep in mind that some injuries aren’t easily visible.
You may have sustained internal injuries that are not immediately apparent. After an injury, it’s essential to keep track of the money you spend, every day you can’t work, and the pain or anguish you feel.
Seek Legal Counsel Right Away
Although you have four years from the date of your accident to submit a personal injury claim in Florida, your chances of success increase if you get started on the process right away. There may be options for compensation if the negligent motorist cannot be identified.
The key to getting justice after a hit-and-run accident is to report it as soon as possible, seek medical assistance as quickly as possible, and retain a seasoned hit and run accident lawyer in Fort Lauderdale.
Contact a Hit and Run Accident Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale
If you are the victim of a hit and run accident in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, contact an experienced attorney immediately.
Contact our law firm today to speak with a seasoned hit and run accident attorney who can answer all questions. At Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, our team of dedicated injury lawyers will help build a solid case to pursue the compensation you deserve.
Contact us by filling in the online contact form on our website or calling (561) 800-8000 to schedule a free case evaluation.