Hit and run accidents are common in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle reported 700,000 hit and run crashes between 2015 and 2021. These collisions resulted in 1,614 fatalities.
They’ve become so common that Florida continues to amend its hit and run statute. Due to this, stiff penalties are imposed on hit and run accidents that result in personal injuries or death.
A hit and run accident in Florida that results in an injury is a third-degree felony under Florida Law. A conviction could result in a five-year jail sentence and up to $5,000 in fines.
You deserve compensation if you believe you’re a victim of a hit and run in Florida. A West Palm Beach car accident lawyer can ensure you get justice and don’t handle the financial burden alone.
Why Hit and Run Accidents Occur
Hit and run accidents usually occur because the at-fault driver is scared to face the consequences resulting from the crash. Other reasons why the driver might run from the accident scene include:
- Outstanding warrants
- Drunk driving
- Driving unlicensed
- Stolen vehicle
The at-fault driver might believe that the cost of hanging around is much higher than the cost of fleeing, so they’ll run from the accident scene. But, most times, lack of insurance is why drivers run from the accident scene.
Reports show that over 20% of drivers in Florida didn’t have auto insurance in 2019. Florida is also sixth on the list of states with high numbers of uninsured motorists.
Steps to Follow After a Hit and Run Accident in Florida
After an accident where the at-fault driver flees the scene, there are steps the other party involved must take to maximize their compensation. They include the following:
Stop the Vehicle
When there’s a collision, the first thing to do is stop the vehicle at the crash scene. If it is not possible to do so, then ensure you stop close to the stop scene. Your safety is paramount.
Therefore, we don’t advise pursuing a driver who ran away; it could be dangerous. It is best to stop in the slow lane, but if the vehicle can’t be moved because it is badly damaged, then put on the hazard light to alert other motorists.
Feeling shocked after a car accident in West Palm Beach, Florida, is normal. In most cases, accident victims are too numb to realize that they have injuries. Therefore, call 911 right away and inform the 911 operator of the precise location of the car crash.
Give specific details like landmarks to make it easier for the paramedics to get to the scene. However, avoid explaining who caused the accident to the operator. The only information they need is a description of the accident scene.
Call the Police to File a Report
Sometimes, accident victims don’t have to report it to the police, especially when it’s a minor fender bender. However, if it’s a hit and run accident that resulted in injuries or property damage, call the police.
Most times, the 911 operator notifies the police immediately. However, you should also report the accident yourself. This is crucial in hit and run accidents due to drunk driving or the driver’s negligence.
Seek Medical Attention
Even when parties involved in an accident don’t feel like they were seriously injured, it is still vital to seek the attention of a medical professional. Since the other driver isn’t around to pay for their actions, the evidence of the collision would be the victim’s medical records and the police reports.
Collect Evidence and Witness Statement
Take photos of the accident scene from different angles. Make a video of the various angles of the vehicle and crash scene. All of this counts as visual evidence.
Also, note down the description of the car that fled, like the model, license plate, make, color, and model. If any part of their vehicles, like a broken taillight, side mirror, or other items, were left behind, take pictures of them.
Furthermore, collect the statement and contact information of witnesses, if any. Witnesses are usually happy to help hit and run accident victims in Florida. With this evidence, it would be easy to seek compensation from the hit and run driver if they’re found.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Another step the victim would have to take following the hit and run accident is contacting their insurance company. Most times, they’re the only way to recover compensation after the accident. Therefore, reach out, and they’ll review your claim to determine the extent of the damage.
Hire a Car Accident Lawyer Immediately
After the car accident, contact a West Palm Beach car accident lawyer immediately. Hit and run accident claims can be complex, especially since there’s no sign of the other driver. A car accident lawyer helps victims understand their legal options while assisting them through the insurance claims process.
Florida’s No-Fault Insurance System
Most people think that they have to deal with the financial burden of their injuries alone due to the absence of the driver. However, that’s not the case. There’s hope for compensation even with the absence of the at-fault driver.
Florida utilizes a no-fault insurance system. Therefore, all drivers must carry at least $10,00 in personal injury protection insurance. When a car accident occurs, drivers first go to their insurance carrier for benefits.
Drivers are entitled to this benefit regardless of who’s at fault in the accident. This system resolves claims faster because there’s no need to determine responsibilities before paying the claims.
However, there’s a limit to the amount the personal injury protection can cover. Since the maximum coverage is $10,000, that’s the amount victims would receive in case of an accident. Suppose their expenses exceed the policy limit, they can file a claim again the at-fault driver.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Although Florida doesn’t require drivers in West Palm Beach, Florida, to purchase uninsured motorist coverage, insurers can offer them. Those who don’t want the uninsured motorist coverage have to reject it in writing. The uninsured motorist coverage is another way your West Palm Beach car accident lawyer can help you recover damages from an accident.
With this coverage, insurers would cover damages caused by hit and run drivers. This is because insurance carriers equate unidentified drivers with uninsured drivers. Therefore, those with this coverage can claim benefits if they exceed their PIP policy limits and can’t locate the at-fault driver.
Contact a West Palm Beach Hit and Run Accident Lawyer Today
Being a car accident victim in West Palm, Florida, can be traumatic. However, it’s even worse when the motorist runs away from the accident scene. In such a case, the most crucial step is contacting an experienced West Palm Beach car accident lawyer. Contact our law firm at (561) 800-8000 for a free case evaluation.