If you live in Florida, then you probably rely heavily on your vehicle to get you from place to place. That’s why when you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, your life changes dramatically.
The situation can be made even worse if the person who caused the injury leaves before you realize what has happened. Florida law holds that person responsible for not sticking around, and the failure to do so is known as a “hit and run.”
If you ever find yourself involved in such an accident, the best course of action is to contact a car accident lawyer in Plantation, like Atty. Rafael Gonzalez. With years of experience in handling different vehicular mishaps, Atty Gonzalez can protect and uphold your rights while minimizing the emotional burden that comes with it.
Read below to learn more about hit and run accidents, the penalties and laws involved, and what to do during such incidents.
What Is Considered a “Hit and Run” Accident?
Normally, traffic laws require individuals to stop, identify themselves, and offer assistance when involved in an accident, regardless of whether they are the culprit or the victim. So if you flee the scene of the accident, that’s considered a hit and run.
A hit and run refers to an accident in which a vehicle hits either a person, an object, or another car, then deliberately leaves the scene of the accident. The criminal penalty is committed simply by fleeing the location of the collision and failing to fulfill one’s statutory duties.
Some examples of statutory duties when an accident involves property damage, bodily injury, or death include:
Immediately stopping the vehicle at or near the scene of the collision.
The responsible party is required to provide you with their identifying information before leaving. Identifying information includes the party’s name, address and, registration number of their vehicle. Information regarding insurance coverage should also be exchanged.
Under the law, the person who caused an injury is also required to “render to any person injured in the crash reasonable assistance, including the carrying, or the making of arrangements for the carrying, of such person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment.”
Providing necessary information to the investigating police officers.
Hit and run accidents not only cover those that happen on public highways and roads. In addition, the laws extend to parking lots and even on unattended or unoccupied vehicles.
In Florida laws, you must locate the property owner of the unattended vehicle to avoid being penalized. You can also leave a written note about the accident together with your name, address, and registration number. Then, you should also report the incident to the nearest police station or any law enforcement agency.
When you are injured and the responsible party leaves the scene without permission from law enforcement, this is also a hit and run.
Do not be fooled by the term “hit and run”–it refers to many different situations. For example, if you are run off the road by another vehicle that did not stop to assist you and your car is damaged, or you are injured as a result, then this is considered a hit and run accident.
If you are simply walking and a car crashes into you and leaves the scene, this is also a hit and run. Many accidents occur because there are few sidewalks for pedestrians to walk on, and in bad weather conditions or at night, they may be challenging to see by oncoming traffic.
If you currently find yourself in any of the situations mentioned above, then the best course of action is to contact a qualified car accident attorney at Ask My Attorneys. Our head lawyer, Atty. Rafael Gonzalez specializes in representing victims of auto accidents and works on a no-win, no-fee basis. He can help minimize your financial and emotional burden by fighting aggressively for your rights.
Florida Hit and Run Statistics
Unfortunately, hit and run accidents are prevalent in Florida. According to the Department of Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 25% of all car accidents in the state are hit and run cases. Reports also stated that 25 to 40 drivers per day leave the scene of an accident.
Seemingly every week bring more news of accidents (often fatal), where drivers leave the scene. People often leave the scene of an accident because they do not have car insurance. Others believe that their insurance premiums will rise because they are at fault.
Some people are intoxicated when they are driving and do not want to get caught by the police. Therefore, they leave before law enforcement arrives or before you can get any information from them. While a person will have to face criminal charges for leaving the scene, you may also be able to hold this person (or others) responsible for the costs you have incurred as a result of the accident.
However, there are cases when the responsible party is not found after the accident. This does not mean that you should bear the financial burden on your own. You may be able to get compensation from your own insurance company, especially if you have underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage.
To find out more about the possible solutions to your financial problems brought on by the accident, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney. You have the right to receive payment when you have been wrongfully injured, and you do not have to deal with this alone.
Penalties for leaving the scene of a collision differ from state to state. In Florida, hit and run accidents can be classified as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the nature of the crash. Generally, it is grouped into three categories:
1. Hit and Run Involving Property Damage
Leaving the crash scene wherein the driver damages the property of another count for a second-degree misdemeanor. This involves up to 60 days of jail time and a fine of $500.
2. Hit and Run Involving Injuries
If the hit-and-run collision involved bodily harm and injuries to another person, then the penalty is classified as a second or third-degree felony. The penalties may involve:
Five years jail time or five years of probation
A $5,000 fine
Revoked license for at least three years.
3. Hit and Run Involving Fatalities
Leaving the scene of the accident where there’s a death of another person is considered a first-degree felony. The penalties involved are:
Mandatory minimum imprisonment of 4 years and up to 30 years.
A fine of $10,000
License revocation for at least three years or more if deemed necessary by the court.
What to Do After a Hit and Run Accident?
Any car accident is a stressful endeavor, which can leave you clueless about what you should do during such circumstances. So, here are five things that you need to keep in mind if you ever find yourself in a hit-and-run accident.
Stay Calm and Call 911
The first thing you should do is assess yourself and your passengers for any injuries sustained. Next, immediately seek medical help for both minor and life-threatening bodily harm. Then call the police or local authorities to report the hit and run accident.
Do Not Follow the Culprit
Car collisions can be rattling, especially if you see the culprit fleeing the scene of the accident. For some, the first instinct is to follow the driver, which is a huge mistake for many reasons.
For one, leaving the scene may cause the police to question who’s really at fault. Next, you will miss the chance to gather essential eyewitness statements. Lastly, taking matters into your own hands can be a dangerous feat as you might end up in another car accident or a confrontation with the driver at fault.
Gather Important Information
Instead of wasting your energy by chasing the driver, put it to good use by gathering important information. Take note of the crucial details you or your passengers might remember about the accident and the other driver involved. This includes:
The license plate, make, and model of the car.
Unique description of the driver and/or the vehicle (e.g., specific bumper stickers, markings).
The direction the vehicle was headed when they left.
Date, time, and the particular location of the accident.
The severity of the damage your vehicle sustained. It’s better to take photos of the car from every angle to note even the most minor details of the damages.
Another essential task is to search the area for potential eyewitnesses of the car accident. Get their contact and identifying information in case the police, insurer, or lawyer might want to follow up on things. You can also provide all the gathered information to the attending police officer.
Seek Legal Counsel
It’s hard enough to get compensation when the driver at fault is at the scene. What more if they flee? So the best thing to do here is to seek legal representation to get the financial settlement you deserve.
Even if the driver is nowhere to be found, your attorney can help you recover the damages, medical costs, and other expenses. Moreover, legal counsel can also aid you in processing your insurance claims and make sure you get a fair settlement right away.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Call your insurance company as soon as possible and tell them about the accident. If you have already hired a lawyer, then your legal counsel can be the one to make that call.
Are Victims Entitled to a Compensation?
If you are hurt or injured due to the accident, you deserve financial compensation. Victims have the right to seek compensation or file a claim for different types of damages, such as the following:
Loss of income
Cost of replacement services
Pain and suffering
If the driver at-fault is not found, you can still get compensated by filing these claims to your insurance company provider. Of course, it still depends on your car insurance policy terms, but since Florida is a no-fault car insurance state, you are entitled to some of the benefits mentioned above.
However, insurance companies do not always make processing one’s claims easy. Fortunately, an esteemed lawyer like Atty Rafael Gonzalez can help you process these claims and even file a lawsuit against the insurance company to force them to honor the contract.
Furthermore, he can help you negotiate a fair settlement that will cover the cost of every damage sustained by you, your loved one, and your property.
Ask My Attorneys specialize in representing and protecting the rights of a hit-and-run car accident victim. Our reputable lawyers have already helped thousands of victims recover the cost of their damages and receive the settlement they deserve.
Besides defending hit and run victims, our team also provides legal assistance in other practice areas, such as:
Ask the attorney about any legal questions and concerns by calling us at 954-961-5100. We work on a no-win, no-fee basis, which means that you won’t have to pay unless we win your case.
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