Florida and Hit & Runs
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 2012 through 2014 saw a total of 235,666 hit and run crashes. In 2014 alone, one in four crashes involved a hit and run. Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County saw 84,252 hit and run crashes, accounting for 40% of all hit and run crashes in the entire state of Florida.
A plethora of reasons exist for why a person responsible for causing an accident may leave the scene, including they failed to realize they hit something or someone, they may have been intoxicated when they caused the accident, or the responsible party simply did not want to face the legal ramifications of their actions. Fleeing the scene of an accident in the state of Florida is a crime that can result in serious penalties or jail time, depending on the severity of the accident. Still, the victim of a hit and run may also be eligible for compensation in a civil suit. A personal injury settlement can help the victim obtain compensation from the faulty party to assist in paying necessary expenses including doctor fees, hospital bills, property damage, physical and mental therapy if needed, etc.
What is a driver supposed to do if he is involved in an accident and what are the consequences if a driver leaves the scene of the accident?
According to Florida Statute section 316.06, any individual involved in an accident resulting in damage to a vehicle or property must stop their vehicle immediately and remain at the scene until they have provided certain identifying information. According to Florida Statute section 316.027, anyone who has been involved in a crash that resulted in death or injury must stop their car immediately and remain at the scene until they have provided certain identifying information. The personal identifying information includes: name, address, vehicle registration number, and driver’s license information. In addition, a person is also required to give reasonable assistance to anyone who was injured due to the accident. A driver who leaves the scene of an accident can have various ramifications depending on the severity of the accident, and may face criminal felony charges, revocation of their driver’s license, court-ordered community service, and other civil or administrative fines.
If the driver is found after leaving the scene of an accident, how hard is it to prove he did it?
There is more to proving someone was the perpetrator of a hit and run then just establishing that an accident occurred and that a driver left the scene of that accident. Recently, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the “State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver had actual knowledge of the crash, an essential element of the crime of leaving the scene of a crash.” This ruling has made prosecuting a hit and run crime much harder because direct evidence that a defendant knew he or she had been involved in an accident must exist. The moments directly after any type of accident occurs are extremely important, especially in terms of acquiring evidence to find the responsible party who may have caused an accident. Immediately after an accident, tangible evidence will begin to fade along with witness memories. For that reason, obtaining an attorney as soon as you realize you or someone you know has been a victim to a hit and run is extremely important.
What if the driver in a hit and run is never found?
Often times, criminals who commit a hit and run get away with their crime; however, this does not mean that the victim cannot collect damages. The first place to look for compensation for a hit and run is your insurance policy. If you purchased uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, your insurance will help cover medical expenses and other losses due to a hit and run accident. Personal injury protection may also cover your medical bills and hospital expenses. Still, trying to collect money from an insurance company is never an easy process; as such, you should contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Boone & Davis to assist you in getting the compensation you deserve.