What to Do if You Are Involved in a Hit-and-Run Accident
A driver may flee a motor vehicle accident for a variety of reasons. She or he may have an outstanding arrest warrant, have a suspended driver’s license, have no insurance or be impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Leaving the scene of an accident is not only wrong — it is also illegal. Florida Statutes Chapter 316 require a motorist involved in an accident resulting in death, personal injury or property damage to remain at the scene. Failure to stay at the scene can result in felony or misdemeanor charges, depending upon the severity of the crash and the amount of damage caused.
Even a fleeing driver who is caught may not have insurance or the financial resources to pay damages. You may feel like you are left holding the bag. However, you have options for compensation and legal recourse.
These tips can help you protect your personal safety and your legal rights after a hit-and-run accident:
- Do not give chase — Your first instinct may be to chase after the other driver. However, doing so can create a hazardous situation that could result in a second accident or a dangerous confrontation with the other driver.
- Observe details about the other automobile — Such information as the license plate number, the color and make of the vehicle, and the vehicle’s direction of travel can help the police locate the offender. These factors also provide valuable evidence if police successfully apprehend the hit-and-run driver.
- Call police immediately — Police can issue a BOLO — or a lockout alert — to other officers in the area. Unfortunately, sometimes hit-and-run drivers get away with it, but quick action can increase the chances of catching the culprit.
- Seek appropriate medical attention — Sometimes seemingly minor injuries may actually be very serious. Therefore, even if you think your accident is merely a fender-bender, let a qualified medical professional evaluate you. If you suspect you are seriously injured, call 911.
- Notify your insurance company as soon as practicable — A hit-and-run accident is treated like an uninsured motorist crash. Be sure to follow the insurance policy provisions pertaining to timely notification of collision claims.
- Consult with an attorney — An experienced South Florida auto accident lawyer can explain your rights to compensation for your injuries and make sure that your insurance company is abiding by its legal obligations. In addition, you may have a third party claim.