A hit-and-run accident describes any type of motor vehicle accident where the person responsible for causing the accident does not remain at the scene or identify themselves. Drivers may flee the scene of the accident if they are intoxicated or afraid of the financial consequences of their actions.
If you have suffered injuries or property damage in a hit-and-run accident, you may have a hard time recovering your due. However, a Fort Myers personal injury lawyer from our firm can help you identify your legal options and fight for compensation on your behalf.
The types of accident that qualify as a hit-and-run
Most people think of a hit-and-run as a crash between two drivers where one vehicle immediately flees from the scene. However, when a driver strikes a parked vehicle and leaves without contacting law enforcement or providing their identification to the other vehicle owner, this is also a hit-and-run.
Hit-and-runs do not necessarily involve two motor vehicles. Hitting a pedestrian or cyclist and fleeing the scene is also considered a hit-and-run.
Why hit-and-run accidents happen
Most individuals know that taking off from an accident scene is against the law, so why do these accidents happen? Hit-and-run drivers may be trying to escape the consequences of the accident or an encounter with the police because:
They don’t want to pay for the costs of the victims’ damages
They consumed alcohol and/or drugs prior to the accident
They have no car insurance at the time of the crash
They have a suspended license or points on their license
They are driving a stolen vehicle or are trying to evade police for another reason
Hit-and-run accidents and Florida state law
In Florida, leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal offense. According to Florida Statutes § 316.061, the driver of any vehicle involved in a crash that involves property damage must:
Stop their vehicle as soon as possible; and
Remain at the accident scene until they have provided their contact details, driver’s license information, and car registration to the other parties involved in the accident.
If the accident also involved injuries, a driver has additional responsibilities per Florida Statutes § 316.027. Namely, the driver must render assistance to any injured persons. Failing to stop, provide contact information, and help injured victims can result in a criminal conviction.
What should I do after a hit-and-run accident?
Taking a few important steps immediately after your hit-and-run accident and in the following days can help to protect your legal rights and could even help law enforcement track down the responsible driver.
At the accident scene
Never leave a car accident scene, or you could be breaking the law. Try to:
Remain calm and call 911
Assist any injured individuals
Collect contact details of eyewitnesses
Take photographs of the scene and vehicles
Note down anything you remember about the hit-and-run driver’s car
Seek medical attention
Visiting a doctor as soon as possible after your accident can provide you with a medical report which may be important evidence in your car accident case. Your doctor can also ensure that you are not suffering from any serious injuries that may not show symptoms yet. For example, a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which can be a serious condition, may not manifest for weeks, according to Mayo Clinic.
Contact your car insurance agent
After any type of accident, you should inform your insurance company and find out whether you can file a claim.
Contact law firm
Seeking timely legal advice can be important after suffering injuries and property damage in a hit-and-run. A Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer from our firm may be able to help you pursue compensation for your healthcare expenses, car damage, physical and emotional suffering, and more. We can also negotiate with insurance companies to ensure that you are fairly treated.
Does car insurance cover my hit-and-run?
Getting your due from a hit-and-run driver can be challenging. If the driver is not found, you may not be able to get your due from them. Even if law enforcement tracks down the at-fault driver, they may not have the financial means to adequately compensate you for your injuries and monetary losses.
However, you may be able to file a claim with your personal injury protection insurance (PIP), which may cover your damages to a certain degree. If you have underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, you may also be able to recover additional damages from your own insurance company.
A hit-and-run car accident lawyer in Florida from our firm can advise you on your options for recovering compensation, which may include initiating a lawsuit against the hit-and-run driver.