Accidents are classified as hit-and-run accidents when a person driving a motor vehicle strikes someone or something and leaves the scene without providing contact and insurance information. Although it’s common to think of hit-and-run accidents as accidents involving two or more vehicles, hit-and-run accidents include accidents where a driver leaves the scene after striking a person or object.
A person who is hit or has property damaged in a hit-and-run should call the police. Injured persons may need to use their health insurance to cover medical expenses while the police investigate. Those dealing with property damage may file a claim through their homeowners’ insurance policy.
Motorists involved in a hit-and-run must comply with traffic laws. Understanding what to do in a hit-and-run accident ensures you obey traffic laws and protect your legal rights after an accident.
Anyone involved in a car crash, including hit-and-run accidents, should take some crucial steps after the accident. The essential steps to take include the following:
As noted, Florida law 316.061 requires motorists to remain at the accident scene. Drivers can face criminal charges for fleeing the scene of an accident.
Drivers must also report the accident to the local police department and exchange information with others involved in the accident. Drivers must also provide medical care when possible to anyone injured in the accident.
These laws don’t apply when a driver is injured and unable to perform these tasks. Suppose you’re in an accident where you suffer head trauma and are unconscious. If paramedics remove you from the scene for medical treatment, you aren’t fleeing the scene. You won’t be penalized for failing to offer medical aid or report the accident to authorities.
The accident’s severity is one factor used to determine the penalties for leaving the scene. Suppose a driver leaves the scene of an accident that caused property damage. That driver may spend up to two months in jail and pay a fine.
However, a hit-and-run driver may face felony charges for leaving the scene of an accident that caused injuries or death. In addition to having their license suspended and paying a fine, they can spend years in prison. A hit-and-run driver involved in an accident causing injuries may face a prison sentence of five years, while a hit-and-run driver involved in an accident causing someone’s death could face a prison sentence of 30 years.
Florida’s no-fault laws mean all drivers use their insurer to cover specific costs after an accident. All drivers are required to maintain a personal injury protection (PIP) policy of $10,000 or more. All drivers use their PIP insurance to cover most of their medical expenses and lost income if they miss time at work because of their accident.
Motorists must also carry at least $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) insurance. PDL coverage compensates drivers for damage to their vehicle and other property damage costs.
Your health insurance plan may cover expenses not covered by your PIP insurance. You can also use your underinsured or uninsured driver coverage to cover additional expenses if the driver does not carry the required amounts of coverage.
Although Florida is a no-fault state, and people use their insurance policies to cover accident expenses, individuals in serious accidents can pursue claims against the at-fault party through a civil suit. Filing a civil lawsuit enables victims with severe injuries and expenses to recover damages from the at-fault driver.
Accident victims can seek economic damages to cover accident-related expenses:
Accident victims can also seek non-economic damages, which offer financial compensation for the personal impact of the accident on their lives. Non-economic damages can provide victims with compensation for the following:
There are several potential reasons a driver might leave the scene of a car accident, including the following:
There were 401,533 car accidents in Florida in 2021. In addition to property damage, car crash injuries occur in more than 40% of Florida car accidents, with Florida car accidents claiming 3,529 lives in 2022 alone.
The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports that hit-and-runs are a factor in one-quarter of these wrecks, or approximately 100,383 car crashes annually.
Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys, fights for hit-and-run victims in Tampa to receive justice after their accident. Call us for a free consultation. We’ll confirm if you have grounds to pursue a civil suit, and we’ll look after the investigation, legal paperwork, and negotiations while you recover. We use our legal expertise to fight for victims to get the compensation they deserve after a car crash. There are no upfront legal expenses, and you won’t receive a bill until we settle your case, ensuring every victim can afford to seek the justice they deserve.
Bieber, C. (2023). Florida Car Accident Laws 2023 Guide.