Leaving the Scene After a Florida Car Accident

When an accident occurs, you must stop your vehicle. You must exchange information when the other driver and call the police. Too often, drivers don’t follow this law.

If the other driver flees the scene of a car accident, can they be charged with a crime? If the other driver flees the scene of a car accident, how does that impact your civil claim? Here’s what you need to know from our Tampa car accident attorneys.

What Is the Charge for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Florida?

The charge for leaving the scene of an accident in Florida is Florida law 316.061. It is a second-degree misdemeanor. Penalties may include a fine and jail time. If a serious injury or death occurs, the charge for leaving the scene of an accident is a felony offense.

What Is Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Florida?

Leaving the scene of an accident in Florida is where a driver doesn’t stop their vehicle after a crash. Florida law requires each driver to stop their vehicle as close to the scene of the accident as possible. They must share their license and registration information with the other driver. They must call the police and secure medical services if anyone might be injured. A person who leaves before taking these steps is leaving the scene of an accident in Florida.

Requirements After an Accident in Florida

When you’re in an accident in Florida, Florida law 316.062 requires you to stop your vehicle and take specific steps. You must do the following:

  • Stop your vehicle. If you can, move it to a place where it doesn’t obstruct traffic
  • Show your license to the police, anyone injured, the other driver and the owner of the damaged property
  • Give them your name, address, and vehicle registration number
  • Call the police, if they aren’t already there
  • Arrange medical care if anyone might be injured

If the driver is too injured to exchange information and call the police, the next adult occupant of the vehicle must take the necessary steps to make a report. Florida law 316.064 shifts responsibility to another adult occupant of the vehicle if the driver is physically incapacitated and can’t make the report.

How Much Jail Time Do You Get for Leaving the Scene of an Accident?

How much jail time you get for leaving the scene of an accident depends on the circumstances of the case and the judge that sentences you. If someone is seriously injured or killed, you can expect months or even years of jail time. In cases where no one is seriously hurt, you may or may not get jail time. Your criminal record, remorse, harm to the victim, and any other relevant factor may play a role in how much jail time you get for leaving the scene of an accident.

Is Leaving the Scene of an Accident a Felony in Florida?

Leaving the scene of an accident is a felony in Florida under certain conditions. If someone suffers an injury or death because of the accident, the offense is a felony. The maximum possible prison time may be 5, 15, or 30 years depending on the severity of the victim’s injuries. In cases where no injury occurs, leaving the scene of an accident is not a felony in Florida.

316.027 Florida Statute

Florida statute 316.027 requires a driver to stop their vehicle when someone gets hurt in a motor vehicle accident. Even when the injured person is a bicyclist or a pedestrian, the driver must stay at the scene of the crash and comply with requirements to report the accident to the police, provide information to the others involved, and arrange for medical attention for anyone who is injured. The requirements of Florida statute 316.027 apply even if the driver is not at fault for the accident.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident and Florida Car Accident Lawsuits

If you’re involved in an accident where someone flees the scene, you might wonder how their actions impact a car accident claim. In Florida, accident victims have the right to bring a legal claim against the responsible driver if they suffer serious or permanent injuries in the accident. When a driver chooses to flee the scene of the accident, it can change the trajectory of the civil claim.

If a driver leaves the scene of an accident, an injured victim may not get the medical attention that they need. Their injuries may be worse and longer-lasting than they may be if the driver had stayed at the scene of the accident. In addition, their emotional anguish may be higher. These additional losses can add to the accident victim’s damages. In addition, leaving the scene of the accident may create a bad impression in the minds of the jury and raise the degree of fault for the accident against the fleeing driver.

In other ways, leaving the scene of an accident doesn’t significantly impact a Florida car accident claim. Some courts believe that once an accident occurs, the damage is done. They might conclude that the victim would have suffered their injuries whether or not the driver left the scene of the crash.

In the State v Williams and Triplett v State cases, the Florida courts said that causation is an important part of any Florida car accident case. The court said to look into whether the other driver fleeing the scene is the cause of the victim’s damages or if the damages are increased because of the fleeing driver’s actions. An experienced attorney for car accidents involving a fleeing driver can help you examine your case and understand what role the issue of causation might play in your case.

Contact Our Tampa Attorneys for Car Accidents

Have you been in a car accident? Did your accident involve a driver who left the scene of an accident? Our attorneys have helped thousands of accident victims. We want to help you, too. Whatever the circumstances of your case, we’re prepared to provide aggressive, professional legal services until you have the result that you deserve. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.

About the Author

Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.

For more than 36 years, personal injury lawyer Jack G. Bernstein has protected the rights of individuals who have been injured in a variety of circumstances. Mr. Bernstein is a member of the Florida State Bar Association, the Hillsborough Bar Association and the Clearwater Bar Association.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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