You’re walking along a popular tourist strip on the beach in Miami when suddenly, a car hits you. Dazed and disoriented, you try to comprehend what just happened, but before you can gather your bearings, you see the unthinkable – the driver who hit you speeds away, leaving you lying there, injured and alone.
As you lay there, you can’t help but feel terrified about what comes next. Who will help you? How will you get the medical attention you need? Will you ever find out who hit you and hold them accountable?
Your immediate concern is getting medical help, but you’re also worried about the mounting medical bills, lost wages, and damage to your personal property. You’re not sure how you’ll afford all this without proper compensation.
Facing insurance companies alone after a hit-and-run accident without legal representation is daunting. You need an experienced Florida car accident lawyer to get you through this difficult time.
What is a Hit and Run Accident in Florida?
A hit-and-run accident is a traffic collision where one party (the at-fault driver) leaves the scene without stopping to fulfill their legal obligations. In these accidents, the responsible driver fails to exchange contact information, aid the injured, or report the accident to the police. Hit-and-run accidents can hurt other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. Sadly, many of these accidents are fatal.
Understanding hit-and-run laws in Florida is crucial for both drivers and victims. For the victims of hit-and-run accidents in Florida, understanding the laws can help protect their rights. It ensures they know what steps to take after the incident, how to report the accident, and how to pursue compensation for damages and injuries.
How Can a Hit and Run Lawyer Help?
Florida car accident lawyers often have extensive knowledge of hit-and-run laws, insurance regulations, and court procedures. They can provide valuable legal advice and guidance, identify relevant evidence, calculate damages, and negotiate with insurance companies.
In many cases, your car accident lawyer can even help track down the hit-and-run driver. Your attorney will take the information you provide and investigate the accident scene. They’ll talk to eyewitnesses and even check surveillance cameras in the vicinity. Private citizens often have Ring cameras on their homes, businesses may have security camera footage, or another driver could have caught it all on their dash cam. Your attorney can be an integral part of helping law enforcement identify the at-fault driver.
Even if the other driver is never found, your attorney can seek compensation through your insurance policy and get you the help you need.
Dealing with the aftermath of a hit and run accident can be overwhelming and stressful. Having an experienced accident lawyer on your side can provide peace of mind and enable you to move forward after your accident.
Hit and Run Laws in Florida
Florida has specific statutes that outline the legal requirements and obligations for drivers involved in accidents, including hit-and-run incidents. The relevant statutes about hit-and-run accidents are found in Florida Statutes, Chapter 316 – State Uniform Traffic Control.
Florida Statute 316.062: Duty to Give Information and Render Aid
This statute requires drivers involved in a car accident to stop at the scene or as close as possible to it. They must provide their name, address, vehicle registration number, and driver’s license to the other parties involved in the crash and the investigating police officer. Additionally, drivers must render reasonable aid to injured persons, including calling for necessary medical assistance.
Florida Statute 316.063: Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Death
This statute addresses hit and run accidents where the collision results in the death of a person. It imposes strict penalties for drivers who fail to stop and provide required information and assistance after an accident involving a fatality.
Florida Statute 316.027: Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Injury
Similar to the previous statute, this applies when an accident injures a person. It outlines the legal responsibilities of drivers to stop, provide information, and offer assistance in such situations.
Leaving the scene of an accident involving only property damage is considered a second-degree misdemeanor. Penalties can include fines, possible jail time, and the suspension of the driver’s license.
Statute of Limitations for Filing Hit and Run Claims
The statute of limitations sets the time limit for a hit-and-run victim to file a legal claim or lawsuit seeking compensation for their injuries and damages. In Florida, the statute of limitations for filing a hit and run claim is typically two years from the accident date. However, this timeframe can vary depending on the specific circumstances. Even if you believe you’ve missed the deadline, don’t despair. Contact a Florida car crash attorney immediately to explore your legal options.
Steps to Take After a Hit and Run Accident
When someone hits you and flees the scene, you may feel scared and confused about what to do next. The most important thing you can do now is to remain calm and call 911. You need police officers and medical teams to come to your aid, even if you don’t believe you’re injured. If anyone else is involved, help them get to safety and lend aid to them if they’re injured.
If you can do so safely, try to gather as much information about the hit-and-run driver as possible, including:
- License plate number
- Vehicle make, model, and color
- Distinguishing features of the vehicle
- Physical characteristics of the driver or passengers (including gender, hair color, etc.)
- Time of the accident
- The direction the vehicle was traveling when it left the scene of the accident
If there are eyewitnesses, get their contact information as well. Their memory of the accident could help law enforcement track down the hit-and-run driver.
Collect evidence at the accident scene if you are not injured. Take pictures of the accident, the damage to your car, and any other information that could help your case. Pictures of skid marks, surrounding areas, and even accident debris on the road could be helpful.
Dealing with Florida Insurance Companies After a Hit and Run
Florida follows a “no-fault” insurance system for auto accidents. This means that regardless of who is at fault in a car accident, each driver’s insurance company is primarily responsible for covering their medical expenses and other losses up to the policy limits.
Florida drivers have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance to cover medical expenses and damages after a crash. This policy provides limited benefits for medical bills and lost wages, and most policies have maximums of $10,000. As long as you seek treatment within 14 days of your hit-and-run crash, your PIP policy pays for:
- 80% of medical expenses, up to the policy limit;
- 60% of lost wages or income
- $5,000 in death benefits.
Most hit-and-run accident victims do not have enough money in their PIP to pay for their damages and recovery. However, if your medical bills exceed your policy limit, there are other options we can consider.
After a hit-and-run accident, the victim may also file a claim with uninsured motorist coverage if the responsible driver cannot be identified. This coverage helps compensate the victim for their injuries, medical expenses, and other damages that the at-fault driver’s insurance would have covered if they were identified. UM coverage is not mandatory in Florida, but insurance companies are required to offer it to their policyholders. Your attorney can check your policies closely to see your coverage type.
Motorcyclists, Bicyclists, and Pedestrians
PIP insurance does not apply to motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Florida Statutes § 324.021 recommends that motorcyclists maintain a different type of insurance that provides financial responsibility in case of an accident. This insurance typically includes Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) coverage, which covers injuries and damages to others if the motorcyclist is at fault in an accident. Unlike PIP coverage, which is mandatory for four-wheeled vehicles, BIL coverage is not mandated for motorcycles in Florida.
In cases where the at-fault driver in a hit-and-run accident cannot be identified, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists may use their own health insurance or other available insurance options to cover their medical expenses. They may also have the option to pursue a claim under their uninsured motorist coverage if they have it as part of their auto insurance policy.
Because hit-and-run accidents are highly complex, injured victims need a legal advocate to fight aggressively for them and their futures when injured in a hit-and-run accident in Florida.
Tourists and Florida Visitors
What happens if you’re a tourist visiting from another state? Florida visitors may have trouble receiving financial compensation when they do not carry personal injury protection in states that don’t require the coverage. In this situation, you must have an experienced Florida car crash attorney on your side to help you obtain the compensation you need.
Filing a Hit and Run Claim in Florida
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the hit and run accident. Provide them with all the gathered evidence and information about the incident. Work closely with the insurance company and law enforcement whenever possible during the investigation process. Your cooperation can help expedite the claim and increase the chances of identifying the at-fault driver.
Insurance companies may attempt to settle the claim for as little as possible. Even your insurance company will want to pay out as little as possible. During this time, it is best to have an experienced Florida car accident lawyer fighting back. Your attorney can gather the evidence necessary to show the true value of your claim.
If the hit-and-run driver is found, your attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit against them for the damages they caused. They will then negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurers to help you obtain maximum compensation.
Victim’s Rights in Hit and Run Accidents
Many states, including Florida, have crime victim compensation programs that financially assist victims of violent crimes, including hit-and-run accidents. These programs can help victims cover medical expenses, counseling costs, lost wages, and other related expenses resulting from the crime. To be eligible for compensation, victims must cooperate with law enforcement, report the crime promptly, and comply with other program-specific requirements.
Contact Our Florida Car Accident Lawyers
If you’re looking for a law firm to help you get maximum compensation after a car accident, call Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys, PA. We know that insurance companies like to play hardball with injured accident victims – even in no-fault states like Florida. Obtaining compensation can get even trickier if you’re injured in a hit-and-run accident.
To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your potential case details, contact Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA at (305) 694-2676. Our firm can also be reached online.