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Hit-and-Run Accidents in Florida: Legal and Insurance Guidelines

At Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, our car accident lawyers regularly represent victims of hit-and-run car accidents. These accidents present unique challenges. The difficulty for victims lies in the absence of the perpetrator, which adds to the distress of the accident. 

Hit-and-run accidents are a significant issue in Florida. Statistics by FLHSMV (Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles) show that, over the past five years, there have been over 400,000 hit-and-run crashes in the state, resulting in more than 1000 fatalities.

If you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run car accident, it’s important to seek legal assistance. Contact our Miami car accident attorney for a free consultation to discuss your case.

Charges for Florida Hit-and-Run Cases

When a driver leaves the scene of an accident without contacting emergency services, it can worsen the injuries of the victim. In some cases, this delay in medical assistance can lead to wrongful death. Furthermore, leaving an accident scene and failing to accept responsibility is against Florida law.

The penalties for a hit-and-run in Florida vary based on the accident’s severity:

  • If the accident causes only property damage, the driver faces a second-degree misdemeanor charge. This can result in up to 60 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500. 
  • If the accident results in personal injury, the charge can be a second or third-degree felony. This carries penalties of up to 5 years in prison, a minimum 3-year driver’s license revocation, and a $5000 fine. 
  • In cases where the accident leads to a victim’s death, the charge is a first-degree felony. This can mean 4 to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

If the hit-and-run driver was under the influence of an intoxicating substance, the minimum prison sentence is 2 years. In such cases, driver’s license revocation is also possible. These penalties apply when the driver is found. If the hit-and-run driver remains unidentified or unlocated, victims can still claim financial compensation for personal injury or property damage from their car insurance.

Steps to Follow if You’re a Victim of a Hit-and-Run

If you are a victim of a hit-and-run, first check for injuries on yourself and your passengers. Call an ambulance and the police. If unable, ask a witness to make these calls. Move your vehicle to a safe location near the accident scene and wait for the police.

Take note of any details you remember about the other vehicle or driver, such as make, model, color, or travel direction. Provide any description of the driver and license plate information you can remember. Look for any pieces or parts left by the other vehicle. Do not touch these items; inform the police about them.

Ask witnesses to stay and give details to the police. If witnesses are unwilling to stay, get their contact information. Take photos of your vehicle’s damage and the surroundings. These photos serve as evidence for investigating the accident’s fault.

Contact your insurance agent. Inquire about the information needed to file your claim. File a police report to initiate a formal investigation. This may help locate the responsible party for compensation. The police report provides an official record of the incident, useful for investigation and insurance purposes.

Legal Requirements for Proving Hit-and-Run in Florida

To establish the crime of hit-and-run accident in Florida, the prosecution must prove four key elements:

  1. The defendant was driving a vehicle involved in an accident that resulted in injury, death, or property damage.
  2. The defendant knew or should have known that they were involved in an accident.
  3. The defendant knew or should have known about the injury, death, or property damage caused by the accident.
  4. The defendant intentionally failed to stop at the accident scene, or as close as possible and did not remain there to provide their identifying information. This information should be given to the other driver, any occupants, anyone attending the vehicle, or the police officer at the scene. Additionally, the defendant did not offer reasonable assistance to any injured person when such help appeared necessary or was requested.

Insurance Claims in Hit-and-Run Accidents

In cases of hit-and-run accidents where the driver remains unidentified, victims typically turn to their own auto insurance companies for compensation. Florida’s no-fault insurance law mandates that personal injury protection insurance, provided by your insurer, covers monetary losses from the accident. This coverage is utilized regardless of the at-fault party’s presence or absence at the accident scene.

Florida law also includes provisions for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This means that victims can claim compensation for damages like medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage through their insurance policy. It’s important to note, however, that insurance companies may seek to minimize the payout.

Understanding the details of your insurance policy is essential. Knowing your rights and the extent of your coverage can significantly impact the outcome of your claim. Before entering discussions with your insurance provider, it’s beneficial to consult an experienced car accident attorney. An attorney’s involvement often leads to more effective negotiation, increasing the chances of adequately recovering your losses from the accident.

Need Help After a Hit-and-Run? Contact Our Experienced Attorneys

If you’re a victim of a hit-and-run car accident, it’s crucial to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. At Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, we specialize in analyzing your situation to build a strong case. Our experienced attorneys are highly skilled in negotiating with insurance companies and are fully prepared to tirelessly fight for you in court if necessary.

With over $1 billion in settlements and trial verdicts, we have a deep understanding of Florida law and are committed to ensuring your rights to compensation are fully realized. Serving clients throughout Florida from our Miami office, we offer a free consultation to help you recover your costs and obtain the compensation you deserve. Don’t navigate this challenging time alone; let our experienced car accident attorneys represent you. Call us at 305-371-2692 or schedule your free consultation online today.