The Other Driver Fled The Scene. What Are My Options in Florida?
Imagine driving home after a long day, and suddenly, a car swerves into your lane, colliding with you, only to speed away, leaving you stunned and injured. In Florida, this hit-and-run scenario is not only distressing but also legally complex. At Shannon J. Sagan, PA, we understand how overwhelming this experience can be. That’s why we’re here to guide you through your options and help you find a way forward.
What Exactly Constitutes a Hit-and-Run in Florida?
In Florida, a hit-and-run incident is defined by the action of a driver leaving the scene of an accident without providing their information or rendering aid to the other parties involved. Under Florida law, the driver of any vehicle involved in a crash resulting in injury or death to any person, or damage to any vehicle or property, is obligated to immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash, or as close as possible, and remain at the scene until they have fulfilled the requirements. This includes providing their name, address, vehicle registration number, driver’s license information to other involved parties, and rendering aid to any injured individuals to the best of their ability.
If a driver fails to stop and comply with these requirements, they can be charged with a hit-and-run. The severity of the charges can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the circumstances of the accident, such as whether it resulted in property damage, injury, or death. It’s important to note that even if the driver at fault is unknown or flees the scene, individuals involved in such an accident in Florida still have options for seeking compensation through their own insurance policy due to the state’s no-fault insurance laws, under which drivers are required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. Additionally, if you are involved in a hit and run, are injured, and have Uninsured Motorist Coverage (“UM”) you may be able to seek compensation for your damages caused by the driver who fled. This is why I always encourage every driver in Florida to have UM coverage, in order to protect themselves and family members.
Florida’s Approach to Hit-and-Run Incidents
It’s crucial to know that Florida operates under a modified comparative negligence system. This means if you’re seeking compensation, your recovery could be reduced by your percentage of fault in the accident, unless you are found more than 50% at fault, and in that case you are barred from any type of recovery. However, in hit-and-run cases, the challenge often lies in identifying the fleeing driver to hold them accountable.
Steps to Take After a Hit-and-Run in Florida
- Secure Your Safety and Gather Information: Immediately after the incident, prioritize your safety. If possible, move to a secure location and call 911. Even if you can’t identify the other driver, try to remember any details about their vehicle—make model, color, and any portion of their license plate number.
- Report the Incident: In Florida, it’s essential to report a hit-and-run to the police as soon as possible. A timely report can assist in tracking down the other driver and is also a critical piece of documentation for your claim.
- Seek Medical Attention: Even if you don’t feel injured, get a medical check-up. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, and a medical record directly following the accident can be a pivotal piece of evidence for your claim.
- Contact Your Insurance Company: Report the accident to your insurance company. Florida is a no-fault state, meaning you can file a claim under your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage regardless of who is at fault.
- Consult with a Personal Injury Lawyer: Engaging a personal injury lawyer experienced with hit-and-run accidents in Florida can be a game-changer. Your lawyer can help understand the legal complexities of your case, liaise with insurance companies, and, if the driver is identified, take legal action on your behalf.
Ensuring Your Rights Are Protected
After a hit-and-run in Florida, protect your rights by:
- Documenting everything: Take photos at the scene, record medical treatments, and jot down your recollection of the accident.
- Avoiding quick settlements: Insurance companies may offer a quick settlement, but consult your attorney to ensure it’s fair.
- Following legal advice: Your lawyer will provide personalized guidance. Trust their expertise to maximize your claim’s success.
- Have UM Coverage
- HAVE A DASH CAM IN YOUR CAR!!
Contact Our Personal Injury Team Today
A hit-and-run accident can be a turbulent ordeal, but remember, you’re not alone. At Shannon J. Sagan, PA, we’re committed to pursuing justice and the compensation you deserve. With a thorough understanding of Florida’s laws and a compassionate approach, we stand ready to support you every step of the way.
If you find yourself the victim of a hit-and-run in Florida, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Contact us at 561-DASHCAM (352-5299) for your free consultation. Let us take the weight off your shoulders and put our expertise to work for you.
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