Hit and run accidents are some of the most reckless and dangerous kinds of crashes. All drivers in Florida are required to stop at the scene of an accident. Unfortunately, not all drivers abide by this law.
If drivers feel they are at fault for an accident or fear police arriving at the scene, they may leave without even checking to see if accident victims are OK. Those injured are left alone in the street, sometimes vulnerable to a secondary accident.
After a hit and run, it may seem like you don’t have much hope of getting justice or compensation for your injuries. However, a Florida hit and run accident lawyer can help. An attorney will investigate the crash, review all the possible sources of compensation, and explain your legal rights. Call the knowledgeable team at Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, PA, today to talk about your case in a free consultation.
Who Pays in a Hit and Run Accident?
When you are coping with serious injuries after a hit and run accident, you are likely feeling the financial pressures of medical expenses and missed time from work. You are probably wondering who will pay for the crash.
The good news is that Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state. This means that even if the driver had stayed at the scene, you would still have to go through your own insurance company. You will do this after a hit and run accident, too.
- Personal Injury Protection: The minimum requirement for personal injury protection (PIP) in Florida is set at $10,000. If you only carry the minimum amount required by law, that is all the insurance company is obligated to provide under PIP. In many instances, this amount is not enough to cover the full cost of injury.
- Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Protection: When there is not enough PIP coverage to pay for the losses you have suffered, you may be able to claim additional underinsured motorist (UIM) or uninsured motorist (UM) protection. This is only the case if you have added this optional insurance coverage to your policy.
- Finding the At-Fault Driver: If your PIP insurance coverage isn’t enough to compensate you fully for the accident, and you don’t have UM or UIM insurance, the best chance for receiving additional compensation is if the hit and run driver is caught. The police and your legal team will be investigating your crash to try to identify the driver who hit you.
How a Lawyer Can Help If You Were Hurt in a Hit and Run
Hit and run car accidents are traumatic and scary. Even if the driver is found, it can be difficult to negotiate a fair settlement from the insurance company. You shouldn’t have to deal with this situation alone. A Gainesville hit and run accident lawyer can help in many ways.
- Gathering evidence: Even if the driver is never found, there’s still a lot of evidence that is needed when arguing your case with your own insurance company. Possible evidence includes medical reports, pictures from the accident scene, witness statements, and even video footage if there were businesses nearby. Your attorney will gather this for you while you focus on getting better.
- Proving liability: If the driver is found, your attorney will collect evidence and reconstruct the accident scene to prove the hit and run driver was at fault.
- Handling the legwork: There is a lot of technical legal work involved in a personal injury case. Your attorney will handle letters from the insurance company, respond to legal motions, and file all documents with the court in a timely manner.
- Holding insurance companies accountable: Even if you’re only dealing with your own insurance company, you will soon learn how challenging it is to get the compensation you need from them. They may try to offer you a low-ball settlement and engage in other unfair behavior or delay tactics. Your attorney knows all about these strategies and will not let the insurance company get away with them.
- Demanding full compensation: You may think you only need compensation for your medical bills, but there’s so much more you actually deserve. Your lawyer will hold liable parties, including insurance companies, responsible for paying compensation for your time lost from work, pain and suffering, and more.
In a hit and run accident, it often seems like you’re all alone. You’re not. At Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, PA, our compassionate hit and run accident lawyers will act as your allies and your advocates throughout the entire process.
What Is a Hit and Run Car Accident?
A hit and run accident occurs anytime a driver hits a person, object, or vehicle and knowingly leaves the scene without stopping and offering their information.
When the accident only resulted in property damage, such as when someone hits a vehicle in a parking lot with no one around, it’s not considered a hit and run if the driver leaves their information. Once they have provided that, they are free to leave the scene if no one was hurt.
Sometimes drivers must temporarily leave the scene of an accident. They may go for help or to get better cellphone reception so they can call 911. As long as the driver has already stopped and returns to the accident scene, that is not considered a hit and run car crash.
Florida drivers should understand that if they hit a pet, such as a dog or cat, they are still required to stop at the scene. If the owner cannot be found, then the driver should call the police to let them know what happened and to get further instructions.
What to Do After Being Involved in a Hit and Run Accident
- Do not try to go after the driver. If you are in your vehicle during the hit and run, it’s natural to want to chase the driver so you can identify them. Without knowing the other driver’s information, you may be unable to claim full compensation for your injuries. However, you should never do this. Getting involved in a high-speed car chase can result in much more serious injuries to you and others.
- Call the police. If you need urgent care, call 911. The next step is to call the police. Although you have 10 days to do this in Florida, you should call them while you’re still at the scene. The police will investigate the scene and start looking for the vehicle that hit you right away. The best chance of finding the vehicle and the other driver is when they are both still in the general area.
- Get medical treatment. Check yourself for injuries, and if you have passengers, check them for injuries as well. Even if you don’t think anyone is seriously hurt, it’s important that everyone involved receives medical attention right away. Some injuries, such as concussions and internal bleeding, are not always readily apparent. Getting examined by a doctor will ensure injuries are spotted and treated right away.
- Collect any evidence you can. If you remain at the scene for a little while, collect as much information as possible. It’s helpful to write down anything you can remember about the vehicle and driver who hit you ─ such as the make, model, and color of the car. If you can remember the license plate number, that is very beneficial. If you didn’t have time to get it, ask those nearby if they saw or remember it. If the vehicle had any unique markings, such as dents or bumper stickers, write those down so you don’t forget. The police will ask you for this information when they arrive. You should also take photos of your injuries and any property damage, and get the names and contact information for any witnesses.
- Notify your insurance company. After you have left the scene and sought medical treatment, you’ll need to call your insurance company. However, stick to the basic facts of what happened. Do not go into details or answer questions about your injuries or how you are feeling.
- Talk to a lawyer right away. It is important to understand your legal right to compensation through your own insurance policy after a hit and run. Contact a knowledgeable lawyer who has experience handling these types of cases and can conduct a thorough review of all your options.
Penalties for Hit and Run Drivers
In Florida, hit and run consequences are severe. Leaving the scene of an accident is considered a serious crime. It may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony:
- A hit and run in Florida is a second-degree misdemeanor when the crash resulted only in property damage. The penalties if convicted include a fine of $500, 60 days in county jail, or both.
- If the accident resulted in injury, it is considered a felony. Those convicted face up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both.
- Hit and run accidents that result in another person’s death are the most serious. Anyone convicted of this crime faces up to 30 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both.
Talk to a Hit and Run Accident Lawyer Now
At Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, PA, we know that hit and run crashes result in overwhelming stress and frustration for injured victims. That’s why our Florida hit and run car accident attorneys work hard to take the pressure off our clients.
Contact us today for your free consultation.