Hit and run accidents are a very serious issue, and becoming more prevalent than ever. Be prepared and know what to do after an accident when the other car flees the scene.
Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime in the state of Florida and punishable as a third degree felony with up to 5 years in prison, 5 years of probation, or a fine up to $5,000 if an injury is involved. In situations where there is only property damage, leaving the scene can result in up to 60 days in jail or fines up to $500. If you are a victim of a hit and run, the legal consequences of leaving the scene of the accident are substantially more severe than in a typical traffic accident. Unfortunately, instances of hit and runs are incredibly common and in many situations, the victim driver may be left with few options in terms of treatment and vehicle repair.
Duty to Give Information and Render Aid
Florida Statute Sections 316.061-316.063 provide that the crime of leaving the scene of an accident is committed when a person is involved in an accident or crash with another person’s property; such as a vehicle, building or structure; and willfully leaves the accident or crash without providing their name, address, registration information, and the driver’s license to the owner of the property. If the owner of the vehicle is not present at the time of the accident, you are required to report the accident to the nearest law enforcement facility or securely place a written notice on the vehicle and provide the above-mentioned information. If the other driver involved in the crash is injured, you are required to assist the individual in obtaining aid, typically by notifying emergency services.
There are various situations if you are involved in a hit and run where the court may not hold you accountable as the tortfeasor if you fail to abide by the above-mentioned requirements. Examples include lack of knowledge or understanding that you hit another person’s vehicle or property, or, furthermore, you were unaware that the accident occurred. Another example is if you are too severely injured to accurately report the accident to the proper authorities or provide your information to the other driver. Finally, if the assistance rendered was determined to be reasonable within the meaning of the statute, you may not be held accountable for leaving the scene.
If you are a victim of a hit and run accident, there still may be options for your treatment and repair of your vehicle. Unfortunately, without an eye witness, license plate number, or video evidence of the scene, holding another driver accountable for leaving the scene of an accident can be extremely difficult. However, depending on your policy, your own insurance will most likely cover the property damage to your vehicle. Furthermore, if you have purchased or agreed to uninsured/underinsured motorist protection, there may be compensation for your medical bills and treatment.
If you have been involved in a hit and run accident, contact Dennis Hernandez & Associates, P.A. immediately for assistance.