A hit and run refers to when you experience a car accident, and one of the involved parties leaves the scene abruptly without exchanging information or checking to see if you’re okay. Unfortunately, you might become a victim of a hit-and-run accident anytime. Some drivers might try to escape from their responsibilities because they’re afraid of the consequences or don’t have insurance coverage.
However, fleeing the scene of a crash is illegal in Florida, creating additional repercussions for those who do. What you need to know about hit-and-run accidents in Florida is how to seek compensation when you don’t know the at-fault party. Our attorneys can help.
Florida Drivers Have Duties After Auto Accidents
Under Florida’s traffic laws, drivers have a set of responsibilities to fulfill if they get involved in a vehicular accident. These include providing your name, contact details, driver’s license number, and insurance information. Should the other party get injured, you should also help them get medical assistance and contact the police as soon as possible.
During the aftermath, the involved drivers should remain onsite to provide their information and assistance. Failure to do so typically constitutes a hit and run.
Committing a Hit and Run Has Serious Consequences in Florida
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports that hit-and-run accidents comprise about 25 percent of all car crashes in Florida. There were over 600,000 hit-and-run accidents over the past five years.
To deter Florida drivers from leaving the scene of an accident prematurely, the state made doing so a crime. Collisions that only involve vehicular or other property damage are misdemeanors. Meanwhile, hit and runs with injuries or deaths are both felonies.
Hit-and-run drivers will also have their licenses revoked for a minimum of three years if they injured or killed others in the accident. As such, staying put at the accident site would be a more prudent choice to avoid heavier consequences.
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How a Hit and Run Affects Your Car Accident Claim or Lawsuit
When filing a car accident claim against the liable driver, you could use the hit-and-run offense to prove their fault for the incident. For example, suppose that your injuries worsened because you did not receive timely medical care.
Then, you could argue that the driver not only caused your injuries but also indirectly aggravated them by leaving the scene without rendering any assistance. A Florida car accident lawyer studies the state’s traffic accident laws and can help gather proof of the driver’s liability in the collision itself.
Here are some other ways that the hit-and-run accident affects how you can seek compensation.
You May Still Have to Qualify for a Third-Party Claim
Florida’s no-fault insurance laws mean that you still have to rely on your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage first. As a result, you may not go straight to filing a claim against the hit-and-run driver even if they were completely liable for the accident.
To be able to file a claim or lawsuit against the driver, your injuries have to be severe enough to result in temporary or permanent disabilities or disfigurements. For instance, fracturing bones would make you more eligible than some minor cuts and bruises. The death of a loved one would also qualify you for a third-party claim.
Meanwhile, if you are only filing a claim to get compensated for your damaged car, you can file a claim with the hit-and-run driver without meeting the above conditions.
If the Driver Goes Unidentified
In the event that law enforcement can’t locate or identify the responsible party, you could rely on other insurance policies if your PIP plan doesn’t provide enough coverage. For instance, you may have additional coverage under these policies:
- Uninsured motorist (UM) insurance
- Collision insurance
- Health insurance
Hit and Runs Can Change Filing Deadlines
Most car accident cases in Florida have a statute of limitations of four years, while those involving deaths have a two-year time limit. In any case, you generally have only a few years to take legal action. However, a hit and run can “toll” or suspend the statute timer for a certain period.
For instance, if the hit-and-run driver remains unidentified and on the run, the statute clock will not run for as long as they are not found. Another instance that could toll the timer will be if the driver has already been identified but has moved to another state to escape criminal charges. In that scenario, the statute of limitations would only resume its countdown once the driver returns to Florida.
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Discuss Your Hit-and-Run Accident with Us Today
If you or a loved one was recently in a hit-and-run accident in Florida, The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine is here to help you seek compensation. Our attorneys have handled auto collision cases, including hit-and-run collisions, since 2005. We can work with you through each step of your claim or lawsuit.
For inquiries, you can also call us anytime at 1-800-747-3733. We have a team ready to accommodate your concerns 24/7.
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