A hit-and-run accident can leave you injured and worrying about how to pay your bills if you cannot identify the driver who was at fault for your accident. However, even identifying the responsible driver may not be helpful if the driver is uninsured or underinsured.
Fortunately, due to hit-and-run laws in Florida, you still may have a source of compensation from your own insurance policy. Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Property Damage Liability (PDL), and uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance policies may provide coverage for your injuries in some cases.
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Hit and run accidents
Hit and run accidents occur when a driver causes an accident resulting in property damage and/or personal injuries and fails to stop at the scene as required by laws. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) states that it is a crime to fail to stop at an accident scene when property damage or injuries have occurred.
Depending on the circumstances, a hit and run driver could face misdemeanor or felony criminal charges, which could result in incarceration and the payment of fines.
The hit and run laws in Florida are particularly strict for a driver who leaves an accident scene involving serious bodily injuries or death. Under Florida Statutes §316.027, individuals who leave the scene of a fatal car accident can face first-degree felony charges, with a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison.
Third-party personal injury lawsuits
If police are able to identify a hit and run driver after a crash, you may be able to file a civil personal injury lawsuit against the driver for the costs of your injuries and damage to your vehicle. However, if the driver is uninsured, you may have a challenging time collecting compensation from the driver. As a result, you may need to look elsewhere for compensation for your injuries and damages to your vehicle.
PIP insurance under Florida law
According to the FLHSMV, all drivers must maintain at least $10,000 of PIP coverage. This insurance provides coverage for reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to a car accident, no matter who is at fault for the crash. As a result, if a hit and run driver strikes your vehicle and causes you injuries, you can file a claim under your PIP policy to help pay for your medical expenses and lost wages.
Although this insurance coverage is helpful, it may not be enough to cover all your losses stemming from the accident. If you have suffered severe injuries resulting in permanent impairment, for instance, you easily can have expenses that are more than $10,000.
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PDL insurance under Florida law
Florida law also requires that you maintain at least $10,000 of PDL coverage. This is another component of no-fault insurance law requirements in Florida. You can look to this coverage for compensation to fix your car after you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident. Again, this coverage is available to you no matter who caused the accident at issue.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance policies
Another source of compensation in a hit-and-run accident may be your uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance policy if you have one of these policies in effect at the time of the crash. Florida law does not require that you maintain this type of insurance, although your insurance agent will offer this coverage to you when you are purchasing PIP and PDL insurance.
In many cases, if you choose this insurance coverage, you will have a policy equal to the amount of liability insurance that you have chosen.
How these policies help
Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance is useful in the case of a hit and run accident in which you suffer damages, but you cannot identify the driver. This coverage also applies when the at-fault driver has no insurance.
However, even if you do identify the hit and run driver and they do have liability insurance, it may be insufficient to cover your damages. In the case of a catastrophic injury from a car accident, the liability insurance maintained by the other driver may not be enough to pay for all your injuries and accident-related losses. This insurance coverage can help pay for some of those expenses in this situation.
Let us help you build your claim for damages
Hit and run laws in Florida can have harsh criminal consequences but also can result in civil liability for at-fault drivers. However, if you are unable to identify the hit and run driver or the driver has no or insufficient insurance, you still may have ways to get compensation for your damages.
Contact the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine and get more information about your options for compensation after a hit and run accident. We can present all available alternatives to you and help you make the decisions that are best for you, based on your circumstances.