Florida is among the states with the highest hit and run cases, averaging over 103,000 cases a year. A conviction can result in misdemeanor or felony penalties, depending on whether the accident resulted in injury or death. But this does not stop people from fleeing the crime scene. Recovering from your physical and emotional injuries can be an onerous burden when trying to get insurance to cover your damages.
If you are hurt in a hit and run, you shouldn’t have to do it alone. Contact our Boca Raton car accident attorneys at Eltringham Law Group. We will help you with your insurance; you might even be liable for compensation from the state’s victim compensation fund.
What is Florida’s Hit and Run Law?
Florida came up with the Stay at the Scene campaign, which aims to educate drivers that they should stay at the crash, and the consequences they face if they leave. If you are involved in a collision, you are mandated by law to remain at the scene and help the victims in any way you can. Some crashes involve multiple victims, while some only include property damage.
If you damage property, you should stay at the scene, try to locate the property owner, or leave your contact information. Fleeing the scene after property damage is charged as a second-degree misdemeanor, and the driver is liable to a fine of $500 fines.
Whose Insurance Pays for a Hit and Run Accident?
The party at fault for causing the crash typically pays for the victim’s medical bills and any damage to their property. Determining who is at fault depends on whether the driver can be found. In most scenarios, your insurance company will work alongside a private investigator or the police department to try and locate the liable party.
If the other driver is unknown, your personal injury insurance will extend medical payments and lost wages coverage under PIP (Personal Injury Protection). You may also be entitled to additional coverage for your injuries and damages if you carry Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist coverage known as you UM insurance on your policy. However, you must comply with the investigation and prove you were not at fault.
Why Do Drivers Flee the Scene?
Unfortunately, hit and run incidents are too common. When a party involved in a crash refuses to stay at the accident scene until the authorities arrive, it prevents the victims from receiving emergency care and delays the legal process of compensation for the victim. There are various reasons why some drivers opt to run away from the scene, including the following:
- They know they are at fault: most drivers who know they are at fault hope that by fleeing the crime scene, they can escape financial responsibility.
- They don’t have any insurance: Unfortunately, bad drivers with no insurance is a HUGE problem in Florida due to the skyrocketing premiums in recent years, especially now with post-pandemic cost of living increases we have been experiencing.
- They are under the influence: some drivers involved in hit and run accidents may be under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, which hinders their ability to make the right choice. They also know that they will be most likely be arrested and criminally prosecuted once they are discovered to be driving under the influence.
- They have outstanding warrants: they panic and flee the scene to avoid going to jail.
- They are driving with an invalid driver’s license: driving with an expired or invalid driver’s license is a felony, and the driver may flee the scene to avoid being arrested for this crime despite not being at fault for causing the crash.
- They may panic: the driver may panic upon witnessing the damage and injuries caused by the crash, even though they are innocent.
Compensation Available for Hit and Run Victims
Recovering after a hit and run might take some time, depending on the extent of the injuries and damage. In Florida, you might be eligible for financial compensation from the state’s victim compensation fund if the driver at fault has no insurance or financial capability to compensate the victim. The compensation benefits include lawyer fees, lost wages due to the accident, and medical expenses, including therapy.
Also, in certain cases, the court might offer the driver probation if they agree to offer the victim compensation in installments known as restitution. We can help you contact your state attorney if the driver who caused your injuries is caught to ensure you get compensated for the damage.
How We Can Help
At Eltringham Law Group, we understand how difficult it is to deal with the consequences of a hit and run. Our lawyers are experienced in handling such cases, and they will guide you through the rigorous legal process. We will help you with your insurance coverage and ensure you receive compensation from the state victim fund.
Contact us today for a free consultation if you are in or around Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you with your case.
FAQs About Hit and Runs in Florida
What should you do after a hit and run?
Some steps you should take after a hit and run include assessing the damage, calling emergency services, noting down relevant information, and notifying your insurance provider.
What happens when the driver at fault is still at-large?
The driver disappearing after a hit and run and never being found happens quite often. In this case, your personal injury protection coverage will cover your medical bills and other damages while the search for the criminal continues.