What Happens If the Driver Who Hit You Leaves the Scene of the Accident?

Hit-and-run accidents can be difficult to address since you may not be able to identify who is responsible. Plus, hit-and-runs are more common than you might think. More than 100,000 hit-and-run accidents occur per year in Florida on average. That is largely why the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles implemented the “Stay at the Scene” campaign to educate drivers about how leaving the scene of an accident could have serious repercussions. Take a closer look at the consequences.

Legal Consequences for Hit-and-Run Offenders in Florida

Hit-and-run offenders in Florida could face some serious consequences. Any hit-and-run that results in an injury could land the perpetrator with a third-degree felony charge. If the accident leads to a fatality, then the punishment is even more severe, with a four-year prison sentence for the perpetrator minimum.

No-Fault Injury Claims in Florida

A no-fault injury claim is one in which liability for the injury is not considered. This kind of coverage provides compensation for injuries regardless of how at fault the injured party is for the accident. Personal Injury Protection coverage, or PIP, is a prime example of no-fault injury coverage. It covers a certain portion of medical expenses, even if you are at fault for your injuries. In Florida, PIP is required as part of your auto insurance policy and can cover up to 80% of your medical expenses.

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The Importance of Uninsured and Underinsured Protection

Car accident cases typically involve you claiming against the responsible party’s insurance. When they do not have insurance or cannot be identified because they fled the scene, you can rely on your own uninsured driver insurance. It is imperative in Florida because many insurance policies in the state do not explicitly have bodily injury coverage since it is not legally required. With PIP and uninsured protection, you can enjoy many benefits even when you cannot identify the driver responsible for the hit-and-run accident.

Complexity of Multi-Vehicle Accidents Involving a Hit-and-Run

Multi-vehicle accidents are already quite complicated to deal with when it comes to lawsuits and insurance payouts. Determining liability is increasingly difficult when many parties are involved, and they all have different viewpoints on what exactly happened with the accident. When someone flees the scene of an accident like that, determining liability gets even more difficult.

Additionally, properly compensating all the injured parties can be tough when the perpetrator may not be available for an insurance claim either. You will almost certainly need a personal injury lawyer to navigate a case as complex as one with multiple vehicles and a hit-and-run simultaneously.

Liability and Negligence

Florida utilizes a modified comparative negligence standard, meaning that the compensation you can recover is based on your level of responsibility for the accident. With a hit-and-run, though, it is fairly easy to attribute the entire accident to the driver that ran. Additionally, they can be guilty of both negligence and intentional wrongdoing.

The Civil Case Investigation Process

If you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you will want to start the investigation process as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to track down the responsible party. If the responsible party is found, they may face criminal charges since a hit-and-run is illegal, but that does not mean you cannot file a civil case. You can file a civil case regardless of what the state does.

In a civil case, the victim is in charge of the proceedings as they work with their attorney to show how the case is presented. This is different from a criminal case overseen by a prosecutor who works for the state. The standard in a criminal case is beyond a reasonable doubt, while a civil case only requires a burden of proof of a preponderance of the evidence. Invoking the Fifth Amendment in a civil case will not help the accused as much.

Why Choose Thomas J. Ueberschaer, P.A.

With Thomas J. Ueberschaer, P.A., you can expect an unrelenting dedication to the victims of accidents alongside a history of success for clients throughout Pensacola and the Florida Gulf Coast. Victims in hit-and-run cases can potentially recover economic and non-economic damages while the attorney handles evidence gathering, filing and representation. 

We will answer your questions, address your concerns and work on your behalf to take on the insurance companies. Hit-and-runs are always difficult to deal with, but our team is happy to take on the challenge while you focus on recovery. To schedule a free case evaluation, call us at 850-434-8778 or fill out our form. Legal representation is just one step away.