When a driver is involved in a crash, stopping at the scene of the accident is legally required and morally the right thing to do, yet close to a quarter of all crashes in Florida are hit-and-run accidents. When these drivers leave behind an injured victim without calling for help or rendering aid, the victim will likely suffer much worse injuries because the negligent driver fled. In 2019, 206 people died in hit-and-run auto accidents in Florida.
Along with the shock and anger when the other driver flees the scene is a very concerning question, who is going to pay for my medical bills, property damage, and other losses? The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A., has the answer to this question and other important issues you may be facing after a hit-and-run. Learn more below, and contact The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A. if you have been hurt in a hit & run accident.
First, Try to Find the Driver
Car accidents are chaotic situations, and when the other driver speeds off, this just adds another element of confusion. Nevertheless, as soon as possible, try to write down all the details you can recall about the car – make and model, color, and any part of the license plate you might have seen. Did it have any distinguishing characteristics such as tinted windows or custom lettering on the rear windshield? Also, think about what part of the vehicle hit your car; it probably has damage there which will distinguish it from other similar vehicles. Your attorney can hire an investigator to search body shops for cars that match the description, as well as review traffic or surveillance cameras, or look for witnesses.
Also, call the police and share your information with them. Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime, and the police might want to take an active role in tracking down the driver, depending on how severe the accident was. Leaving the scene of an accident that caused property damage is a second-degree misdemeanor, but if an injury occurred, the hit-and-run becomes a second or third-degree felony. When the crash involves a death, the hit-and-run is a first-degree felony. This crime also carries a mandatory minimum of four years in prison under a Florida law enacted in 2014 after an alcohol-impaired driver fled the scene of a fatal crash.
Pursue Your Options for Compensation
If you are able to find the driver, you can bring a claim against their insurance. Your PIP coverage will pay for 80% of your medical bills up to your policy limit, but their insurance should cover the remainder. If you are seriously injured, you can bring a tort claim for the full amount of your damages, paid from their bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance. You might even be able to recover punitive damages to punish the driver and serve as an example to society about what happens to people who engage in outrageous conduct like leaving the scene of an injury accident.
If you can’t find the driver, you can file an uninsured motorist (UM) claim with your insurance. UM insurance covers you when you are hit by an uninsured driver, but it also applies in the case of a hit-and-run. UM coverage typically comes with your BIL coverage, and Florida law allows you to stack UM coverage from all your household vehicles to maximize your compensation.
If you don’t have UM coverage, you could consider pursuing a claim directly against the negligent driver. You could also apply for compensation from Florida’s crime victim compensation fund. This fund specifically provides compensation to hit-and-run victims. To be eligible, you need to report the hit-and-run within 120 hours of the crash, so this is another good reason to call the police after the accident.
Help is Available After a Fort Myers Hit & Run Car Accident
The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A., can help you explore your options and pursue all available options to get you the best results after a hit-and-run car accident in Fort Myers. Call our office at 239-649-8050 for a free consultation. We only charge a fee if we are successful in obtaining a recovery for you.