- In Florida, anyone involved in a car accident must stop and remain at the scene. Otherwise, it is considered a hit-and-run accident.
- If an at-fault driver flees the scene of an auto accident, it may become more difficult for victims to file a successful insurance claim.
- Hit-and-run victims have options for seeking justice, like special types of insurance coverage or lawsuits.
- Working with a car accident lawyer can help you recover the compensation you deserve after a hit-and-run accident.
Car accidents can have life-changing physical and financial consequences. Insurance and the legal system can help victims receive justice, including coverage for medical bills and property damage. But what happens in a hit-and-run accident, when there’s no at-fault driver to hold responsible for damages?
While these cases present unique challenges for victims, there are still ways you can defend your rights. At Werner, Hoffman & Greig, we have extensive experience representing car accident victims and a track record of success. Put our experience and skills to work for you by calling WHG at (800) 320-HELP or contacting us online for a free consultation.
Hit-and-Run Accidents in Florida
In the State of Florida, any driver involved in an accident that causes property damage, injuries, or death must stop and remain at the scene until they have:
- Provided their name, address, vehicle registration information, and driver’s license
- Rendered assistance by calling 911 if an injured victim is unable to do so themselves
If the at-fault driver in a car accident takes off without doing those things, we call that a hit-and-run. The State of Florida calls that the crime of Leaving the Scene of an Accident. Depending on the damage caused by the crash, perpetrators of hit-and-runs may be penalized by up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Dealing with the fallout of a car accident is stressful enough already. If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run, receiving fair compensation for your damages can be an uphill battle.
First Steps After a Hit-and-Run Accident
After surviving a car crash, even a minor fender-bender, you may be in pain, disoriented, and under intense stress. However, the steps you take in the immediate aftermath of an accident can be crucial later on.
- First, ensure your safety. Move out of the flow of traffic if you can safely do so.
- Call the police. In Florida, a police report must be created for any motor vehicle accident causing more than $500 in property damage or injuries.
- Document the car accident. Take contact information from any witnesses. Photograph any injuries or damage to your vehicle. Write down as many details as you can remember while the incident is still fresh.
- Even if you don’t feel injured, seek medical attention. You may have injuries you’re not aware of at first. Medical records may provide crucial evidence when pursuing your personal injury claim.
- Finally, contact your insurance provider. Failing to notify your insurance provider after an accident can impact the compensation you’re able to receive.
Challenges Faced by Victims of Hit-and-Run Car Accidents
Car accidents are often deeply traumatizing experiences and can cause tremendous physical injuries and financial damage for victims. In the aftermath, you may struggle with injuries like back pain, broken bones, concussions, or PTSD, along with medical bills and expensive car repairs.
Hit-and-victims may face all of these difficulties and more. Unique challenges faced by victims of hit-and-run car accidents may include:
- Finding the at-fault driver: This can be difficult to investigate, and may not be a top priority for law enforcement.
- Dealing with insurance: Insurance companies don’t want to provide more compensation than they have to, and may be reluctant to pay out without a clear culprit to hold responsible.
- Complexity: Hit-and-run cases are more complicated than regular car accident claims, and require additional resources and legal expertise to navigate.
These barriers to seeking justice add an extra burden on top of what victims of car accidents already deal with.
Legal Options for Hit-and-Run Accident Victims
It is a crime to flee the scene of an auto accident, and victims deserve justice. Unfortunately, this can be more complicated when the responsible party is nowhere to be found. Still, victims have some legal options they can pursue to seek the compensation they deserve.
Identifying the At-Fault Driver
If the at-fault driver can be found by police, the problem becomes a lot simpler. Fleeing the scene is usually taken as a sign of guilt, by both the authorities and insurance companies.
Whether or not the culprit is apprehended may be mostly out of your hands, but there are still a few ways you can improve your chances.
- Write down any details you can remember about the hit-and-run accident, especially a description of the at-fault driver’s vehicle
- Report the incident as soon as possible so the police can investigate
- Appeal on social media for anyone who recognizes the at-fault driver’s car to come forward
Insurance may also launch an investigation of their own in an attempt to find someone to hold responsible for damages. Cooperate with them however you can.
Compensation Without Identifying the At-Fault Driver
There’s a good chance the at-fault driver will never be identified. Don’t lose hope–there are other ways that you can receive compensation for the damages you’ve suffered.
- Personal Injury Protection: In no-fault states like Florida, all drivers are required to carry personal injury protection coverage. PIP can provide coverage for medical expenses even with no at-fault driver.
- Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage: Some insurance policies will include coverage for accidents involving drivers with little to no insurance coverage. This may also apply to hit-and-run accidents.
- MedPay coverage: Some insurance policies will also include medical payment coverage that will help cover medical expenses for yourself or your passengers, no matter what.
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit: In some cases, it may be necessary to file a car accident lawsuit to receive the compensation you deserve from your insurance carrier.
If you or a loved one has suffered a car accident involving a hit-and-run driver, consider working with an attorney. An experienced car accident lawyer can help navigate the unique challenges you face.
The Role of a Car Accident Lawyer
Hit-and-run cases are complex and require specialized knowledge and experience. When you’re recovering from the intense experience of a Florida car accident, dealing with insurance companies and the legal system is probably the last thing on your mind.
You can benefit from the tactics used by car accident lawyers. An auto accident lawyer can:
- Provide legal expertise and guidance, helping you file the claim and explore your legal options
- Conduct investigations and gather evidence, accessing resources and expertise to identify the at-fault driver or build a strong insurance claim
- Negotiate with insurance companies, working on your behalf to ensure a fair settlement
- Pursue legal action, filing a personal injury lawsuit and representing you in court if necessary
- Provide support and advocacy, acting as a trusted advisor and advocate throughout the entire process
Working with a car accident attorney can help you make it through a difficult and frustrating time to obtain justice.
WHG Can Help You Seek Justice After a Hit-and-Run Accident
If you have been in a car accident, and the at-fault driver fled the scene, you may face a difficult legal battle on top of the physical, financial, and emotional toll.
Don’t wait–reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer like the team at Werner, Hoffman & Greig. Our personal injury attorneys know what you’re going through, and have the skills and experience to defend your rights as a victim.
Frequently Asked Questions
What damages can I recover after a car accident?
Victims of hit-and-run accidents can receive compensation for damages such as:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Property damage
Consult with a car accident lawyer for a personalized evaluation of the damages you may be able to recover.
How long do I have to take legal action after a hit-and-run accident?
To receive insurance coverage after a car accident, you must report the accident to your insurance carrier within 30 days of the accident.
If you need to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages, the statute of limitations in Florida is two years from the date of the accident.
Can I still receive compensation if the hit-and-run driver is never found?
You can still receive compensation after a hit-and-run accident, even if the police can’t find the at-fault driver. Your Personal Injury Protection or Uninsured Motorist Coverage should be able to provide some compensation.
Your car accident lawyer can help you explore other legal options, such as pursuing an additional claim through your insurance carrier or filing a personal injury lawsuit.