Frequently Asked Questions about Hit-and-Run Accidents
In the state of Florida, someone that causes damage to a person or a vehicle and intentionally leaves the scene of an accident without providing contact information is known as a hit and run. It is also known as leaving the scene of an accident under Florida Statute 316.061. If it is property damage only, this can actually be a second degree misdemeanor that can result in sixty days in jail or six months of probation and or a fine up to $500. If it is an injury to a person, it can be a third degree felony. It can be up to five years in prison, five years of probation and/or a fine up to $5,000. If it involves death, it can be a first degree felony and can carry thirty years in prison, thirty years of probation and/or a fine up to $10,000.
What Are Some Common Misunderstandings People Have Regarding Hit And Run Accidents In Recovering Damages?
A lot of people believe that if it is a hit and run, they cannot get a recovery because they do not know about the UM or UIM. In case you do have UM insurance, then you can still recover even if you cannot locate the missing at fault driver.
Who Can All Be Held Responsible In Florida In A Hit And Run Accident? What Happens If Someone Else Owned The Car Involved In The Accident?
If the vehicle involved in the accident was owned by someone else, you can go after the owner of the vehicle as well. The driver of the vehicle who was involved in the hit and run accident obviously is responsible, but the owner of the vehicle, if they gave permission to that driver, is also responsible for the damages from that accident. Then there are cases that actually state, “You don’t have to actually hand the person the keys but if you left them there for them to use, made the car available for them even if you didn’t know they were using it at that particular time and place, the owner could still be responsible for the damages as well”, which means that owner’s insurance policy is responsible as well.
How Difficult Are Cases Involving Hit And Run Accidents?
Generally, they are not any more difficult than a regular accident. The only other issue is that you have the additional steps of trying to locate that other driver and you have the additional requirement that the person has UM or UIM insurance.
What Steps Do You Need to Take When You have Been Involved in a Hit and Run Accident?
The first thing to do if you are physically able to do it, after you are in the accident, is get as much information as you can about the vehicle and the driver. This information will include the make, model, color of the car, the approximate year of the car or vehicle as well as the license plate number if you can. If you have your cell phone handy, the best thing to do is to take a picture of the accident as they are driving away if you need to do that. With a picture, you can look at for a lot longer period of time and get a lot of details, like what it might say on the side of the truck or the license plate number that you may not remember. So if you can get a picture that is obviously worth a lot more than anybody’s memory is going to be.
If you can see the individual, get as good of a description of the individual as you can. You should contact the police and your insurance company immediately to report the accident. Look around for witnesses to the accident and get their contact information before they leave the scene. Do not depend on the police officers to get the witness’ contact information.
A couple of things happen in a hit and run accident. Number one, the witnesses sometimes do not hang around long enough for the police to get there. Since this is not their accident, they may say, “Hey, are you okay? I saw what happened. I’ve got to get to work.” You should simply say, “Can I please have your name and your phone number just in case I need you for anything?”
Most people are more than willing to give that information to you at the scene of an accident. Write down the time, date and location of the accident. You are going to be asked for that at various times during your case, so it is important just to take note of it. You can put it in your phone if you want to, write it down on a piece of paper, whatever you need to do but just memorialize that at the time of the accident. Then take pictures of the accident scene and your vehicle. Also, if you can take pictures before moving your vehicle, if it is safe to do that that is the best time to do so you can show where the accident actually happened. If that hit and run driver is later found and they have a different story of what happened, again you have the picture to show exactly where your car was when the accident happened.
If The Driver Of The Hit and Run Vehicle Is Found And They Are Facing Criminal Charges For Leaving The Scene Of An Injury, Do You Have To Wait For The Criminal Portion To Be Over With Before You Pursue The Personal Injury Claim?
No, absolutely not. You can pursue both at the same time. One is not dependent on the other. The only thing that a criminal conviction can help with is a civil action if there is drug or alcohol involved and they end up getting convicted of a DUI offense. You can use that in your civil case to assess punitive damages if you have to go to trial. That is a separate statute and it allows you to obtain more money from the jury.
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