Your initial reaction after a car accident may be to flee the scene. You’re nervous and frightened, and might think that leaving can save you from liability. It should come as no surprise that in Florida, a hit and run comes with more severe consequences than you might face if you stay on the scene. The odds of getting away with a hit and run are slim, and you could face criminal penalties on top of civil charges. If you were the victim of a hit and run accident, you need to learn your rights in this situation as well.
What Is a Hit and Run?
Whether you’re involved in a car accident with another vehicle, pedestrian, or an object, leaving the scene without stopping to provide contact information or assisting the other victim is considered a hit and run. It’s important you exchange information and file a police report, even if the hit and run is not your fault.
Leaving the scene can result in more consequences:
- Extra police charges: misdemeanor or felony charges
- Points on your license
- Suspended license
- Insurance increase
- Jail time
Hit and Run Laws
Hit and run laws vary state to state. Some states might handle hit and runs as misdemeanors or felonies depending on the cause of the accident, damage, and if anyone left the scene.
Hitting and running away from your consequences will always come back to haunt you. Be aware that many public areas have cameras and witnesses who can report the scene.
In Florida, it is also illegal to hit and run pets. Although pets are much more than personal property, they are considered personal property and if you don’t remain at the scene legal consequences will follow.
Hit and Run Statistics
When we face negative experiences, our natural response is to flee. Leaving the scene of a hit and run accident not only leaves you facing legal consequences, but can also leave family and friends without a loved one.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety,
- New Mexico, Louisiana, and Florida ranked high with death rates from hit-and-run accidents
- In 2016, 2,049 people were killed by hit-and-run accidents in the U.S.
- More than 1 hit and run accident occurs every minute in the U.S.
- Nearly 65 percent of people killed in hit-and-run crashes are pedestrians or bicyclists
Directly Following the Accident
Florida sees a high number of hit and run accidents every year, with 186 people killed in 2015. In the same year, there were more than 92,000 hit and run accidents in the Sunshine State. Pedestrians are the most at risk in these accidents, accounting for more than half of all hit-and-run fatalities in 2015. Approximately one in four of all pedestrian crashes involved the driver fleeing the scene.
Florida law makes it mandatory for a vehicle to stop immediately at the scene of an accident and remain at the location until police arrive. Staying at the scene can help you avoid major hit-and-run-related penalties, but it could also save a life.
Call for help if someone has an injury, and file an official accident report with the police. You don’t have to admit fault for the accident. You have the right to speak to an attorney before giving a statement to police or insurance adjusters.
At the scene of the accident, take photos of property damage and personal injuries if possible. Photographic evidence of the accident can help protect your rights if the other person decides to pursue a lawsuit against you for negligence. It can prevent the person from dramatizing the situation and pinning more responsibility on you than you deserve. Collect the information of the other driver, pedestrian, or other persons involved in the accident.
Victim of a Hit and Run Accident?
If you were the victim of a hit-and-run car accident in Miami:
- Seek medical help immediately – Even if you don’t think you sustained an injury, visit a doctor to be sure. If you find out you suffered an injury later, going to the doctor right away can help your case later.
- Call the police – Report the incident. Wait for them to arrive and describe everything in as much detail as you can remember.
- Take notes – List the vehicle’s color, make, and model, if possible. Taking down the person’s license plate number is a best-case scenario in these accidents but not always possible.
The more information about the accident you can provide, the more likely the police will be able to catch the perpetrator. As a victim of a hit and run, speak to an attorney about any serious injuries or expensive property damage you suffered. You may be able to secure compensation for your pain and suffering, medical bills, and other expenses if the police find the person responsible.
Consequences of Hit and Runs in Miami
In an effort to prevent people from fleeing the scene of a car accident, Florida law imposes strict penalties on hit-and-run drivers. If you leave the scene of a crash that resulted in damage to a vehicle or other personal or private property, you could face a second-degree misdemeanor charge. This is punishable with a fine of up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail.
If the crash resulted in injury or death, you face felony charges. When you leave the scene of a car accident, the consequences go from bad to worse. Do yourself a favor and always remain at the scene
Schedule a Consultation with a Car Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one have been involved in a hit and run car accident, it’s important to seek legal help immediately. Contact the experienced Car Accident attorneys at SteinLaw for a free consultation. At SteinLaw, we will fight to get the compensation you deserve!