Hit-and-run accidents are not only traumatizing experiences, but they can also raise a mountain of legal issues. If you are involved in a hit and run accident, what should you do? Is there any way to locate the vehicle that hit you? Can you hold the driver of that vehicle responsible for their actions?
Hit-and-run accidents are horrible, no matter how you look at it. According to AAA, an average of 682,000 hit-and-run collisions occurred every year since 2006, meaning 682,000 drivers were willing to flee the scene of the incident without inspecting victims’ injuries or calling for help.
What to do if you’re a victim in a hit-and-run accident
By law, if a collision occurs, the driver causing the accident must:
- Remain at the scene of the accident.
- Provide information of the following to the operator of the hit vehicle/owner of the property damaged/police: first and last name, contact information, address, car registration number, driver license, and insurance. If the property owner is not available, the driver must provide the information on a secure, written notice.
However, hit-and-runs can and do often happen. It could occur because the driver wishes to avoid the repercussions of hitting property/another person, like expensive repairs, increased insurance rates, lawsuits, etc.
So be sure to follow these instructions, should a car hit you and flee:
- Call 911. While waiting for help, jot down any details you may recall of the driver that fled. What was the color of the vehicle? What about the license plate number? Any notable features of the vehicle? Are any pieces of the vehicle scattered onto the asphalt? Also be sure to note the damage of the other vehicle, where the vehicle was heading, and location, time, and cause of the accident.
- If you are okay, get out of the vehicle and scout any potential witnesses. If you managed to find anyone who witnesses the events that unfolded, make sure to get their version of the events in writing and write down their contact information, just in case the police or the insurance company may need to speak with them.
- Take photos! Be sure to take pictures of the accident. Take photos of the damaged vehicle, any parts that may have fallen from the other vehicle, where the scene occurred, any skid marks.
- Report the collision. A hit-and-run is 100 percent a crime, so you need to file a police report as soon as possible. The police can help capture the perpetrator and justly charge them.
- Do not follow the fleeing driver. Leaving the scene of the crime can lead to issues with justifying liability.
- Consult a personal injury attorney. Personal injury attorneys will help you seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Punishment for hit and run accidents
The punishment for a hit-and-run accident is often serious and rightfully so. Hit-and-run accidents are generally classified as a misdemeanor or a felony.
This criminal offense is subject to the following charges in Florida:
- Leaving the scene of the crime inflicting only property damage is a second-degree misdemeanor, subject to a fine of $500 and/or county jail time of up to 60 days.
- Leaving the scene of an accident that causes an injury is a third-degree felony. This is punishable by up to five years in prison as well as (or) a $5,000 fine.
- Leaving the scene of an accident that causes death is a first-degree felony. This is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
Get in contact with a personal injury attorney
No matter the case, if you are involved in a hit and run accident that leaves you with an injury, you should contact a personal injury attorney. Not only will a personal injury attorney guide you through the steps necessary to seek proper compensation for your injuries but they will also relieve much of the work required, such as gathering evidence, contacting witnesses, etc., to successfully win your case. With an attorney, you can seek compensation for the following:
- Lost time and wages
- Medical bills
- Long-term medical treatment
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation expenses
- Psychological therapy
- Loss of quality of life
- Emotional trauma over the wrongful death of a loved one
So consider a personal injury attorney so that you can focus on your recovery as they fight for you and help you get the compensation you deserve.