Most car accidents allow the injured parties to take legal steps to recover economic and non-economic damages from the negligent driver. But, what happens if the driver flees the accident scene? These situations are equally frustrating and infuriating. When a hit-and-run driver never gets caught by the police, it can be a challenge to convince your insurer to cover the damages you’ve incurred.
Why Did the Driver Flee the Scene of the Accident?
The psychological nature of human beings is hard to predict, and hit-and-run situations highlight this reality. The reason a negligent driver fled the scene of your accident could be for countless reasons, of which you’ll never know for sure.
Most of the time, it’s due to fear of arrest and/or losing their vehicle to impoundment. Still, other common excuses have been given in court by apprehended hit-and-run offenders:
- They were intoxicated and wanted to avoid DUI.
- The car they drove didn’t belong to them.
- The vehicle didn’t have a state-mandated liability insurance policy.
- Lack of registration for the vehicle, or it wasn’t registered at all.
- They were driving under suspension or didn’t have a license.
- Trying to avoid additional points being put on their license.
- Outstanding arrest warrants.
- Illegal drugs and/or firearms in the car.
- They were unaware they caused an accident (ghost drivers).
- Seeking medical attention nearby instead of calling an ambulance.
Florida Hit-and-Run Laws
Under Florida Statutes, Sections 316.061-316.063, anyone who leaves the scene of a car accident when there is property damage, a fatality, or injuries are committing a criminal offense. When an accident occurs, the state expects drivers to do the following:
- Come to an immediate stop and remain near the crash site as safe as possible.
- If able, exchange contact and insurance information with the other parties involved.
- When officers arrive, be sure to provide your license, current address, and registration for the vehicle with your proof of insurance.
- If only property damage has occurred, you must try to locate and notify the owner if no witnesses are present. One is permitted to leave behind contact details and notice the damage caused if the owner is unavailable.
In situations where you or others are injured, all involved have a duty to render aid, including calling an ambulance or getting them to the nearest hospital if possible. This is all but impossible in a hit-and-run situation.
How Do I Pursue Compensation after a Hit-and-Run?
Because Florida is a no-fault insurance state, you will first seek compensation from your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage that state law requires you to carry. Unfortunately, most policies only cover the required minimum of $10,000, which rarely covers the entirety of damages and injury expenses from a severe accident.
Should law enforcement track down the driver that fled, you may have the option of suing them for exemplary damages. Many times, however, hit-and-run drivers remain unfound, or they don’t have sufficient car insurance to make a compensation claim possible. If you happened to purchase an additional uninsured or underinsured motorist policy with your insurer, you might still recoup your losses up to the limits in this coverage.
Keep in mind that any insurance company you deal with, whether your own or that of the at-fault driver, will do everything possible to frustrate and minimize your injury claim. This is not unusual or should be a surprise since they are in the business of making money. Before making any statements to a claims adjuster, be sure to speak with an experienced Seminole County car accident attorney first.
You Have Options as a Hit-and-Run Victim in Florida
When a driver flees the scene of a terrible accident they negligently caused, it’s often to avoid being held liable financially and criminally. The personal injury attorneys of Jordan Law are well aware of this and can help you explore other avenues to receive much-needed injury compensation.
Schedule an initial consultation with our experienced lawyers right away to learn more about what rights you have under Florida’s negligence laws. It’s not your fault that someone was reckless and caused you harm, and we won’t stop until you get the compensation you deserve to recover and enjoy life again.
Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about what rights you have to compensation.