Even if you think leaving the scene after an accident is your best action to save yourself from damage or injury, doing so can result in criminal charges with significant consequences.
In this blog post, we will explore exactly what constitutes a hit-and-run in Florida, outline how it is treated by law enforcement, and explain what to do if you’re a hit-and-run accident victim.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene
For hit-and-run cases, the law is pretty strict in Florida state. A criminal investigation would immediately be effective if the responsible driver flees the scene. Additionally, legal actions could be taken against you if you leave the crash location before help arrives.
If found guilty, the penalties implemented could be severe. However, the level of the penalty would depend upon the amount of harm or damage the crash has caused.
Punishments for a Hit and Run in Florida
Depending on the nature of a crash, the following are the penalties that can be implemented on a driver:
• Punishment for Accidents Involving Injury: Suppose the crash being investigated involves physical injuries to the other individual. In that case, the offense is recognized as a third-degree felony, which involves penalties of up to a $5000 fine and five years of probation or prison.
• Punishment for Accidents Involving Death: If a death is involved in an accident, the offense is classified as a first-degree felony. A driver charged with this felony has to pay a fine of $10,000 and serve up to 30 years in prison.
Suppose the defendant flees from the accident scene and has been driving the car under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances. In that case, the crime is subject to a compulsory two-year prison term. Furthermore, if every individual involved flees the scene, the victim is also subject to the mandatory suspension of their driver’s license as per the court’s order.
• Punishment for Accidents Involving Property Damage: If a hit-and-run case only involves property damage, it is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor. A responsible driver has to serve up to sixty days in prison, and a fine of $500 will also be implemented on them.
What to Do If You’re the Victim of a Hit and Run
There are several steps that a victim could take immediately after the hit and run:
Move your vehicle to a safer place from the spot of an accident: Stay as close as possible to the accident scene, but, if possible, ensure to move your vehicle away from the traffic flow.
Ensure no one is hurt: If you were not the only person in your car, ensure that all passengers are ok and none are hurt.
Call 911: An immediate police report will be a backup for any insurance claim that must be filed. Do not leave the scene until the cops arrive. Try to keep the location the same, and be ready with your statement.
Write down details: Memories fade away eventually. Hence, it is wise to write down even the smallest detail of the accident. Some crucial information that can help track down the culprit includes the color/model/company of the other vehicle, the direction they traveled while fleeing, and a description of the driver.
Take Pictures: Take pictures of the damages your vehicle has suffered. This will provide you with concrete pieces of evidence to present to your insurance company and the police. In addition, capturing as many photos of the accident scene as possible can smooth out the claim process later.
Talk to eyewitnesses: If anyone could witness the crash, request them to stay back at the scene until police arrive. If the witnesses can’t wait, try to get their contact details so law enforcement and your insurance company can contact them later.
Contact your insurance company: Get in touch with your insurance provider and inquire about the details required to file your claim.
What Happens When Drivers Leave the Scene?
When a driver leaves the car accident scene, it becomes a criminal investigation. Unfortunately, tracking a driver down when he flees the location is tricky. Another unfortunate aspect for the victim is getting financial compensation for the incident.
There are many reasons why a driver may flee the scene of an accident:
● They don’t have car insurance.
● A warrant has already been issued against them.
● They were driving without a license.
● They’re afraid of criminal action or deportation.
● They’re operating an unregistered vehicle or possess a suspended license.
Legal Recourse for Hit and Run Victims
Escaping from the scene of a car crash is a criminal offense, so the only legal resource you have as a victim is if the guilty driver is tracked down and charged for the offense. Get in touch with the police and request them to come to the crime scene.
It is recommended to wait to contact your insurance company. Only call them once you are calm and will be able to give a statement that won’t affect your chances of getting the claim. If the police can hunt down the at-fault driver, hiring a personal injury lawyer is best if you are willing to get monetary compensation from the other party.
A genuine auto accident lawyer will thoroughly analyze your situation to develop a robust case. They will also negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and represent you in court if the case is stretched to that extent.
How Can Coleman Law Group Help You?
If you have also been a victim of a hit-and-run car crash, get in touch with a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer to help you get compensation for your damages. Coleman Law Group can help you to get in touch with such attorneys. Our passionate and talented lawyers ensure you are served with justice and obtain the compensation you deserve.