The problem of hit-and-run cases in Florida is on the rise, with Tampa seeing a lot of accidents recently. Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles stated that in 2015 over 180 people died in Florida due to this. With a steady increase in hit-and-run cases each passing year, the need for hit and lawyer Tampa is also increasing.
Every type of car accident is terrible, but when the driver responsible for the accident flees the scene, things worsen. In a hit-and-run accident, the involved driver runs away without providing his auto insurance or contact information. The law in Tampa states that a driver has to stop at the car accident’s location, and fleeing the scene is a felony in itself.
Why are Hit and Run Accidents in Tampa More Complex than Normal Accidents?
Hit and run cases are complex and much more severe than normal accidents. When the responsible driver runs away from the location, it becomes difficult to locate or identify him. The issue worsens if there are no witnesses and the victim gets seriously injured with no one to help him.
In many hit-and-run accidents, the victim becomes unconscious and does not get immediate medical treatment which can even lead to death. As the responsible driver runs away, the victim does not have his insurance or contact information. The victim must file an injury compensation claim against his own uninsured motor insurance policy.
In such cases, police interview witnesses, look at the damage done to the vehicle, and look for CCTV camera footage to identify the victim or his car. Unfortunately, the responsible driver may keep hiding in fear of the possible penalties, and police might not be able to find him. Therefore, victims should hire a hit-and-run lawyer in Tampa to receive help in getting injury reimbursement, even if the driver flees the accident.
Statistics Related to Hit and Run Accidents in Tampa, FL
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that over 9% of all motor accidents are hit-and-run cases. According to the Department of Highway Safety, from 2012 to 2014, hit and run cases in Tampa, Florida, increased by 24%. Usually, such accidents involve a vehicle and pedestrian or rear-end collisions which gives enough time to the driver to run away from the crime scene.
These accidents are common on Tampa expressways because responsible drivers take advantage of ample space and higher speed limits than narrow city streets or high-traffic areas. Here are some statistics related to hit and run accidents.
- Every minute, at least one hit-and-run accident happens in the United States.
- Hit-and-run cases make up around 12% of all motor accidents in Tampa.
- Over 20% of pedestrian deaths ocurred due to hit-and run-accidents in the past ten years.
- 65% of victims involved in hit-and-run accidents were cyclists or pedestrians, with just 1% being car drivers.
- Most hit-and-run accidents occur between midnight and 4 AM when the roads are pretty empty. Also, roads with high foot traffic and areas with lower speed limits witness the most hit-and-run accidents.
Why do Responsible Drivers Run Away from the Accident Scene?
You might be shocked to see a driver hit you and run away from the location. Whatever the reason, the responsible driver is legally bound to stay at the scene.
Here are some common reasons causing drivers to run away from the accident scene.
- The driver may be driving under the influence of alcohol or any other banned substance.
- Might not have a valid driving license.
- The driver may not have insurance or might be underinsured.
- Did not notice that he had collided with another vehicle and drove away.
- Panic or was afraid of jail.
- Might be scared about the possible criminal charges or penalties.
- It may be a case of road rage.
None of the above reasons are valid, and a hit-and-run case is traumatic for the victim. In addition, victims wonder who will pay their injury compensation amount. In such cases, it is always the right choice to contact a hit-and-run lawyer in Tampa.
Common Injuries Suffered in a Hit and Run Accident
Based on the circumstances and impact of the crash, hit and run accidents can result in fatal injuries to every single body part of the victim. Here are common injuries caused due to hit and run crashes.
- These crashes are significant causes of traumatic brain injuries and damage to the brain or piercing of the victim’s head.
- High torque and impact from the car may damage the victim’s spinal cord and cause paralysis below the injury level.
- Heavy impact due to car crashes can cause long-lasting back and spine injuries.
- The vehicle may catch fire, or the victim’s skin burns due to chemicals, steam, or hot fluids.
- Fractures, broken legs, ankles, arms, ribs, wrists, etc., are common in hit-and-run accidents.
- Victims may get permanent scars or facial disfigurement due to the car crash.
- A victim can lose a leg, arm, toes, or fingers in a hit-and-run accident.
- Broken objects from the car, torn metal sheets, glass, etc., can lead to bruises or lacerations to the victim’s body.
- Apart from physical injuries, a victim may also suffer from emotional and mental stress. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a common effect of hit-and-run crashes.
Tampa, FL Laws Regarding Hit and Run Accidents – Criminal Charges and Penalties
As fleeing the accident scene is a felony in Tampa, Florida, a hit and run case is a criminal case, not a typical civil case. However, if identified, the responsible driver will be charged in court and may face additional penalties in case of death or serious injuries.
In July 2014, the Florida Law adopted the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, which changed the penalties for hit and run offenders. If a hit-and-run crash causes death or injury, it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. In addition, the driver faces a second-degree misdemeanor in property damage resulting in a $500 fine or 60 days in jail.
If the driver ran away from the accident scene and it led to death or severe injury, his charge can rise to a first-degree felony resulting in a $10,000 fine or 30 years in jail. Also, the responsible driver may have to pay injury compensation to the victim. As a result, a hit-and-run lawyer will help you better with all the legal procedures.
What to do Immediately After a Hit and Run Accident?
If any of your loved ones or yourself have gotten into a hit-and-run accident, health and safety come first and foremost. Also, if you want to increase your chances of getting proper injury compensation, hiring a hit-and-run lawyer in Tampa is the right choice.
Accidents are a common occurrence in Tampa, Florida, and here is what you should do in case of a hit-and-run crash.
Check injuries and offer first aid
Whether you were walking on the road or inside your vehicle when the accident took place, you must check for injuries and damage done to your body. Getting first aid or immediate medical help is very important for a proper recovery. Make sure you call an ambulance as soon as the accident occurs and ask bystanders for help.
Call police or law enforcement
After receiving the necessary help, you should call the police to the accident scene. The authorities will arrive at the location and build a police report related to the incident. They will search for evidence, look for security camera footage, interview bystanders, etc., to identify the liable driver. A police report will also benefit your compensation claim.
Try to recall details
You should try to remember the accident and the responsible driver and his vehicle as much as possible. Try to inform the police about the make, model, or color of the reliable vehicle. Also, recall any numbers or letters on the vehicle’s license plate, the direction he went, and the driver’s facial features.
Capture photos and videos
Make sure you click pictures and videos of the accident scene and the damage done to your vehicle. Again, visual evidence can be beneficial in such cases.
Speak with bystanders
In most cases, pedestrians and bystanders will rush to help the victim, and you can interview them regarding the accident. In addition, they can provide valuable information regarding the responsible driver’s vehicle and appearance. Make sure to record their statements for future use.
Contact your insurance provider
Even if you were riding a bike or walking, contact your auto insurance company and tell them about the accident. In some cases, the responsible driver remains unidentified, and you will have to get compensation from your insurance. You may receive low settlements if you do not notify the insurance company quickly.
Visit a medical facility
After the police investigation, visit a hospital or other medical facility. A proper diagnosis will be made for your injuries, and you will receive the necessary treatment. Keep a record of your damages and additional medical costs in your compensation claim.
Seek an experienced attorney
After getting treatment, you should contact a hit-and-run lawyer in Tampa to help you out. Insurance companies try to pay as less as possible, and an experienced lawyer will help you get the maximum money. Also, a lawyer will help you in all legal procedures and take the case to court if necessary.
How does a Hit and Run Lawyer Tampa Help You?
First of all, the lawyer will offer a free consultation, and you ask for details about the accident, injuries sustained, medical bills, etc. You will not pay for a consultation, and the lawyer will get an understanding of your position.
If you choose to move ahead, the lawyer will conduct a detailed interview and tell you about the fee structure. You will need to provide him with all the collected evidence, hospital bills, photos, videos, and everything related to the accident.
The lawyer will take over your case and start investigating on his end. He will talk to the police and witnesses and gather as much evidence as possible. The lawyer will try to strengthen your injury compensation claim as much as possible.
After the investigation, the lawyer will talk to you regarding your entitled injury compensation. Next, he will try to recover this amount from your or the responsible party’s insurance company. Finally, if negotiations stall, the lawyer will take the case to court so that you receive the money you deserve.
Recoverable Damages in Tampa Hit and Run Accidents
The insurance policy recovers the damages from the found liable driver. Here are the damages you can recover through your injury compensation claim.
Economic damages include all medical costs, including hospital bills, treatment costs, medicines, rehab, home care, etc. You can also seek property damage and lost wages as you may not be able to work because of the injuries sustained. In wrongful death cases, the victim’s family may also seek funeral costs.
Non-economic damages include compensation for mental pain and suffering, trauma, consortium loss, etc. It also includes damages for the loss of ability to work.
Punitive damages – This compensation came into play when the responsible party’s actions were unacceptable and the court-ordered extra penalties.
Can You Receive Compensation if the Responsible Driver is Not Found?
You can seek injury compensation from the found liable driver. Unfortunately, many times the police are unable to catch the responsible driver, and you will have to seek damages from your insurance policy. Here is how you can get compensation:
PIP or Personal Injury Protection: Every driver in Tampa, Florida, must have $10,000 in his PIP coverage. Whoever may be at fault for the accident, this policy always applies. In addition, you can seek injury compensation from your PIP policy.
Under or Uninsured Motorist Policy – This additional insurance provides coverage if the responsible party’s insurance policy is not enough to cover the damages.
Coleman Law Group Can Help You
If you have been in a hit-and-run crash in Tampa, Florida, Coleman Law Group has experienced attorneys to help you out. You will get a free evaluation of your case, and our attorney will be there with you at every step of the legal process.
Our hit-and-run lawyer will conduct a proper investigation so that you can earn the maximum financial compensation. If you do not get a fair settlement offer, our lawyer will file a lawsuit and take the case to court on your behalf.
Do not worry if the responsible driver ran away in a hit-and-run crash in Tampa. Coleman Law Group will help you get the maximum amount of money you deserve.