Hit And Run Accident Lawyers
Few accidents are as infuriating as those that involve hit-and-run drivers. Florida law requires that drivers who have been involved in a crash remain at the scene, both in order to offer assistance to any injured victims and to exchange contact and insurance information with the other individual(s) involved in the crash. While it is a crime to leave the scene of a collision, unfortunately, it happens all too often.
Why Do People Flee the Scene of an Accident?
The reasons drivers leave the scene of an accident may vary. In some cases, drivers flee the scene because they are already engaged in another illegal activity, they may not have insurance coverage, may not have a valid driver’s license, or may not have permission to drive the vehicle, etc. Hit-and-run accidents may also involve an impaired driver who fears that if they stop they will be charged with drunk driving or a driver who does not have auto insurance who fears if they stay at the scene they will end up bearing the financial brunt of the accident, especially if they consider themselves to be at fault. Likewise, in a handful of cases, especially those hit-and-run accidents involving pedestrians or bicyclists and large vehicles, the fleeing driver may not even have been aware that they actually hit someone.
Injuries to Pedestrians or Bicyclists
Unfortunately, hit-and-run accidents are especially common among pedestrians and bicyclists. Even a vehicle moving at relatively low speeds can cause severe injury or death to a pedestrian or cyclist. Physical injuries commonly suffered by pedestrians or bicyclists in hit-and-run accidents include broken bones, scarring, disfigurement, loss of limbs, paralysis, disc herniations, and muscle, joint, and spinal cord injuries, etc. Brain injuries are also common for pedestrians or bicyclists who have been struck by a vehicle. Brain injuries often lead to long-term physical and mental issues that can become permanent. Unfortunately, if these injuries can lead to a loss of a victim’s quality of life.
What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident
If it is safe to do so, anybody who has been involved in a collision with a hit-and-run driver, or who sees a driver fleeing the scene of an accident, should contact the police immediately and to give as much of a description as possible of the fleeing vehicle. Police take hit-and-run crashes very seriously and the sooner they are able to look for a hit-and-run driver, the higher the chances are that that driver will be apprehended. It is also a good idea to get the names and contact information of anybody who may have witnessed the crash as this information may prove useful to the police as well as to eventually pursue an insurance or injury claim in Florida.
Pursuing A Claim
If the hit-and-run driver is found then accident victims will often be able to pursue a personal injury claim. Most hit-and-run injury claims involve allegations of negligence, particularly if the fleeing driver is also convicted of driving under the influence or of driving without a license. Accident victims can pursue compensation to cover both medical costs and lost wages, as well as non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of enjoyment of life. For pedestrians or bicyclists who have been seriously injured, pursuing damage for future medical care, lost income, and loss of future earning capacity will be critical. Finally, punitive damages, which are designed to punish at-fault drivers and discourage similar misbehavior in the future, may also be pursued against hit-and-run motorists.
Whether the fleeing driver is, or is not, caught, accident victims may still be able to seek compensation, either through the mandatory Personal Injury Protection (PIP or “No Fault Insurance”) that all motorists in Florida are required to maintain under Florida law or through an available uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance policy (also referred to as “UM” or “UIM” coverage). Health insurance, for example, or a family member’s auto insurance may also offer some coverage in the event of a hit-and-run crash. Even in situations where an at-fault driver cannot be found, legal advice should still be sought, especially since uncovering and pursuing alternative forms of compensation can be a challenging task. In certain cases, even if there is no coverage available on the face of the insurance policy, there still may be insurance coverage extending to the injured individual.
Taking the Next Step
It is often difficult to know what to do after being involved in an accident with a hit-and-run driver. With seemingly nobody available to hold accountable, accident victims often end up feeling lost and confused. Many such victims worry about whether they will be able to afford medical bills or deal with the lost wages that often follow a serious accident. A personal injury lawyer can help. An experienced lawyer is there to fight for the rights of accident victims, including by helping them obtain whatever compensation they may be entitled to under Florida law.
If you’ve been injured in an accident – hit-and-run or otherwise – our injury attorneys can help. As your Boca Raton Accident lawyers, we offer a FREE, no-risk case evaluation. The trial lawyers at Shiner Law Group are local and available 24/7, call (561) 777-7700 now.