Florida is experiencing a dangerous trend, with 67,968 hit-and-run accidents in 2012. Out of this staggering number of crashes, 166 fatalities and approximately 17,000 injuries resulted from the collisions. There are many reasons why a driver will flee the scene of an accident, whether it is fear of getting into trouble, not wanting it discovered that he was impaired at the time of the crash, being in the country illegally, or having outstanding arrest warrants. Regardless of the reason, if a person leaves the scene of an accident, he or she will face serious consequences when caught.
If you were the victim of a hit-and-run accident, the experienced Miami personal injury lawyers at Greenberg Stone and Urbano can help you understand your legal options and pursue the compensation that you deserve.
Under Florida law, if a driver is involved in an accident, he has an obligation to stop right away, remain at the scene, exchange information with the other parties involved in the accident, and provide assistance to anyone who was injured in the accident, to the extent that it is reasonable to do so. When the accident has led to someone being hurt, panic may cause the driver to want to flee, but that will make the situation much worse.
The majority of fatalities in hit and run accidents are pedestrians, with three out of every five deaths being someone outside of a vehicle. Due to the increase in this type of accident, the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) has launched an awareness campaign in order to educate everyone who may be involved in accident about the proper reaction to an accident, including:
• Get all vehicles out of the roadway, ideally to the side of the road;
• Do not panic, remaining calm will help everybody at the scene of the accident get through the chaos;
• Report the accident to the police;
• Provide assistance to anyone who is injured, if possible;
• Gather all necessary information, including vehicle details, driver contact and insurance specifics, and the contact information for any witnesses; and
• Sketch or photograph the scene of the accident, recording vehicle locations.
By providing a plan in advance of an accident, a driver is less likely to panic and flee when a crash has occurred. If a driver does leave the scene of an accident, there are severe penalties, as follows:
• If a driver leaves the scene of an accident where someone has died, it is a felony of the first degree. Possible penalties include a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in a Florida correctional facility and a fine of up to $10,000.
• If a driver leaves the scene of an accident where someone has been injured, it is a felony of the third degree. Possible penalties include a maximum sentence of up to 5 years in a Florida correctional facility and a fine of up to $5,000.
• If a driver leaves the scene of an accident where there has been property damage, it is a misdemeanor. Possible penalties include a maximum sentence of up to 60 days in a county jail and a fine of up to $500.
According to a WSVN story, FHP Patrol Sergeant Mark Wysocky noted that fewer drivers are staying at the scene to determine how serious the situation really is. This means that law enforcement is spending a lot more time tracking down the guilty parties. However, it is critical for these people to be found and forced to account for their actions through both criminal and civil penalties.
If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a hit-and-run accident then the experienced South Florida personal injury attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano are ready to help you. For more than twenty years, our Miami personal injury lawyers have successfully litigated cases while providing client-focused legal representation. Please call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or contact us through our website to schedule a free consultation where we can discuss your case and present your legal options.