Oftentimes, we think of car accidents as being resolved mutually, however that is not always the case. In the state of Florida, 25% of car accidents are hit and runs. In the year 2019, 19,841 hit-and-runs took place in Miami-Dade alone based on the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles crash statistics. No matter who is at fault, we want everyone to stay safe and follow the correct procedure when involved in a hit and run accident.
5 Steps to Take After a Hit and Run Accident
- Do not chase the other car. – Although it is very tempting to try and chase the driver who has fled the scene, your best option is to remain on the scene. Not only would you be driving dangerously in pursuit of them, but also you never know if the other driver’s actions will make the scenario more dangerous. Instead, pull your car to the side of the road and check for damage.
- Take photos. – If you happen to find damage on your car, take pictures. For insurance purposes, it is also recommended to take photos of the scene such as nearby traffic signs.
- Write down important details. – While you may be frazzled after a hit-and-run, grab a pen and paper or your phone to jot down the make, model, color, and if possible, the license of the car that fled the scene. Also, jot down what the driver looked like if you caught a glimpse of them.
- Call the police. – Even if you feel you may have nothing to report, calling the police and filing a report can help your insurance claim. Always let the police handle it and provide as much information as you possibly can.
- Look for potential witnesses. – Oftentimes, a pedestrian or another car might have seen the incident and check on you. Ask them if they mind waiting with you so they can provide the police with a statement.
Another type of hit and run accident is when the owner of the vehicle who hit you provides you with false information. In order to avoid being left in the dark, make sure to call the police to file a formal report. Take down the license plate, make, model, and color of the other car in case they decide to flee. You may also want to take photos and/or videos of the scene if it is safe enough to do so. If another adult passenger is in the at-fault vehicle, get their information as well in case you need to track them down later on.
Penalties if you are the Hit and Runner
If you were involved in a hit and run car accident where you accidentally hit the other person, we understand it might be nerve-wracking to have to deal with this situation. However, never flee the scene as it might lead you to more trouble. The penalties for fleeing a scene of a hit and run are:
- Property Damage – Second-degree misdemeanor, 60 days in prison, and a $500 fine.
- Injuries – second or third-degree felony, revoked license for 3 years, up to 5 years in prison, and a $5,000 fine.
- Fatalities – First-degree felony, revoked license for 3 years, a mandatory minimum of 4 years in prison, up to 30 years in prison, and a $10,000 fine.
Whether you are the hit and runner or the victim, stay at the scene to avoid risking any potential penalties. In the case that you hit a parked car, leave a note on their windshield if the driver is nowhere to be found. Chances are there are cameras that have captured your identification and vehicle.
Protecting Yourself and Loved Ones from Hit-and-Run
One of the common unfortunate consequences of a hit and run accident is a personal injury and the related medical bills for which victims go uncompensated. If you suffer injury in a hit and run accident, your only recourse for recovery might be the automobile insurance policy you purchased or that of the owner of the car you are in at the time of the injury.
Many Florida drivers do not purchase Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. This coverage, often called UM Coverage for short, steps in to provide coverage for your injuries if you were hurt by an uninsured or an unknown driver. Thus, UM Coverage is a good defense against the consequences of hit-and-run accidents as well as irresponsible drivers who forgo purchasing bodily injury liability coverage on their automobile insurance policies. Consider reviewing your policy or contacting your auto insurance agent to make sure you are protected from uninsured motorists and hit and run drivers.
If you or someone you know was recently involved in a hit-and-run accident, consider contacting an experienced attorney who can help file a claim. At Panter, Panter & Sampedro we are dedicated to helping Florida’s families with any claim they might have. Contact us today for a free consultation by calling (305) 662-6178.
Ericson, C. – How to Handle a Hit-and-Run Accident (n.d) Retrieved February 6, 2020, from https://blog.esurance.com/how-to-handle-a-hit-and-run-accident/
Hit and Run Awareness (n.d.) Retrieved February 6, 2020, from https://flhsmv.gov/safety-center/driving-safety/hitrun/