It’s natural to feel confused, scared, and angry following a car or motorcycle accident, and this is particularly true if you are a victim of a hit-and-run crash. Unfortunately, these types of accidents are pretty common in the Sunshine State, and besides motorists, pedestrians also fall prey to them.
As per Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV), hit-and-run accidents have been on the rise since 2021, resulting in more fatalities while leaving people severely injured.
Are you a victim of a hit-and-run accident in Miami or the surrounding cities? It’s essential to understand how to handle the situation in order to reduce stress and get compensation for the damages you have suffered.
This post will tell you everything about what to do after a hit-and-run accident and the necessary steps you should take.
What is a Hit-and-run Accident?
A hit-and-run is when at least one person involved in the accident or collision leaves the accident spot without providing sufficient information and offering aid to other drivers. Failing to report the accident to the police makes it a hit-and-run case.
Hit-and-runs don’t just happen between two vehicles. They also include injuring pedestrians, damaging properties, and other such objects. Any accident due to a driver’s negligence becomes a hit-and-run if the perpetrator flees the spot without informing the authorities or providing the required aid to the injured.
What Does the Florida Law Say About Hit-and-run Accidents?
Florida law states that you must provide your name, driver’s license, address, and other such details if you or your vehicle are involved in a Miami hit-and-run accident. Moreover, you need to stay at the accident spot whether or not you suspect any damage or injuries, and whether or not you are the victim.
Here are Some Penalties Associated with Hit-and-run Accidents in Florida
If someone hits your car or some other vehicle and decides to leave the spot, it can severely impact them. Florida law imposes several types of penalties for such crimes, such as driver’s license suspension, hefty fines, probation periods, and even jail time depending on the circumstances of the incident.
Furthermore, such incidents impact the driver’s insurance, or the insurance provider can drop them over due to the misdemeanor.
The law even states that a hit-and-run in cities of Florida like Miami, Doral, and Brickell can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the aftermath of the accident.
Punishment for Hit and Run in Florida
The punishment depends on the severity of the accident and in what circumstances the driver left the accident spot. Below we have explained some common types of hit-and-run cases along with the punishment for the offender.
If there is Damage to the Property
If the accident leads to damage of property, such as a collision between two or more vehicles, and no one gets injured, it is considered a second-degree misdemeanor. The negligent driver can expect the following punishments:
- A $500 fine
- Up to 60 days in prison
In the Event of Injuries
If the accident leads to injuries such as broken bones and other types of injuries (minor as well as major), the law treats it as a second or third-degree felony. In such cases, the negligent driver gets a strict punishment, which may include:
- A $5,000 fine
- Up to 5 years in prison
- Driver license suspension for up to 3 years
If Fatalities Occur
Fatalities during a hit-and-run accident attract the severest of punishments. Florida law treats it as a first-degree felony, and the negligent driver can get any of the following punishments:
- A $10,000 fine
- Minimum 4 years and maximum 30 years in prison
- License suspension for a minimum of 3 years
Every accident has some unique circumstances. Therefore, the severity of the punishment depends on those circumstances. It’s essential for everyone involved in the accident to inform the authorities and help the injured.
Contact Kaire and Heffernan to discuss the details of your case, and understand what to do next.
After 2014, the penalties for hit-and-run in Florida were revised, and the “Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act” was signed. Named after a 31-year-old cyclist who met with a hit-and-run accident and lost his life because of a negligent drunk driver who fled the scene.
The offender was sentenced to two years in prison. However, this act revised the punishment for such crimes. As per this act, a driver leaving the accident spot can be convicted and sentenced to serve a minimum of four years in prison as well as their license being suspended for a minimum of 3 years.
Why Do People Run Away from the Accident Spot?
There are several reasons why people, even if they are the victim, decide to leave the scene of an accident. This could be because they want to avoid any kind of trouble. Or the driver may be:
- Under the influence of an intoxicating item
- Concerned about their immigration status
- Afraid of being arrested and other punishments
In any case, if you or anyone else leaves the scene of an accident, the law will treat it as a case of hit-and-run. It is important to stay at the scene until the police officer and other authorities arrive.
When is it the Right Time to Report a Hit-and-Run Accident?
Some motorists think they can report the accident from the comfort of their homes. However, you should definitely avoid this, whether it is a hit-and-run accident or not. You should report the accident at the earliest opportunity.
Florida law requires you to dial 911 and report the accident right away. Staying at the accident site until the officers arrive is also a requirement. When you report the accident quickly, it helps the police track down the perpetrator before they flee away.
Once the police or proper authorities are informed about the accident, seeking medical attention is your next step. It is important to get medical help even if you do not feel hurt as you may still be in shock from the accident.
What If I Was the One at Fault?
If the accident happened due to your negligence or some other circumstances, the law requires you to stop and provide your contact information to the victim. Leaving the scene without informing the police or the victims is illegal and may attract additional charges.
You must call the police, and tell them about the incident. Also, explain the reason behind the accident, and collect a copy of the police report. You can also seek legal advice from an attorney who will handle the case on your behalf. The attorney will negotiate with the other party and will help you settle the claim.
Did something similar happen with you, and do you need an attorney to handle your case? Contact Kaire and Heffernan to hire the best attorneys in Miami-Dade County at 305-376-7860 for a free evaluation of your case.
What Should You Do After a Hit-and-run Accident in Florida?
You should take certain steps after being in a hit-and-run accident. Following these steps will help you get fair compensation, and you’ll be legally protected as per law.
Make Sure You and Other People are Safe
First, check for injuries on yourself and the passengers. If you are fit enough to get out of your car and inspect things, look if the other people involved in the accident are also safe. If someone is injured, call 911 and inform the authorities right away before anything else.
Even if you do not think that you’re injured, we advise you to seek medical attention. Sometimes adrenaline rush and shock mask the injuries, and people usually do not pay attention to them. Ask if everyone involved in the accident is okay, before proceeding further.
Protect the Scene
If you are good enough to walk, you can prevent further accidents by keeping your flashers on. If the hazard lamps on your vehicle don’t work, use a flashlight to inform other drivers that you’ve met with an accident or to help them avoid the collision.
Report the Crash
While some people want to avoid involving the police, informing proper authorities is essential. Also, you’ll need to obtain a copy of the police report in order to file an insurance claim. Having an accident report adds more credibility to the case and will help you negotiate with the preparator and the insurers.
Since Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state, you’ll need to use your PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance to cover the initial costs for the damages.
Call an Experienced Attorney
Proving a hit-and-run accident can be challenging, especially when you don’t have information about the perpetrator. Moreover, you need to deal with the insurer and get the right claim for the injuries and damages you have sustained.
Having an experienced attorney in Miami will help you relieve stress, as a legal team will take care of everything from the paperwork to sending legal notices.
Kaire and Heffernan is the best personal injury lawyer in Miami that can help you get a fair amount of compensation while proving the charges in court. Call us at 305-376-7860 to discuss your case, and appoint the most fearless lawyers to fight for your right.
Attempt to Identify the Other Driver
Typically, it is the job of the police, but sometimes the authorities may take time to arrive at the scene. In order to prove your innocence, you need to identify the perpetrators. Tracking the hit-and-run driver is one of the most challenging jobs for the police. Given the circumstances, you may feel shocked or may sustain injuries.
If possible, get out of your vehicle and identify the car or other vehicle involved in the crash. Try to gather the essential information such as:
- The car’s make and model number
- Its color
- The license plate
It would be great if you capture the pictures of these details and provide them to the investigating officers. Even if you aren’t able to get out of your vehicle due to injuries, try to gather these details.
Take Pictures and Collect Evidence from the Scene of the Accident
The easiest way to prove the damages and injuries you have suffered due to the accident is by taking pictures. Try to take pictures of your damaged vehicle, injuries, and anything else that you can provide to the police as proof.
The pictures will also help you explain the scene of the accident and how it happened. Such proof also helps in claiming insurance, and therefore, it is indispensable to record everything.
Look around and see if you can find any traffic or surveillance cameras that might have captured the collision. It’ll also help your personal injury lawyer to support your personal injury case.
Record Witness Information
Having enough evidence will help you prove the charges and get fair compensation. Make sure to check the accident scene and look for people who have witnessed it. Note down the names, and contact details of these witnesses, as your lawyer might need to interview them to collect additional details.
Always take permission from the witnesses if you can receive any videos taken at the scene of the accident, as they provide a statement of the whole event.
Inform Your Insurer
Once you have spoken to the police and have gathered the evidence, you can inform the insurance carrier. If possible, try to contact the insurance provider on the same day and provide them with all the necessary details asked by their representatives.
Avoid providing any false information, as it may lead to rejection of the claim. You can also attach a copy of the police report while providing information to the insurer.
Keep a File
If you or the passengers riding with you have sustained any injuries, make sure to collect the diagnostic reports and medical bills such as CT scans, X-rays, MRIs, and more. It would be great if you could keep a personal medical journal to help you document the suffering and pain after a hit-and-run crash.
This will help you strengthen the documentation, and your lawyer can use it as valuable evidence to help bolster your claim to determine the cost of the injuries and suffering.
» More: How to Make a Claim Against the Person Responsible For Your Injury
What You Shouldn’t Do After a Hit-and-run Accident in Florida
There are a few things you should definitely avoid after being in a hit-and-run accident in Miami. It can be a stressful time and making the right decisions can be daunting.
Here’s what you shouldn’t do after a car accident.
Don’t Chase the Other Driver
Your first instinct after the accident may be to chase the other driver in order to prevent them from fleeing. However, it’s the job of the police. The other driver took off for a reason, and chasing them may put you in danger.
Don’t Leave the Accident Scene
Because the other driver fled doesn’t mean you should leave as well. Call 911 right away and report the accident. You can leave the scene after the Miami Dade police department tells you to do so.
Don’t Say No to Paramedics
Many people say no to medical treatment, thinking they aren’t injured. However, you should let the paramedics do their job.
Don’t Admit Guilt
Don’t discuss many details about the accident without consulting your attorney because it could come back to you, and you may be found guilty (even when you aren’t). Provide all essential details to the police, and do not try to make up a story on your own.
Why Hiring a Hit-and-run Attorney is Essential?
If you or someone you are close to has been a victim of a hit-and-run, you’ll agree that it’s a stressful time. Furthermore, in the event of a serious bodily injury such as broken bones or brain injuries, things can be even tougher.
While you can take care of a lot of things, having personal injury lawyers by your side helps you deal with all the legalities, such as suing the perpetrators and negotiating with them.
Here are some reasons why hiring personal injury lawyers is essential during a motor accident.
They are Professional and Objective
Car accidents and personal injuries can cause excruciating pain and overwhelming emotional upheaval. The trauma may make it difficult for you to make objective decisions. A personal injury lawyer will help you file personal injury claims.
Moreover, they’ll bring skills, knowledge, and experience to your case, thus helping you get the fair settlement you deserve.
They are Better Negotiators
After helping you file a personal injury claim, your lawyers will deal with the insurance representative of the offending party. These representatives have strong bargaining skills, and they always try to settle the case with lower compensation.
However, your personal injury lawyers will deal with these representatives as they have dealt with insurance companies many times before. As a result, you get good compensation for the pain and suffering you’ve been through.
They Help You Make The Best Choice
Filing a personal injury claim is a complicated and long process, especially in a state like Florida. Sometimes, the offenders own up to their mistakes and may ask you to settle out of court. Deciding whether you should settle the case outside the court is daunting, but a lawyer can simplify things for you.
The personal injury attorneys will help you evaluate the situation while they’ll also explain to you the possible outcomes. In a nutshell, you can make better choices by having a legal advisor onboard.
They Provide You with the Required Legal Coverage
In most cases, the other party may also contest the personal injury claim, and this required you to take legal action immediately. The perpetrator will have a lawyer, so it is indispensable for you to have one too. An experienced lawyer in Miami will provide you with legal representation after a hit-and-run accident and will also gather and analyze the evidence to help you prove the claims.
They Can Help You Accurately Calculate the Cost of Resulting Damages
A severe accident can result in pain, suffering, and huge medical expenses. However, there are multiple factors that impact the true cost of the damages you have suffered from.
There are many factors that can affect the overall cost of the damages. An expert personal injury lawyer will help you calculate the cost of resulting damages so that you can claim a fair settlement.
They Help You Get Faster Compensation
If you don’t appoint a lawyer, you may have to wait until you have fully recovered from the injuries before going to seek compensation. This means that you will have to wait longer to get the compensation. Also, there’s a risk of missing important deadlines, and the insurance company may deny your request if you file a claim after the final date has been missed.
On the other hand, a personal injury lawyer will take care of everything, such as filing the claim and negotiating with the offender party on your behalf, and you can get your settlement much more quickly.
At Kaire and Heffernan, we are a team of highly experienced personal injury lawyers in Miami. With our vast knowledge, we have helped our clients get fair compensation as fast as possible. Contact our lawyers to discuss the details of your case, and let us assist you with all the legal help you need.
» More: Hit and Run Driver Who Killed 14 Year Old Boy Charged
What If the Police Can’t Find the Driver Who Caused My Accident?
Tracking down hit-and-run drivers is challenging because the drivers leave the scene, and that’s why it’s known as hit-and-run. Make sure to gather enough information about the driver, such as:
- Type of car, its color, make, and model
- The direction of the vehicle vent
- Its license plate information
- Any information that may help identify the driver, such as the color of hair, facial features, and more.
It would be great if you could speak to some witnesses who might have seen the offender. Gather contact information of the witnesses so that your attorney can contact them in the future if required.
We also suggest hiring personal injury lawyers, as they will help you deal with your insurance provider. The lawyers will help you get your fair settlement for the injuries and damages you have suffered due to the accident.
Were You Harmed by a Reckless Driver? Contact Kaire and Heffernan Today for Legal Help
Dealing with a hit-and-run accident is not easy because of the complexities involved. At Kaire and Heffernan, we are experienced personal lawyers in Miami that pursue maximum compensation for their clients.
We’ll help you file a personal injury claim to get a reasonable settlement from the insurance company. Moreover, our legal team will handle all the paperwork to ease your stress and anxiety.
Call us at 305-376-7860 to schedule a free consultation with our Miami personal injury attorneys, and take a step ahead towards getting quicker verdicts and faster settlements.