Our Car Accident Attorneys Fight For Justice After A Hit-And-Run Accident
In the last several years, thousands of people have been injured by hit-and-run drivers in Miami-Dade County and these accidents are on the rise. Our experienced car accident attorneys at Kaire & Heffernan, PLLC, have been serving the Miami area since 1997. In that time, we have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of victims and their families. If you or someone you love was injured in a hit-and-run accident, we can help you seek justice.
No matter how carefully we may drive, none of us can absolutely protect ourselves from careless drivers who might cause auto accidents, nor can we ever guarantee that the people sharing the road with us are willing to follow the law.
Florida Law And Criminal Penalties For Leaving The Scene Of An Accident
Careless driving is always a problem, and it’s at the root of almost every auto accident in Miami. But hit-and-run accidents aren’t just careless – they’re cowardly. Thinking only of themselves, a hit-and-run driver causes a crash and then flees the scene, leaving their helpless victim behind. There’s simply no excuse. It is illegal to leave the scene of an accident in Florida until a police officer arrives, no matter how insignificant the accident might seem.
Florida law requires individuals operating motor vehicles to immediately stop, remain at the scene of the incident, secure medical help, contact the police and verify that everyone involved is safe. This also allows for parties (including the police) to determine who caused the accident and what type of damage occurred.
In July 2014, the state passed the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, named after a man who was struck by an alcohol-impaired driver who fled the scene. The law imposes a mandatory minimum of four years in prison if the driver flees the scene of an accident from which a party dies.
Even Minor Accidents Can Cause Injuries
Even minor or low-speed accidents can lead to sizeable damages for the victims. Whiplash, for example – the single most common auto accident injury in Florida – can occur at speeds as low as five miles per hour and can lead to months or years of pain, stress, reduced mobility and even time away from work. That’s why it is imperative that drivers never try to assess for themselves whether the other vehicle’s occupants are injured. Only a doctor can assess medical injuries.
What Do You Do If You Were Left At The Scene Of An Accident?
As the remaining party on the scene, it is your responsibility to report the incident to the police and file a comprehensive police report documenting what occurred and when. Don’t leave the scene of the accident until you do. This will help you if you have to file a claim with your own auto insurance.
How Can You Recover Damages For Your Accident Injuries As the Victim Of A Hit-And-Run?
As the victim of this type of incident, you have the legal right to compensation for your injuries and losses. If the hit-and-run motorist was at fault, you are entitled to receive compensation for the following at a minimum:
- Damage to your vehicle
- Lost time from work,
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Long-term care if necessary
Florida is a no-fault insurance state, which means that your own personal injury protection (PIP) insurance will kick in to cover your personal injury damages, subject to your policy terms and limits. Every Florida driver is required to carry PIP.
Beyond that, you might also be able to make a claim under your policy’s uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). If you don’t have UM/UIM coverage on your car insurance, then we encourage you to consider adding it as soon as possible. This optional coverage is often available at a very low cost and can prove to be very helpful in some hit-and-run cases.
Should You Settle With An Insurance Company?
As a rule, you should almost never negotiate with insurance companies on your own after any sort of motor vehicle accident. Despite the cute commercials, they are not good neighbors, and they have no interest in trying to help you. The insurance adjuster’s goal is to save the insurance company money and pay you as little as possible. Large insurance companies work to minimize claims by encouraging you to settle quickly. If and when you do, you will also have to sign a release for your claims in exchange for a settlement that might not cover your damages.
When Hit-And-Run Accidents Kill
Sadly, some hit-and-run accidents result in the loss of life. Even when hit-and-run drivers are ultimately caught, as they often (but not always) are, the family members are left to grapple with the knowledge that their loved one might have been left for dead at the scene. Tragically, there have been situations in which the other driver’s urgent attention might have made a life-saving difference for the victim had they not fled. It is also true that drivers who leave the scene may unwittingly take with them critical evidence that could have proved useful in helping the family bring an insurance claim or pursue wrongful death damages.
How Can A Personal Injury Attorney Help With A Hit-And-Run Accident?
Every situation is different. Please never assume that you can’t get covered for your injuries just because the other driver decided to hit you and run. Seeking the advice of an experienced Miami auto accident lawyer, you will help ensure that you understand all of your options. A car accident lawyer can help you:
- Work with a private investigator to find the hit-and-run motorist
- Identify the appropriate insurance companies
- Assist you with the claims process
- File a lawsuit against the responsible party if it becomes necessary
Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer will increase your chances of obtaining fair compensation for any losses that you’ve suffered as a result of a hit-and-run.
Do You Need A Personal Injury Lawyer?
At Kaire & Heffernan, we know you require immediate legal help to ensure that your needs are met. We encourage you to contact us for a free consultation to discuss your needs upfront. Just call our Miami office at 305-376-7860 or submit an online inquiry using our contact form.