Hit-and-Run Accidents in Florida
Driving accidents are always stressful. When there’s been an accident, determining fault is a significant issue for insurance examiners and lawyers alike. While most of us recognize our responsibility following an accident, there are those who, whether in a panic or with full intent, flee the scene. Hit and run drivers add to the stress, heartache and misery of any auto collision. If you fall victim to such an incident, a good personal injury attorney may be able to help.
Driver Responsibility Following an Accident
Florida law requires individuals who are involved in a collision to do very specific things:
- Do not leave the scene. It could lead to revocation of your license.
- Report the accident to local law enforcement authorities if there are any injuries, or if there appears to be damage exceeding $500.
- Get help for any injuries.
- Exchange names, addresses, insurance information and registration information with other drivers.
- Try to avoid blocking traffic when possible. This may mean calling a tow truck.
Hit and Run Accidents Common in Florida
The number of hit-and-run accidents on Florida roadways is on the rise. In 2013, there were nearly 80,000 reported incidents; that number jumped to almost 100,000 in 2016. Approximately 20,000 of those events occurred in Miami Dade County last year. Experts link the rise in hit-and-run incidents to two key factors:
- Immigrant status: individuals who cannot get a valid driver license and insurance flee the scene of an accident because they fear facing deportation proceedings;
- Stiffer DUI penalties: drunk drivers who don’t want to face the consequences of a DUI leave before they can be cited.
Sadly, one in four crashes in Florida involves a hit-and-run. While the majority of these incidents involve only property damage, that is not always the case. The startling figures associated with hit-and-run accidents do not begin to describe the personal loss associated with these occurrences.
- Amelia Suba Nucum lost her life after being hit by a vehicle while crossing U.S. Highway 192 in July 2017.
- The May 2017 death of Jessica Esteras occurred due to a hit-and-run incident on Hoffner Avenue.
Penalties for Hit-and-Run
Legal consequences for hit-and-run accidents have been amped up in recent years. Incidents involving property damage alone could result in 60 days in prison, on top of a fine. When injuries are involved, the prison term could be as long as five years. Fines and license revocation may result, as well. And in the case of fatalities, there is a mandatory prison sentence of 4-30 years on top of fines and license revocation.
If a Hit-and-Run Driver Causes you Harm
If you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident that involves serious injuries and/or extensive property damage, the sooner you get legal help, the better. The experienced legal team at Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian takes pride in our investigative work and in our dedication to the pursuit of justice on our clients’ behalf. Schedule your free, no-obligation consultation in our Tampa office today.