A hit and run accident can be a life-changing situation to be involved in. You might be wondering what happens in a hit and run situation. We’re going to share an overview of what you might want to know about hit and run accidents and drivers who leave the scene of an accident.
What is a Hit and Run?
A hit and run accident happens when someone hits another vehicle, pedestrian, cyclist, or someone’s property and leaves the scene of the crime. According to Florida law, and in almost every state, the act of leaving the scene is a crime.
You’re required to stop to share your contact information, provide reasonable assistance to any injured person and make sure everyone is alright at the scene of the accident. This applies to anyone involved in the accident – not just the driver who caused the hit and run accident. Depending on the circumstances, a hit and run offense is classified as either a felony or misdemeanor and leaving the scene of an accident can result in such charges. According to Florida State law, the legal consequences for committing a hit-and-run varies significantly depending on whether someone was injured or killed. In some hit and run cases, you could face significant jail time. If the accident involves only damage to property, it’s a second-degree misdemeanor in which case you can face a sentence of up to 60 days in jail and fine of up to $500. Being convicted of leaving the scene of a car accident will also result in your insurance premiums almost certainly increasing.
This applies to hit and run accidents that happen on roadways or other places like parking lots. If you have to leave the scene of an accident to get a cell phone signal to call for help or go into the store to see if you can find the owner of the vehicle you hit for example, it’s important to return to the scene of the accident right away.
What Should I Do if I’m in a Hit and Run Accident?
First make sure that you’re ok. Check on the other driver involved in the accident and make sure they’re alright as well. If anyone is injured, keep them as calm and comfortable as possible and try your best to keep them still until the ambulance arrives to provide additional medical care.
Call 911. Even if no one is injured, you still need a police officer to respond so you can file a police report. This will be something the insurance company will require to help process your claims.
Collect contact information from others involved and witnesses. Ask for their names, phone numbers, email addresses, vehicle registration number and any other information to help you contact them if needed in the future.
Take pictures of a witness’ driver’s license or ask them to text you their information so you don’t have to keep track of papers with this important information.
Share your information with others. You’ll want to be able to contact a witness and they may need to be able to contact you as well. Providing your name and contact information for them to reach out if they need to speak with you. Sharing a picture of your driver’s license is an easy way to share contact information.
Document everything you can remember about the accident as soon as possible. Sitting down and writing everything out at that moment may be too much. Take a video on your phone to record the scene of the accident while speaking about what happened so you can go back to reference it later.
After a hit and run accident, there are things you should NOT do:
- Leave the scene of the accident. Stay at the scene and provide your information to anyone involved.
- Chase the other driver. This is dangerous and could cause another accident.
- Admit fault. You may think you’re being helpful but you might be sharing information that could make you liable for the accident. Let the law enforcement officers do their investigation to determine exactly who was at fault and for what.
What Happens After a Hit and Run?
Most importantly, you need to recover from any injuries you got during the accident if you’re the victim of a hit and run accident. You may not feel sore immediately following the accident, but days later you may become sore or discover other injuries related to the hit and run accident.
Share any information you have with the police so they can use that to try and help locate the person who’s responsible for your accident. If you were able to get a description of the other vehicle involved or their license plate number, that’s important information to share.
Florida Hit and Run Charges
In Florida, if you leave the scene of an accident, you could be charged with the following:
- Accident with Property Damage – Second Degree Misdemeanor with a penalty of up to $500 and 60 days in prison.
- Accident with Injuries – Second or Third Degree Felony with a penalty of up to five years in prison, license revoked for three years, and $5,000 fine.
- Accident with Fatalities – First Degree Felony with a penalty of a minimum four-year minimum prison sentence with additional penalties up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
To report an accident in Florida, you can call *FHP (*347) from your cell phone.
The state of Florida requires drivers involved in an auto accident to stop and provide necessary contact information to the other parties involved as well as to police officers and other first responders at the scene.
Report the Hit and Run to Your Insurance Company
Report the accident to your insurance company. They’re going to need to know about your accident and injuries. Your insurance company will also need to know where your vehicle was taken for repairs and what the repair process is.
In Florida, drivers are required to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) as part of their auto insurance cover. This additional insurance coverage provides up to $10,000 for immediate medical expenses without knowing the identity of the hit and run driver at fault for accident or injuries.
PIP insurance places the responsibility of medical care on the individual in an attempt to limit court cases to get the at fault drivers to be held responsible for medical bills of the injured parties.
What If I’m Hurt in a Hit and Run Accident?
If you find yourself injured at the accident scene, seek medical attention right away. Sometimes injuries don’t surface right away and still need medical attention later.
When you seek medical attention for your accident related injuries, be sure to let the provider know so they can file your insurance claims correctly and document your injuries on the necessary forms and correctly to help get things paid properly by your insurance company.
You may be injured and unable to work. Let your employer know about the accident and ask about the applicable insurance policy for extended leave or short term disability coverage if needed for your situation.
Your personal injury attorney can help you document your injuries to be sure you’re compensated for your pain and suffering as well as any lost wages related to the hit and run.
What Happens to My Insurance After a Hit and Run?
You should file a report with your car insurance company right away. Many states and auto insurance policies have a limit on when you’re able to file a claim so it’s important to file your claims right away with your provider.
Your car insurance company will also be able to answer questions you have like:
- Who’s going to pay my medical bills?
- Who’s going to pay me for the work I’m missing?
- Who’s going to repair my vehicle or property?
- Will my rates increase because of this accident?
- Will my health insurance pay for anything related to my accident?
If you have property damage, you may need to file a claim with your homeowners or business insurance if the at fault driver damaged your property.
Depending on the details of your accident, your insurance may pay. If you’re the driver at fault for the accident, your liability coverage may pay out for others involved in the accidents.
A driver who’s at fault and leaves the scene of the accident or doesn’t have insurance doesn’t mean you’re on the hook for everything yourself. Your uninsured motorist coverage may help pay some of the bills associated with your hit and run accident.
Can an Attorney Help Me If I Was in a Hit and Run?
The short answer is yes a lawyer can be a huge help. An attorney can take care of lots of things on your behalf like:
- Gathering information from police, emergency services, medical providers, and witnesses
- Work with insurance companies to get your medical expenses paid
- Work to get you a fair settlement
- Help you be compensated for pain and suffering
Reach out to an attorney to get legal advice following your hit and run accident. Many offer free consultations so they can learn more about your case and explain how they’ll be able to help you.
When looking for an attorney for your hit and run case, look for one who has personal injury experience.
Denmon Pearlman is a law firm that offers a free, no obligation legal consultation to hit and run accident victims, so call us today at (813) 694 – 4130. We’ll walk you through what steps you need to take before you take legal action. We encourage you to ask questions about our process along the way and will work to help you get the compensation you deserve.