Being involved in a hit-and-run accident can be an incredibly stressful and scary experience. Not only do you have to deal with the physical and mental repercussions of the damage caused by the incident, but you also have to deal with the difficult process of a hit-and-run lawsuit. Our hit-and-run car accident attorneys at Bernstein & Maryanoff are happy to guide you through this arduous time.
What counts as a hit-and-run in Florida?
When a driver is involved in a vehicle crash that results in property damage, bodily injury, or death and fails to remain at the scene, it is considered a “hit-and-run.” Leaving the scene without exchanging information or helping those who were injured is illegal.
A hit-and-run is determined by establishing multiple elements in court. The necessary elements required to establish a hit-and-run include showing that the driver was involved in the accident that resulted in injuries or property damage and that the driver failed to:
- Stop at the scene of the accident
- Provide identification of who they are
- Offer to help the accident victim
When you bring a Florida car accident lawsuit, it’s necessary to apply the rules of negligence. Negligence is a lack of ordinary care, and a person who is negligent does not use a reasonable amount of care in a normal everyday situation. In order to establish a defendant’s negligence in a hit-and-run case, you must be able to satisfy these four elements:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff
- The defendant breached that duty of care
- The plaintiff suffered an injury
- The defendant’s breach of duty was the cause of the plaintiff’s injury
Establishing negligence will make it easy to also establish the required elements of a hit-and-run case. By being able to show that the driver was negligent and caused the hit-and-run, you will likely be successful in your lawsuit and be compensated accordingly. The evidence required to convict a Florida hit-and-run is:
- The defendant drove a vehicle
- A crash occurred
- Someone was injured or killed, or there was property damage
- The driver did not stop at the scene, provide their identification, or help the victim
- Jurisdiction is appropriate in the court hearing the case
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Turn to the Miami car accident experts at Bernstein & Maryanoff, and get your free legal consultation regarding your hit-and-run accident injury today.
What to do when you’re the victim of a hit-and-run in Florida
While it’s easy to become scared and disoriented after becoming the victim of a hit-and-run accident, it’s important to know what to do if you are in this situation. Following the accident, if you are capable, you must take the following steps:
1. Stay at the scene
One of the most important things you can do following a hit-and-run accident is to stay at the scene of the accident. By remaining at the scene, you will be able to call for emergency services and file a proper police report when help arrives.
While it may seem easy to leave the scene of an accident if there’s no visible damage, it’s incredibly important that you do not do so. All parties involved in an accident must remain at the scene until help arrives. Even if there’s no visible damage, there may be internal damage to the vehicle or internal injuries that you may not be aware of until further inspection.
Leaving the scene of an accident may result in potential penalties and is illegal in Florida, so it is in your best interest to remain where you are until you are instructed otherwise by the authorities.
2. Move vehicles to a safe place at the scene of the accident
Moving your vehicle out of harm’s way is imperative to your safety. Regardless of whether the accident occurred on a busy road or a low-traffic area, leaving your vehicle too close to the road can result in further damage to your vehicle and to other drivers who may not be prepared to stop. By moving vehicles to a safe place at the scene of the accident, you are protecting yourself, your vehicles, and other drivers.
3. Make sure everyone involved is okay
Once you have moved to safety, it’s important to check on all of the parties involved to ensure that everyone is okay. Some parties may require immediate attention or help before emergency services arrive, so it’s necessary to see how everyone is as soon as you can.
4. Call 911 (or a non-emergency number)
Calling 911 should be one of the first things you do following an accident. The faster you call 911, the sooner help will arrive at the scene. In serious car accidents, having help on the scene can determine whether a victim survives or succumbs to their injuries. Emergency services will include medical attention and police officers so that you can adequately file a police report.
Once an officer arrives at the scene of the accident, they will file a police report and gather all of the available evidence at the scene. Such evidence includes collecting witness statements and taking pictures of the accident.
5. Write down any details you remember
Since lawsuits can be long and memories can be foggy, it’s important to write down every detail you remember as soon as you can. By doing this, you’ll be able to provide your notes to your attorney as well as use them for your own recollection later, should you be unsure of some of the facts. The most minor details can be proven relevant in many lawsuits, so having them at your disposal by writing them down early is a good idea.
6. Check the scene
The most important evidence you can provide in a hit-and-run accident case includes that which can be collected at the scene of the incident. By checking the scene thoroughly, you can collect any evidence that may be useful to your lawsuit later.
7. Talk to eyewitnesses
Eyewitnesses can provide invaluable information and evidence pertaining to your lawsuit. Often, these eyewitnesses can provide better recollections of the incident than the victims can, so it’s important to speak to eyewitnesses at the scene to collect their statements and contact information to potentially testify on your behalf.
8. Take pictures
Similar to eyewitness statements, pictures of the accident scene are incredibly valuable to a hit-and-run accident lawsuit. Having pictures of the scene of the accident and the damage it caused will allow the judge to personally take a look at what occurred and get a better sense of the severity of the incident and the defendant’s potential negligence.
9. Contact your insurance company
Contacting your insurance company as soon as possible will allow you to file a hit-and-run car accident claim and to be compensated for your injuries and other damages you may have incurred following the incident.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a hit-and-run accident, contact the car accident attorneys at Bernstein & Maryanoff, to receive a free legal consultation today.
What to do if your car is hit and damaged while parked
If your car is hit and damaged while parked, it’s important to first see if there were any eyewitnesses. Eyewitnesses may include bystanders or local businesses with security cameras. Whether or not you’re able to come across any witnesses, you should still file a claim with your insurance company and consult a hit-and-run accident attorney to discuss your options.
Consequences of committing a hit-and-run
Penalties for hit-and-run accidents
The penalties for hit-and-run accidents are different depending on the state. In Florida, it is illegal for a driver to flee the scene of a hit-and-run accident. Determining the consequences and penalties depends on certain factors.
A hit-and-run accident will be considered a criminal action if the incident caused the victim’s injury or death. In these situations, the driver will likely be charged with a felony. Hit-and-run accidents involving property damage will likely result in a misdemeanor charge against the driver.
The civil penalties of a hit-and-run accident consist of the compensation of the victim’s damages, such as medical bills, lost income, auto repairs, and so forth.
Statistics on Florida hit-and-run accidents
Approximately 25% of all crashes in Florida consist of hit-and-run accidents. While the majority of hit-and-run accidents only result in property damage, it is common for hit-and-run accidents to be fatal for the victims. In 2021, the number of hit-and-run accidents across Florida increased by 17% compared to the total number of hit-and-run accidents in 2020.
Why do drivers typically flee the scene of an accident?
There are many reasons why drivers may flee the scene of an accident. They may be wanted for another crime and don’t want to be caught by authorities, they may be uninsured and don’t want to be financially responsible for the damages, or they are unaware the accident even occurred due to intoxication.
Who pays for damages in a hit-and-run accident?
Who pays for damages in a hit-and-run accident depends on a few factors. If you’re unable to locate the negligent driver, then, unfortunately, you’ll have to rely on your own insurance to cover the expenses. However, if you’re able to track down the guilty driver, they will likely be liable for compensating you for your damages.
Recovering damages for a hit-and-run accident
Some of the categories of losses and damages that you may qualify to claim after a hit-and-run accident include the following:
- Medical expenses such as hospital costs, ambulance transportation, doctor’s visits, surgeries, procedures, testing, or prescriptions
- Physical therapy, including devices like crutches, wheelchairs, and scooters
- Mental health treatment
- Lost wages and lost future income
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Mental suffering compensation
- Compensation for lifestyle changes and reduced mobility
A hit-and-run claim is based on economic losses and non-economic losses. Economic losses include financial losses, while non-economic losses include your physical pain and emotional anguish.
Miami’s premier auto accident lawyers
If you have been in a hit-and-run accident, it is critical that you seek legal assistance as soon as possible. The hit-and-run accident attorneys at Bernstein & Maryanoff are guaranteed to work hard to ensure you receive the highest settlement possible. These experienced hit-and-run accident lawyers handle all cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning we are not paid until you win.
NO FEES UNLESS WE WIN
Protecting Your Rights Since 1983
Contact Bernstein & Maryanoff today to schedule your free consultation.
Boeschen, C. (2023). Hit and Run Consequences: Potential Compensation After a Hit and Run Accident.
Gillespie, J. (2023). Hit-and-Run Criminal Charges and Conviction Penalties.
Hit-And-Run Crashes On Florida Roads Rise in 2021; FLHSMV Urges Drivers To Stay At The Scene. (2022).
Negligence Definition. (2023).
Timmons, M. (2022). What to Do After a Hit-and-Run in Florida.
About the Author
Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.
Jack Bernstein is a hard-working and highly motivated personal injury attorney in Miami, Florida with over three decades of experience. He is a strategist and idea person, with a genuine passion for helping his firm’s clients. If you’ve been injured, contact Jack Bernstein today for a free evaluation of your case.