Florida law requires that the driver of a motor vehicle that hits a person or other motor vehicle must stop at the scene of the crash. Regardless, all too often, we see that drivers flee the scene of a crash after knowingly causing another driver or pedestrian injuries or death. The “hit-and-run” crash is frustrating to the victim or victim’s family, who is left with injures and no insurance policy or person to help with those injuries. Hit-and-run accidents raise two important questions. First, how does Florida law treat these accidents? Second, what can we do to minimize the terrible results of these accidents?
Florida law makes it a felony for a driver to cause injuries and flee the scene of the crash. On April 27, 2020, a man was seriously injured in a hit-and-run crash in Delray Beach. According to the Palm Beach Post, the accident occurred in the early evening hours on West Atlantic Avenue when Peter Sutton was crossing Atlantic as a pedestrian. A pick-up truck struck him leaving him seriously injured and then the truck fled the scene. Under Florida Statute Section 316.027 (2)(b), the pick-up truck driver was required to immediately stop at the scene of the crash and he had a duty to render aid to the pedestrian. Violation of this statute under these circumstances was a second-degree felony under Florida law.
Despite the law, unfortunately, we cannot prevent drivers from committing crimes by causing hit-and-run crashes. However, in some situations, there are things we can do to minimize the terrible results. First, every car owner should purchase underinsured or uninsured motorist “UM” protection for their vehicles. If you are a pedestrian or on a bike, in most cases your automobile UM will provide you protection where an automobile causes you injuries, even if you’re not in an automobile. Similarly, your automobile insurance policy will provide you with personal injury protection or “PIP” benefits to pay for medical care where an automobile hits you.
Finally, if practical, do your best to gather as much information as possible if you are the victim of a hit-and-run. If you can get the make, model, and license plate of the vehicle, police can track down the offending driver. If you can utilize a dash camera or cell phone to take video or photo evidence, often that will help to identify the offending driver. However, where these methods of collecting video or photos are not available, identifying witnesses or local businesses that have cameras near the area can often be helpful to identify the offender.
Victims of hit-and-run crashes can be seriously injured or even lose their lives. If this happens to you or a loved one, it is critical that an attorney at Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith immediately launch an investigation to preserve as much information as possible. The sooner we are retained after one of these terrible events, the better chances we have of identifying the offending driver and maximizing the victim’s recovery. Our attorneys have been handling these cases for over 95 years. We have the experience and knowledge to help you and your family after a hit-and-run.
This blog was written by Partner Chad Hastings