Florida law requires that drivers who are involved in accidents remain at the scene and exchange driver’s license and insurance information with other involved parties. However, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) reports that in a quarter of all accidents that occur every year, a driver has left the scene. In response to the rising rate of hit-and-run crashes, the DHSMV and Florida Highway Patrol, in partnership with the Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida Sheriffs Association and Florida Association of Crime Stoppers are recognizing February as “Hit and Run Awareness Month.”
As its name implies, a “hit-and-run” is where a driver leaves the scene of an accident without providing any contact information. All drivers are obligated to remain at the scene, regardless of where the accident occurs. Pursuant to Florida Statute section 316.061, the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash resulting in damage to another vehicle or property has a duty to remain at the scene. In a situation where a driver hits a vehicle in a parking garage, the driver has a duty to leave a note stating their full name, address, driver’s license number and license plate number. Failure to leave this information is a second degree misdemeanor offense, punishable by a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. According to Florida Statute section 316.062, the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death has a duty to provide their information and render aid to those in need. Drivers are likewise required to provide their name, address, and vehicle registration number. If requested, a driver must also provide a driver’s license or driver’s permit. A hit-and-run resulting in bodily injuries carries penalties such as a 3 year driver’s license revocation, 5 years in prison, and a $5,000 fine. Where a hit-and-run involves a fatality, it becomes a first-degree felony with an exposure of 30 years prison, a minimum mandatory sentence of 4 years prison and a $10,000 fine.
When a driver leaves the scene of an accident, it is not prudent to chase after them. Doing so could endanger the safety of other drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Law enforcement and emergency services should be contacted first. Provide law enforcement with information about the vehicle that left the scene, including model, make, and license plate number. Additionally, gather the names and contact information for any witnesses at the scene and document the date, time and location of the accident.
Victims of hit-and-run accidents may still be able to recover financial compensation for injuries, despite whether the hit-and-run driver is located by law enforcement. This can be accomplished through the uninsured-driver provision of car insurance policies. However, not all claims are accepted and even when a claim is accepted, an insurance company may not fully compensate accident victims for their injuries.
Wittmer & Linehan PLLC understands that insurance companies can make it difficult for individuals to get proper reimbursement for their injuries. Our experienced attorneys can help you better understand your rights. Our attorneys have over 35 years of combined experience dealing with Sarasota car accidents, insurance companies and their attorneys. We are here to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.