The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles estimates that around 25% of all traffic accidents in the State are hit and runs. This means that if you’re involved in a traffic incident in Bradenton, FL., it’s unfortunately fairly likely that a motorist will flee the crime scene. This can cause devastating consequences for both pedestrians and motorists.
If you’ve been involved in a Bradenton hit and run that resulted in injury, property damages, or even death, you’ll need to get into contact with an experienced law firm to represent you.
At The Law Place, our team of personal injury and auto accident attorneys supports victims all in Bradenton and the wider State of Florida to understand their rights, build a strong legal defense and achieve the right level of compensation. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Don’t suffer alone. Book your free consultation with a Bradenton car accident lawyer today. Call The Law Place.
What Does a Hit and Run Accident Involve?
Any auto accident where a driver chooses to either flee the scene or who fails to report an incident to the relevant authorities is classed as a hit-and-run accident. There is also a formal process that you’ll need to follow as a motorist in order to avoid committing this type of crime.
An individual responsible for causing a crash or traffic incident is required to:
- Contact law enforcement should none arrive at the scene.
- Contact emergency services if necessary.
- Provide information to police officers, including license, registration, name, and address.
- Exchange insurance information or demonstrate proof of insurance.
This is the case even for minor instances. For example, many people would not consider bumping a parked car and driving away a hit-and-run incident. However, if you fail to identify yourself and exchange insurance details with the vehicle owner, you will face legal consequences for leaving the scene.
Why Might a Driver Flee the Crime Scene After a Car Accident?
There could be several reasons why hit and run accidents might occur in Bradenton, Florida. For example, a driver could be:
- Driving without a driver’s license.
- Driving without insurance.
- Driving whilst in possession or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Unable to pay for damages.
- Worried about legal consequences.
- In possession of prior convictions.
- Unaware that they caused an accident.
- They were unaware that an accident had occurred.
In addition, hit and runs in Florida are especially common because this can sometimes help drivers to avoid more severe penalties. This can be the case, for example, if a motorist causes a car accident whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In this circumstance, if they remained at the scene, they would face more serious legal consequences for driving whilst intoxicated, in addition to being penalized for any other crimes they had committed. Whereas if they flee, it may be more difficult to prove that they were inebriated.
What Penalties Could a Hit and Run Driver Face in Bradenton, Florida?
According to the FHSMV hit and run guidelines, the penalties that a driver could receive from fleeing the scene of a Bradenton car accident depend on any associated crimes or damages they may have caused:
- Fleeing the scene after causing property damages – This is a second-degree misdemeanor. Drivers could face up to 60 days in prison and up to a $500 fine.
- Fleeing the scene after causing injuries to another driver – This could be a second- or third-degree felony depending on factors such as the extent of the victim’s injuries. Drivers facing this charge could receive up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. They could also have their license revoked for a period of up to 3 years.
- Fleeing the scene after causing a fatality – Drivers who cause a death before fleeing the scene of the crime will be charged with a felony of the first degree. In this case, they will receive a mandatory minimum sentence of 4 years but could face up to 30 years in prison. They will also face a $10,000 fine and a license revocation of at least 3 years.
Receiving Compensation for a Hit and Run Car Accident
Typically, if you are seriously injured in a car accident in Bradenton and require compensation beyond what your own insurance provider will cover, you will be able to make a claim or file a personal injury lawsuit against a driver who was at fault for the crash. However, when a driver flees the scene of the crime, things become far more complicated.
Many people in this circumstance incorrectly assume that they will have to pay for expenses out of pocket, but there are still a number of options available:
Personal Injury Protection Insurance
Every driver in the State of Florida is legally required to possess $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage and $10,000 of Property Damage Liability (PDL) insurance coverage. This is because Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that each driver will recover some injury and property damage costs through their own insurance company regardless of who was at fault for a car accident.
Therefore, if you’ve suffered a serious injury in a car accident where the driver has fled the scene, you’ll still be able to use your PIP insurance to cover some medical costs, including medical bills, as well as current and future lost wages.
For serious injuries, PIP insurance will cover:
- 60% of lost wages due to an accident up to a $10,000 limit
- 80% of all medical expenses such as doctor’s fees and medication (totaling $8,000.)
- Rehabilitation costs.
- Ambulatory services.
- Funeral expenses in the case of death of the policyholder.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
In Florida, it is not a legal requirement to have Uninsured Motorist (UM) insurance coverage. However, due to the fact that around a quarter of Florida drivers are uninsured, it is something that comes highly recommended.
If you possess UM coverage at the time of a hit and run accident in Bradenton, you will be protected against loss. This type of insurance covers expenses for your injuries as well as damage to your property, including your vehicle.
Recovering Compensation From a Hit and Run Driver
There is also the possibility of tracking down hit-and-run drivers in order to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against them. Often, it is impossible to find a driver who fled the scene if there were no eyewitnesses or surveillance devices in place at the scene of the incident. However, sometimes this is a possibility.
The average medical cost of individuals who are involved in a car accident in the State of Florida is $60,000. This is well above the legally required minimum $10,000 PIP coverage. So, if law enforcement is able to find the hit-and-run driver, you’ll be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them to recover damages caused by the accident.
What Can Be Done to Track Down a Driver Who Has Fled the Scene?
- Finding any witnesses – Statements will be taken from anyone who was in the vicinity when your accident occurred. Witnesses may be able to give details about the appearance of the driver or their vehicle, which may help police officers to identify them.
- Analyzing surveillance footage – If an auto accident occurred in a busy area, it’s likely that there will be surveillance footage of the event. This footage could show a full or partial view of the hit-and-run driver or even their license plate, which could help to find them.
- Using your own evidence – As soon as an incident occurs, you should start collecting evidence if possible. Write down any details you see, hear and remember about the other motorist and their vehicle. This could become useful when tracking them down.
What to Do if You’re in a Hit and Run Car Accident
With nearly a quarter of all Florida traffic incidents resulting in hit and runs, it’s unfortunately fairly likely that this could happen to you if you get into a Bradenton car accident. In this case, it’s important to know the right steps to take in order to give yourself the best chance of staying safe and receiving the compensation that you may be entitled to:
Report the Accident to the Police
You should always report a car accident to law enforcement even if the damage and injuries caused were minor. You should do this as soon as possible after the accident, as this will give you the best possible chance of tracking down the missing driver. They may still be in the vicinity of the scene of the crime, and police may be able to locate them.
Receive Medical Attention
If you have been injured in a car crash, you should seek medical attention straight away. Paramedics may be called to the scene and will be able to advise you of the best course of action. Alternatively, you should have yourself checked by another medical professional.
You should bear in mind that you could be in a state of shock following your accident. This may mean that you are not fully able to process or feel any injuries you have sustained. Therefore, it’s always advisable to receive medical advice even if you do not feel it is necessary.
Contact Your Insurance Company
The State of Florida requires that you report a vehicle accident within 10 days. However, you should also wait until you have received medical attention before reporting anything to your insurance company. This is because you may not understand the extent of your injuries at the time of the accident. If your injuries worsen after you have reported them to your insurance provider, you could risk not receiving the compensation you could be entitled to.
However, you’ll need to seek medical attention within 14 days to be able to receive your Personal Injury Protection pay-out. You’ll also need to prove that your injuries are serious enough to qualify for a PIP. More information on what constitutes a serious injury can be found in Florida Statute 316.027.
Contact a Bradenton Law Firm
You’ll also need to contact a law firm that specializes in traffic incidents and personal injury. The legal process following an auto accident can be difficult to navigate on your own. Therefore, you’ll need some support from a qualified accident and personal injury lawyer to help you understand your rights and to build a strong legal case.
Always make sure to choose a law firm that offers a free consultation or a free case evaluation to all new clients. This will help you to make sure you’re working with the best professional for you and your needs.
How Can a Bradenton Car Accident Lawyer Help?
For any traffic accidents, including hit and runs, it’s essential to work with a law firm to help you understand your rights and help you navigate personal injury law.
Accident attorneys can perform a number of key legal skills, including:
Liaising With Insurance Companies
Bradenton attorneys can communicate with your insurance company on your behalf to make sure things run as smoothly as possible. If the missing driver is found and they do have insurance, your lawyer will also be able to liaise with their insurance company in order to try to achieve a settlement agreement.
In the State of Florida, individuals who can prove that they were unaware an accident had occurred when they fled the scene will not be prosecuted. This can be complicated if the driver involved in your accident claims they were unaware that they hit you, especially if you feel that this is untrue. Car accident lawyers are able to look at all of the evidence and help you to make sure that if the other driver was aware that they caused an incident, they would be prosecuted as such.
Achieving a Higher Settlement
Traffic accident and injury lawyers in Bradenton, FL., can help you achieve a higher settlement than you might be able to get on your own. In fact, the right legal representation could help you double or even triple the settlement amount you could be entitled to.
Insurance providers can be notoriously difficult to work with in the State of Florida, and they may not always have your best interest at heart. It’s necessary to work with the right legal representation to make sure you don’t say anything to jeopardize your claim and to have the best chance of gaining the right level of compensation.
Representing You in Court
Personal injury cases involving car accidents are commonly resolved out of court. However, if you do file a lawsuit and your case goes to trial, you’ll need a strong litigator to defend your rights and build a strong case.
The Law Place – Bradenton Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers
If you’ve been involved in a Bradenton car accident with a driver who fled the scene, whether or not the incident was your fault, you’ll need to work with an attorney who specializes in auto accidents.
The Law Place is a Bradenton law firm experienced in taking on and winning cases throughout the State of Florida. Our practice areas include personal injury, criminal defense, traffic incidents, and more. Here at the firm, our team works around the clock with dedication and attention to detail to support our clients and also to ensure they receive the right level of compensation.
We’re offering a free consultation with one of our hit-and-run car accident lawyers to help you make sure you’re working with the right representation for you and your needs. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation. Phone lines are open 24/7.