A hit-and-run accident is recognized as any car accident whereby one or more of the vehicles involved fail to stop after the collision. The damage that a hit-and-run can cause can range from anything as trivial as a broken wind mirror to something as severe as a fatality. At any accident scene in Florida, all individuals involved have a legal requirement to stop. However, data provided by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles suggests that between 2015 and 2019, there were roughly 507,650 hit-and-run accidents in Florida, and 1,037 of these sadly resulted in fatalities. Our car accident lawyers can sympathize with how frustrating the aftermath of a hit-and-run can be and how distressing it can be to not have somebody to blame for what you have been put through. We are here to help and do everything in our power to ensure your personal injury claim results in a fair settlement value.
Here at The Law Place, our team of dedicated lawyers has over 75 years of combined experience in dealing with personal injury claims such as your own and are more than ready to get started on your case. Call us today to schedule your free consultation with our team. Call our office using our toll-free number, (941) 444-4444. Phone lines are open 24/7!
What Should I Do Immediately Following a Hit-and-Run Accident?
The fallout from any car accident can be very upsetting. This only increases in a hit-and-run, whereby you may be on your own and not know what to do about insurance. Below are some quick tips to try and help make sense of what has happened and to ensure you have a strong case.
- Check for any injuries – Your health and safety are the priority, so it is important you check that you are stable enough before attempting to do any of the following. If you can, you should check any other individuals involved for injuries. But it is also important not to move anybody, as this can worsen some injuries.
- Do not attempt to follow the fleeing vehicle – Never follow the hit-and-run driver. Even if your vehicle is still functioning, you could be worsening its condition or your own injuries. Additionally, the other driver may react erratically if followed, putting you at risk. It also may prove detrimental to your case as it can cause issues for the police and instead mean you are charged with a hit-and-run.
- Call the emergency services – Florida Statute 316.062 states that 911 must be alerted of any traffic accident. If you fail to do so, you could get in trouble. Contacting the police also allows for a police report to be filed. This can be vital for your insurance claim.
- Try to remember, note down, or take pictures of important details – Details such as the license plate of the fleeing vehicle, description of the car, driver’s appearance, and what actually happened can all be extremely helpful for your car accident case. Pictures of the accident scene can also help.
- Get any witnesses’ contact details – Witnesses can be extremely helpful for your personal injury lawsuit. They can describe what happened and help the police with filing a more accurate police report.
- Seek medical treatment – Florida Statute 627.736 means that you are required to seek medical attention within two weeks of your car accident. Without this, your car accident injury could worsen, and your insurance company may use this against you to deny you a fair settlement.
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What Is the Average Settlement for a Hit-and-Run Car Accident?
It is very difficult to provide an average settlement value. Car accident settlement amounts will vary very much on a strictly case-by-case basis. Your potential car accident settlement value will be determined by referring to the physical, emotional, and financial damages that your accident caused. How much money your insurance company gives you in your personal injury settlement will depend on the following:
- Your own insurance company and which policy you have.
- The at-fault driver’s insurance company and their policy.
- The severity of any property damage.
- If you experienced any notable pain and suffering.
- The cost of medical expenses and any future expenses.
Car accidents will result in very different settlement values. Through contacting an experienced car accident attorney, you will be able to learn more about what factors may impact your settlement and what you can do yourself to increase your chances of receiving the maximum value. Cases can settle for anything between $10,000 and $2,000,000, so it is important not to trust online settlement calculators.
Contact a personal injury lawyer from our law firm to schedule a free consultation and learn more about what you could be owed.
How Long Will a Car Accident Settlement Take to Resolve?
The amount of time needed to settle the fallout of a car accident will, unfortunately, vary depending on the specific details of your case. Therefore, it is hard to provide you with a fixed time frame for your case. We would require the necessary case details. Settlement times will differ, and a lot of evidence is needed (which can take time) in order to prove you have a strong case that is worth compensating.
If you do go ahead with hiring legal representation, then your personal injury attorney will be able to get started on the ‘negotiation phase’ of the legal process. As soon as you and your lawyer enter into the settlement negotiations, you will be able to put forward your demands to the relevant insurance companies. Many car accident victims will gain the compensation they require at this point, and thus, there are no extra steps to their legal journey. Instead, you simply argue your desired settlement value and will hopefully be awarded this amount.
If your settlement negotiations do not succeed and you are unhappy with what you’re offered, then you will have to move on to filing a personal injury lawsuit. A lawyer will be helpful for this. Lawsuits can be extremely time-consuming and involve multiple steps. The first stage is the trial discovery stage. This allows both sides to question the other and collect the required evidence and documentation. Both of the attorneys representing either side will question witnesses, bring in police reports, refer experts, etc. Many will reach an agreement here, but if not, a mediator will be brought in to help prevent the case from having to go to court.
In the worst-case scenario, whereby mediation has failed too, your case will be taken to trial. Your case will be presented in front of a judge or jury by your chosen attorney. A trial can last anywhere between a few hours to several months, depending on the details of the case.
What Is an Uninsured Motorist Insurance Claim?
In Florida, you will be able to purchase an optional coverage known as uninsured motorist insurance coverage (UM) within your auto insurance policy. Uninsured motorist coverage aims to cover any injuries caused by a car accident whereby the at-fault driver was not insured, fled the scene (as with a hit-and-run accident), or was underinsured. This insurance type can be used when you wish to file a car accident claim following an accident that was not your fault. However, UM will not pay for any damage or replacement costs required for your vehicle. Instead, it is recommended you purchase collision coverage.
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What Makes a Hit-and-Run Claim Different From Other Car Accident Lawsuits?
A hit-and-run crash will be different from most car accident cases, mainly due to the fact the other driver is not available to help with the case. Some issues that can follow as a result include:
- Issues identifying the responsible party – One of the main issues in hit-and-run cases is the issue of identifying the negligent driver. If the defendant fled the scene and you are unable to identify them, then you will not be able to put forward an action against them for your damages. It is best to have experienced personal injury lawyers on your side. They will be able to gather the necessary evidence needed to help find the defendant and bring them forwards as a target of litigation.
- The fault is not always a given – Even though the other driver has fled the scene, this does not make them automatically at fault for the car accident itself. Fleeing a scene is a crime, but it is not proof of fault for the accident. It is possible that others could have been considered liable.
- Issues of negligence – Florida law means that all drivers have a duty of care to stop and seek medical care for an injured party if an accident has occurred. If the hit-and-run driver fled the scene and did not seek medical attention on your behalf (with the assumption you were not well enough to), then you may also have an independent negligence claim against them for this breach.
Common Injuries Sustained in a Hit-and-Run Accident
It is likely that your hit-and-run crash resulted in you suffering from some serious injuries. Common injuries that are reported in personal injury cases include:
- Spinal cord injuries.
- Head injuries, including concussions.
- Neck injuries, including whiplash.
- Broken, crushed, and/or fractured bones.
- Organ damage.
- Scrapes, burns, and cuts to the skin.
Psychological injuries will also be considered in your claim. Some examples of mental anguish that can be compensated for include: depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and issues of isolation.
Common Damages Available Following Hit-and-Run Accidents
Car accidents can cause a wide range of damages. Examples of damages that can be compensated for in car accident settlements include:
- Lost wages – The aftermath of car accidents can mean victims have to have some time off from work, whether that be because of injuries or to recover mentally. For any wages you lose in this time frame, the amount can be accounted for in the form of financial recovery. Similarly, if you cannot return to work, you may be able to claim for a loss of earning potential.
- Medical bills – If you suffered injuries because of your auto accident, and this required you to receive professional medical treatment, then any medical expenses you are charged with can be factored into your injury settlement.
- Property damage – For any accident involving damage to your property, you can claim back any repair or replacement costs in your final settlement. To ensure that this is covered, it is recommended you keep all bills safe and ready to be used as evidence.
- Pain and suffering – Pain and suffering are used to compensate for any mental and physical suffering that occurred from the accident. It also covers any loss of enjoyment in life. This is when you are no longer able to enjoy an activity that you took part in regularly before your accident. Pain and suffering are, however, hard to prove and to then translate into a settlement value. Therefore, it is best to have an experienced attorney on your side to help you with this. In this case, how much money you receive for your pain and suffering may be determined by something referred to as the multiplier method, wherein economic damages are multiplied by a number between 1-5, based on the severity of your injuries.
- Wrongful death – If you have sadly lost a loved one in a hit-and-run, then you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit, depending on the circumstances. This is explained in Florida Statute 768.21. A settlement from this type of lawsuit should cover any necessary funeral expenses and for the loss of consortium.
The Clock Is Ticking!
If you have been involved in a hit-and-run that was not your fault, then it is vital you act quickly. Florida Statute 95.11 explains the strict rules regarding the statute of limitations on personal injury cases in Florida. From the date of your accident, you will have four years to file a claim with your insurance company. If you fail to do so in this time frame, then they are allowed to deny you your settlement. If you have sadly lost a loved one in a car accident, then the statute of limitations on a wrongful death lawsuit is important to know. You will have two years from the date of your loved one’s passing to file a claim. Contact us today to ensure you meet the necessary deadlines surrounding your case!
Contact a Car Accident Attorney at The Law Place Today!
If you or a loved one have been involved in a hit-and-run accident that was not your fault, then contact The Law Place today! Here at The Law Place, our team of car accident attorneys possesses 75 years of combined experience in dealing with cases such as your own. We are more than ready to use this legal knowledge and experience to help you receive a fair settlement value. Our lawyers realize that money may not fix the trauma you have sadly experienced, but it is a step in the right direction to help you with your recovery. We will provide a dedicated attorney-client relationship and will work round the clock to ensure you are satisfied with our work and the result of your case.
Our law firm can offer you a free legal consultation with a lawyer on our team. Here you will get the chance to ask any questions you may have about us and the legal process and learn some more about what we can do for you. Call us today using our toll-free phone number, (941) 444-4444, to schedule your consultation. Phone lines are open 24/7.