It is estimated that around 20% of all car accidents in the State of Florida are hit-and-run accidents. This is often the worst-case scenario for victims who are subsequently unsure if they are able to pursue compensation, as there is no at-fault individual to file a claim or a lawsuit against. So, in these scenarios, the role of a police officer is absolutely crucial.
If this is the case for you, it’s natural to wonder what the police will be able to do in order to locate the driver who has fled the accident scene, as this provides the best chance of any financial recovery. Law enforcement officers will be using all tools at their disposal to track down the responsible driver and ensure that justice is served.
Whether or not law enforcement is able to locate the driver who caused your accident, you should get in touch with The Law Place today for legal representation. We can look at all of the details of your case and help you find the best route to recovering damages.
We’re a Florida law firm committed to offering excellent service and support to all of our clients. Our team of qualified personal injury lawyers also specializes in traffic accidents, so you can be sure you’re working with the right legal professional for your case.
To book your free consultation, call our office today at (941) 444-4444.
Why Do Hit-and-run Accidents Happen?
A hit-and-run accident may happen for many reasons. For example, the hit-and-run driver could have been:
- Driving whilst under the influence of alcohol – According to Florida Statute 316.193, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in the State of Florida if your blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 or above. A driver may fail to stop at the scene of an accident if they have been drinking and are worried that they will be found to be over the legal alcohol limit.
- Driving whilst under the influence of drugs – A driver is considered under the influence of drugs if they have taken any illegal controlled substance found in Florida Statute 893.03 or if their functions have been impaired by a prescription drug leading to driving unsafely.
- In possession of other illegal items – A driver could be hesitant to call law enforcement after hitting another driver if they have a legally prohibited item such as an illegally obtained firearm on their person.
- Fleeing the scene of a crime – If a driver had committed another crime and they were fleeing the scene, they would be unlikely to stop to render aid and report to law enforcement officers if they caused an accident.
- Driving with previous convictions – If a driver has previously been convicted of other crimes, especially traffic-related ones, they may refuse to stop at the scene of a crash because they know that they will receive a harsher penalty as a repeat offender.
- Driving without a license or with a stolen vehicle – If a driver believes they will be caught driving without a license or in a vehicle they have stolen by stopping at the scene of an accident, they may choose to flee the scene.
For a free legal consultation, call 941-444-4444
What Do Police Do at the Scene of a Hit-and-run Car Accident?
The moment law enforcement officers arrive at the scene of hit-and-run accidents. The police investigation process will begin. Officers will be attempting to will have a process to follow, which includes:
Collecting Information From Accident Victims
According to Florida Statute 316.062, it is your legal obligation to remain at the scene of an accident until you have complied with police officers’ requests for information. However, you are not required to give any details which violate your Fifth Amendment right.
Law enforcement officers will collect details, including:
- Your name.
- Your address.
- Your license and registration.
- Your account of what occurred before, during, and after the hit-and-run crash.
Creating an Accident Report
The police will then use this information as well as their own observations to create their accident report, which will be vital if you plan to make a claim through your own insurance company or if you were to file a lawsuit if the hit-and-run driver is later located. You should always request a copy of an accident report.
This will include all relevant details about the car accident, including:
- Names and contact information of all drivers, pedestrians, and witnesses involved.
- The location, date, and time of the accident.
- All involved drivers’ licenses and license plates.
- A diagram of the accident and damage.
- Observations about the road and weather conditions at the accident location.
- Any violations of laws or crimes committed.
- The police officer’s own judgment regarding who was at fault, taking into account all available information.
- Observations about the mental and physical state of both drivers – i.e., if they were intoxicated, drowsy, etc.
Ensuring Aid is Rendered
If you get into a car accident, it is your legal duty to ensure that aid is rendered to anyone who becomes injured. However, if you become injured and are carried away from the scene of an accident in an ambulance, a police officer will remain behind to ensure that aid is rendered to any other injured individuals.
It is also the job of the police officer at the scene to interview any witnesses who may have seen the hit-and-run accident occur. This may be difficult if your accident took place in a secluded area or another driver did not stop after they witnessed the incident.
However, if witnesses are present, officers will ask them what they noticed before, during, and after the accident, taking any relevant details which could be crucial to solving a hit-and-run case.
How Do Police Find a Hit-and-Run Driver?
The moment an accident occurs, police will be on the lookout for any case information that could locate a missing driver. They’ll have a number of tools available to use, including:
Pursuing a Driver
It may be the case that police officers arrive at the scene of an accident just in time to see a hit-and-run driver. Alternatively, witness testimony could alert officers to the location of the at-fault driver, who could still be nearby.
If this is the case, law enforcement will pursue the fleeing driver. If this individual is caught, he could be arrested and charged with leaving the scene of an accident, which is a misdemeanor of the second degree according to Florida Statute 316.061.
Locating Video Surveillance Footage
The most useful tool that law enforcement officers can use during hit-and-run investigations is video surveillance footage. If you were hit in a busy area or in proximity to other buildings, it is likely that a surveillance camera will have picked up the accident.
Depending on the exact location of the incident as well as the quality of the footage, police officers could be able to find the type of vehicle as well as the license plate number of the driver leaving the scene. The video footage could also help officers locate any other drivers or pedestrians at the scene of the accident, which could be questioned.
Using Witness Testimonies
Witness testimonies are less reliable than video surveillance footage as a person’s memory is not always 100% accurate, they could be subject to a bias, or they could purposefully give an inaccurate account.
However, when it comes to hit-and-run accidents, law enforcement officers will use every available tool they can in order to locate a driver who has fled the scene. Any witnesses could potentially give identifying information about the at-fault driver or their vehicle, as well as how the accident occurred.
Can I Still Get Compensation for a Hit-and-run Accident?
The main concern for victims of a hit-and-run accident is how to claim compensation without another driver to hold accountable. If you’ve suffered serious injuries or property damage in this type of accident, don’t worry. You still have a number of options available to you when it comes to claiming compensation.
Personal Injury Protection Insurance
The first thing you should do in order to recover damages is to make an insurance claim through your own provider. In compliance with Florida Statute 627.736, as a Florida driver, you are required to possess a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection insurance.
This will cover:
- Up to 80% of medical bills – So, if you possess this minimum $10,000 policy, up to $8,000 of your medical expenses will be recovered.
- Up to 60% of lost wages – This covers you if you are unable to work whilst you are recovering from your injuries.
So, whether or not you are at fault for an accident, you’ll be able to go through your insurance company to make a personal injury claim.
However, you should bear in mind that insurance companies are usually trying to find a way to reduce your payout. They may try to get you to admit fault, to downplay your injuries, or even to sign something which may harm your claim. So, make sure to contact a hit-and-run accident lawyer before you speak to your insurance company.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage is not mandatory in the State of Florida. However, it should be a high priority for any driver who does not want to be out-of-pocket in the case of a hit-and-run car accident or a crash where another driver is uninsured. In fact, many states require all drivers to take out this type of insurance policy.
If you possess uninsured motorist cover, you will be able to recover damages for a hit-and-run. However, the amount you receive will depend on the extent of your insurance policy.
File a Personal Injury Claim or Lawsuit Against an At-Fault Driver
If police are able to locate a hit-and-run driver after they have fled the scene of the crime, you’ll be able to file a personal injury claim or pursue a personal injury lawsuit against them.
Through either of these options, you could receive:
A Higher Amount of Lost Wages
In some cases, accident victims become injured or disabled, which can mean they are unable to continue at their previous job or have their earning potential reduced. So, claiming or filing against another driver for lost wages can also cover estimated future loss of earnings.
A Higher Amount of Medical Bills
The main motivation for many victims of traffic accidents when pursuing compensation is to recover money spent on medical bills. Ambulance travel, hospital stays, and medical treatment can amount to thousands of dollars in the State of Florida, which can leave victims with large out-of-pocket expenses that may not be entirely covered by their existing insurance policy.
Pain and Suffering
A hit-and-run crash can be traumatic for accident victims, especially if they become injured. Those who experienced these types of incidents can be left with long-term mental conditions and trauma such as PTSD or severe anxiety. Therefore, pain and suffering are also something you could be compensated for if your quality of life has been significantly affected by psychological damage.
Loss of Consortium
If your partner or spouse was significantly injured in a hit-and-run accident, your physical relationship might be affected – especially if they become permanently disabled. In this case, you could be awarded damages for loss of consortium.
Auto accidents in the State of Florida can sometimes cause fatal injuries in worst-case scenarios. So, if someone related to you has been killed in a hit-and-run auto accident, you may be entitled to wrongful death compensation.
Wrongful death benefits can cover:
- No longer being supported by the deceased policyholder’s income.
- Loss of companionship.
- Loss of consortium.
- Medical costs if the policyholder was treated before they passed away.
- Burial and funeral expenses.
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Contact The Law Place for Help With Hit-and-run Accidents
Hit-and-run drivers wreak havoc on their victims’ lives, financially, physically, and emotionally. So, if you were hit by a driver who fled the scene, contact The Law Place today.
We’re a Florida law firm with a clear track record of success when it comes to achieving compensation for our clients. We provide sound legal advice, offer a comprehensive service that involves the knowledge of our whole team, and build strong legal cases to help you achieve the best possible amount of compensation for your case.
Book your free consultation with an experienced hit-and-run attorney today on (941) 444-4444.