If you’ve been injured in a hit-and-run accident, you are probably feeling helpless and confused about what to do next. You’re probably wondering who will pay for your injuries and damages. If the other driver fled the scene, contact West Palm Beach car accident attorneys at Fetterman & Associates, P.A., to help you navigate this complicated legal process, strengthen your insurance claim, and get compensated for your injuries.
What to do immediately after a hit-and-run?
Following the crash, your priority is to get to safety and ensure other people’s safety on the road. If your car is still driveable, the first thing you need to do is move your vehicle to a safe spot to the side of the road so that it’s not blocking traffic.
Then, you should dial 911 and report the hit-and-run accident and describe the vehicle that fled the scene of the crash.
Under no circumstances should you chase the driver who is fleeing the scene of the accident. The dangers of pursuing a potentially aggressive hit-and-run driver are more significant than the benefits of catching and identifying the motorist. In addition, if you chase after the driver, you could miss out on getting witness accounts, and police might question who was really at fault since you and the other driver both left the scene. Under Section 316.061, Florida Statutes, Florida law says you must stop your car “at the scene of such a crash or as close thereto as possible.” Failure to remain at the scene of a crash is a misdemeanor of the second degree.
The police could be able to identify and locate the hit-and-run driver if you provide a detailed description of the accident and the fleeing vehicle, including:
- Location, time, and cause of the crash;
- The direction the hit-and-run driver was headed;
- Vehicle model, make, color, and license plate number;
- Identifying marks on the vehicle, including bumper stickers or damage as a result of the collision; and
- Description of the driver, including prominent physical features or clothing items.
What to do at the scene of a hit-and-run accident?
If you were injured in a hit-and-run accident, be sure to get medical care. Even if it seems that your injuries are not serious or you were not injured at all, it is best to visit a hospital immediately after the accident. Seeking medical attention can produce records that will help you strengthen your claim if you were injured.
Note: Under Section 627.736, Florida Statutes, Florida law says you have 14 days to get medical care after a car accident. Otherwise, your insurer may deny your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim.
After reporting the hit-and-run crash and waiting for the arrival of the police and emergency medical technicians (EMTs), you must gather as much evidence as possible. Take photos and record videos of the property damage and your injury.
Talk to witnesses and write down their names and contact information. Witness statements play a crucial role in hit-and-run accidents. Also, ask nearby businesses if they have security cameras or closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras that may have captured the crash. Camera footage could help identify the driver who fled the scene.
After gathering evidence and documenting everything at the scene of the collision, it is essential to contact a car accident attorney to investigate your case, preserve evidence, and help you seek compensation for your damages and injuries.
How to get compensation after a hit-and-run accident in Florida?
If the hit-and-run driver cannot be identified and found, you can still obtain compensation for your injuries by filing a claim with your own car insurance company. There are two types of insurance claims to recover damages following a hit-and-run accident in Florida:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP). All motorists in the state of Florida are required to purchase at least $10,000 in PIP coverage. Your insurance company will provide compensation for your injuries up to the policy limits regardless of fault in the crash.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM). This is an optional type of insurance coverage that can be used to pay for your injuries and damages when the other motorist doesn’t have insurance, they don’t have enough insurance to cover all of your losses, or you were involved in a hit-and-run collision.
If the police identified and tracked down the hit-and-run driver who caused your injury, your personal injury attorney would help you file a claim against the driver’s insurance company if your damages exceed the limits of your PIP policy. A lawyer could also advise you to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who fled the scene to maximize your financial compensation. Note that if you choose to also pursue an injury lawsuit against the hit-and-run driver, Florida law says the deadline for personal injury lawsuits involving motor vehicle accidents is four years from the date of your injury.
After a hit-and-run accident, it’s normal to feel shocked and panicked but remember that you don’t have to chase after the other driver in order to receive compensation. You still have options and you don’t have to go through this situation alone. Contact our West Palm Beach car accident attorneys to discuss how to get compensated for your injuries and property damage after a hit-and-run incident in Florida. Give us a call at 561-845-2510 to schedule a free consultation with our lawyers at Fetterman & Associates, P.A.