Victims of hit and run accidents often face devastating injuries that may result in permanent disability or death. The traumatic effects of a motor vehicle accident affect the victim’s lifestyle, relationships, employment, and finances. In cases where a hit and run accident resulted in death, the victim’s family members are left with a lack of closure and in some instances the inability to work through the grieving process.
On a national level, government statistics indicate that almost 11% of all vehicle accidents are hit and run car accidents. Nearly 700,000 hit and run car accident cases are reported each year in the United States. National Highway Safety Administration, which administers and reports on traffic statistics nationwide, reports a 15% increase in the number of hit and run car accidents since 1998.
Most alarming are the statistics that show Florida ranking third in the nation with an average of 3,300 hit-and-run accidents annually.
If you have been the victim of a hit and run accident, contact J. Stanford Morse, P.A., your #1 Tampa hit and run attorney. With over 31 years of experience, J. Stanford Morse can help you receive the compensation you deserve.
What to Do If You are the Victim of a Hit and Run Car Accident
The most important thing to do if you are the victim of a hit and run accident is to protect your rights and interests. You can do so by following the guidelines below:
- Assess any physical injury that may have been caused in the accident to either yourself or your passengers.
- Call the police to the scene immediately.
- To the best of your ability, provide the police with a detailed description of the vehicle(s) and any information your recall about the driver(s). Make sure it is written down and included in the police report.
- All witnesses to the hit and run car accident should be identified, contact information collected and their witness statements included in the police report.
- If possible, document the accident with photographs. Most cell phones have cameras, which will allow you to document the scene.
- Immediately after the accident, write a detailed account of the events and circumstances leading up to the accident. Include as much detail as possible.
- Contact an attorney experienced in personal injury law, especially hit and run accidents, to protect your legal rights.
- Report the accident to your insurance company immediately. Don’t delay in reporting the accident – there may be time limitations for filing your claim!
Hit and Run Accidents | Insurance Coverage
After a hit and run car accident, you may have a variety of expenses and losses due to personal injury and/or property damage. These may or may not be covered by your insurance company. Some insurance policies don’t cover damages that involve drivers who are uninsured, underinsured, or involved in hit and run accidents.
If you have suffered a personal injury in an auto accident with a driver who either does not have insurance, does not have enough insurance, or who was a hit and run driver, you may still be able to recover damages for your injuries under what is known as uninsured motorist coverage.
It is important to know whether or not your plan includes coverage for these types of accidents. Personal injury law allows victims of hit and run accidents and other auto accidents to file claims with their own insurance companies to recover for injuries caused by drivers with insufficient or no insurance.
In some cases, before you are able to make such a claim, you must fill out a police report describing the accident, and you must promptly report the accident to your own insurance company. In all cases, you should act immediately, as time limitations may prohibit you from being compensated for your injuries or property damage.
Factors That Contribute to Hit and Run Accidents
The most frequently cited cause of drivers leaving the scene of an accident is panic. Often, the driver is innocent of any crime at the time of the accident and only compounds the problem by failing to remain at the scene.
Drivers with prior records of traffic infractions such as reckless driving and driving at excessive speeds are more likely to leave the scene of an accident in order to avoid arrest or additional fines. This includes drivers with criminal records or outstanding warrants.
In Florida, there has been an alarming rise in the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers in recent years. This increase is believed to be a contributing factor to the increase in the number of hit and run accidents. The high incidence of uninsured drivers may be related to economic conditions, which also contribute to the rise in the number of hit and runs. In difficult economic times, people tend to let their insurance coverage lapse due to their inability to pay.
Florida Law on Hit and Run Accidents
Florida law is clear that the driver of any vehicle involved in a crash must stop and remain at the scene of the accident. Violators of this requirement may face criminal felony charges, revocation of their driver’s license, court-ordered community service, and other civil or administrative fines. If someone has done this to you, make sure to call J. Stanford Morse to be your Tampa hit and run attorney to get the best representation.
The following factors affect the penalties imposed on drivers involved in hit and run accidents:
- The extent of personal injuries that result from the accident
- The amount of property damage
- Past criminal history of the hit and run driver
- Number of prior incidents of hit and run driving
- The driving record of the offender
Florida Department of Highway of Safety and Motor Vehicles – Vehicle Insurance Questions and Answers
Advocacy Site for Victims of Hit and Run Accidents
Unlicensed, Uninsured May Have Role in Increased Hit-and-Runs
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an independent, nonprofit, scientific, and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries, and property damage — from crashes on the nation’s highways.