What to Do If You’ve been Involved in a Hit and Run Accident

Being involved in a car accident is stressful enough, even when both parties exchange insurance information. But what happens if you’ve been the victim of a hit and run? According to the Department of Highway safety and Motor Vehicles (“FLHSMV”), in 2018, there was over 101,151 hit and run crashes in the entire state of Florida.

In Florida, a hit-and-run may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony (depending on the circumstances of the accident). Leaving the scene of an accident causing only property damage is considered a second-degree misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 60 days in county jail and/or a fine of $500. If the accident results in a fatality, there is a mandatory minimum of 4 years for a driver of convicted of leaving the scene. Understanding what to do in the event of an accident and how the process works will help to relieve some of the stress that is involved with each and every accident.

Follow these steps if you’re involved in a hit and run accident:

Call the Police
In Florida, you must immediately contact law enforcement for accidents involving an injury, death, or property damage greater than $500. See Fla. Stat. § 316.065. The police officer will submit a report for these types of accidents. For accidents that do not require a police report (such as minor car damage), or where no police investigation is conducted, the driver must file a crash report within ten days. See Fla. Stat. § 316.066. The reports can be obtained at the DMV or online on the DMV website. Like any type of car accident, you should call the police if there’s significant damage and once it’s safe to do so. The officer will file an official report, which will be crucial evidence if you intend to pursue damages against the parties responsible.

Document the Event
The police will gather evidence in an official report, but you should also make note of what happened for your own records. Again, when it’s safe to do so, write down or record a message or video explaining what happened and all other details relevant to the accident. If issues arise when you file a claim, the information that you collect can be very helpful in proving your case.

Take Pictures of the Damage
It is important to take photographs of the damage to your vehicle following a car crash in Florida. If you are able to take photographs of the other vehicle(s) involved, do so. Most cellular phones have cameras built in. If it is safe to do so, take a picture of the accident scene prior to the vehicles being towed away. After you have sought medical care take pictures of your personal injuries resulting from the accident.

Notify Your Insurance Company
If you purchased Collision coverage, it will cover any damage to your car, regardless of whether you identify the driver. If the driver comes forward or is apprehended, you can make a claim to their liability coverage. According to Florida law, you can make a claim under uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Of course, you may also make a claim to uninsured motorist coverage if you identify the driver and they do not have insurance.

If you have any claim, you must contact your insurance provider as soon as possible. The insurance company should provide you with the appropriate forms for the claim. Ensure that the forms are filled out correctly and completely and take a copy for yourself. An insurance agent will assist in filing the claim. Once you’re home safe after an accident, you should file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible, but you can check your policy to see what the exact deadline is.

Seek Medical Treatment
Florida has Personal Injury Protection (also called “PIP” or “no fault”) automobile insurance. Under Florida’s PIP laws, drivers are required to carry insurance to cover the driver’s own injuries and lost wages, regardless of whether the accident was the driver’s fault or the fault of the other driver. Under Florida’s new PIP law, an injured driver must seek treatment within fourteen days to receive PIP benefits. If you have PIP automobile insurance, you should consult your family doctor or go to an emergency room as soon as possible—even if you do not think your injuries are severe. Some injuries do not manifest themselves immediately after an accident. You do not want to be prevented from recovering PIP benefits because of this technicality.

After any type of crash, you should consider talking to a car accident lawyer to learn what your rights and obligations are under the law. Let the personal injury attorneys at Suarez & Montero review the circumstances of your case and discuss your legal options. Our attorneys are ready to provide proven legal representation in pursuing your claim and stand ready to protect your rights.

Contact us today at 786 Lawyers for a free consultation!

Jaime Suarez

An experienced legal personal injury defense professional in Miami, who is dedicated to helping accident victims with personal injury cases involving automobile accidents, brain and spinal cord injuries, slip and fall accidents, prescription errors, wrongful death, and accidents at work.