What Options Do Hit and Run Victims Have for Recovering Compensation?
Written by Shawn Diederich on November 28, 2016
Car accidents are a daily occurrence in Florida. Unfortunately, many drivers refuse to take responsibility for their actions and flee the scene to avoid dealing with the injured victim or law enforcement. According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were approximately 92,000 “hit and run” accidents in the Sunshine State last year. More than 19,000 people were seriously injured in these accidents.
What to Do at the Scene of the Accident
If you are in a hit-and-run accident, whether as a driver of another vehicle or a pedestrian, you should contact the police right away. Leaving the scene of an accident when someone is injured is a felony under Florida law. The police are in the best position to identify and apprehend the driver responsible for injuring you. You should not try to chase or pursue the driver on your own, especially if you are injured and require immediate medical attention. If possible, you should try and get the license plate number of the hit-and-run driver so that you can provide that information when the police arrive.
If other people witnessed the accident, you should encourage them to remain at the scene and give a statement to the police. Any little bit of information will not only help the police find the driver, but it can also corroborate your account of the accident when you report it to your insurance company.
How Your Own Insurance Protects You
Florida is a “no-fault” state with respect to car insurance. This means that in most cases, a driver is expected to carry a minimal level of insurance to cover their own injuries in the event of an accident. The law requires all insurers to provide at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) and another $10,000 for property damage liability.
Depending on the nature of the victim’s injuries, however, this coverage may not be enough. Consider a hit-and-run victim who is taken to the emergency room and receives $15,000 in medical care–$5,000 more than the limit of her PIP coverage. If she knows the identity of the negligent driver, she can file a personal injury claim to recover the $5,000 excess.
But what if the hit-and-run driver is never found? The victim’s insurer may cover the additional damages if she purchased uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM) coverage. With a UM policy, your own insurer basically “stands in” for a negligent driver who is either unknown or lacks sufficient insurance to compensate you for your injuries. Your insurance company is required to offer you UM coverage as part of your overall policy, and it is generally a good idea to purchase it precisely because of the risk of a hit-and-run accident.
Get Legal Help
After you seek medical attention, the next thing you should do following a car accident is to contact a qualified Orlando car accident attorney. Even if you only expect to deal with your own insurance company, there may be a number of legal issues that need to be resolved before you can receive compensation. Contact the Diederich Law Firm, P.A., today if you would like to speak with someone right away.