Hit & Run Accidents
Hit and Run Accident Attorneys in Gainesville
One day, you’re traveling through town when all of a sudden, an accident happens. As you try and recover your senses immediately following the collision, you see the at-fault driver speeding off, leaving you confused and helpless. This situation is all too common, especially in Florida where fatal hit and run accidents increased by 23 percent in 2014, according to figures from the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP).
Statistics though are meaningless if you’ve been the victim of a hit and run. There are many reasons why someone would flee the scene of an accident — perhaps they were drunk, or don’t have adequate insurance, or they simply panicked.
“Leaving the scene makes the situation worse, not only for those who flee, but even more so for the victims left behind,” explains Terry Rhodes, executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
What are the penalties for leaving the scene of an accident?
Despite the increasing number of hit and run accidents, Florida law is quite strict on drivers who flee the scene of a collision. Stiffer penalties were signed into law in 2014 that make a hit and run a second-degree felony punishable by revoking a driver’s license or even jail time if the crash is fatal.
Section 316 of Florida Statutes outlines the rules for when you’re involved in a car accident. First, any person involved in an accident, including the victim, must remain at the scene until they have provided identifying information to police. A driver is also required to render aid to any injured persons if they are able. It’s important to note that you can be held responsible for leaving the scene even if you are not responsible for causing the accident.
Hit and runs are not exclusive to collisions on the highway. Figures from the FHP also indicate that nearly half of the victims of a hit and run are pedestrians. These laws also apply to parking lots. If someone hits your car and doesn’t leave any contact information, they are technically guilty of leaving the scene.
Obtaining compensation for damages in a hit and run accident
A collision where the other driver leaves the scene is a difficult situation, even if your injuries and damages are minimal. If you are able, get as much information as you can on the vehicle that hit you, including its make, model and license plate number. You should also get contact information for any witnesses present at the time of the accident.
If you and the police are unable to locate the at-fault driver to pursue damages, you will need to turn to your insurance coverage. Florida is a “no-fault” state, meaning your insurance carrier may pay at least a part of if not all of your medical expenses, lost wages and property damages, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
In addition to filing a claim under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) portion of your policy, you can also tap into your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage if you have it.
Gainesville Hit and Run Lawyers
The hit and run attorneys and support staff at Warner, Sechrest & Butts in Gainesville possess extensive experience helping victims of hit & run accidents obtain compensation for injuries, damages and lost wages. Our firm provides passionate representation either against the at-fault driver or your insurance company.
While you may think you don’t need an attorney to deal with your insurance company, nothing could be further from the truth. Many companies will try and deflect blame or otherwise reduce the settlement amount. It’s important that you do not sign any settlement with your insurer before speaking with an attorney.
If you’ve been in a hit & run accident, your first step should be to attend to any injuries, obtain as much information about the fleeing vehicle as you can and notify the police. You should then speak with an experienced attorney to discuss your next steps.
Discuss your case today with an experienced Gainesville hit and run attorney at Warner, Sechrest & Butts. Call us anytime (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or click the blue “Contact Us” button at the top of this page, complete the form and someone from our office will be in touch within 24 hours.