Being in an automobile accident isn’t an experience anyone wants to have. Especially when it’s a hit and run. If you’re not sure if the car accident you’ve been in is a hit and run, we’ll explain exactly what is hit and run case and what might happen after your accident.
What is a Hit and Run?
The most basic definition of a hit and run is a driver causing an accident, then leaving the scene of an accident, regardless of if there’s a serious injury or only property damage. Often, these accidents cause property damage, personal injuries, or even death.
The damage could be to another vehicle, property damage to a street sign or building, or injuring someone. A hit-and-run accident might also be referred to as leaving the scene of an accident.
Hit and run accidents can happen anywhere. Distracted drivers may run a red light or stop sign, hit a parked car, or hit street signs or mailboxes. A driver who leaves the scene of an accident to avoid law enforcement and speaking with a police officer could be driving without a driver’s license or insurance or might be driving impaired.
Hit and run crashes have legal and criminal implications. In Florida, a driver who leaves the scene of an accident when someone has been injured could be charged with a third-degree felony. The driver can also get up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Florida law requires drivers involved in a car crash, even if there’s just property damage, to stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible. Not doing this after a hit and run can bring charges of a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida.
Even if you aren’t at fault for the accident, you need to stay at the accident scene. Hit and run drivers who leave the scene of an accident may face higher charges or fines, points on their licenses or having their driver’s license suspended, or even jail time.
What Should I Do if I’m in a Hit and Run Accident?
Florida hit and run accidents are most common at dusk, dawn, and at night. It’s important to always drive defensively. Pedestrians and cyclists also need to use caution near roadways, driveways, and intersections.
Most importantly, make sure you are ok. If you have any passengers with you, check on them. Seek medical attention for any injuries anyone got from being involved in hit and run crash. Call 911 if someone else hasn’t already.
It’s important to call the police and file a report to have documentation of the accident.
You may also need medical attention at the scene of the accident. After you’ve made sure everyone is alright, try to get a look at the vehicle that was involved in the crash. Some things to look for:
- Make and model of the vehicle
- Color of the vehicle and if there were any bumper stickers or noticeable property damage
- License plate number
- Description of the hit and run driver, including what they look like, what age they may be
- The direction the vehicle went when leaving the scene of the accident
- Any witnesses who may have seen what happened or the vehicle that caused the accident
Keep a notebook and pen in your glove compartment or purse. Write things down right away so you don’t forget details during the craziness at the scene of the accident.
It’s important to take pictures at the scene of an accident. If you’re injured, ask someone else to take the pictures and email or text them to you. Document things like:
- the location of the accident
- the location of your vehicle after the accident
- the time and conditions when the accident happened
- any property damage to your vehicle and the scene of the crime
- injuries sustained from the car crash
Is a Hit and Run Different When It’s a Pedestrian or Bicyclist?
Hit and runs don’t just happen between two vehicles. A pedestrian or bicyclist can also be a victim of a hit-and-run accident too. Regardless of how it happened, you’re still a victim and need to protect yourself.
You may also be entitled to compensation following a hit and run accident even if you weren’t in a vehicle. Pedestrians and bicycle riders can also be the victim of an accident where someone leaves the scene. The driver may not be aware that they hit you or caused any damage or injury.
Just like any other accident, gather the car insurance information of the person who hit you. You’ll also want their name and address, which can be found on their driver’s license. Be sure to also get at least one way to contact them. Having their phone number and email address can be helpful. Take a picture of the information if you don’t have anything with you to write it down.
Be sure to also contact the police department so you can file a report with them to document what happened during the hit and run. Share with them your personal information, any information you received from the other party involved, and any witness information. This will be helpful for your investigation and could help if you hire an attorney.
What Should I Do if I Cause a Hit and Run Accident?
If you’re the person at fault for a hit and run accident, you must not leave the scene of the accident. By leaving, you could face additional charges or more substantial penalties. Florida car accident law requires all drivers to stop and to provide aid to anyone injured at the scene of an accident.
Pull over and stop as soon as it’s safe for you to do. You don’t want to cause another accident by stopping somewhere that isn’t safe. Keeping yourself safe is also important. Don’t get out of your vehicle on a busy road or you could be injured in another accident.
Even if you’re the one who caused the accident, call 911 if no one else has. Make sure that you’re ok as well as anyone who was with you. Check on anyone else who may have been involved in the accident too.
Before speaking with anyone, you may want to consider speaking with an attorney so you don’t accidentally say something that might incriminate you. You don’t want to admit any wrongdoing or fault before speaking with a lawyer who deals with hit and run cases. Create an attorney client relationship and listen to the legal advice provided to you.
What Should I Do if I Hit a Parked Car and No One is Around?
You’re backing out of a parking spot and think you have just enough room to wiggle out of the spot. Then you feel the bump from hitting the other car behind you. Accidents happen, but it doesn’t have to be a hit and run.
After moving your vehicle back to a safe location, try to see if you can locate the owner of the vehicle. If you’re not able to, it’s important to leave your contact information in an obvious place on the vehicle so the property owner can contact you if needed.
Be sure to take down the names and contact information of any witnesses. Before leaving, take pictures of both of your vehicles and any other property that may have been damaged in the accident.
If you caused damage, you should also contact your local police department to file a report. They can help you determine the next steps you should take.
Alert the store or location where the accident occurred so they can help you gather any video footage of the accident they might have. If you’re not sure if there are cameras in the area where the accident happened, ask anyway so they can help get footage if there is any.
How Hit and Run Lawyer Can Help Me in Hit & Run case?
A hit-and-run accident can be very overwhelming. Finding a criminal defense attorneys who’s familiar with personal injury and auto accident cases is very important. Your attorney can help you with a variety of different things:
- Help find the driver who left the scene of the accident
- Gather witness statements
- Assist with filing claims with the insurance companies to cover the medical expenses
- Request copies of police reports and medical records
- Calculate pain and suffering damages following the accident as well as helping you get coverage for the medical bills related to the accident
Having a local attorney who’s familiar with the Florida laws that apply to your case is very important.
Denmon Pearlman offers a free, no-obligation legal advice to victims of hit and run accidents. As experts on Florida law, we’ll walk you through what steps you need to take before taking legal action against the person who caused your accident. We encourage you to ask questions about our process along the way and will work to help you get the compensation you deserve. Schedule your free consultation about your hit and run accident with us today.