Winter Haven Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer
Being in a car accident is terrible enough. But to add insult to injury, many at-fault drivers flee the crash scene to try to avoid being held accountable.
Committing a hit-and-run is illegal throughout Florida and the driver can face serious jail time and other penalties in the criminal court system. The civil courts, meanwhile, exist to help hit-and-run victims seek the compensation they deserve for the injuries that negligent drivers cause.
If you or someone you love was hurt in one of these wrecks, it’s time to speak with a skilled Winter Haven hit-and-run accident attorney.
Why Do Drivers Leave the Scene?
Fleeing the scene of a car accident is a serious crime. Even if the accident only causes damage to the victim’s vehicle, the offending driver can face jail and a fine. These penalties are substantially higher if the accident causes personal injury or death.
Why do drivers risk such punishments by leaving the accident scene? They may do so because they:
- Were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Were texting, talking to passengers, or otherwise distracted while driving
- Had no automobile insurance or had insufficient insurance coverage
- Are worried about their insurance premiums increasing after the accident
- Are wanted for some other crime and don’t want to go to jail
The law requires motorists to stop and call 911 if they hit another motorist, pedestrian, or cyclist and the accident results in death, injury, or over $500 in property damage.
What Should You Do If a Driver Leaves the Scene?
Taking quick action after being in a wreck is essential to protect your health and your rights, especially if it’s a hit-and-run accident. Take the following steps:
- Call 911 and report the accident: The police will show up and generate a report about the accident. Law enforcement may also be able to locate and apprehend the hit-and-run driver. Lastly, by calling 911, you can obtain emergency medical attention if you or any passengers have been hurt.
- Do your best to identify the hit-and-run driver: Make a note of the vehicle’s make, model, color, and license plate. If you can see the driver, try to remember as much as you can about that person’s appearance. As soon as you are able, write down these and other details.
- Do not chase the driver: It’s understandably tempting to pursue the fleeing driver, but let the police do their job. You may get in another accident and further injure yourself or others. The fleeing driver may even be armed and dangerous.
- See a doctor if you haven’t already: If you declined an ambulance trip to the emergency room, it is still critical that you see a doctor. You may have sustained injuries without realizing it, or you might not understand how severe they are. Failure to see a doctor could worsen those injuries and jeopardize your legal rights.
- Document the accident scene: Take pictures and record video of the accident scene, including damage done to your vehicle. Make note of the date, time, location, and weather conditions. Identify any surveillance cameras in the area and speak to any available witnesses.
- Call your insurance company: Keep your communication with the insurance company basic and don’t admit fault in any way. Your hit-and-run accident lawyer can handle further communications later. The insurer should help you start a claim.
- Contact a knowledgeable attorney: Taking this step may be critical to finding the driver. Your attorney can subpoena surveillance camera footage, witnesses, and other vital information to locate the individual and start building a case against him or her.
Whose Insurance Pays for a Hit-and-run?
Florida’s no-fault insurance law requires drivers to have at least $10,000 worth of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage as part of their auto insurance. This insurance pays for the victim’s bills, regardless of who caused the accident, up to the policy limit. When you speak with your insurance company, ask the representative to get started on a PIP claim.
PIP is a rather limited form of insurance, however. Your injuries may very well exceed the policy limits. You might also have other damages such as lost wages that could quickly exhaust your PIP coverage. For this reason, it’s imperative that you retain a hit-and-run accident attorney.
Your injury lawyer in Winter Haven can pursue a claim against the driver if he or she is found.
Your attorney can also explore other options for recovering compensation, such as using your Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage if you have it. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, there may be other parties besides the hit-and-run driver who could be held liable.
What Damages Are Available for Hit-and-run Victims?
Every hit-and-run accident case is different, both in terms of the type and amount of damages that may be available. In general, however, victims can file a personal injury lawsuit against the hit-and-run driver to seek such damages as:
- Medical bills: These cover ambulatory services, hospitalization, surgery, prescription medication, rehabilitation, physical therapy, adaptive medical equipment, and more.
- Lost wages: While you are recovering from your injuries or tending to accident-related matters, you will lose earnings that you can ask for in a lawsuit.
- Decreased earning capacity: In the event you are unable to return to your previous career due to your injuries, you can recover lost future wages, bonuses, benefits, and similar damages.
- Property damage: This will cover not only the damage done to your vehicle but the loss of any other personal property because of the wreck.
- Pain and suffering and emotional distress: These are considered non-economic damages and, while more subjective in nature, can be sought by the accident victim.
Discuss Your Hit-and-run Case With a Winter Haven Attorney
Our team understands the anxiety you may be experiencing after being in a hit-and-run accident. That’s why we’re ready to get to work serving you and demanding the damages you need to get your life back to normal. Don’t delay seeking the compensation you deserve.
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