Being in a car crash is frustrating enough, but a hit and run accident can leave you wondering how you will pay for your medical care, lost wages and other damages. Fortunately, as a victim of a hit and run accident, you do have options for recovery, whether the at-fault driver is caught or not. Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. can guide you through those options to help you recover the maximum possible damages in your claim. Call our Fort Myers car accident lawyer, Randall L. Spivey, today at (888) 477-4839 for a free consultation.
Why Drivers Flee the Scene of a Crash
Leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in bodily injury, death or property damage is a crime in Florida. If caught, fleeing drivers may face criminal prosecution and civil liability. However, because of the potential for criminal penalties, many hit and run drivers prefer to leave the scene than face a misdemeanor or felony conviction. For example, fleeing drivers may be drunk, be on drugs, be uninsured, not have a valid driver’s license or have an outstanding arrest warrant, which can escalate penalties further. Some drivers may also take off if the accident occurred in a remote area or if there were no witnesses to report the crime, and thus, less chance for capture.
Punitive Damages in Hit and Run Cases
It is important for hit and run victims to remain at the scene of the accident and forgo attempts to chase the fleeing driver, as this may place the victim – and others – in jeopardy. Instead, victims should call 911 to report the accident and provide as much detail as possible about the offender, vehicle and direction of travel. Modern law enforcement tools make catching hit and run drivers more likely than ever. Police can often track the motorist using cameras, GPS, drones and instant communication. Law enforcement may even post pictures, videos and descriptions of the suspect on social media sites or provide information to television news stations for help in identifying and apprehending the hit and run driver.
If the driver is caught, you may have the opportunity to pursue punitive damages, which are imposed as a form of punishment to deter hit and runs and to compensate victims for the egregious conduct of the fleeing driver. Even if the driver did not cause the crash, he or she was negligent for leaving the scene, and so, may be liable for punitive damages. As a victim, you have the opportunity to recover damages, regardless of the outcome of the criminal investigation, because the standard for recovery is lower than the standard for conviction.
Uninsured Motorist Policy
A hit and run driver is considered an uninsured motorist in the eyes of your insurance company. You may, therefore, have multiple policies under which to pursue your rightful damages, including your personal injury protection (PIP), uninsured/ underinsured motorist policy (UM/UIM) and other coverage you may have purchased. These policies can be very confusing, but a Fort Myers uninsured motorist lawyer can help you navigate these complex matters and explain your benefits.
In addition to negotiating an equitable insurance settlement, our firm will attempt to negotiate with your medical provider to reduce your bills so your actual monetary award can be greater.
Contact a Fort Myers Car Accident Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Rights
Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. has a proven track record of successfully recovering damages for the victims of hit and run crashes. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Fort Myers car accident lawyer today to learn more about your rights and legal options.
More Helpful Information
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA) published a study in 2018 that showed Florida was among the top three states with the highest per capita rate of fatal hit-and-run crashes.
Should you or a loved one be injured in a hit-and-run accident, there are steps that need to be taken after seeking medical help.
The volume of hit and run crashes have up-ticked every year in the past several years. Lee County ranks 8th in the state.