In Florida, as in all other states, drivers are required by law to stop and remain at the scene after an accident. This is true whether the accident involves another motorist, a pedestrian or bicyclist, or private or public property. Leaving the scene of an accident without stopping to identify oneself and provide reasonable aid to others involved is known as a “hit-and-run,” and it is punishable by various criminal penalties.
Victims of hit-and-run accidents are often overwhelmed—and understandably so. Any car accident can cause significant distress, but when the other driver flees the scene, you are bound to feel confused, angry, and upset. At Shapiro Law Firm, P.A., we understand how devastating it is to be injured in a hit-and-run, and we believe that you deserve justice. Led by our founding attorney, Paul Shapiro, our team can help you understand your options and begin building a case designed to protect your rights.
Seek Medical Attention Right Away
The first thing you should do after any motor vehicle accident is seek immediate medical attention. If necessary, call 911 and wait for paramedics to arrive. Never attempt to move anyone (including yourself) who appears severely injured unless it is absolutely necessary for the person’s safety to do so.
Even if you do not believe your injuries are serious, or if you believe you were not injured whatsoever in the crash, it is still important that you see a doctor as soon as possible for several reasons. First, some accident-related injuries may not appear for hours, days, or even weeks after the crash. For your own health and well-being, you should always be checked out by a medical professional to ensure any underlying or masked injuries are promptly diagnosed and treated.
Secondly, Florida follows a no-fault system when it comes to car accidents. Under this system, you typically seek compensation for accident-related injuries through your own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. However, to be eligible to file a PIP claim, you must seek medical care within 14 days of the accident. If you do not see a doctor or receive some other form of professional medical care within two weeks of the hit-and-run accident, you will almost certainly be ineligible to file a claim for compensation.
Report the Accident to Law Enforcement
Fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime in Florida. As such, you should report the hit-and-run accident to local law enforcement as soon as possible. Often, the easiest way to do this is to call 911 or contact local police and have them come out to the scene of the crash. Once onsite, the police can fill out a report on your behalf.
Florida law requires you to report any car accident that does not necessitate a police report within 10 days. An accident requires a police report when it leads to bodily injury or death, results in such extensive damage to a vehicle that it is inoperable, involved a commercial vehicle, or involved a motorist who fled the scene. In other words, all hit-and-run accidents must be reported to law enforcement in the state of Florida.
When giving your report to the police, try to provide as many details as possible about the accident, including but not limited to:
- The make, model, and year of the other person’s vehicle
- The color of the other person’s vehicle and any distinguishing features it had
- A description of the other driver (approximate age, sex, height, hair color, etc.)
- When and where the accident happened
- Details leading up to the crash, such as the actions of the other driver
- Statements and contact information from any witnesses who saw the accident
You should be clear, honest, and direct when reporting the accident to the police but refrain from assigning or admitting fault. Remember, only a thorough investigation of the crash can reveal exactly what happened and who was to blame.
Review Your Auto Insurance Policy
As previously mentioned, Florida is a no-fault car accident state. This means that, in standard car and motor vehicle accident claims, injured drivers turn to their own insurance policies for compensation, not the insurance policies of the at-fault drivers. Because of this, Florida motorists who are injured in hit-and-run accidents may have a somewhat easier time collecting compensation for their damages than motorists in other states who must rely on the insurance companies of at-fault drivers.
Your personal injury protection (PIP) covers you in the event that you are injured in an accident in which the other driver flees the scene. However, only certain damages are covered by PIP.
In most cases, PIP covers you for the following:
- 80% of your medical bills up to $10,000
- 60% of your lost wages
- Up to $2,500 in medical expenses for non-emergency injuries
- Some miscellaneous expenses, such as in-home assistance/care
PIP also offers up to $5,000 for funeral expenses when an individual dies in a motor vehicle accident, including those involving hit-and-runs.
The only way to go outside of the no-fault system and collect compensation for medical expenses above $10,000, as well as other non-economic losses like pain and suffering, is to prove that you have “serious injuries” (as defined by the state) that allow you to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. When the at-fault driver flees the scene, and you are not able to obtain their contact or insurance information, this can be difficult if not impossible.
Because of this, it is a good idea to elect uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. UM insurance is a type of voluntary insurance coverage that protects you in the event you are injured by an uninsured motorist, or when you are unable to obtain a motorist’s insurance information.
UM coverage is often offered along with bodily injury liability coverage in Florida. If you have bodily injury liability on your auto insurance policy, you may also have UM coverage. Our team at Shapiro Law Firm, P.A. can help you review your insurance policy and determine which options for compensation are available to you after a hit-and-run accident.
Contact Shapiro Law Firm, P.A. for a Free Consultation
Navigating the physical, emotional, financial, and legal aftermath of a hit-and-run accident can be incredibly challenging, but when you turn to Shapiro Law Firm, P.A., you put more than 25 years of experience and a proven record of success on your side. As your Tallahassee hit-and-run accident attorney, Paul Shapiro will fight for you and your rights.
Our entire firm is committed to providing our clients with the care, support, and service they deserve. We offer a personal approach and are deeply invested in bettering our local community. We have been proudly serving individuals and families throughout Leon County since 1997; let our firm fight for you!
Paul A. Shapiro
I became a personal injury attorney because I wanted to help people. What we do here is really about you – it's about your injuries… your rights… and it's about fairness and justice for you. After 25 years in practice in Tallahassee, I'm proud to have provided counsel, and helped so many people get what they really deserve. At Shapiro Law Firm, P.A., we will always keep the personal in personal injury law.
— Paul A. Shapiro, Personal Injury Lawyer" Read Full Bio
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