Not only is remaining on the scene of an accident important, but it’s also the law.
February is Hit & Run Awareness Month, and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports that nearly 25% of all crashes in our roads are hit and runs. Data shows there were over 507,000 hit-and-run incidents in Florida between 2015 and 2019, with over 1,000 resulting in fatalities.
To bring awareness to the issue, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles dedicates the month of February to inform Florida drivers of the importance of staying on the scene of a crash. The lawyers at The Ward Law Group, a law firm that represents victims of automobile accidents and their families, spend time this month to raise awareness about this issue.
Consequences of fleeing a car accident scene
“One of the most important pieces of advice our team shares with the public is to stay on the scene of an auto accident, regardless of whose fault it was,” says Attorney Gregory Ward (English media) / Jany Martinez-Ward (Spanish media) of The Ward Law Group. “Whether the accident caused property damage or worse — injured or killed someone, leaving the scene could have major consequences.
Hit-and-run cases often result in much-worse repercussions for those at fault, including:
- Up to six months in jail, a $500 fine and a second-degree misdemeanor for property damage;
- Up to five years in prison or five years of probation, a $5,000 fine and a second- or third-degree felony on record for personal injury to someone else;
- Up to 30 years in prison, a $10,000 fine and a first-degree felony on record if the crash resulted in the death of another person.
What to do if you’re a victim of a hit-and-run
If you are a victim of a hit-and-run accident, you may be asking yourself how accident-related expenses — such as medical bills and auto repairs — will be paid. While the person at fault may be nowhere to be found, know that you do have options to file a personal injury claim.
Auto insurance companies offer coverage for victims hit by uninsured drivers. So if you have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist auto insurance — and hopefully you do — the insurance company will treat a case involving hit-and-run driver the same as if you’d been hit by an uninsured driver.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that insurance adjusters’ job is to protect insurance companies from losing money and to have victims settle for the lowest pay-out possible — even if that amount doesn’t come close to covering damages and medical bills.
“When dealing with insurance companies after a hit-and-run accident, we definitely recommend hiring a personal injury attorney,” advises Ward. “An experienced lawyer knows the in’s and out’s of how claims adjusters work, are familiar with current and future costs associated with injuries resulting from an accident and will work hard to ensure their client receives the greatest compensation possible to cover the injuries associated with a hit-and-run auto accident.”
Of course, a huge part of being able to get a fair payout to cover costs is to have a solid case to back up your claim.
“The more concrete evidence we have, the better,” says Ward. “We always advise victims to take multiple photos of the accident scene — even if the other person has fled — and remain on the scene until police arrive to get a police report, which is vital to any hit-and-run or auto accident case.”
Why obtaining a police report is important
The lawyers at the Ward Law Group urge anyone who’s involved in a car accident to stay until they get a police report.
“A police report is an official document of the accident that is helpful when filing a claim with insurance companies and if filing a personal injury case is necessary,” says Ward. “Without it, justifying a case and obtaining fair compensation for injuries and damage is more difficult.”
Remember, staying on the scene of an accident is the law… and the consequences of fleeing a car accident scene could have major consequences — worse than if you stay and wait for the police to investigate.
If you have been a victim of a hit-and-run accident, please contact our legal team at 855-DOLOR-55. The Ward Law Group is passionate about handling your case. And, with nearly a decade of experience, you can rest assured that you’re in capable hands. Whether you speak English or Spanish, The Ward Law Group is here to help. Contact us today!
About The Ward Law Group
The Ward Law Group is one of the largest law firms in South Florida representing victims of motor-vehicle accidents. With over a decade of experience in handling personal injury cases, the attorneys at The Ward Law Group — Gregory Ward and Jany Martínez-Ward — have a track record of achieving results. The Ward Law Group team consists of bilingual lawyers, paralegals and case managers who advocate for the rights of Spanish-speaking victims. The firm operates on a “contingency fee” basis, which means that payment is a fixed percentage of cases only after recovery. If a case is not successful, clients do not pay attorney fees.
For legal advice that you can trust, contact The Ward Law Group today or call 855-DOLOR-55 for a free consultation. Our main office is located at 7975 NW 154th St., suite #306, Miami Lakes, FL 33016.