Getting into a vehicular accident can be overwhelming and stressful as is. However, when you've been in an accident where the other driver fled the scene of the accident, things can just become all the more overwhelming. If you have experienced a hit-and-run accident, we here at Ward Law have years of experience fighting on behalf of hit-and-run accident victims.
We provide victims with free case evaluations so they can better understand their legal rights and whether they have a claim to pursue financial compensation. Accident victims do not have to handle their car accident case alone, and nor should they. Contact our team of experienced car accident lawyers today so that we can help fight for your rights.
How common are hit-and-run accidents in Kissimmee?
According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV), around 25% of all crashes involve a driver leaving the scene of the accident. While most hit-and-run accidents only result in property damage, some collisions have been fatal. In 2020, the state of Florida suffered:
- 92,144 total hit-and-run crashes
- 264 total hit-and-run fatalities
- 20,975 total hit-and-run injuries.
In Osceola County last year, there were:
- 1,053 total hit-and-run crashes
- 4 total hit-and-run fatalities
- 411 total hit-and-run injuries.
The FHSMV provides information on every outstanding hit-and-run accident in each county. Osceola County currently has five outstanding accidents where the driver left the scene. However, the number of total instances is likely much higher, since that data doesn't account for incidents where the driver was later identified and apprehended.
The Osceola News-Gazette reported that hit-and-run crash deaths increased by over 18%. Some recent hit-and-run accidents that made headlines include:
- A January 22nd case where a driver intentionally drove, hit, and killed a pedestrian at the scene of the accident near Lind Avenue and Neptune Road.
- Another case occurred June 29th, 2021, wherein 31-year-old Brandon Marti hit another car, left the accident scene, and then crashed into two other cars.
Whether you experienced property damage, minor injuries, or serious injuries after a hit-and-run accident, it is crucial that you seek legal assistance so that you can receive the financial compensation you deserve after an accident.
Is leaving the scene of an accident a crime in Kissimmee?
Florida's laws specifically state that you cannot leave the scene of an accident after a crash. The law explicitly denotes this requirement for accidents that involve minor injuries, serious bodily injury, property damage, or death.
For accidents that only result in property damage, the driver can face up to 60 days in jail, six months of probation, and a $500 fine, since it is only a second-degree misdemeanor.
If the accident results in an injury that is not considered a serious bodily injury, the driver is still required to "immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash, or as close thereto as possible, and [shall] remain at the scene of the crash until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of s. 316.062" according to Florida Statute 316.028(2)(a).
For accidents that involve a serious bodily injury or the death of a person, the law requires drivers to stop the vehicle in the same manner. Serious bodily injury is defined as "an injury to a person, including the driver, which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ."
The statute referenced, Section 316.062, requires drivers to render aid and provide the other driver the following information:
- Vehicle Registration Number
- Driver's License
Are there penalties for the driver that fled the scene after an accident in Kissimmee?
Yes. There are significant penalties for violating any of the aforementioned requirements and fleeing the scene of an accident. Here are these penalties:
- If you leave the accident scene after someone else suffered minor injuries,you commit a felony of the third degree. In Florida, a felony of the third degree is punishable by a prison sentence of up to five years and a $5,000 fine.
- If you leave the accident scene following serious bodily injury, then you are committing a felony of the second degree. In Florida, a felony of the second degree is punishable by up to fifteen years and a $10,000 fine.
- If you leave the accident scene after the accident resulted in someone else's death, then you are committing a felony of the first degree. You will be sentenced to a mandatory minimum prison term of four years. You can be sentenced to prison for up to thirty years to life, depending on the applicable statute and the intent of the driver, as well as a potential $10,000 fine.
No matter what type of injuries or damages you may have sustained, our experienced legal team here at Ward Law can help you determine the best way to pursue legal action. If you lost a family member after a hit-and-run accident, you may file a wrongful death lawsuit as well. You do not have to go through these difficult times alone, and we are here to help you every step of the way.
What should I do if I experience a hit-and-run accident?
Any type of accident can be extremely overwhelming and frightening. Factor in the extra stress of another driver fleeing, and that will only compound the frustration, anger, and confusion you feel. However, you can take steps after a hit-and-run accident that can help you find the other driver and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
First, you should always ensure that you and any passengers are safe. Check for injuries, and if you or any of your passengers are injured, you should immediately seek medical attention. If no one is injured, then pull over to the side of the road, out of the flow of traffic and in a safer position.
Next, call 9-1-1. Do not wait to call the police and file a police report. The police will create a report, help you gather witness testimonies, and document the scene of the accident. This information will be crucial when reporting the accident to your insurance company.
You should try to recall any information you can about the other driver and the other driver's car. This information can include:
- The license plate number
- The car type (i.e., make, model, and color)
- Any damage to the other vehicle
- What the other driver may have looked like
You should write the location, date, and time of the accident and the details of what caused the accident. Take pictures of your car, any property damage, and the surrounding accident scene.
Try to speak to any witnesses at the scene or see if any surrounding stores have video footage of the intersection or location where the accident happened.
Before speaking to your insurance company, you should always consult with knowledgeable personal injury attorneys to understand your legal rights, what your claim may be worth, what your legal options are, and receive legal counsel.
We provide car accident victims with a free consultation to help them hold the at-fault party responsible. Once a client retains us, we guide them through the entire process to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve after a car crash.
Florida's No-Fault Laws
Since Florida is a no-fault state, you must first turn to your own insurance company to pursue compensation for your injuries or property damage. Florida's Personal Injury Protection laws require all drivers to maintain Personal Injury Protection (PIP) for auto insurance. This type of insurance means that your own insurance company will provide coverage for up to $10,000 for immediate medical coverage.
However, the Florida legislature recently sent Senate Bill 54 to the Florida governor to repeal the no-fault auto insurance rules. Instead, the new law would require all drivers to have injury coverage of at least $25,000 for all Florida drivers. The Senate Bill 54 received backlash and Governor DeSantis did not sign it, with DeSantis stating that the Bill "does not adequately address the current issues facing Florida drivers, and may have unintended consequences that would negatively impact both the market and consumers."
Therefore, Florida's no-fault laws will still apply. Florida's no-fault laws mean that even if you were partially to blame, you would have to look to your own insurance company first for any damages, up to $10,000.
What if my damages exceed $10,000 after a hit-and-run accident?
If your costs exceed the $10,000 threshold, you will have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. When filing a personal injury lawsuit, it is crucial to have an experienced Kissimmee hit-and-run accident law firm by your side. It will not matter if the other driver is convicted of a criminal crime, as criminal actions do not provide financial compensation for your damages.
The first step, however, is identifying the other driver. If the police cannot find them, then an experienced personal injury law firm can provide you with the legal resources necessary to investigate the crash and help you locate the other driver. A lawyer can do this by:
- Subpoenaing traffic/security camera footage
- Interviewing witnesses
- Searching through records
- Helping the police throughout their investigation
- Searching local body shops to see if they worked on the driver's damaged car
A lawyer can also help determine if there were any other potentially liable parties. These parties can include:
- Employers (if a commercial driver hit you)
- Bars or Liquor shop owners (if the other driver was drunk)
- Road workers (if hazardous road conditions contributed to your accident)
There are many legal avenues you can explore after a hit-and-run accident. A knowledgeable lawyer will look out for your best interests, answering any questions you might have to help you determine the best route for you.
Holding the Other Driver Responsible If You Find Them
If you can locate the other driver, you can potentially press charges against them, which will start criminal proceedings. While you will not be the other party in a criminal lawsuit, you can help the prosecutor convict the other driver by providing your testimony and any evidence to help them prove that the other driver fled that scene of the accident.
Further, as discussed above, you can potentially hold them liable for your injuries or damages exceeding $10,000. It is crucial that you can prove that the other driver's negligence caused this accident. To prove negligence, you must show:
- The other driver owed you a duty of care.
- The other driver breached that duty of care.
- You sustained injuries as a result of that breach.
Again, you will need extensive evidence to prove each of these elements. An experienced auto accident lawyer can help through you every step of the way.
What if you cannot find the other driver after a hit-and-run accident?
Since you are in Florida, the no-fault laws will apply, meaning that you can still recover compensation for your injuries from your insurance company, even if you cannot find the other driver.
For damages that exceed the $10,000 threshold, you may be able to obtain compensation through Florida's uninsured motorist laws. We here at Ward Law can provide you with legal advice on what this means for your case, and how you can recover compensation for your damages.
What kinds of damages can I recover after a hit-and-run accident?
Victims injured in motor vehicle accidents can recover economic and non-economic damages after an accident.
Economic damages include any medical treatment, medical expenses, other medical bills, lost wages, lost future income, or any other monetary costs related to the injuries you sustained after an accident.
Non-economic damages include any costs related to the emotional pain and emotional trauma you endured after an accident. It is often difficult to quantify pain and suffering. However, our lawyers here at Ward Law have years of experience handling these types of cases. We can help you determine whether the settlement offer you receive is fair.
When do I have to file a claim after experiencing a hit-and-run accident in Kissimmee?
For personal injury claims involving negligence, you must file a claim within four years from the date of the accident in Florida based on the Florida law that defines the statute of limitations in these cases. However, you must contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible to determine your legal rights, look for the other driver, and potentially file a claim before the time limit runs out.
How will I know if my insurance settlement offer is fair after a hit-and-run accident in Kissimmee?
It's challenging to calculate the total damages you incurred after an accident. Fortunately, an experienced auto accident law firm will understand how to calculate all of your damages in their totality. At Ward Law, we help our clients understand the value of their claims and whether they are receiving a fair settlement offer.
Moreover, we handle all communications with all third parties, including insurance companies and the other driver's lawyers. We know that insurance companies try to get their policyholders to accept the lowest settlement offer possible. We will be there for you to advocate for your rights.
When should I hire an experienced Kissimmee car accident attorney after a hit-and-run accident?
You should contact an experienced hit-and-run car accident lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. By understanding your legal rights, you can better determine what the best next steps are for you.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation in either English or Spanish!