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Dealing with a normal car accident, if there is any such thing, is stressful enough. Having to deal with another driver and another driver’s insurance company can be a real headache. However, the situation can become even worse if the other driver doesn’t feel the need to stick around after they hit you. Dealing with a hit-and-run accident adds an extra element of confusion and chaos to an already tumultuous time in the life of an accident victim and dealing with this confusion might require the assistance of an experienced Miami hit and run accident lawyer.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU WER INVOLVED IN A HIT AND RUN
Many of the steps that you might follow after a normal accident, such as collecting the insurance information from the other driver, will not apply n a hit and run. However, there are still important steps to complete after your accident to keep yourself safe and help preserve whatever rights to compensation that you may have, and these include:
1. Seek Medical Attention
Immediately after your accident, the first thing you should do, if possible, is to move yourself to a safe location out of the road. Next, call for medical attention as soon as is reasonably possible. Getting attention from a medical professional quickly does two things—first, certain injuries may worsen if left untreated and other injuries might not present symptoms immediately. A doctor may be able to help detect these injuries and prevent them from getting worse. Your claim will also depend on your ability to link your injuries to the accident you were in, and getting medical attention will help support your claim.
2. Call the Police
When you are able, call the police and wait for them to report to the scene of the accident. When the police arrive, give them a detailed report of what happened. When you are involved in a hit and run, it can sometimes feel like there is nothing that you can do but calling the police and filing a report will only your chances of receiving compensation.
3. Take Notes
While the accident is fresh in your mind, document everything that you can remember as thoroughly as possible. Even if you can’t remember or didn’t catch a glimpse of the other driver’s license plate number, write down what you can remember about their vehicle—what color is it, what make and model, and any other details that you can remember. Document the damage done to your vehicle by taking pictures.
4. Contact a Miami Hit and Run Accident Lawyer
Your accident is likely the first time that you have dealt with being the victim of a hit and run. This means that it might end up being very important that you seek the advice of someone who has experience dealing with cases similar to yours. An experienced Miami hit and run lawyer may be able to give you a better idea of what your case could be worth and assist you in seeking compensation for your injuries.
DUTY OF FLORIDA DRIVERS
In Florida, around 25% of crashes involve a hit and run. This became such an issue that the state of Florida instituted the Stay at the Scene campaign, which aims to reduce the number of hit and run accidents by educating Florida drivers about their responsibilities and the potential penalties that they could face if they shirk these important duties. In Florida, drivers are always required to stay at the scene of the accident and are required to call the police and report it when there is any injury to a person, fatality, or an apparent amount of damage to a vehicle in excess of $500. If the driver in your hit and run failed to abide by these obligations, this may be of assistance to you if the police are eventually able to track them down.
HIT AND RUN PENALTIES
The criminal penalties for hit and run drivers changed in 2014 when the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act was signed into Florida law. This act came about after a man was fatally struck by an alcohol-impaired driver who fled the scene. The Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act increased penalties for fleeing the scene of an accident, including:
- A second-degree misdemeanor and up to a $500 fine and jail time for fleeing a scene involving only property damage
- A felony, jail time, and up to a $5,000 fine for fleeing a scene involving bodily injuries
- A first-degree felony, revoked license for at least three years, and mandatory minimum sentence of four years jail time for fleeing the scene of an accident involving a fatality
POTENTIAL INSURANCE COVERAGE
With a typical car accident, your compensation may come from the other driver or their insurance if they were at fault for the accident. However, if you are unable to locate the other driver, then the situation becomes a bit more complicated. In these situations, your Miami hit and run accident lawyer might be able to help you decipher what your insurance coverage is and how it may help you.
Personal Injury Protection Policy
Florid is a no-fault state when it comes to car accidents, and this means that your auto insurer will pay for some of your damages regardless of who actually caused your accident. According to Florida law, all drivers are required to have a policy that offers at least $10,000 of personal injury protection coverage. If you seek treatment within the allowable timeframe after your accident, your PIP coverage may pay for the majority of your damages.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Protection Policies
Unlike that personal injury protection policy, vehicle owners are not required to carry coverage for accidents with uninsured and underinsured motorists. However, it is typically offered by insurance carriers as an option for their policyholders. If you have either one of these types of coverage, then you may be able to use them to pursue compensation if you are unable to track down the other driver, or if the other driver does not have sufficient insurance coverage to pay for your damages.
WHAT IS MY CASE WORTH?
Regardless of the exact circumstances of your accident, you and your family likely have bills piling up and reduced ability to pay them due to being unable to work from injuries. Many accident victims want to know what their case is worth. There are many factors that contribute to the ultimate amount of financial compensation that you could be entitled to but speaking with a qualified Miami hit and run accident attorney can be a good first step to getting an estimate of your damages.
One of the two main categories into which your damages will fall is economic damages. Economic damages are tangible losses that can usually be verified through objective means. This can include things like medical bills, damage to your vehicle or other personal property, and lost wages from being unable to work your job.
Non-economic damages cover less tangible costs, generally referred to as pain and suffering. Pain and suffering do not have an exact measure like economic damages do, but generally speaking, the worse your injury is, the higher your non-economic damages may be.
Punitive damages are different than the other two categories of damages in that they instead aim to punish the wrongdoer and prevent others from acting similarly. Punitive damages are relatively rare and are typically reserved for cases where the wrongdoer acted in a malicious or extremely reckless way.
LEGAL TIME LIMITS
Every state sets a statute of limitations, which governs how much time claimants have to file a claim. In Florida, the statute of limitations applicable to hit and run accidents is two years, which means that you have two years from the date of your accident to bring a claim or risk having it thrown out because of untimeliness.
It is possible that certain exceptions apply to the general statute of limitations, however. For example, if an accident victim is a minor then the clock may not start running until they reach the age of majority. If you do not discover your injuries until sometime after your accident, then the statute will not begin to run until this later date. The best advice is not to bank on one of these exceptions applying, however, but to seek the advice of an experienced Miami hit and run attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
CONTACT ZINDA LAW GROUP TODAY
A hit and run accident can create an extremely stressful situation for any victim. Oftentimes, it can feel like victims are fighting by themselves against other parties who don’t have their best interests at heart. Zinda Law Group attorneys will use their experience to fight for you and may be able to assist in seeking maximum compensation. We don’t charge our clients anything unless we win their case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.