Car accidents are stressful events that can leave you with injuries, a damaged vehicle or other property, lost wages, and mounting expenses. Being involved in a hit-and-run can be even more stressful and leave you wondering:
- Who is the responsible driver?
- How will you pay for your medical costs and property damage?
- Will you be able to receive compensation for these losses?
- What should you do next?
Hiring a trusted Tampa car accident lawyer is an important next step in pursuing compensation in your case. An experienced personal injury attorney can help locate the at-fault driver and help you build your case – whether or not they are ultimately identified.
What Is a Hit and Run Accident?
A hit-and-run accident occurs when a driver is involved in an accident and does not stop afterward or otherwise flees the scene.
In Florida, it is illegal to leave the scene of a car accident before giving your personal information to the other parties or law enforcement and, if necessary, rendering aid. A hit and run accident that merely involves property damage is a second-degree misdemeanor, but a hit and run accident involving injuries or fatalities is a felony.
While there are severe penalties for leaving the scene of an accident, hit and run accidents are still rather common. There are an average of 103,191 hit and run accidents each year in Florida, resulting in about 250 fatalities and over 1,000 injuries each year.
How an Attorney Can Help You After Your Hit and Run Accident in Tampa, FL
Hiring an experienced hit and run accident lawyer can make all the difference for your case. Here are just a few of the ways an attorney can assist:
- Investigate the details of your accident
- Work with local law enforcement to expedite locating the at-fault driver
- Identify other parties that may be at fault
- Develop a strategy and discuss your options with you
- Assess the extent of your damages
- Negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf
- If a favorable settlement can’t be reached, represent you in court
A skilled personal injury lawyer with a track record of getting results can help you navigate the complexities of a hit and run accident claim, so you can focus on your recovery and moving forward.
Why Do Drivers Leave the Scene of an Accident?
Drivers who leave the scene of an accident illegally are most often trying to evade further legal trouble. Common reasons drivers leave the scene of a hit and run accident include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving without a valid license
- Driving without proper insurance
- Immigration concerns
- Trying to evade financial or legal responsibility for the accident
- Fear of arrest
Whatever the reason, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident without stopping to confer with the others involved or calling for help if needed.
What Should I Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident?
In the moments immediately after a hit-and-run accident, as with any accident, your first priority should be to render aid or call for help if anyone is severely injured.
It is also extremely important that you take steps to help identify the driver. These include:
- Look for the hit and run driver’s license plate and write it down
- Identify the car’s make, model, and color
- Call 911 or law enforcement to report the hit and run accident
- Take photos or videos of the hit and run driver’s vehicle and the accident scene
- Write down or record a voice note of the events while they are fresh in your mind
- Take note of any traffic cameras that might have caught the incident
- If there are any witnesses nearby, get their contact information
- Contact an experienced hit-and-run accident lawyer
These days, it is difficult for hit and run drivers to get away without being captured on surveillance cameras or observed by witnesses. However, time is of the essence. Security footage is usually stored for a short period of time, and witnesses’ memories of an accident will fade.
That’s why it’s important to act quickly after a hit and run accident by contacting law enforcement and then contacting a skilled personal injury lawyer. The sooner your attorney gets to work on your case, the better your chances are of holding the hit-and-run driver accountable.
How Long Do I Have To Bring a Hit and Run Accident Lawsuit in Florida?
In Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years. This means that you generally have two years from the date that the accident occurred to file your lawsuit.
In a hit-and-run accident, because the driver is concealing their identity by fleeing, a court might extend the time for filing your lawsuit, if necessary. An experienced personal injury lawyer will work hard to ensure that your case is filed on time.
What Happens if the Police Can’t Find the Hit-and-Run Driver?
Florida is a no-fault insurance state, so you can receive compensation from your own insurance company even if the at-fault driver is never located. In fact, most insurance policies require that you report the accident to your own insurance company.
Your personal injury protection (“PIP”) and uninsured motorists policies may apply and cover some of your expenses after a hit and run accident. However, these policies can be complex, and insurance companies are always concerned about their bottom line.
It’s important to consult a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to make sure you fight for the compensation you deserve.
Contact a Tampa Hit and Run Accident Lawyer Today
If you’ve been injured in a hit-and-run accident in Tampa, FL, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers to handle your case, so you can focus on recovery and the things that matter most to you.