A hit-and-run accident in Tampa occurs when one of the parties in a two-vehicle accident leaves the scene of the accident before providing the other party with the information required by Florida law. A typical hit-and-run scenario may involve a perpetrator waiting for the other driver to get out of the car and then quickly making their escape.
Most often, a driver will be inclined to hit-and-run if they are driving without a license or insurance or are underinsured. But, the vast majority of hit-and-run accidents occur when the driver is drunk, has a warrant for their arrest or is driving without insurance. I hit-and-run accidents where the driver is not insured it is possible for the injured driver to receive compensation awarded by the courts.
Hit-and-run accidents do present their specific problems. For example, the injured victim will not have any insurance or contact information to make a claim with the at-fault party. Therefore, the only way to secure compensation will be to file a claim under your uninsured or underinsured motorist section of your insurance policy.
But before they can benefit from this, the injured driver will have to make a good faith effort to identify the motorist believed to be responsible for the accident. Understanding what this really means can be tricky and complex to perform, which is why our Tampa car accident lawyers lawyers at Winters & Yonker can help you out in this regard. We have experience in streamlining the process and getting you the compensation you need while you focus on your recovery.
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What Steps Should be Taken after a Hit and Run Accident?
Step 1: Check for Injuries
The first thing to do after any type of car accident is a damage assessment and control. If you have been injured or believe that someone else may have been injured it is imperative to call emergency medical services. Remember that not all injuries are as easily apparent. If you are able to get yourself and vehicle out of harm’s way safely, do so, if not wait in your car until the emergency team arrives. If you are not able to call medical services yourself, ask someone else to do this for you.
Step 2: Call the Police
Even if your injuries seem minor and you don’t believe you will need medical service you should still call local law enforcement. Wait at the scene of the accident until the police arrive. You may be wondering what good the police will do at a hit-and-run accident but their benefit is essential. They will be able to interview eyewitnesses and gather evidence that may reveal the identity of the driver who has fled the scene. More importantly, they will create the police report needed to receive compensation from your insurance company.
Step 3: Recall Details
In a hit-and-run, the at-fault driver has fled the scene, but it will be important to remember as many of the identifying details as you can so that the police officer making the report can record a decent description. Some of the details it will be essential to record include:
- Vehicle make, model and/or color
- The direction in which the driver fled
- Driver characteristics (hair color, gender, skin color, etc.)
- License plate (state and any numbers/letters you can recall)
Some of these details may not be clear to you in the immediate aftermath of the accident due to the stress, confusion or shock of the event. Some that are clear at the moment of the accident may fade from memory the longer you wait. The best thing to do is to write them down as you remember each detail.
Step 4: Take Photos and Video
It will be important to collect as much footage as you can. Taking pictures and videos of the scene of the accident, damages made, the position of the vehicles, skid marks a lack of skid marks and such all provides important evidence that will be essential to building a case. If you have been injured, ask someone to help you collect this evidence.
Step 5: Talk to Witnesses
There will be times that the accident will attract the attention of passersby and other motorists who witnessed the hit-and-run, be sure to collect some names and contact information of anyone who may have witnessed the accident. Ask them to wait with you for the police to arrive so that they can provide the police with any important details you may have missed.
Step 6: Notify Insurance Company
The payments for your hit-and-run injuries will typically be provided through your own insurance provider. This applies if you were driving your car or bicycle or if you had been hit as a pedestrian. You will, therefore, want to notify your insurance provider as soon as you can after the accident. You will want to do this as soon as you can so your insurance provider does not restrict compensation because of late notifications.
Step 7: See a Doctor
You can leave the scene of the accident once the police officer arriving at the scene has concluded their investigation and the case has been properly documented. The next most important thing to do will be to get proper medical treatment for your injuries. Even if you seem to be feeling fine and have no visible injuries, you may still be in danger from unseen damages to internal organs, muscles, ligaments and connective tissue or bone structures. Sometimes it can take a while for the true extent of your injuries becomes apparent
Step 8: Consult a Lawyer
Finally, you will want to retain the services of a qualified car accident attorney from Winters & Yonker, to determine your rights. Your experienced legal counsel will properly tally your damages and ensure that you receive the full compensation you are entitled to by the law.
Hit and Run Accident Statistics
Many hit-and-run accidents are rear-end collisions or accidents where a car hits a pedestrian. These accidents allow the at-fault driver plenty of time to escape as their vehicles have not typically suffered much damage and the driver has usually not been injured in such a way that would impede their driving.
The I-4 in Florida is one of the most common places for hit-and-run accidents to occur. On the Veteran’s Expressway, for example, a hit-and-run driver will have both the space and high speeds necessary to make a good escape. This would not be possible on the narrow roads of the intercity where traffic stops and video cameras will make leaving the scene unidentified more difficult.
You may be interested in knowing that you are not the only one who faces hit-and-run problems here are some of the most important statistics to know about:
- Every minute more than one hit-and-run accident occurs somewhere in the US.
- 2,049 hit-and-run deaths occurred in 2016 – the highest annual total on record.
- 65 percent of fatal hit-and-run collisions are pedestrians or cyclists,
compared to just 1 percent of driver fatalities.
- Hit-and-run that involve pedestrians most often happen after midnight and before 4 a.m. At this time suspects are likely to escape unseen, especially on roads with lower speed limits where a collision with a pedestrian is more likely due to heavy foot traffic.
- Florida, New Mexico, and Louisiana have the highest death rates from hit-and-run crashes.
What Damages are Recoverable in a Hit-and-Run Case?
There are several types of damages a person injured in a hit-and-run accident. Some of these can be calculated exactly like wages lost due to the accident as well as the cost of medical treatment and other expenses directly connected to the incident. Non-economic damages like the loss of consortium or suffering will have to be approximated by an expert. Then the court may also decide to apply punitive damages to the at-fault party if they believe their actions merit an economic punishment.
Injured in a Hit-and-Run Car Accident? Call Winters & Yonker Today!
We know that some people may be reluctant to consider professional legal aid their first step in getting compensation. You may already feel pressured and frustrated by the event and are not sure if legal aid is the direction you should take.
But here are some important reasons you should consider speaking with an experienced attorney:
To begin with, proper legal aid from Winters & Yonker can professionally investigate the incident and compile a bulletproof account of the events to present to the insurance company who will be paying for the damages, whether this is the at-fault driver’s insurance company or your own.
Then, there will be the task of dealing with the insurance company itself. An insurance adjuster will always try to reduce their payments even when making them to their own client, which is how they run a profitable business. This is where a qualified lawyer experienced in hit-and-run cases can make the difference between a low-ball and an adequate settlement.
Finally, you can call us up for your first consultation 100% free. We will take the time to impart a professional perspective on your case and give you the insights you need to plan your next move.