Hit and Run Drivers Highlight the Need for Uninsured Motorist Coverage

A rash of hit and run drivers continues to plague Florida despite laws aimed at preventing drivers from leaving the scene of an accident according to a recent article from the Gainesville Sun newspaper. A recent examination of statistics from the Florida Highway Patrol shows that nearly one in four drivers who are involved in a motor vehicle accident in Florida leave the scene of the accident in which someone has been injured or killed despite a strong prohibition under state law against doing so. These statistics have remained consistent since 2014. Drivers who hit a pedestrian or bicyclist are even more likely to leave the scene of an accident than other drivers, according to the FHP data. Of the 177 hit and run fatalities in Florida in 2017, more than 100 involved a pedestrian or bicyclist.   Drivers continue to do so even though the penalties under Florida law for doing so can be particularly steep. For example, if the police are able to identify the driver, the fact that he or she fled the scene may be used as evidence against him or her in a lawsuit involving the accident. However, if the police cannot locate the driver who may have hit or injured you in a Florida motor vehicle accident, then it is particularly important that the accident victim have uninsured motorist coverage, as this will be the source of recovery for his or her injuries and other damages suffered in the accident.

The Consequences of Leaving the Scene of an Accident in a Subsequent Lawsuit Involving a Motor Vehicle Accident

Leaving the scene of an accident can have negative consequences in any subsequent claims or lawsuits involving the accident. For example, if your teenage son is involved in an accident in which he hits and injures a pedestrian and leaves the accident scene in a panic, that fact could potentially be introduced by an attorney for the pedestrian at trial. Although this does not necessarily imply culpability on the part of your teenager, it could potentially be powerful evidence that your teenager felt he or she was guilty. This could be true even if your teenager was not at fault, but the pedestrian crossed against a light or committed some other violation of Florida law. Therefore, even if your first instinct is to flee from the scene of an accident, remaining at the scene of the accident may be the best move you can make-not only to keep your driver’s license but also if there are any subsequent lawsuits or insurance claims made against you or your insurer as a result of an accident in which you were involved and someone was injured or killed. On the flip side, if you were the pedestrian and the driver fled the scene of the accident, this is something that would be powerful ammunition to not only present to a jury but to use at a mediation or in settlement discussions in the case. If the driver did not think he or she was in the wrong, then why would he or she flee the scene of an accident?

What Is Your Recourse if You Are Injured by a Hit and Run Driver and the Police Are Never Able to Find The Driver?

Imagine you are involved in a collision with another driver and he or she takes off before you are able to obtain his or her license plate or any identifying information that would allow you to make a claim against his or her insurance. The police also are unable to find the identity of the driver after completing their own investigation of the accident. Does that mean you do not have a claim or you cannot recover for your damages if you have suffered injuries and other damages as a result of the accident?

The answer is no. In this case, your recourse would be a claim against your own uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage in your automobile liability insurance policy. In that case, you would be filing a claim against your own policy because despite diligent efforts by the police to find the driver, no one knows who caused your injuries. This is one reason it is so important to have uninsured motorist coverage, because the chances are at least 25% that the other driver will flee and, in many cases, the police may be unable to track that driver down. If that is the case and you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, then someone injured by an unknown driver could find themselves without any recourse for their injuries and other damages suffered in such an accident.

Contact the Experienced Accident Attorneys of Schwed, Adams & McGinley if You Have Been Injured by a Hit and Run Driver in Florida

At Schwed Adams & McGinley, P.A., our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of combined legal experience and many of our firm’s cases stem from motor vehicle accidents in which our clients have suffered catastrophic injuries or have been the victim of a wrongful death. These include cases in which our clients have been injured or a loved one has been killed by a driver in a hit and run collision, including instances where the victim may never have been able to secure the identity of the motorist who hit them and was forced to make a claim against their own underinsured motorist coverage. If you were injured or a loved one has been killed by a negligent driver who fled the scene of a motor vehicle accident in Florida, contact our experienced attorneys at contact@schwedlaw.com or (877) 694-6079 today.


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