What If Am I Rear-Ended by a Driver Who Flees the Scene of the Accident in Florida?

Imagine you are rear-ended by a driver in Florida.  As required by Florida law, you immediately pull to the side of the road in order to exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver.  Before you have a chance to even react, the other driver takes one look at your crumpled rear bumper and speeds away before you can collect yourself enough to jot down his license plate number. Now you’re the victim of a hit-and-run accident.

It is bad enough to be dealing with a motor vehicle accident where your car is in the shop for repairs and you need medical treatment for injuries suffered in the accident.  This is difficult enough when you know the identity of the driver who hit you.  But this situation is even worse if you have no idea who hit you. If you have been hit by a driver who then flees the scene of the accident, you likely are feeling angry and confused.  You may also be worried about how you will possibly obtain compensation for your injuries and any damages to your vehicle.  However, if you have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) insurance coverage, then you are thankfully not without any recourse.  You can file a claim with own insurer under your UM coverage for any injuries or property damage caused by the fleeing driver if police are unable to find that driver.  Your insurance will then kick in to cover any damages which you may have suffered as a result of the motor vehicle accident in which you were involved.  This is because Florida law treats a hit- and-run driver who cannot be located by police as if the driver had no insurance for coverage of damage and injuries you may have suffered.

What Do You Do if a Driver Hits You and Flees the Scene of the Accident? 

Although it may surprise some, the process you should follow when involved in a hit-and-run accident is exactly the same as if the driver that hit you pulled over to the side of the road to give you her insurance and contact information as required by Florida law.  Although the driver that hit you has sped away, you should immediately write down (or make a note on your phone) of any details you remember regarding the fleeing driver and his vehicle, including the make and model of his or her vehicle and any distinguishing details regarding the fleeing driver’s vehicle such as the paint job, bumper stickers or other details you can recall.  Doing so will help you provide as much information as possible to police once they arrive and could assist them in their search for the fleeing driver.

Once you have pulled to a spot where you can safely wait for the police to arrive, you should then immediately call the police.  Having police come out to the scene of the accident is absolutely imperative.  Police will have access to resources to assist them in finding the driver who hit you and fled the scene that you could never hope to match.  For instance, they will be able to speak with nearby drivers who have witnessed the accident (who are probably more likely to speak to the police than you) and obtain details regarding the identity of the other driver those witnesses may recall.  Police can also check any nearby surveillance cameras for footage that may help lead them to the fleeing driver’s identity.

Having a police report also is absolutely essential to being able to file a claim with your own insurer for whatever injuries and damages you have suffered in the hit-and-run accident.  Once you have called police from the scene of the accident and obtained a copy of an accident report, then it is time to place a call to your own insurance company.  A hit-and-run accident is treated as if you were hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist if police are unable to locate the fleeing driver.  Therefore, you will file a claim with your own insurer under your own automobile liability insurance policy if you have elected to carry UM coverage and police prove unable to locate the driver.  Given that Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured and underinsured motorists in the nation plus a hit-and-run rate that exceeds 25% according to some recent statistics, carrying UM insurance is particularly important if you are a Florida driver.  Of course, if police can locate the other driver, then you would follow the normal course and file a claim with that driver’s insurance.  Nevertheless, having UM coverage protects you and your loved ones if you end up being hit by one of the many drivers in Florida who chooses to flee the scene of an accident.  This will ensure that you and your loved ones are protected for any injuries or property damages you suffer in such a collision if police are unable to find the fleeing driver.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys of Schwed, Adams & McGinley if You Were Injured in a Hit-and-Run Accident 

Although fleeing the scene of an accident is a criminal offense in Florida, drivers nevertheless will sometimes panic and flee.  The  personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley have over 150 years of combined legal experience representing those who have been injured in a variety of motor vehicle and truck accidents, including hit-and-run accidents where the driver at fault fled the scene of the accident after causing injuries and/or property damage to an innocent third party.  Therefore, if you or a loved one have been injured by a driver who fled the scene of an accident in Florida, please call us today for a free consultation at (877) 694-6079 or email us at contact@schwedlawfirm.com.

Copyright: achirathep / 123RF Stock Photo