What Should I Do if the Other Driver Leaves the Scene of an Accident?

Hit-and-run accidents are a big problem in Florida.  Statistics put the percentage of all motor vehicle accidents in Florida that involve a hit and run at 25% despite years of effort by both the Florida Legislature and law enforcement to cut down on this menace.  If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident in the Sunshine State, you have a more than one-in-four chance that the driver who hit you will leave the scene of the crash.  There may be multiple reasons the other driver leaves the scene.  For example, drivers may become upset or scared if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident, particularly if the driver was at fault.  However, the reason for leaving the scene ultimately does not matter.  What does matter is that a driver who flees the scene of an accident often leaves behind another motorist who has suffered personal injuries or property damage or both.

Florida Requirements if You are Involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident

Florida law requires (1) that drivers who have been involved in an accident pull to the side of the road as soon as it is safe to do so, and (2) they exchange insurance information with one another.  If one of the cars is wrecked, then that car’s owner must make “every reasonable effort” to move the car out of traffic. It is also mandatory to report to police any accident that (i) involves an injury or death, (ii) involves property damage over $500, (iii) involves a driver who left the scene, (iv) in which one of the vehicles involved needed to be towed, (v) had one driver who was intoxicated or under the influence, and (vi) involved a commercial vehicle.

What Should You Do if The Other Driver Leaves the Scene?

The first thing to do if you have been involved in an accident is to call the police.  The police will respond to the accident scene, interview all relevant witnesses, take down all the relevant information and write a report.  Having this report is essential if you file a claim with the responsible party’s insurer.  It will help to demonstrate who was involved in the accident, how the accident occurred, who the police believed caused the accident, the damages and injuries that occurred as a result of the accident, etc.  It is essential to obtain this report from police even if the other driver is uninsured or underinsured and you must file a claim against your own Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist (UM) insurance carrier coverage.

The next thing to do after you have called the police is to write down (or make a note on your phone) everything that you recall regarding the other vehicle and its driver.  This includes the license plate, any dents, bumper stickers or other distinguishing marks or features, or anything else that would help you to identify the car that hit you.  You also should make sure to get the name, phone number, address, vehicle make and model, license plate number, and insurance information (carrier and policy number) from anyone involved in the accident. Obtaining the names, phone numbers, and addresses of any passengers and witnesses also will be helpful in the event your accident results in a future insurance claim lawsuit.  Finally, you should take photographs of the accident scene as well as the car(s) involved in the accident to have proof of what the cars looked like immediately after impact.  Having all this information will help you to build your case and enable you to receive maximum compensation for your injuries and other damages caused in a Florida motor vehicle accident.

Seek the Assistance of An Experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured in a Florida auto accident, you should retain an experienced Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the incident to assist you in receiving maximum compensation for your injuries suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence.  At Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A. our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of combined legal practice representing victims of all types of motor vehicle accidents in Florida.  Therefore, if you, a family member or a loved one has been injured in a Florida auto accident, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A today at 877-694-6079  or contact@schwedlawfirm.com for a free consultation.