Articles Posted in Hit and Run

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, hit and run accidents are alarmingly common throughout the United States. Although some hit and run accidents only involve minor damage, many of these accidents result in serious, and potentially fatal, injuries. Florida law imposes civil and criminal liability on hit and run drivers depending on the specific facts of the accident.

Recent updates to the Florida Motor Vehicle Statute section 316. 061, provides that drivers must remain at the scene of an accident and provide reasonable assistance to any victims as long as it is safe to do so. Drivers who fail to abide by this rule may be subject to personal injury lawsuits, serious fines, and criminal penalties.

When bringing a personal injury claim, accident victims must provide the trier of fact with proof of a hit and run accident if they wish to recover damages for their losses. The most critical evidence includes information establishing that the person who left the accident scene was the driver involved in the accident. Next, the plaintiff must prove that the driver knew or should have known they were involved in a collision that resulted in property damage, injury, or death. Finally, the victim must establish that the driver intentionally failed to stop or remain at the scene of the accident long enough to provide identifying information to any relevant party and failed to provide “reasonable” assistance to the victims.

A recent Florida decision just made it more difficult to prove guilt in a hit and run case. Florida has a serious problem with hit and run accidents, which are those in which one of the drivers illegally leaves the scene of the crash without helping or getting help by reporting it to the proper authorities. Under Florida law, a hit and run is a felony regardless of who was at fault in the accident. There are a variety of reasons a driver may flee the scene of an accident: an expired driver’s license, lack of insurance, being under the influence, and even fear or being wanted by authorities.

Statewide authorities report that the number of hit and run accidents has significantly increased from 2013 to 2014. Over the last few years, a number of laws have been created to combat this issue. One example is a law that increased the criminal punishment for an individual convicted of hit and run. Specifically, the law would impose a minimum mandatory prison term of four years for any person who fled the scene of a fatal accident. This is the same punishment that one would get for DUI manslaughter.

In Florida v. Dorsett, the Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that in order to obtain a criminal conviction for a hit and run case, the prosecutor must show that the defendant had “actual knowledge” of being involved in a wreck.

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Hit and run accidents occur when a vehicle driver strikes a person or an object and fails to stop and identify himself or herself after the incident. In most states, this is considered a crime. Every state has its own laws and penalties pertaining to these types of accidents. Hit and run accidents leave the victim without a way to obtain compensation for injuries or property damage. Dealing with an accident is never easy, but a hit and run adds many other layers of stress to the entire experience.

Under Florida law, the driver of any vehicle involved in a crash is required to immediately stop the vehicle and remain at the scene. Drivers are not permitted to leave the scene until they have provided their names, addresses, and registration numbers for the vehicles they were operating. Additionally, drivers are required to provide their driver’s licenses to any person, driver, or passenger injured as a result of the accident. If possible, drivers must render reasonable assistance to any injured person, including arranging for the person to get medical attention. This can be done simply by calling 911 after the accident.

If a driver fails to abide by the Florida law regarding hit and run accidents, he or she is subject to prosecution for certain charges. If the accident involves property damage, the driver who leaves the scene of the accident may be convicted for a second-degree misdemeanor, which can carry a combination of the following penalties:  60 days in jail, six months of probation, and a fine of up to $500. Continue Reading ›

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