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.
The case involves a hit and run accident that occurred in Boca Raton and almost killed a 15-year-old. According to court documents, the defendant was driving a pickup truck and had the music on full volume. It was raining, so the windshield wipers of the vehicle were on. The defendant claims he did not know he had struck the teenager. The defendant also claims he would have stopped the truck if he had known of the accident. The teen was dragged more than 40 feet by the defendant’s truck and suffered serious life-long injuries as a result.
As mentioned above, the court ruled that in order to secure a criminal conviction for such a case, the prosecutors must prove that the defendant had “actual knowledge” of being in this accident. This ruling makes it more difficult to prove hit and run crimes. Prosecutors can’t argue that the driver deliberately and willingly left the accident scene unless it is first proven to the jury that the driver was aware about the crash.
It is important to note that this change in criminal law will not interfere with a plaintiff’s ability to pursue compensation for harm in a hit and run accident through a civil negligence case.
If you or someone close to you has been hurt in a hit and run accident, it is crucial to seek the help of an experienced Miami car accident attorney. Hit and run cases can be fairly difficult to handle, but a qualified attorney on your side can make all the difference in your case. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our team has helped numerous South Florida clients resolve their injury claims, and we can help you as well. For more information, contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878).
More Blog Posts:
The “Relation Back” Doctrine in Florida Injury Cases, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, April 29, 2015
Punitive Damages in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, April 29, 2015