Injured in a Hit and Run? Here’s What to Do
Being involved in any kind of car accident is traumatic. But when the person who caused the crash leaves the scene of the accident without rendering any aid or responsibility, the situation goes from bad to worse. If you and another driver are involved in a vehicle crash — no matter how minor — Florida law requires you to pull over and exchange information if physically able. So when a driver leaves the scene before doing so, they are breaking the law, and leaving you to pick up all the pieces. But if you’re injured in a hit and run accident and are left without any information about the person who caused it, you can still take action on your behalf.
What to Do After a Hit and Run
It may come as a surprise to learn that the process you should follow immediately after a hit and run is the same as after any other car accident. If you can safely do so, pull your car over to the side of the road in an effort to exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver, as required by Florida law. If the driver who hit you has already sped away, you should still pull over to the side of the road and attempt to make note of any details you remember regarding the fleeing driver and their vehicle. Consider the make and model of their car, distinguishing details like paint color, bumper stickers, or dents and scuffs. Doing so could help you provide law enforcement with information that might help them in their search for the driver.
Once you’ve pulled over and recalled as many details as possible, you should immediately call the police. Even if the damages to your car are minimal and you don’t believe you’ve suffered any severe injuries you should still call the authorities. The person who hit you and fled the scene has committed a crime and broken the law. They need to be reported. Even though you may not have much information about your accident, police have access to resources that can help them locate the driver who hit you. They can speak with nearby witnesses about what they saw or recall, can check nearby surveillance cameras for footage of the accident, and can even call reinforcements to survey the area for the fleeing driver.
Having a police report is also essential to filing an insurance claim with your own insurer for whatever damages you have suffered in the accident.
A Hit and Run is Treated Like an Uninsured Driver
If your car is damaged and you suffer injuries in a car accident, dealing with it can be a headache under the best of circumstances. If you are the victim of a hit and run, getting damages owed to you may seem even more hopeless. But that’s not necessarily the case.
Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured and under-insured motorists in the nation. For this reason, it’s highly recommended to include uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM) coverage in your car insurance plan. With the right coverage, there are already protocols in place to help you in a hit and run situation. Florida law treats hit and run drivers who can’t be located by law enforcement as though they are a driver who had no insurance or coverage of damage to injuries you may have suffered. This means that you can file a claim with your own insurance carrier under your UM coverage for any injuries or property damage caused by the driver who fled if police are unable to find them.
Florida is also a no-fault state, which means that if you’re involved in a minor hit and run accident and have the appropriate personal injury protection (PIP) insurance in place, your damages will likely be covered. Florida’s no-fault law makes it so that any vehicles and passengers involved in a car crash will be automatically covered by their own insurance provider up to a certain monetary threshold. It doesn’t even matter who caused the accident.
So if you are rear-ended by a driver who flees the scene before you can gather your bearings enough to even make note of their license plate number, don’t fear — the damage to your car and any subsequent injuries you might suffer, like whiplash or bruising, can be directly reported to your UM or PIP provider to be taken care of. These coverage plans make it so that you don’t need to try and work with the other driver’s insurance company to figure out who is liable for what damages and how much to pay.
When a Hit and Run Accident is More Severe
If your car is struck by another driver and the accident results in major wreckage of your car and/or debilitating injuries to you or other passengers, UM and PIP insurance may not provide all the coverage you need. In many cases, if the damages result in more than $10,000, your UM and/or PIP insurance won’t provide further coverage. If the police are able to track down the driver who fled the scene, you will have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit against them to claim more damages. But if police cannot locate the other driver, you may be left wondering how you’re going to cover your mounting medical bills, missed work pay, and other damages. That’s when you need The Whisler Law Firm on your side.
Our team can help you build your claim for damages with your insurance company beyond what your coverage plan may currently provide. We have access to experts who can help you gather the evidence you need to make your case and receive more compensation for your injuries. We have years of experience dealing with insurance companies in these types of situations and know how to work with them to get you the coverage you deserve. If you’ve been involved in a hit and run, call our office at 833-529-5677, or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with our team.