Hitting someone’s vehicle and leaving the scene of the accident is illegal in Florida. Every driver has a responsibility to remain at the scene of a crash and fulfill statutory duties. A hit-and-run makes an already difficult situation worse for responsible drivers. Not only will the victim have to call his/her insurance company, deal with property damage, and potentially heal from personal injuries, but the victim will have to do so without the at-fault driver available to absorb liability.
Call the Police
The law makes it mandatory to report an accident to Florida Highway Patrol if it causes death or injury, more than $500 in property damage, or involves a drunk driver or hit-and-run. Calling the police should be the first thing you do after a hit-and-run accident. Remain at the site of the accident, in a safe location, and dial 911. Explain what happened and report if anyone has any injuries. Stay where you are until the police (or an ambulance) arrives.
Give as Much Detail as Possible
Hit-and-run accidents often have a great deal of missing information. The at-fault driver likely took off without leaving a note, a name, or insurance information. It is up to you as the victim to gather as much evidence as possible against the absent driver. If you witnessed the accident, give police details such as the color and model of the vehicle, a description of the driver, what time the crash occurred, and what happened.
If you returned to your vehicle to find it damaged by a hit-and-run driver, call the police to investigate. They may find evidence to help them track down the perpetrator, such as different colored paint on your vehicle, nearby storefronts with video footage of the crash, or eyewitnesses who saw the accident. Acting quickly and calling the police while any evidence available is still fresh is important to the strength of your case.
Go to the Hospital
If a hit-and-run driver caused a car accident or struck you as a pedestrian, go to the hospital for any injuries. Even if you do not feel injured, seek medical care in case you have hidden injuries or any with delayed symptoms. Immediate medical care shows your insurance company your injuries are serious. It can also help your prognosis with prompt injury diagnosis and treatment. Keep copies of all medical bills and records.
Call Your Insurance Company
Florida is a no-fault insurance state. It is one of only 12 such states in the country. This rule typically limits a car accident victim’s ability to collect compensation, but it can be an asset in the case of a hit-and-run. Instead of needing the at-fault driver’s insurance information, you will seek initial damages from your own insurance company. In a hit-and-run crash, you may not be able to obtain the other driver’s insurance information. Instead, call your own insurance company to report the crash.
File a Claim
File a damage claim with your insurance company as soon as possible after the collision. When the claims adjuster calls you back to investigate your case, stick to the facts, but do not admit fault or agree to give a recorded statement. The adjuster could use what you say against you later. Explain that someone struck you or your vehicle and fled the scene. Follow the agent’s instructions for filing your claim and proceeding with the investigation.
Do not accept a quick settlement from your insurance provider. Before you accept a settlement offer, contact our Miami car accident lawyers to discuss your case. An attorney can take over communications with your insurance company on your behalf, and help you negotiate a hit-and-run case for maximum compensation. A lawyer could also find third parties that may be liable for your damages, such as a negligent property owner or product manufacturer.