How many car accidents in Florida are hit-and-runs, where one driver leaves the scene without exchanging information or calling the police? Guess.
One out of every 30 accidents? (Higher.)
One in 20? (Higher.)
One in 10? (Even higher. Guess again.)
The true number of hit-and-runs in Florida is one in four. Think about that. In a quarter of all car accidents, one of the drivers will take off, leaving damaged cars and injured people behind. That is astoundingly common, and everyone should be prepared in case it happens.
What Not To Do
Being the victim of a car accident is disorienting. You’re panicked, adrenaline is pulsing, and you might have injuries you don’t even know about yet. That disorientation only increases when you see the other driver leave the scene. Your first instinct might be to chase after them.
You probably won’t drive very safely, and you can bet that the other driver won’t. By pursuing someone who’s leaving the scene, you only endanger yourself and your passengers and risk a high-speed chase. Remember, your top priority is your own safety and the safety of everyone with you in the car.
What To Do
Instead of recreating an action movie scene, stay where you are and use your energy to gather as much information as you can:
- Get the names of as many witnesses as possible, along with their contact information.
- Record any information about the other driver’s vehicle: make, model, color, distinguishing characteristics. If you’re lucky enough to remember the license plate or take a picture, even better.
- Record the date, time and location that the accident took place.
- Take as many pictures as you can, assuming it’s safe to do so.
- Call the police and report the incident, giving them as much information as possible.
- Call for medical help if anyone’s injured.
- Report the incident to your insurance company.
The penalties for leaving the scene of an accident in Florida are severe. If other people are injured, it’s considered a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If there’s a fatality, the sentence increases to 30 years and $10,000. Even if no injuries occur, participating in a hit-and-run can still result in jail time of up to 60 days.
Hit-and-run accidents are rising in Florida, so it’s important to stay alert. If someone hits your car and flees the scene, it’s normal to want justice and have the other driver held accountable. However, leave that for law enforcement professionals. Your job is to take care of yourself, so reach out to Valrico Law Group to speak with an attorney.