Accidents where a driver leaves the scene without stopping to provide identification or insurance information are commonly referred to as hit and run accidents. Aside from being illegal, hit and run accidents are detrimental to the other parties involved because the hit and run driver did not stop to render aid and did not provide information to allow recovery of damages.
If you were involved in a hit and run accident and need assistance in recovering for your damages, the personal injury attorneys at Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A. can help. With over 70 years of combined legal experience, the attorneys at Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A. have experience in a variety of personal injury cases and will fight for the recovery you deserve.
Reasons People Hit and Run
The legal definition of a hit and run accident involves purposefully leaving the scene of an accident with a vehicle or structure belonging to another person without providing necessary information to the property owner. In reality, hit and run cases occur because the negligent driver wants to avoid some type of liability or penalty for his or her actions.
There are several reasons a driver might leave the scene of an accident. In some cases, the driver might be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the vehicle he or she is driving might be stolen, or the driver might be afraid of getting in trouble. In other cases, the driver might not be insured or may be worried about being held liable for damages. Whatever the reason, it is never a good idea to leave the scene of an accident without making sure everyone involved is all right.
Hit and Run Scenarios
Regardless of the circumstances of your accident, there are two types of hit and run cases: (1) where the other driver is later identified; and (2) where the other driver is never identified.
The state of surveillance in many large cities makes it easier to identify hit and run drivers. Often, public and private cameras will capture license plates or other identifying information to allow police to track down a hit and run driver. If the identity of a driver that caused your accident is later discovered, it will likely be easier to recover for your damages.
Once the hit and run driver’s identity is known, you can pursue damages against his or her insurance company. If you can prove the other driver caused the accident, he or she will likely be liable to you under the legal theory of negligence. Negligence requires showing the other driver owed a duty to act reasonably safely toward you, and the other driver failed to act safely, which caused you to suffer damages.
Although you can recover for damages caused by a hit and run driver, if you are found to be partially at fault for the accident causing your harm, your recovery may be limited. Florida personal injury law operates under a system called comparative fault. A comparative fault system limits a plaintiff’s recovery to the percentage of fault that may be assigned to the injured party. If an injured party is at fault for a portion of his or her injuries, his or her recovery is reduced by the percentage of fault he or she carries.
Recovering for damages may or may not involve filing a lawsuit against the hit and run driver. If the driver is insured, in many cases, the insurance company will negotiate a settlement to pay for your damages. If you and the insurance company cannot reach an agreement, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit against the hit and run driver to recover. Under the insurance contract, the insurance company is required to defend the driver in any lawsuit. The lawsuit may require going to court, but many personal injury cases are settled without ever setting foot in a courtroom.
An experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate your damages and help you get the compensation you deserve when involved in a hit and run accident.
If the police are unable to discover the identity of the driver involved in your accident, you still have options. You may be able to recover damages from your insurance policy using personal injury protection insurance or uninsured motorist insurance.
Every driver in Florida must carry an insurance policy that includes at least $10,000 in personal injury protection insurance. Personal injury protection may be used to cover medical bills and lost wages. If your medical situation is considered an emergency, personal injury protection insurance will cover 80 percent of your bills, up to $10,000. Otherwise, personal injury insurance will pay $2,500 for medical costs. Personal injury protection will also pay up to 60 percent of lost wages, up to $10,000.
You may also have uninsured motorist insurance on your insurance policy. Although not required, uninsured motorist coverage provides payment if you are involved in an accident with a driver who does not have vehicle insurance. The amount you can recover will depend on the amount of uninsured motorist insurance included in your policy.
If your insurance company is giving you a hard time about paying for your damages in a hit and run case, an experienced attorney can help you demand the payment you deserve.
Contact Staples, Ellis + Associates Today to Discuss Your Hit and Run Accident
You may be able to recover if you were involved in an accident with a hit and run driver. Regardless of whether the driver’s identity is discovered, there are options under Florida’s insurance laws. Contact Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A. to discuss your case with our experienced personal injury attorneys who will fight for the recovery you deserve.
The Hit and Run Attorneys at Staples, Ellis & Associates serves clients in Pensacola County, Escambia County, Santa Rosa County, Okaloosa County, Walton County, and throughout Northwest Florida.