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In Florida, a hit-and-run is a serious crime where a driver involved in a car accident leaves the scene of an accident without properly identifying themselves to anyone else involved in the accident. The consequences vary significantly depending on whether the crash only involved property damage, or if someone was injured or killed.
What to Do When You're the Victim of a Hit-and-Run in Florida
If you're the victim of a hit-and-run, your first concern should be the your safety and the safety of your passengers: Make sure everyone is safe, move your car to a safe location out of the flow of traffic and call the police to report the hit-and-run.
Under no circumstances should you pursue someone who has committed a hit-and-run. The dangers of a car chase far outweigh the benefits of identifying them. However, it's a good idea to make note of every detail you can about the incident, including the following:
- Car make, model and color
- Unique or identifying marks on the car, like bumper stickers or dents.
- Car's license plate number.
- Driver's appearance.
- Circumstances of the crash.
Do your best to gather information even if the other car has already fled when you arrive. For example, look for a piece of their car that has broken off, like a mirror or bumper. You should also ask any nearby businesses if they have security cameras that may have captured the incident. When the police arrive, they will likely ask for you for the same information in order to investigate the crash.
Following the Accident
For the most part, the steps you'll take after experiencing a hit-and-run are similar to what you would do after any accident. You'll contact your insurance company with a copy of the police report and begin the process of making an insurance claim. Meanwhile, the police will investigate the hit-and-run in order to try to determine who the other driver was.
What Kinds of Insurance Cover Hit-and-Runs in Florida?
There are several kinds of car insurance in Florida that may help you pay for damages if you're the victim of a hit-and-run. But which you'll be able to use depend on the circumstances of the crash and what optional coverages you've purchased for your policy. Collision coverage, if you have it, will cover any damage to your car, regardless of whether you identify the driver. If the driver comes forward or is apprehended, you can make a claim to their liability coverage. According to Florida law, you can make a claim under uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Of course, you may also make a claim to uninsured motorist coverage if you identify the driver and they do not have insurance.
Note that personal injury protection, which is a mandatory insurance coverage in Florida, will pay for medical expenses as a result of the accident. However, any coverages that apply to your vehicle, such as collision or uninsured motorist, are optional. This means that if you aren't able to identify the person who hit you you've opted for the minimum required coverage levels for Florida, you will likely have to pay for the repairs out-of-pocket.
|Form of Insurance||Can I Make a Claim?|
|Personal Injury Protection||Yes|
|Liability (the other driver's policy)||Only if you identify the driver who hit you|
What Counts as a Hit-and-Run in Florida?
In Florida, anyone driving a vehicle involved in a crash is legally required to stop at the scene of an accident and provide the following information to the other driver or anyone else involved. You must provide this information whether the other person is a passenger, pedestrian or cyclist.
- Vehicle registration number
- Driver's license or permit, if available
Florida's laws also require drivers to provide their licenses to police on the scene and provide "reasonable aid" if necessary. This might include physically carrying an injured person away from the crash, calling 911 or transporting someone to the hospital.
If a driver fails to do any of the above before leaving the scene of an accident, they've committed a hit-and-run.
Consequences of Committing a Hit-and-Run
According to Florida law, the legal consequences for committing a hit-and-run varies significantly depending on whether someone was injured or killed. If the accident involves only damage to property—including cars, other private property such as a fence, or public property like a street sign—it's a second degree misdemeanor. This typically includes hitting a parked car. Drivers who are caught face a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail, six months of probation and a fine of up to $500.
If a driver commits a hit-and-run where someone is injured, it counts as a second- or third-degree felony in Florida and carries with it much more stringent penalties: The driver will face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Additionally, their driver's license will be revoked for at least three years.
Finally, if someone is killed as a result of a hit-and-run, the penalties are stricter still. If convicted of a fatal hit-and-run, which is a first-degree felony, Florida statute mandates that a driver will receive a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison, with a maximum of 30 years and a $10,000 fine. Their license will also be revoked for three years or more.