Ocala Hit & Run Lawyer
No one knows why, but hit-and-run car accidents are on the rise and have been for several years. For example, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported a staggering 23% increase in hit-and-run crashes in 2014 over 2013. Overall, these collisions account for nine percent of all motor vehicle accidents. What do you do if a negligent driver hits you and never stops or leaves the scene before you get the driver’s information? Who is going to pay for your car repairs, costly medical expenses and other legal damages? Read on to learn what to do after a hit-and-run, and contact the Musleh Law Firm if a hit-and-run driver has injured you in an Ocala hit & run accident.
What do you do after a hit-and-run?
The first thing to do is to notify the police. The driver may still be in the vicinity and may be driving erratically, or their car may be breaking down, so the sooner the police are notified, the more likely they will be able to quickly track down the driver. If you or anyone else is injured, call 911 and request immediate medical help. If your car is in the flow of traffic, move it to the side of the road while you wait for the police to arrive, if you can do so safely.
In the meantime, write down everything you remember about the car that hit you, such as its color, make or model, and any numbers from the license plate. If you remember anything unique about the car that stands out in your memory, this information can be very helpful, as well. If you see any witnesses, try to get their contact information. Also, photograph the scene of the crash and the damage to your vehicle, as well as any visible injuries you suffered.
Hopefully, the police can find the driver by checking security cameras and repair shops and publicizing details about the wreck to the general public. Once the driver is found, you can make a claim against them or their insurance company. A successful case against a hit-and-run driver might even include punitive damages, as leaving injured victims behind to fend for themselves is the kind of extreme and outrageous conduct that would likely qualify for punitive damages against the driver.
Even if the driver is never found, though, there are still ways you can get financial help with your damages.
Uninsured motorist coverage can help.
If you purchased bodily injury (BI) coverage on your automobile insurance policy, then you likely have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage as well, as the two are frequently sold together. The at-fault driver’s BI coverage is the source for compensation when you suffer serious injuries that go beyond your no-fault PIP coverage, but not all drivers carry BI. That’s why Florida law allows you to purchase UM coverage in equal amounts to your BI coverage. Your UM policy kicks in if the other driver was uninsured, but it can also be used in a hit-and-run when the identity of the negligent driver is unknown. If you have multiple vehicles with UM coverage, you can stack those policies to help get the full costs of your damages paid.
Remember that even if you are filing a claim with your insurance company instead of the other driver’s, it is still important to have an experienced car accident attorney represent you. Otherwise, your insurance company may delay or deny your claim or offer you a settlement amount that is far less than what you are truly owed.
You were the victim of a crime. Crime victim compensation may be available.
Another possible avenue is the Florida Crime Victims Compensation Fund. This state fund offers help with medical care, wage loss and disability payments for crime victims, or payments for funeral and burial expenses and loss of support to surviving family members if the crime caused a fatality. The Crime Victims Compensation Fund specifically includes injuries from a hit and run, which is a crime under Florida Statutes 316.027(2). Similarly, crash victims who were hit by a drunk driver may apply to the Attorney General for help from the victim compensation fund. To be eligible, you must report the accident to the police within 120 hours of the crash. Other factors must also be present to qualify for the fund, and documentation is required.
Get Help with Your Injuries After an Ocala Hit-and-Run Crash
If a hit-and-run driver injured you or your passengers in a car accident, call the Musleh Law Firm at 352-732-0600 for a free consultation with a team of dedicated and successful Ocala hit & run lawyers.