Although any car accident case may become much more complicated than it initially appears, hit and run cases are complex from the very beginning. A motor vehicle collision attorney experienced in hit and run accidents can help an injured person investigate the events leading to the crash.
Car Crash Lawyers Assisting Victims in Stuart and Beyond
“Hit and run” accidents occur when a driver who causes a crash flees the scene instead of waiting for law enforcement officials or other first responders to arrive. Although a person who is involved in a motor vehicle collision is legally required to stop his or her vehicle as soon as possible and to identify him or herself, this does not always happen. Consulting a car accident lawyer may be an important step to take if you or a family member has been involved in this situation. The Stuart hit and run accident attorneys at Donaldson & Weston are available to guide you through the legal process.
The law of most states, including Florida, requires drivers to stop at the scene of an accident. Additionally, people who are physically able to do so should check on the other driver and passengers and call for emergency medical aid, if necessary. Law enforcement officials should also be notified, and the drivers should exchange information, such as each driver’s license number, current address and telephone number, and proof of insurance. However, a hit and run driver may flee the scene due to a lack of insurance, intoxication, an outstanding warrant, or other reasons. Even though leaving the scene of an accident may result in criminal prosecution, it happens frequently.
Seeking Compensation for Injuries Caused by a Hit and Run Accident
Florida’s “no fault” law requires drivers to carry at least minimum insurance coverage for personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability. Hence, a person who is involved in a motor vehicle accident may first look to his or her own insurance company for the payment of medical expenses, up to the state minimum of $10,000. However, in serious accidents, or in cases involving a tragic death, the coverage available under PIP does not come close to covering the medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other forms of harm that may result from a hit and run accident.
In an ideal situation, the at-fault driver will eventually be identified, and a traditional negligence lawsuit can be filed against him or her. In a negligence case, the plaintiff has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant failed to use reasonable care. To make out a successful negligence claim, four elements must be shown: that the defendant owed a legal duty, that the defendant breached the duty, that the plaintiff sustained damages, and that there was causation connecting the breach of duty to the damages.
If the defendant cannot be found, however, the plaintiff’s primary recourse is often against his or her own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance carrier. It is important to note that Florida law does not require drivers to purchase UM/UIM coverage, but it is wise to do so. Such coverage may be the only way that a seriously or permanently injured individual may be able to obtain appropriate reimbursement in the event of a hit and run accident, or any collision with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Typically, insurance companies are not eager to pay out large amounts in UM/UIM cases, and litigation is often necessary even though the insured may consider him or herself to be “on the same side” as the insurance company.