A hit and run with injury is a serious crime in Florida. Drivers who leave the scene of an accident without stopping, exchanging information, and providing assistance to injured persons can face severe criminal penalties and civil liability. If you have been involved in a hit and run with injury in Florida or have been accused of such a crime, it is important to understand the law and seek legal advice as soon as possible. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide to Florida law on hit and run with injury, including criminal penalties, civil liability, defenses and mitigating factors, reporting obligations, the statute of limitations, recent changes and updates, and resources for legal assistance and support.
Criminal Penalties for Hit and Run with Injury in Florida
Under Florida law, a hit and run with injury is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. If the accident resulted in serious personal disfigurement or death, the crime can be upgraded to a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. In addition to imprisonment and fines, a driver convicted of hit and run with injury can face other consequences, such as probation, community service, restitution to the victim or their family, and revocation or suspension of their driver's license.
Civil Liability for Hit and Run with Injury in Florida
In addition to criminal penalties, if you're wondering "Can I sue a hit and run driver in Florida?", the answer is yes. A driver who causes injury or death in a hit and run accident can be sued by the victim or their family for damages and compensation. The victim or their family can seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other damages resulting from the accident. If the hit and run driver was uninsured or underinsured, the victim or their family can also file a claim with their own insurance company or the Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law.
Defenses and Mitigating Factors in Hit and Run Cases in Florida
A driver accused of hit and run with injury can use certain defenses or mitigating factors to reduce or avoid criminal or civil liability. Some of the possible defenses or mitigating factors include lack of knowledge or intent, medical emergencies or other justifiable reasons for leaving the scene, and cooperation with law enforcement. For example, if a driver did not realize that they had hit someone or believed that the accident was minor, they may not be guilty of hit and run. Similarly, if a driver left the scene to seek medical help or avoid further harm, they may have a valid defense or mitigation.
How to Report Hit and Run to Police in Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Under Florida law, a driver involved in an accident that results in injury, death, or property damage must immediately stop at the scene, provide their name, address, and registration number to the other party, and render reasonable assistance to injured persons. Failure to do so can result in criminal charges and civil liability. If you have been involved in a hit and run with injuries, you should contact law enforcement and seek medical treatment as soon as possible. You should also collect evidence and information, such as the license plate number, make and model of the other vehicle, and contact information of witnesses.
Florida Law on Hit and Run with Property Damage
It is important to note that hit-and-run with property damage is also a crime in Florida, although the penalties are less severe than those for hit and run crash. A driver who leaves the scene of an accident that results in property damage can face a second-degree misdemeanor charge from the property owner, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. If the driver knowingly caused a crash that involved property damage to an unoccupied vehicle or other property, the crime can be upgraded to a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Statute of Limitations for Hit and Run with Injury in Florida
The statute of limitations for hit and run with injury in Florida is four years from the date of the accident. This means that the state must file criminal charges within four years, or they may be barred by the statute of limitations. However, it is important to note that the statute of limitations does not apply to civil claims, which may be filed within a different timeframe depending on the circumstances of the case.
Recent Changes and Updates to Florida Law
Florida law on hit and run with injury has undergone some changes and updates in recent years. For example, in 2019, the state passed a new law that increased the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily injury from a third-degree to a second-degree felony. The law also provides for mandatory minimum sentences for certain repeat offenders and offenders who cause death or serious bodily injury while driving under the influence.
How to Find Out If a Hit and Run Was Reported
If you are involved in a hit and run accident and are unsure how long after hit and run will police contact you, there are several steps you can take to find out.
- Contact the police: The first step is to contact the police department in the area where the accident occurred. They may be able to provide you with information on whether the accident was reported and any details they have on file.
- Check with your insurance company: Your insurance company may also have information on whether the accident was reported, particularly if you filed a claim for the damage or injuries resulting from the hit and run minor damage.
- Check public records: In some cases, hit and run accidents are reported in public records, such as police logs or accident reports. You may be able to search for these records online or at the local courthouse.
- Talk to witnesses: If there were witnesses to the accident, they may have information on whether the hit and run was reported or any other details that could be helpful in identifying the driver.
- Hire a private investigator: If you are having trouble finding information on your own, you may want to consider hiring a private investigator. They can help gather information and conduct a more thorough investigation into the hit and run.
It is important to note that leaving the scene of an accident, even if it was not reported, is a crime in Florida. If you were involved in a hit and run, it is important to report it to the police and your insurance company as soon as possible to protect your legal rights and ensure that you receive the necessary medical treatment and compensation for any injuries or damages.
Legal Assistance and Support for Hit and Run Victims and Defendants in Florida
If you have been involved in a hit and run with injury in Florida or have been accused of such a crime, you may need legal assistance and support. Some resources for finding a qualified and experienced attorney in Florida include the Florida Bar Association, the Florida Justice Association, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. You may also seek help from victim advocacy organizations, such as the Florida Crime Victims' Services Program, the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the National Organization for Victim Assistance.
A hit and run with injury is a serious crime in Florida that can have severe consequences for the driver, the victim, and their families. If you have been involved in a hit and run with injury or have been accused of such a crime, it is important to understand the law, your rights, and your options. By seeking legal advice and support from the nearest law enforcement agency in Fort Walton Beach, you can navigate the complex legal process and protect your interests. We hope that this article has provided you with a comprehensive guide to Florida law on hit and run with injury and has helped you in your search for legal advice and support.