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Even Without a Driver, Hit and Run Lawsuit Possible

Posted in Hit And Run Car Accident,News,Personal Injury on November 29, 2013

Police still have not found the suspected driver of a truck in a hit-and-run accident that killed two people in Orlando last month. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a 68-year-old male has been identified as a person of interest in the deaths of a 19-year-old female and 24-year-old male. Although police have not issued a warrant for an arrest, nor has the suspect been formally charged in the deaths of the young couple, personal injury attorneys say that the victims’ families can still prepare wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits against the unnamed driver while police continue to investigate the accident. 

The young victims, both deaf, were changing a flat tire on the side of the Florida turnpike near Fort Pierce, when a big rig swerved off the road in the dark and hit the couple. Authorities say that the driver of the truck did not stop after hitting the couple. Police listed one resident from Sanford, Florida, as a person of interest after an initial investigation into the crash.

When drivers or passengers are killed in hit-and-run accidents, their families are often hard-pressed to find justice and closure in the aftermath, especially when the driver of the other car is unknown. However, personal injury lawyers say that families can file a “John Doe” lawsuit, aimed at the unknown driver. In these lawsuits, if the victim of the accident has uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance coverage, he or she—or their survivors—will receive any payment determined at the trial from their insurance company, provided the amount does not exceed the policyholder’s limits.

A John Doe lawsuit also prevents survivors or victims from missing the statute of limitations on their case, while the police search for the driver who hit them. In Florida, the standard statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit or a police report over a car accident is four years. If the driver is not immediately identified, families and victims can file their case following the accident, and avoid missing their time frame for seeking restitution and damages. But once the statute of limitations has passed, even if a driver is charged with the crime, the victims cannot sue him or her for damages.

Further investigation is currently underway, and officers will examine invoices, driving logs, and potential eyewitnesses. The police have yet to inspect the 2006 Peterbuilt tractor-trailer that allegedly hit the couple, but the truck was not equipped with GPS tracking devices. Mercer Transport, the Louisville, Kentucky, company registered as the owner of the truck, is cooperating with the investigation. In order for the families of the deceased to bring a suit against the driver personally, police will have to place the suspect as the truck driver at the scene of the accident.

Tragic hit-and-run accidents in Florida claim many lives, and the personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of David I. Fuchs offer legal consultation and representation to those who have been suffered injuries, or who have lost a loved one in a hit-and-run accident.