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Hit and run accidents can be confusing enough without the at-fault party shirking liability by illegally fleeing the scene of the crash. Without the driver around to hold liable, how do hit-and-run victims recover the costs of their damages? Help from a car accident attorney in Fort Lauderdale can make all the difference in these complex cases. David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. can assist injured parties in insurance claim settlements and personal injury lawsuits after hit-and-run accidents. We know the many ways victims could be able to recover compensation, with or without the guilty party available.
While it is perfectly understandable for accident victims to be somewhat shaken and confused afterwards, there are a number of things that victims should do after the incident.
First and foremost, while the party causing the accident may have chosen to leave the scene, it is crucial for you as the victim to remain at the location where the accident occurred and provide help to those who have been injured, if possible.
Additionally, you are encouraged to contact law enforcement right away, and if you are able to describe any identifying characteristics of the automobile and/or driver that left the scene, share that with the police while it is fresh in your mind.
Depending on the timing and location of the hit and run, there may have been witnesses to the incident. If so, it is very important for you to obtain the contact information for everyone who observed the accident. In hit-and-run collisions, witness testimony is extremely important.
While it may be tempting to do so, you should never chase after the hit-and-run driver. The best thing you can do for yourself (and your claim) is to take pictures of the damage and when making notes about what occurred, be sure to include the date, time and even a sketch of the accident scene.
Don’t give up hope of a financial settlement after a driver shirks his or her legal duties in remaining at the scene of the accident. First, if the driver is still out there, never lose hope that police will someday find the perpetrator and convict him or her of a hit-and-run – a serious felony in Florida if the accident injured or killed someone. Catching the driver could give you the ability to seek compensation from him or her as an individual. Second, realize that with an attorney’s help you could still recover the costs of your hospital charges, personal pain and suffering, and lost wages even if police haven’t caught the driver.
Don’t hesitate to get help from an auto accident attorney after a harmful hit-and-run accident in Fort Lauderdale. These accidents can be especially difficult to maneuver, especially if your insurance company denies your claim or suspects you of fraud. Whether another driver caused property damage, serious personal injuries, or the unexpected death of a loved one before taking off, we can help. Call us at (954) 568-3636 to request your free legal consultation with one of our lead lawyers, or give us a few details of your crash and we’ll get back to you to chat as soon as possible.
Florida is a no-fault insurance state. While this can prove a challenge to drivers when the at-fault driver is present, it can actually be a bolster when the driver flees the scene of an accident. The injured victim can seek coverage through his or her own insurance company even if police do not find the driver at fault. After a driver strikes you or your vehicle and takes off, call your own insurance company and ask if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance coverage. If so, this type of coverage will pay for your damages in the event of a hit-and-run collision.
If you do not have this form of insurance, recovery can be more difficult to secure, but you could hold someone other than the driver liable. For example, if a driver ran a stop sign that he or she could not see because of shrubbery, struck a pedestrian, and kept driving, the injured pedestrian may have a case against the roadway maintenance crew for failing to trim back the shrubs. If police do catch the guilty driver, you could pursue damages from his or her insurance company. A conversation with an experienced accident attorney and help you investigate all potential venues for recovery in your particular case.
Florida is a no-fault car insurance state. This means that, regardless of who is at fault for the accident, all parties must seek primary recovery through their own insurance companies. Under the no-fault laws, whether the other party is available to answer for the accident, you will call your own insurance company to file a claim. Call your insurance agent as soon as possible, as there is typically a tight deadline for reporting a crash.
If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance coverage, your claim might be simple. Your insurance company can use this coverage to offer you benefits after a hit-and-run as if the at-fault driver had stuck around but did not have enough insurance. UM/UIM coverage is optional in Florida, so you will not have it unless you agreed to pay for this additional coverage. Call your insurer after a crash and ask if you have this type of coverage on your policy. If so, it shouldn’t be an issue to recover from your insurer.
Without the other driver available, you might run into difficulties proving your claim. The insurance company will investigate the collision but may deny your claim if it believes you are attempting some form of insurance fraud. If you end up in this unfortunate circumstance, call our attorneys for assistance right away. You could be the victim of a bad faith claim, in which the insurer tries to save money by unfairly denying or delaying your claim. If you run into trouble with your insurance claim after a hit-and-run, count on an attorney for assistance.
There is a chance you can sue one or more parties after a hit-and-run collision. This could be the case if police catch the hit-and-run driver or if another party contributed significantly to your crash.
If a car hit you on your bike, as a driver, or pedestrian and left the scene of the accident, consider whether someone else could also be at fault. For example, if the other driver struck you because of a malfunctioning traffic light, you might be able to hold the city of Fort Lauderdale liable for lack of roadway maintenance.
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.
Tragic hit-and-run accidents in Florida claim many lives, and the personal injury attorneys at the David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. offer legal help to injury victims and those who/ve lost a loved one in a hit-and-run accident.
A conversation with a hit and run lawyer can help you explore all of your legal options, including the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit, even without the at-fault driver present. Our lawyers can help you stand up for your rights after a harmful hit-and-run. For a complimentary case evaluation with one of our experienced Fort Lauderdale hit and run lawyers, reach out to our firm today.