Local police officers arrested a Florida woman for fleeing the scene of an accident after she hit a teenager crossing the street and offered him cash to keep quiet. The woman’s offer of under-the-table compensation does not negate her culpability in the accident, personal injury lawyers in Fort Lauderdale say, especially since she left the teen injured in the road after he turned down the money she offered him.
The driver, a 31-year-old woman from Delray Beach, was driving an SUV, and had stopped at a stop sign with a crosswalk. She initially appeared to let the 18-year-old victim cross the street, and then apparently changed her mind and made a sharp left turn, hitting the boy with the front of her car. He was thrown almost 10 feet across the road, and could not get back onto his feet. The teen asked the driver to call 911 and ask for help, but she refused, and offered him cash. He turned her down, again asking for medical assistance, but the driver fled the scene.
Police arrived shortly afterwards, and found that a witness had taken a cell phone picture of the license plate on the woman’s car. They arrested the driver, who claimed to have fled because she panicked, and she is now facing hit-and-run charges. The teen was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was treated for torn ligaments and several cuts.
In Florida, Statute 316.061 makes it illegal for a driver to leave the scene of an accident or collision involving either a person or another person’s property, without providing the necessary information, such as name, address, driver’s license, insurance and registration information, and contact numbers. If another person was injured as a result of the collision, the penalties for fleeing become even more severe, and criminal charges could be assessed and may even be compounded with personal injury lawsuits.
A driver who is charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving injury, which is a third degree felony, can be punished as a Level 5 offense, according to the state’s sentencing rules. These penalties can include any combination of 5 years in jail, 5 years of probation, or a $5,000 fine. Bargaining with the victim, or offering immediate monetary restitution, as this driver did, does not constitute providing the necessary information, or helping the victim whose injuries have been caused by the crash.
Although finding the driver involved in a hit-and-run can be difficult, personal injury lawyers in Fort Lauderdale say that these drivers, if charged, can be held liable for the injured person’s hospital bills, recuperation costs, and any loss of work time or ability. Even if the crash was an accident on the part of the driver, the decision to flee the scene elevates the criminal culpability and severity of the act.
At the Law Offices of David I. Fuchs, a Fort Lauderdale law firm, our personal injury attorneys represent victims of car accidents across the state, including those who have been injured in a hit-and-run.