According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, hit and run crashes increased in Seminole and across the state of Florida. In fact, the number of crashes topped 108,000 in 2021 totaling over 1,000 accidents with serious bodily injury and over 300 fatalities.
With over 17 million licensed drivers in the State of Florida, these numbers might seem small. It’ll never happen to you, right? Our experience at McDermott Law Firm, P.A. shows that, statistically, you’re probably right. But accidents do happen every day.
What to do if You Get Hit
First and foremost, in the unfortunate event you get into an accident, do not leave the scene. The State of Florida criminalizes the act of “Leaving the Scene of an Accident” whether there are injuries or not.
Florida Statute § 316.061 – Don’t hit and run
This statute states,
“(1) The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash resulting only in damage to a vehicle or other property which is driven or attended by any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such crash or as close thereto as possible, and shall forthwith return to, and in every event shall remain at, the scene of the crash until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of s. 316.062. A person who violates this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, . . .”
What are the requirements of § 316.062? The statute deters a hit and run by requiring a driver involved in an accident in Seminole (injury, death, or damage to any vehicle or other property driven or attended by another) “. . . to give his or her name, address, registration, and upon request shall provide driver’s license to the other. Also, upon request, the drivers involved in an accident shall exhibit such license or permit to any police officer at the scene of the crash or who is investigating the crash . . .” In essence, you can still get criminally charged if you don’t cause the accident but leave the scene.
What to Do When Someone Hits You and Stays?
Follow the four Cs:
- Calm – it happened, now take a moment to gather yourself.
- Cops – notify the authorities
- Click – take photos
- Call – contact experienced law professionals
When the driver at fault stays, they are not committing a hit and run. So, what do you do now that you have been in an accident in Seminole? First things first, take a breath. Being in an accident can be a traumatic experience. Evaluate your injuries if any. Then focus on passengers you may have in your vehicle. Consider the message from airline safety lessons. You’re told to take the oxygen mask and put it on yourself before helping any others. You want to make sure you don’t worsen any injuries you may have incurred, and that you are physically able to help others.
After you have had a chance to evaluate the situation, call 911. Call the police. When drivers are involved in a crash, there is a duty to report the accident and not leave the scene. The hit and run statute is in effect regardless of injuries and regardless of who is deemed to be at fault. In short, leaving the scene in Seminole, as anywhere, is still a criminal offense.
Either way, a very important factor in any accident case is seeking medical attention. Sometimes the injuries require a ride in an ambulance, and you don’t get the chance to worry about the rest until later. Sometimes, however, the injuries aren’t as noticeable. After an accident, it’s always a good idea to seek medical attention from a professional in Seminole. As a result, you will start to document the injuries you can’t see by looking in the mirror, namely those that the doctors can see by means of an MRI or X-ray.
Within a few hours of the crash, at least in most circumstances, there will not be much evidence left that there was ever an accident right in the spot where you got hit. There may be some remnants of glass pushed to the shoulder. Maybe there is a mirror or piece of a bumper between the lanes. Otherwise, traffic will have picked back up and all lanes will be traveling smoothly again. There won’t be any rubbernecking from across the median. How will anyone know what happened?
Thanks to smartphones, and even civilian dash cams, most of us have a high-quality camera in our pocket or by the rearview mirror. Click some pictures. Take a lot of pictures. The Seminole scene will look different in a couple of hours and those photos can show what really happened. Take photos even if it was not a hit and run. If you do not have a smartphone, ask a witness to take pictures and send them to you.
What is important? Everything.
Take pictures of your vehicle from all sides and angles. Take photos of any other vehicles involved in the accident. Think panoramic photos, 360-degree videos of the scene, etc. Take close-up photos and pictures from further away. Capturing the whole scene is invaluable later if the case gets litigated, and it is an especially powerful tool to show the photos to a jury.
Finally, one of the most important things to do after being in an accident is to call a reputable law firm serving the Seminole area. You’re going to want to talk to and work with an attorney familiar with the claims process. They will also want to know that it was not a hit and run. The attorney will work with your insurance as well as the at-fault driver’s insurance. He or she will be able to advise you as to whether you should provide any recorded statements to the insurance company.
You might be wondering about lawyer costs or fees in the Seminole area. Or you may have seen “free unless we win” ads – those are standards. Attorneys who practice in the field of injury cases don’t get paid unless they win.
What to Do if it is a Hit and Run?
Don’t forget the four Cs
- Stay calm
- Contact the cops
- Click photos from all angles
- Call a reputable law firm
Obviously, hit and runs are the worst-case scenarios. Someone crashed into your car and took off. Hopefully, you saw what type of vehicle it was and maybe even remember or wrote down some or all of the license plates. You’ll want to call Seminole law enforcement immediately. The police may identify witnesses who saw the accident and got a better description of the vehicle or called 911 and provided the plates.
Document the crash and the damages to your vehicle as you would have had the other driver stayed (photos, photos, photos). These pictures will help you ensure that your loss and claim are handled appropriately by your insurance carrier, eventually, maybe the at-fault driver, and possibly even the State Attorney’s Office if they choose to prosecute the hit and run driver. It’s always important to carry insurance against an uninsured motorist (UM) for instances just like this.
In any case, you should contact an attorney who is experienced with both accident cases and injury cases. They will have the know-how and experience to locate the 911 calls, to try and track down the hit and run the vehicle, and or the other driver’s prosecution.
Practicing Excellence Every Day
Here at McDermott Law Firm, P.A., combined, we have decades of litigation practice both in criminal and civil law. We can help you fight against the at-fault driver’s insurance company so you can recover what you need to be made whole. Your case isn’t just another number or settlement for the professionals at McDermott Law Firm, P.A. Our firm has a strong history in Seminole and the surrounding Tampa Bay area. We are proud to fight for you against hit and run drivers, as well as against the insurance companies.