Hit & Run Accident Lawyers Serving Hialeah
People react differently following a motor vehicle accident in Hialeah, Florida. They can either stay at the crash scene or leave. However, when a person leaves an accident site without reporting the occurrence, they commit an offense known as a hit-and-run.
Finding yourself in a hit-and-run accident is quite traumatizing, especially when the police fail to arrest the driver. In addition, there’s vehicle damage to deal with, expensive medical bills, and the possibility of not returning to the life you had before the occurrence. All these can be overwhelming unless there’s an experienced attorney on the case.
Hiring a Hialeah hit-and-run lawyer is a wise choice in a hit-and-run accident case. An attorney protects the victim’s rights while guiding accident victims through the compensation process. If you or a loved one are victims of an accident of this kind, contact our law office as soon as possible.What Is an Accident a Hit-and-Run in Hialeah, Florida?
In 2020, there were 92,247 hit-and-run crashes in Florida with 256 fatalities. Under Florida Statute Chapter 316 Section 062, a hit-and-run is a failure to remain at an accident scene where there’s property damage, injury, or death.
The law mandates a driver of any vehicle involved in a crash resulting in injury to or death of any person or damage to any vehicle or other property which is driven or attended to:
- Stop at the accident scene or as close to the site as possible.
- Give their name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle they are driving.
- Upon request and if available, exhibit their license or driver’s permit to any person injured in such a crash or to the driver, occupant, or person involved.
- Give relevant information and upon request, exhibit a license or permit to any police officer at the scene of the crash or who is investigating the crash; and
- Render to any person injured in the crash reasonable assistance, including the carrying, or the making of arrangements for the carrying, of such person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary or if such carrying is requested by the injured person.
Self-preservation is one of the reasons people make selfish decisions such as fleeing an accident scene. However, it could also be from fear of the consequences if they know they are at fault for the collision. Others might claim they left the scene because of a threat to their safety.
Below are some of the common reasons why people leave a crash scene:
- Driving an unregistered vehicle or without a driver’s license
- Operating an employer-owned vehicle and not wanting the employer to know of the crash
- Having outstanding warrants for traffic violations or other crimes
- Transporting illegal items such as drugs
- Being an undocumented immigrant
- Fear of losing their drivers’ license (this is most common with commercial drivers)
- Lack of vehicle insurance
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Almost 25% of all crashes involve a hit-and-run driver. If you find yourself in one, you should do the following:Move Your Vehicle to a Safe Place
Safety is important after any car accident. If you can, move your car to a safe place at the crash site. Our Hialeah car accident lawyers recommend driving to a location not far from the scene if it is impossible to park there. The slow lane is also a good place to stop your vehicle.Ensure Everyone’s Safety
After getting your car to a safe location, check everyone involved in the crash. Look for injuries and call 911 immediately. If anyone is stuck, try not to move them, as it might worsen their wound. It’s best to avoid touching an injured person, but you can help stop the bleeding if it appears the person’s life is in danger.Call the Police
Generally, a 911 call would alert the police of the crash. However, you can directly call the nearest law enforcement agency. The police report is crucial evidence in a personal injury lawsuit. It is also vital when pursuing insurance compensation.
When the police arrive at the scene, tell them all you recall about the events leading to the accident. Be as concise as possible and cautious of what you say as a misstatement could be used against you later on. Ensure to include the make and model of the vehicle and any physical features you remember about the hit-and-run driver.Check the Scene
Usually, the car driven by the hit-and-run driver would have suffered damage. Check the crash scene for any pieces of metal that may have fallen from the fleeing motorist’s car. It could help in identifying the make and model of the vehicle. If you find any, try not to touch it, but rather point it out to the police when they arrive.Take Photos
A fatal hit-and-run accident scene is a potential crime scene, so the police want it uncontaminated. However, since you need evidence for your injury claim, it would be wise to take photos. If you can, capture debris, tire tracks, damage to your vehicle or personal items, injuries, etc.Secure Video Footage
Another crucial piece of evidence is video footage. Visuals have helped law enforcement agencies identify hit-and-run drivers in several cases. Try to secure footage from dashcams and security or traffic cameras.Talk to Eyewitnesses
Eyewitnesses are people who saw the accident take place. If the crash was high impact with severe wounds where the victim can’t immediately give a statement, witnesses can recount to the investigators how the collision happened. They are the best people to describe the hit-and-run driver, their vehicle, and the direction they fled in.
Witnesses may also testify during the claims process if they are deemed credible. Try to speak with them and ask for their contact information. It is noteworthy that eyewitnesses cannot be subpoenaed to testify.Contact Your Insurance Carrier
Florida is a no-fault car accident state, meaning that even if you’re in a hit-and-run crash, your insurance would still cover your injuries and losses. As such, contact your insurance provider after the accident. Do this within the timeframe in your policy. Once you do, the insurance adjuster will launch an investigation to determine the case’s facts.How to Prove Fault in a Hit-and-Run Accident
Establishing fault is a crucial aspect of a personal injury claim. In a hit-and-run crash, just because a driver fled the scene doesn’t make them automatically at fault. Therefore, it is essential to prove the hit-and-run driver’s negligence.
To do this, Hialeah hit-and-run car accident lawyers need to establish the four elements of negligence:The Duty of Care
Every driver owes other motorists and road users a duty of care. This means behaving in a way that does not endanger them. In a hit-and-run case, a duty of care extends to remaining at the crash site and rendering reasonable assistance to an injured person.Breach
A breach is a negligent act performed by a person. In car accident cases, this amounts to driving under the influence, distracted driving, tailgating, speeding, etc. It also extends to leaving the accident scene without calling 911 or rendering help.Causation
The presence of a breached duty is not enough to win a personal injury claim. The breach must have caused the accident. For example, suppose a driver was intoxicated, but only struck a vehicle while avoiding a jaywalking pedestrian. The motorist would be said not to have caused the crash in such an instance.Damages
Finally, the crash must have led to damages. The latter is a broad term for injuries and financial losses. Without suffering losses, there would be no need to claim financial compensation.What Compensation Is Available in a Hit-and-Run Injury Case?
A hit-and-run car accident victim may be entitled to compensatory damages (economic and non-economic) and punitive damages.Economic Damages
Economic or special damages are losses with a fixed monetary value. It is the compensation you seek for all the money spent treating your injuries or repairing your vehicle. Thus, it is essential to keep the receipts or records of every amount.
Examples of economic damages are:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Loss of earning capacity
- Vehicle repair
- Property damage
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Funeral and burial expenses in wrongful death claims
Non-economic or general damages do not have any monetary value. Typically, it covers losses and wounds that are not quantifiable. In other words, these losses are irreplaceable with money, but insurance companies and courts still compensate you for them.
Examples of non-economic damages are:
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
Punitive damages seek to punish a defendant for grossly negligent or malicious conduct. It also serves as a deterrence to prevent similar future occurrences. However, not every case is eligible for punitive damages. Our Hialeah car accident attorneys can determine if your case is and then request it.How Does the No-Fault Rule Affect Compensation?
Florida’s no-fault law mandates that everyone involved in an auto collision pay for their medical treatment using their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This does away with the need to have uninsured motorist coverage as required in most at-fault states. Having PIP also means that injury victims cannot file a compensation claim against the at-fault hit-and-run drivers.
However, there is an exception to this general rule. Florida law allows crash victims to sue the hit-and-run driver if they sustain a “statutory injury.” This means that the accident must have:
- Caused significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Resulted in a permanent injury, within a reasonable degree of medical probability
- Caused significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; or
Before filing a lawsuit, our Hialeah hit-and-run car accident lawyers will pursue an insurance claim. If the insurer offers a lowball settlement or denies the claim, court action may then be required as a last resort.Will a Criminal Trial Affect the Outcome of a Personal Injury Claim?
A criminal case will ordinarily not affect the outcome of a personal injury claim, as each case is decided on its merits. Besides, the burden of proof in both situations is different. The prosecution must prove the defendant’s fault beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal action.
In a civil case, the standard of proof is a preponderance of the evidence. In simpler terms, the court places the evidence on an imaginary scale. If it tilts to the plaintiff, they win and vice-versa.
Essentially, a crash victim needs to prove the defendant's error was the direct or proximate cause of the damages suffered. Therefore, even if the criminal case against the hit-and-run driver gets dismissed, it is still possible to recover compensation in a personal injury claim.
However, note that evidence used in convicting a defendant in a criminal trial can establish fault in a civil case and vice-versa. Our attorneys will explain in detail about how this works when you contact us.What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Hit-and-Run Case?
Since a hit-and-run is a personal injury case, the Statute of Limitations law in other types of crashes applies. This means you have two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit. The time starts counting from the day the crash happened. For a fatal hit-and-run collision, the period is two years, and time counts from when the victim died.What Is the Role of a Hialeah Hit-and-Run Car Accident Lawyer?
Hit-and-run collisions are different from other types of car accidents. Here, not only are you dealing with injuries and vehicle damages, but also finding the at-fault driver. The case might also be one where you can file a compensation claim after the police apprehend the driver.
Handling all these alone would increase stress, hence the relevance of a hit-and-run accident attorney. But what exactly is the role of the lawyer? What can they do that you can’t do yourself? Below, we discuss the crucial role of a hit-and-run lawyer.Proving Liability
If the police identify and arrest the hit-and-run driver, a lawyer can help prove liability. Our attorneys will establish all the legal requirements to show that the motorist caused the crash. Proving liability is technical and requires an in-depth understanding of personal injury laws, something our legal team possesses.Gathering Evidence
An experienced attorney knows proving liability goes beyond oral testimony; it requires evidence. The latter includes medical reports, police reports, photos from the crash scene, video footage, and witness statements. Our lawyers know how to find and put together relevant evidence.
Beyond gathering evidence, knowing how to use it to seek the necessary settlement is essential. The lawyer must link the injuries to the crash, show the severity and money spent, and the impact of the injuries. This greatly affects the amount the insurance company or court may award as compensation.Meet Deadlines
Personal injury claims are time-sensitive, a fact you may be unaware of. However, our lawyers know when to file a claim and when it is out of time. This extends to:
- Filing insurance claims
- Responding to letters during the negotiation phase
- Responding to legal motions, and
- Filing documents for court on time.
Insurance providers will always protect their own interests. This is why our Hialeah hit-and-run lawyers advise injury victims not to trust insurance adjusters. It is also the reason why victims should leave negotiations to their lawyers.
Attorneys know the tricks employed by insurance carriers to avoid paying compensation. For every tactic they use, we have a strategy. Note that the insurance company is not always that of the hit-and-run driver. It could be your insurance provider, especially when the police do not arrest the at-fault driver or if your wound is not a statutory injury.Seek All Available Damages
Some accident victims are unaware of the different types of damages. They mostly just want to recover the money spent without considering non-economic and punitive damages. The story is different with an experienced lawyer.
Our attorneys know all the compensation you may be entitled to and the fair amount to seek. This knowledge extends to calculating the settlement sum and the factors that affect the amount.How Much Do Hialeah Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyers Charge?
Most hit-and-run attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we don’t get paid until you win. This way, you don’t have to worry about lawyer fees until the end of the case. The contingency payment structure allows lawyers to charge between 33% to 40% of the settlement sum. The agreed percentage is stated in the contingency fee agreement to keep both parties from changing their minds as the case progresses.Discuss Your Negligence Claim with an Attorney
If you have been harmed because of someone else’s carelessness, there is no substitute for having dedicated legal representation on your side. At Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, we are committed to helping injured victims. Our firm has over 40 years of combined experience handling accident and injury cases, and we know what it takes to try and prove a negligence claim. You can expect the utmost respect and professionalism from our licensed attorneys and legal staff.