Hit and Run Car Accident Lawyer Serving Palm Beach

Exactly What is a “Hit and Run” Car Accident?

Palm Beach Hit & Run Lawyers A hit and run Florida car accident, also known as “Leaving the Scene of an Accident”, is the term given for a driver’s failure to remain at an accident’s scene, while fulfilling any statutory duties. This term covers situations which involve property damage, bodily injury or death.

Property Damage Statutory Duties

For car accidents that only involve damage to property (to an object or another vehicle), Florida Law (Sections 316.061-316.063) maintains that the driver needs to adhere to the following duties:

  • The driver must bring the vehicle to a halt at the scene of the accident, or as close as safely possible.

  • Should the damaged property be unattended, the vehicle operator will need to either contact the owner of the property or attach an identifiable notification that provides the name and address of the driver and the vehicle’s registration number. Afterwards, the driver will then be required to notify the closest law enforcement agency or police department of the accident.

  • Provide an investigating officer information that includes; vehicle registration, driver’s license, address as well as any other information requested by the officer.

  • Show his or her driver’s license, should the other party request it.

  • If you are the driver, provide the property owner or other driver your name, registration number and address.

Bodily Injury or Death Statutory Duties

Should the accident involve the bodily injury or death of another individual, a driver’s Florida statutory duties (Sections 316.062 and 316.027, Florida Statutes) include:

  • The driver must bring the vehicle to a halt at the scene of the accident, or as close as safely possible.

  • If you are the driver, provide the other driver your name, registration number and address.

  • Show his or her driver’s license, should the other party request it.

  • If the other driver is unable to receive the information that was specified above, then a non-injured driver must contact the nearest law enforcement agency in order to report the accident.

  • Provide the investigating officer information that includes; vehicle registration, driver’s license, address as well as any other information requested by the officer.

  • If it appears that there is a need for immediate medical attention (or if medical attention is requested by the other individual), then “reasonable assistance” should be given. This assistance may include; making arrangements or transporting the injured person to a; surgeon, physician or hospital that can render medical treatment.

What are Some of the Injuries That Can Result in a Hit and Run Car Crash Situation?

The scope of car crash injuries that are involved with a hit and run car crash are generally those that are common with any other crash. These can include:

  • Broken bones – These may not always be apparent, at first. This is especially true for some of the smaller bones in the feet and hands.

  • Injuries to the spine – This can lead to a progressive level of pain and loss of mobility.

  • Muscle and ligament injuries – When these are torn or stretched, the pain can become severe and debilitating.

  • Neck and back injuries – These may include herniated disks and whiplash as well as spinal cord and muscle damage.

  • Brain and head injuries – These can include concussions, skull fractures, internal bleeding and their effects may not be readily apparent until later.

  • Bone and burn injuries – These can take years in order to heal properly and can require surgery, skin grafts and plastic surgery.

However, a hit and run car accident can possibly have an additional component. For example, the victim may need immediate assistance that a driver cannot provide if they have left the scene of the accident. In certain cases, that driver may also have been needed to contact the police. Either one of these situations can result in the exacerbation of the victim’s injuries and, in some cases, may even be the ultimate cause of a person’s death.

This is why laws have been set up in order to ensure that an accident victim has the greatest opportunity for immediate help. For those who have left the scene of the accident, when property has been damaged, the rightful restitution of damages may not be forthcoming. In any case, hit and run Florida car accident situations are taken very seriously by the courts. This is why a Palm Beach car accident attorney will always advise that in the case of a car crash, always remain at the scene of the accident, until all statutory duties have been performed.

How Can It be Proven That the Crime of “Leaving the Scene of an Accident” Has Been Committed?

In the case of a hit and run Florida car accident, there are four elements that may need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. These are noted in the following:

Fla. Std. Jury Instr. (Crim) 28.4b (Unattended Property)
Fla. Std. Jury Instr. (Crim) 28.4a (Attended Property)
Fla. Std. Jury Instr. (Crim) 28.4 (Bodily Injury)

The four elements are:

  1. The defendant knew, or should have known, that they were involved in a vehicle crash.
  2. The defendant was the actual driver of the vehicle that was involved in the crash that resulted in; the property damage to another person or the personal injury or death of another person.
  3. The defendant neglected to stop at the scene of the vehicle crash (or as close as possible to the vehicle crash) and failed to remain at the accident scene until they had provided the necessary identifying information to; investigating police officer, individual who was attending the vehicle, other driver or other vehicle occupant. The defendant failed to render “reasonable assistance” to the person who was injured, provided the assistance was requested by the other person or if assistance appeared to be needed.
  4. The defendant either knew or should have known that there was; property damage which was caused to another person, injury caused to another person or the death of another person.

In this case, when we say “identifying information”, we are referring to; the name of the defendant, their address, the vehicle’s registration number and, if possible and requested, showing their driver’s permit or license.

What are the Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident?

When it comes to a hit and run auto accident in Palm Beach, the penalties that are incurred will usually depend on the type of damage or harm that was caused.

For Accidents That Involved Injury or Death

Should the hit and run accident result in a situation in which personal injury or death was involved, then the offense is categorized as a 3rd degree felony. In Florida, the penalties that are stipulated can be up to five years imprisonment, five years probation and a $5,000 fine.

Accidents that have resulted in the death of another person, the offense will be categorized as a 1st degree felony, In Florida, the penalties that are stipulated can be up to 30 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.

In cases in which injury or death have resulted from the crash and the defendant, who left the scene of the accident, has been determined to have been driving while intoxicated, then there is the possibility of a mandatory 2 years imprisonment. It should be noted that hit and run offenses may also be subject to a mandatory revocation of the defendant’s driver’s license, as decided by the court.

For Accidents That Involved Property Damage

If the hit and run only involved property damage, then it is usually classified as a 2nd degree felony. The penalties may include up to 60 days imprisonment and a fine of $50.

Is Hit and Run Accident Restitution Available in Florida?

It’s interesting to note that restitution (loss compensation) is usually not available to the property owner or other driver in a hit and run accident case. However, restitution can be awarded to the victim in a criminal case that involves loss that is suffered by the victim as the result of the defendant’s conduct that indirectly or directly brought this about. There is precedence for this that can be found in; Glaubius v. State, 688 So. 2d 913, 915 (Fla. 1997). Of course, there are also many cases in which the actual “leaving the scene of the accident” is not directly responsible for the damages that were incurred. In these cases, it would be determined that the damages would have occurred whether or not the defendant stayed or left the accident scene.

Because of these determinations, in many cases, hit and run Florida car accident victims have not been provided with a restitution award, by the Florida appellate courts, for the sole count of the hit and run violation (Fykes v. State, 599 So. 2d 268 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992).

But if evidence can be shown that the injuries were exacerbated as a result from the lack of immediate attention (due to the hit and run component of the accident), then restitution may be granted to the victim.

Are There Valid Defenses That Can be in Connection with a “Leaving the Scene of the Accident” Charge?

There are a number of defenses that may be used when there is a charge of “Leaving the Scene of an Accident”. These strategies may possibly be used by the defendant’s defense attorney in order to mitigate or eliminate any consequences arising from a hit and run charge. Some of these defenses may include:

  • The rendered assistance was “reasonable” within the context of the car crash result and therefore satisfied the component of that part of the obligation,
  • The victim expressed “belligerent behavior” which caused the defendant to leave the accident scene in order to notify police authorities.
  • Identifying information was refused by the accident victim
  • The defendant stopped their vehicle as “close as possible” to the defendant.
  • The decision not to stop was not “willful”, but occurred as a result of the accident circumstances.
  • There was a lack of knowledge/understanding that there was an actual impact with property or other people.
  • A dispute as to the identity of the actual driver

It should also be noted that even if a viable defense strategy is absent, in a “Leaving the Scene of an Accident” charge, a conviction isn’t always a guarantee. There have been misdemeanor case occasions in which an attorney has contacted the prosecution and was able to arrange a resolution that was more lenient. This resolution may be intended to have the defendant avoid repercussions that involve; a permanent criminal record, probation or time spent in jail.

Why It’s Important to Consult with an Attorney

For the victim, the addition of leaving the scene of an accident charge can be relatively difficult to prove. This is especially true if one is contending that the hit and run driver was responsible for damages that resulted directly from the hit and run component of a car crash. In a Palm Beach hit and run Florida car accident, an attorney can gather all of the pertinent information and put it together in order to prove your case. In addition, they may also be able to deal with defense strategies that may be used by the defendant’s attorney.

When you have been involved in a Palm Beach hit and run accident, it’s important to consult with a personal injury attorney, in order to try to receive the best care and compensation that you rightfully deserve. Therefore, when you are involved in a Palm Beach car accident, seek immediate medical care and contact a Florida personal injury attorney.

Discuss Your Case with a Car Accident Personal Injury Attorney Serving Palm Beach Today! If you were injured in a car accident in Palm Beach, turn to Frankl Kominsky for comprehensive legal guidance. Call (561) 800-8000 or use our Contact Form to set up a free consultation.

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