Hit & Run Accident Lawyers Serving Miami
Suffering from a car accident of any kind is difficult, but what about when the driver flees the scene? Hit & run accidents bring all sorts of new challenges to their victims, and it’s even worse when they suffer from major injuries or damages that they financially cannot afford.
That’s why the hit & run experts at Frankl Kominsky are here to help. Our firm is dedicated to helping residents of Miami, Florida, and the surrounding areas fight for their rights and seek compensation for the damages they’ve suffered from (by appointment only).
You likely have many questions about your accident. We’ve compiled the general information you need to know about your hit & run accident to make the process easier. Once you’re ready to speak to a trusted attorney, we can set up a free consultation to start building your case.What Is a Hit & Run Accident?
A hit & run accident is a collision that involves the other party, oftentimes the responsible party, fleeing the scene before you’ve had any chance to speak to them and gather their contact information. There are several legal issues and penalties with hit-and-run accidents since the driver that fled can face criminal charges.
Hit and run accidents do not have to be involved with other drivers on the road. These accidents can happen with pedestrians, road workers, motorcyclists, or fixed objects. Some states even classify hitting animals and fleeing as part of their hit-and-run laws.
These types of accidents are also not limited to roads or highways. Hit and run accidents can also occur in parking lots, driveways, neighborhoods, or anywhere else a motor vehicle and struck object are involved.
The key to avoiding legal and criminal charges with a hit-and-run accident is to never flee the scene unless there’s an emergency that requires you to seek cell coverage. In this kind of emergency situation, as long as you return to the scene and stay, there will likely be no issues.Why Hit & Run Drivers Flee the Scene
There’s no definite answer as to why hit & run drivers flee the scene. There can be various reasons after a car collision. Some of these reasons can include fear of criminal charges or not wanting to be caught for something else the driver has done.
Possible reasons why hit and run drivers may flee the scene can be:
- Warrants out for their arrest regarding another incident
- Driving a stolen vehicle
- Driving company equipment and trying to not face work penalties
- Commercial drivers fearing to lose their commercial license for a collision
- Illegal substances in the vehicle
- Not a legal citizen
- No driver’s license or insurance
- Driving while impaired and wanting to avoid additional criminal charges
Unfortunately, hit and run accidents are common in Miami, Florida, and happen nearly every day.
There are also some psychological effects that result in people fleeing the scene. If you have ever been involved in a car collision, then you know how it can take an emotional toll. With adrenaline pumping, it can be tempting to try and rationalize the situation and want to flee.
Sometimes other drivers are simply scared of the situation and cannot process the event, which leads to them fleeing. While this is no excuse, sometimes other drivers are dealing with their fear and emotions more than they are with criminal backgrounds.Florida Hit & Run Laws (and Their Penalties)
Hit and runs in all states can be qualified as either a misdemeanor or felony. It is crucial to know that wrongdoer’s insurance premiums may increase if they flee the scene. In addition to what they may have to owe the other party, it can place a financial burden on them in addition to the statutory fines.
If you are the plaintiff (innocent party) then you have the rights to seek financial compensation for your injuries and damages that have occurred as a result of the accident. The amount of compensation you may qualify for depends on the unique circumstances of your case and how severe the collision was.
For example, if there are no significant injuries and only property damage, the defendant could face up to 60 days in county jail or pay a fine. If there was significant injury or death, the defendant could potentially face a longer jail sentence and fine.
Under Florida’s statute of limitations, residents have up to two years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit and seek compensation from the guilty driver. If possible, you should never wait until the deadline has passed because any lawsuits filed after the two-year deadline will likely be dismissed, unless your case falls under a limited exception.What to Do If You’re Involved in a Hit & Run Accident
In order to ensure justice is served and that you are eligible to seek extra compensation, there are certain steps you need to take after a hit-and-run accident. Despite the shock of the accident, it is imperative to remain calm and alert.
The first thing you will want to do is make sure you and other passengers in the vehicle are safe. If you are on the road or on a main road/highway, try to pull over to a safe location. If you have the ability to see who it was that hit you and is driving away, take a mental note of the vehicle’s make, model, and color. Additionally, try to remember their license plate number if it’s visible and you have the capacity to do so.
The next thing you will want to do is call the police. The police will file a report regarding the details of what happened and establish who was at-fault. Your attorney will also be able to use the police report as evidence later in your case.
After police arrive to the scene, it’s important that you seek medical attention. Even if you think your injuries are minor, it is well-advised to have a medical examination completed. Not only can medical records serve as evidence that your injuries resulted from the accident, but they also help rule out any injuries that could be internal that you aren’t aware of yet.
Some people have a fear of medical attention after a car accident, especially if they have no scratches or scrapes. For sound legal advice, it is advised to never reject a chance to allow the paramedics observe you before you leave the scene.
Prepare to be at the scene of the accident for a while. As you’re there, you should note if there are any witnesses around (if so, ask for their names and if they’re willing to give a statement). Also, look for any areas where there might be cameras around showing the accident.
If you are not severely injured, take some time to regain your composure, but contact an attorney as soon as you can. Your attorney will be able to speak and negotiate on your behalf with your insurance provider to advise you on what fair compensation looks like for your unique circumstances.Ways to Seek Compensation in Miami, Florida After a Hit & Run Accident
If you do not have a hit & run lawyer in Miami, Florida, you should consider looking for one immediately after an accident. Do not wait until the two years are up or close to being up before you start to look for a legal expert.
Since the state of Florida has tried to reduce the number of car lawsuits being filed, they have implemented modified comparative fault rules, which means both parties involved share the blame. However, this does not apply for hit and run accidents.
Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to locate the driver responsible for a hit-and-run. Therefore, the only way you can seek compensation is to file with your insurance adjuster for your PIP coverage. If the police happen to track down the driver, you can then file a lawsuit and seek extra compensation that way.
Florida requires its residents to carry a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection and property damage liability. Personal injury protection is to help cover any medical bills, lost wages from time off work, or other expenses. Property damage liability covers the financial responsibility for damages to the other driver’s vehicle.
These two insurance policies do not cover damages to your car, so you will have to add collision coverage to cover any vehicle damage that a hit-and-run driver causes.
You will need to call your insurance adjuster to start the process of investigating your claim and vehicle, preferably after speaking to your attorney first. Your attorney can help advise you if the first offer from the insurance adjuster is too low and unjust.
Simply because Florida requires a minimum of $10,000 to be carried does not mean you will be eligible for the whole $10,000 after filing a claim with your insurance. Using their negotiation tactics, your Miami Hit & Run Accident Lawyer can help you seek the adequate amount that you deserve to cover your damages.Filing a Hit & Run Lawsuit
If the police are able to track down the driver responsible for the accident and you decide to file a lawsuit, there are certain steps you will need to take.
The first step you should do is hire a trusted hit-and-run lawyer. Your attorney, or their paralegal/legal assistant, will be responsible for drafting up the legal documents that will be used to serve the defendant.
There can be delays in the case on the defendant’s side that cause the hit-and-run case to drag on. For instance, the time it takes to track down the defendant can take longer than expected, and once the papers are served, the at-fault driver could possibly flee once again.How To Find a Hit & Run Lawyer
When you’re looking for a Miami Hit & Run Accident Lawyer, there are a few things to keep in mind so you can find the right one that fits your needs and budget.
The first thing you should look for is the area of expertise your attorney has specialized in. Hit-and-run accidents require specific skills and knowledge in the relative legal system, rights, and statutes of limitations. Since hit-and-runs may deal with criminal activity, they can be very different from a standard car accident.
The lawyer you choose should have a proven track record of successfully fighting hit-and-run cases so that you have confidence they can handle your case effectively as well.
Your budget is something else you should consider when looking for the right hit-and-run attorney in Miami, Florida. Lawyers are not priced the same. While assessing the finances from an accident, the last thing you may want is to feel strapped down by the attorney you hire.
It’s best to look around for several attorneys to consult with before narrowing down to the one you want to work with, and your budget should be considered. Discuss with your lawyer how they prefer to be paid and what their fees are to get a sense if they are an investment you can make.
Apart from these two items, you should look for a lawyer that’s easy to communicate with and is honest.How to Pay Your Hit & Run Lawyer
It’s no secret that lawyers can be an investment, but in a hit-and-run situation, the investment is well worth it.
Attorneys are typically paid in one of two ways: an hourly rate or contingency fee. Whichever your lawyer agrees to, make sure there is a legal document that is signed to avoid any future issues.
A contingency fee is a lump sum payment you will make to your attorney at the end of your case if you win. Contingency fees are anywhere from 33%-40% of your final earnings. For example, if you earn $120,000 at the end of your case and your attorney has agreed to a contingency fee of 34%, you will owe your attorney $40,800.
If your attorney works with an hourly fee, they will keep a book tracking their time and you will have certain payments to make throughout the progress of your case.How Hit & Run Cases Are Settled & Paid
There are two ways hit-and-run cases are settled. If the driver is never found, you can seek compensation from your insurance adjuster on your claims. If the police are able to find the perpetrator and you decide to file a lawsuit, the driver can either pay a settlement or go to court.
A settlement is what will be negotiated and paid without making a court appearance. Your attorney, after consulting with you, will have several discussions with the insurance providers before you agree to a specific amount.
On the other hand, if an agreement cannot be reached, your case can go to court where the jury will be the ones responsible for determining how much you should be compensated for. They will look at your non-economic and economic damages as a result of the crash and evidence showing whether the other driver was responsible for the wreck before fleeing.
There is not a certain amount you should expect to receive since settlements vary from case to case depending on severity and details. Your lawyer can give you a good indication as to how much you may stand to be compensated for based on your situation.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.