Hit and Run Accident Lawyers Serving Port St. Lucie
Car accidents are terrible events. They often leave victims with significant injuries, and sometimes, they may not survive. Moreover, some die immediately, while some victims lose their lives during treatment.
Unfortunately, many vehicle drivers don't stop after causing accidents. Instead, they drive away, leaving the victims to their fate. The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department states that 25% of Florida collisions involve hit and run drivers.
Fortunately, victims can recover compensation against a Port St. Lucie hit and run driver. In addition, these reckless riders may face criminal charges. That's why retaining an excellent Port St. Lucie car accident attorney is best after a crash.
At Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, we can investigate and identify the fleeing driver. Our Port St. Lucie car accident lawyers have spent several decades successfully handling car crash cases (by appointment only). We can help you seek the justice you deserve as well.What Is a Hit and Run Accident?
Florida law imposes responsibilities on drivers who are involved in crashes. Those involved in a collision must stop and stay at the accident scene. Then, they must provide relevant information to the other parties in the accident.
In addition, they must also submit this information to the police officers investigating the collision. The relevant information includes a driver's:
- Vehicle's registration number
- Driving license
If a driver speeds away from the crash scene and doesn't help the victims or notify the police. Consequently, they commit a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case. However, hit-and-run collisions don't just involve two cars.
Instead, it can occur when a driver hits a:
- Bicyclist, or
- Stationary object.
Florida is a no-fault accident state. This means that responsibility may be irrelevant in a car accident claim. Victims can't immediately proceed against the hit-and-run driver.
Instead, they must first seek compensation under their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. This is essentially a claim with your insurance provider. However, in some cases, the victim can go after the driver or their insurance company.
This includes where they sustained a severe injury. Notably, a "serious injury" involves a:
- Permanent injury
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement, or
- Significant and permanent loss of bodily function.
Claiming compensation against the at-fault party depends on locating them. This is where the police and an experienced lawyer can help.
Sometimes, several drivers cause a vehicle crash. Suppose one of the drivers escapes. Then, the victim can proceed against the other drivers. Since they all share responsibility for the accident, you can sue any party for damages.What to Do After a Hit and Run Accident
The actions victims take after a hit-and-run crash are important. Everything they do can determine whether or not they'll be successful. Therefore, the following tips are vital.Write Down the Details
Indeed, hit-and-run collisions happen very quickly. However, it's still possible to note identifying features of the other driver. These could include the following:
- Vehicle color
- License plate number
- Vehicle make
- Car model and color
- Driver's physical characteristics
- The direction the hit-and-run driver escaped towards
Once you notice these elements, it'll be best to write them down, so you don't forget anything. Then, you can submit your journal to your lawyer or the police, so they can track down the driver.Look for CCTV Cameras
Several Florida roads have CCTV cameras. Furthermore, surrounding buildings may also have cameras. Therefore, check whether these cameras captured the hit and run.
This kind of investigation serves two purposes. Firstly, it helps identify the runaway driver. Similarly, it provides proof of the driver's liability.Locate Witnesses
Eyewitnesses are helpful in all accident claims. However, they're even more essential in hit-and-run collisions. For example, suppose there's no photographic or video recording of the crash. Then, relying on your memory alone to identify the fault party may be impossible.
Hit and runs often occur quickly, so you'll need eyewitnesses to corroborate your identification of the runaway driver. Try to find witnesses of the accident and obtain their contact details.Notify the Police
Calling the police should also be one of the first things you do. This is because their investigation can reveal the driver's identity. In addition, the Port St. Lucie police have the resources to try to locate the driver. Additionally, the accident report can be used as evidence in court.Seek Medical Attention
Finally, we recommend that crash victims see a doctor for injuries. If possible, it's best to seek medical care early. Emergency medical services will most likely arrive on the scene.
Medical attention is still crucial even if you think your wounds are minor. You should always have a physician look at your injuries. There are two main reasons for this.
Firstly, early treatment improves your chances of making an early recovery. Secondly, your medical records are also essential sources of evidence. They prove that you sustained injuries in the collision and establish the immediate severity of your wounds.Do I Need a Port St. Lucie Car Accident Attorney Following a Hit and Run Crash?
Car accident lawyers can significantly help victims with their cases. Unfortunately, many hit-and-run victims don't want to hire attorneys. Instead, they believe that police involvement is sufficient.
However, suppose you want to seek financial compensation for your losses. Then, it is recommended to hire a lawyer to represent your interests. Below are the top 5 reasons for hiring a Port St. Lucie hit-and-run car accident attorney.Determination of Liability
Fleeing an accident scene doesn't automatically mean the driver is responsible for the crash. The insurance company or court wouldn't just take the victim’s word. Instead, they'll have to prove the driver's fault.
Proof of liability thus involves establishing the essential elements of the driver's negligence. Therefore, it's best to hire an experienced car accident lawyer. The attorneys at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers have decades of experience handling victims’ car crash claims.Gather Relevant Evidence
The success of a claim depends on the strength of the victim's evidence. Moreover, you cannot establish the fault driver's liability without credible evidence. Fortunately, an excellent attorney knows all the relevant materials you need.
Therefore, we can gather and store vital evidence while you focus on recovering from your injuries. We'll be looking for:
- Photos of the skid marks on the road
- Video or photographic evidence of the collision
- The possibility of the arrest or conviction records of the driver
- The police report
A combination of all these documents will improve your chances of success.Protection From Unscrupulous Insurance Companies
Insurance companies are one of the most significant hindrances when seeking compensation. No insurer is enthusiastic about paying out claims, so they can create excuses to deny the settlement request or offer low sums.
However, our lawyers have several years of experience handling various insurance companies. Therefore, we can protect victims from unfair practices.Go to Trial
Finally, some hit-and-run accident cases don't end in settlements. Instead, the at-fault party and/or insurer may continue denying liability or making low offers. In such cases, you can institute legal action in court for damages.
Although victims can argue their case in court, hiring an experienced lawyer will be best. The personal injury process is technical and involves filing complex documents. In addition, attorneys spend several years learning the law, so hiring one will significantly aid your case.The Criminal Trial May Stall the Compensation Process
Suppose the police arrest the fleeing driver. Then, the local district attorney may charge them for their offense. Consequently, the driver's criminal defense lawyer may apply for a stay in the civil proceedings.
This stay of proceedings means that the case will not continue until the completion of the criminal trial. Although we may not be able to change the court's ruling, we will do everything we can so that this pause in the process will not adversely affect your case.How Long Do I Have to File a Hit and Run Car Accident Case?
Suppose you've decided to hire a car accident attorney for your hit and run case. Then, it'll help to know that you don't have all the time to choose a lawyer. Instead, you must hire a lawyer early on because of the Florida Statute of Limitations.
This law restricts the time a victim must file a car accident lawsuit. You have only two years to file this claim in Port St. Lucie. Furthermore, you must institute a wrongful death action within two years, if applicable. The clock starts ticking from the accident date.
Therefore, suppose a victim missed this deadline. Then, they'll lose their right to damages against the at-fault driver. However, an experienced lawyer will ensure that you file your claim within the statutory period.Exceptions to the Car Accident Statute of Limitations
Fortunately, the Statute of Limitations isn't absolute. The courts can sometimes pause the clock on the Statute of Limitations. Several factors can lead to this suspension of time. Some of them include:
- Where the victim is a minor, or
- The mental incapacity of the injured party.
However, the most relevant exception is the absence of the at-fault party. Where the potential defendant isn't available, the victim cannot serve them with court papers. Note that unavailability includes when the driver isn't in the state.
In addition, the court will suspend the statute when a driver escapes the accident scene. Therefore, the statutory period will only start counting when the police locate the at-fault driver. Finally, suppose the court grants a stay of civil proceedings until after the driver's criminal trial. Then, the Statute of Limitations won't start running until after the criminal trial.How Do I Pay My Port St. Lucie Hit and Run Accident Attorney?
Hit and run crashes can wreck a victim’s car, health, and finances. If this happens, paying high legal fees will be challenging. Fortunately, you don't have to worry too much about this.
We accept contingency fee arrangements (CFAs) at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers. A contingency agreement means you only have to pay us if you win your case.
Despite the contingency arrangement, there are some expenses you'll have to bear yourself. These include:
- Witness transportation costs
- Expert witness bills
- Court filing fees
- Discovery costs
- Overhead expenses
Before signing the contingency agreement, we'll discuss the fees we collect. Usually, this figure ranges from 30 to 40% of the recovered amount. You can pay this sum from a court judgment or insurance settlement.
Whichever the case, we keep our fees reasonable. Moreover, different factors determine how much you'll pay. For example, our fees will be lower if your case is less complex and concluded early.What Damages Can I Recover in a Port St. Lucie Car Accident Claim?
If you win your case, the court will award you damages. You could also possibly be offered a settlement. You can generally recover economic and non-economic damages.Economic Damages
These are the verifiable financial losses sustained from the hit-and-run accident. The victim has to prove this class of damages before the court will make a decision. However, proof of economic damages usually isn't challenging since they're definite, and you should have the receipts.
Examples of economic damages you can recover include:
- Medical bills
- Cost of medical equipment
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Vehicle repair bills
- Cost of lost or damaged property
- Cost of domestic services
- Disabilities and impairment
Non-economic damages are the opposite of financial losses. They aren't monetary losses you sustained, so you can't easily place a dollar value on them.
Instead, non-economic damages are intangible harm that flows from the hit-and-run collision. Therefore, there are usually no receipts and pay stubs to prove these losses. Rather, we'll have to rely on alternative sources of evidence, such as expert witnesses.
Typical examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Finally, our lawyers may ask for punitive damages against the defendant. This class of damages punishes the driver for their conduct. The hit-and-run driver's behavior must have been so bad that the court believes they must be punished.
Therefore, our attorneys must establish the fault driver's intentional misconduct or gross negligence if your case calls for it. This is a slightly higher benchmark than ordinary negligence. Willful misconduct means that the driver knew their conduct was wrongful and understood its danger yet performed the dangerous act.
Gross negligence means the driver was reckless or careless and intentionally disregarded life and safety. The driver's act of running away from the scene falls under these two headings.
We can argue that by escaping, they didn't care whether you'll survive the injury they caused. Consequently, the court can add punitive damages to your award. Finally, the law states that this money cannot exceed three times your compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.Let's Help You Seek Compensation After a Hit and Run Accident
Have you survived a hit-and-run collision in Port St. Lucie or did you lose a relative to such a driver? If you answer in the affirmative, you may be eligible to seek financial compensation from the hit and run driver.
First, however, we recommend speaking to an excellent Port St. Lucie car accident lawyer. Our lawyers have significant experience and expertise in handling all kinds of vehicle crashes.
Call us today at (561) 800-8000 for a FREE consultation on your case. We'll be dedicated and fully invested in your case if you decide to hire us. In addition, we guarantee the confidentiality of our communication. Reach out to us today.