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How Helpful Is Hiring a Hit and Run Attorney in Orlando?
According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), almost 25 percent of all car crashes in the state are hit-and-run accidents. Getting hurt in a hit and run can be particularly traumatic and frustrating. Victims often feel powerless, with nobody to hold accountable for their damages.
However, you are not alone. Working with an experienced hit-and-run attorney in Orlando can help you get the compensation you deserve if you got hurt in a hit and run. Our attorneys see firsthand the damage runaway drivers cause. We want to help victims rebuild their lives and can represent you in insurance negotiations or file a lawsuit against the responsible driver if they are identified. Contact us today to determine your options in a free consultation.
What Qualifies as a Hit and Run Accident?
Hit and runs occur when a person involved in an accident flees the crash scene without providing their contact details or aiding injured accident victims. Any type of accident can potentially turn into a hit and run, such as crashing into a car in the parking garage and taking off. Hit and runs do not only occur between motor vehicles but can also involve pedestrians and cyclists. No fewer than one in five pedestrian deaths involves a hit and run.
Why Do Hit and Runs Happen?
Drivers generally leave an accident scene to avoid conflict with the law. Common reasons why drivers flee an accident scene include:
- Driving under the influence of drink or drugs
- Driving without a license or with a suspended license
- Having previous traffic offenses
Florida State Law and Hit and Runs
According to Florida Statute 316.061, leaving the scene of a traffic accident is a criminal offense. Drivers involved in a collision must stop the vehicle and remain at the accident scene until they provide the following basic information to the other parties:
- Contact details
- Driver’s license information
- Car registration
If the accident involved injuries, a driver has additional responsibilities under Florida law. They must help any injured persons at the crash scene, call 911 for emergency medical assistance, and, if possible, offer first aid. Failure to stay at the scene, provide contact details, and help injured accident victims could result in a criminal conviction.
Your Next Best Steps After a Hit and Run
Getting hurt in a hit and run can happen to all of us. The Automobile Association of America (AAA) says that one hit-and-run accident happens every 43 seconds in the US. Knowing what to do can protect your legal rights and help with recovering compensation. Your best steps if you are involved in a hit and run include:
Call 911 for Law Enforcement and Medical Assistance
The sooner you contact law enforcement, the sooner they can start tracking down the runaway driver. If there are any injured persons, request medical assistance when dialing 911.
Collect as Much Information as Possible
If you can, get a picture of the following or make notes of what you remember:
- The fleeing driver
- The license plate
- The color, make, and model of the car
- The direction the driver was headed in after the crash
Ensure to take pictures of your car damage and your injuries, and ask witnesses to provide their contact details.
Get Medical Assistance
If you refused medical assistance at the accident scene, consider getting a medical check-up in the days following the accident. This can be particularly important if you notice signs pointing to an injury, such as headaches, dizziness, neck stiffness, or others. Some injuries have a delayed onset, and getting diagnosed and treated promptly can aid your recovery.
You will also need evidence of your injuries for an insurance claim or lawsuit. If you wait for weeks before seeing a doctor, your insurer could refuse a payout and allege that your injuries are unrelated to the crash.
Contact an Orlando Hit and Run Attorney
Contacting a car accident lawyer can be a good idea, particularly if you suffer significant injuries and car damage. Our experienced and committed attorneys can help you with your claim and ensure you are treated fairly by the insurance company responsible for settling your claim.
What Not to Do After a Hit and Run
It is normal to feel angry and frustrated after a hit-and-run crash. A first impulse can be to get in your car and try to follow the runaway driver. However, do not be tempted to chase them. You must stay at the accident scene until police arrive or risk becoming a fleeing driver yourself in the eyes of law enforcement. You could also put your life and the lives of others in danger when chasing after a fleeing driver.
Importantly, do not forget to contact the police and your insurance company immediately after an accident. Making an accident report as soon as possible can help law enforcement pursue and identify a fleeing driver.
Hit and Run Accident Compensation
Most victims of hit-and-run crashes in Orlando will file a claim with their own insurance company. However, sometimes, law enforcement manages to track down the responsible driver. You could then file a claim with their insurance company or hold them personally to account for your losses. The compensation you could qualify for in a hit and run accident claim includes:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Loss of life quality
- Permanent disability
- Modification of your vehicle and home
Depending on the nature of your injuries and the extent of your losses, you could also receive other compensation. Punitive damages are generally rare in personal injury cases. However, courts are more likely to award punitive damages in hit-and-run cases due to the reckless and malicious nature of such offenses.
How an Orlando Hit and Run Lawyer Can Help
Going it alone can be stressful, and you could leave money on the table if an insurer is dragging its heels. Our car accident lawyers can represent you effectively and handle all aspects of your case while you are healing from your injuries. We can:
Walk You Through Your Legal Options
Hit-and-run accidents can be complex. The fleeing driver may not be the only party responsible for your accident. Our determined attorneys and legal team members can analyze your crash fully and identify all potentially liable parties. We can determine your options, including filing a lawsuit, for pursuing the compensation you deserve.
Build Your Case
You may have trouble getting what you deserve from an insurance company or the responsible driver, providing they are identified. We can gather evidence proving that someone else was responsible for your accident, including police reports, traffic camera footage, medical reports, and other materials.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
In hit-and-run collisions, most victims file a claim with their own insurance company. We can effectively negotiate with insurance companies and adjusters to help you receive a fair settlement for your damages. Having an experienced attorney by your side shows the insurer that you are determined to get your due. Our attorneys are experienced in dealing with insurance companies and do not shy away from going to trial to prevent victims from getting short-changed.
Handling Your Lawsuit
You may be able to file a lawsuit, depending on the circumstances of your accident. For example, law enforcement may locate the responsible driver, or you might have to take an insurer to court to recover an adequate settlement. This is when hiring a hit-and-run attorney in Orlando can be crucial for your case and recovery. Our seasoned attorneys fight for the injured every day. They can work tirelessly for your best interests and the best possible outcome of your case so you can move forward with your life.
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What Happens if the Police Cannot Find the Driver?
Hit and run drivers can be hard to identify, particularly if there were no witnesses. If the police never find the driver involved in your crash, you might be concerned about how to recover damages. Since Florida is a no-fault state, you can turn to your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance to reimburse your medical expenses, loss of income, and other damages.
However, the minimum amount of coverage is only $10,000. Therefore, your damages will likely exceed your PIP insurance cover if you have severe or disabling injuries. Moreover, PIP will only pay for 80 percent of your losses. You could recover additional compensation if you have opted for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM) as part of your car insurance policy.
My Loved One Was Killed by a Hit-and-Run Driver; Am I Entitled to Compensation?
If your loved one had PIP insurance coverage in place, the surviving close family members are generally entitled to $5,000 in no-fault death benefits in Florida. However, you could also file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver, if located, or another liable party in the hit and run. A wrongful death lawsuit can allow you to pursue damages such as:
- Medical bills before death
- Burial and funeral costs
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of services and assistance from your loved one
- Emotional distress
- Loss of income and benefits from the decedent
Morgan & Morgan knows that fighting a lawsuit is the last thing on your mind when a loved one passes away unexpectedly. However, while compensation cannot bring your loved one back, it could help you avoid financial hardship and obtain some financial security for the future.
Who Pays for My Medical Bills in a Hit and Run?
When someone else causes your accident and disappears, you could be left to face your bills alone. If you suffer severe injuries, your PIP insurance coverage will likely not be enough to pay for all your medical bills. However, if law enforcement finds the at-fault driver, you could potentially file a lawsuit against them or another responsible party. Even then, a settlement will not be instant, and you would be responsible for paying your medical bills in the first instance. Options for help with your medical bills can include:
- Private health insurance
- Additional car insurance coverage per your policy
- Medicaid or Medicare
Another good option can be to speak to your medical providers and ask if they would consider deferred payments and whether you can pay them once you receive your settlement. It is important to remember that those agencies that paid for your medical bills will expect you to reimburse them after you receive a payout. Our attorneys know how to negotiate with health insurers, so you only pay what is absolutely necessary.
Do I Need an Attorney After a Hit-and-Run Accident in Orlando?
If you had minor injuries and your PIP insurance cover paid for most of your expenses, you may not need a lawyer. However, it is always a good idea to learn about your legal rights and options, especially if you got significantly hurt in the accident. A consultation with Morgan & Morgan is always free, and you don’t pay us unless we win.
We have helped thousands of accident victims. Our compassionate attorneys know what you are going through in the wake of your accident. We are here to take the stress off you and help you navigate the legal process.
We Want to Fight for What You Deserve
Hit-and-run accident victims can face many hurdles before receiving compensation for their losses. However, hiring a Morgan & Morgan hit-and-run attorney in Orlando can provide you with a tireless advocate who can strongly negotiate with insurance companies and, if necessary, file a lawsuit to fight for a fair settlement. We have recovered over $13 billion in damages for our clients to date, and you could also benefit from our expertise and dedication. Contact us now for a free consultation to determine the next best steps after your hit and run.