In the case of a vehicle accident in the state of Florida, the Florida Highway Patrol requires that drivers immediately stop, remain at the scene, swap information, and provide reasonable help to the injured.
Even with these requirements, hit-and-runs (individuals leaving the scene after they have been involved in a crash) have become widespread in the last few years. Despite the fines and prison or jail time associated with convictions for leaving the scene, hit-and-run cases rose 8% to 78,000 from 2012 and 2013, according to Florida Highway Patrol statistics.
Why are there so many hit-and-run cases?
Florida law requires drivers to carry car insurance, yet nearly 25% of Florida motorists break the law each day by driving without it. When these individuals are involved in car accidents, they are more likely to flee the scene for fear of facing criminal charges or other penalties. They may be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, have a suspended drivers license, or reside here illegally. Whatever the reason, uninsured motorists who take off to avoid serious legal or financial repercussion leave chaos in their tracks.
Current Florida law gives harsher penalties to drivers involved in deadly DUI crashes than motorists who leave the scene of deadly crashes. And current Florida law has no mandatory sentence for individuals convicted of hit-and-run crashes.
But thanks to a new bill filed by state Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, legislation designed to impose tougher mandatory sentences on guilty drivers is now in place in the state of Florida. The bill, also known as the “Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act,” honoring a bicyclist killed in a hit-and-run in Miami, will increase mandatory minimum jail sentences for those convicted of hit-and-run accidents, including a 10-year minimum for hit-and-runs resulting in death.
How to Protect Yourself from Uninsured Drivers
With the number of hit-and-run accidents as well as uninsured drivers on the road, insured drivers need to understand their legal rights and how they can protect themselves. When a person is in a crash with an uninsured driver, it is very difficult to recover compensation for medical care and expenses. Moreover, it’s nearly impossible when the hit-and-run driver at fault can’t be identified. Additionally, your “full coverage” vehicle insurance may not cover you in these situations.
Rather than suffering from the negligence of drivers who flee or carry insufficient or no insurance, you can protect yourself and family members by adding uninsured motorist (UM)/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage to your vehicle insurance policy.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage Insurance Policies
When you have UM/UIM coverage and are in a collision with an uninsured or underinsured driver, or are the victim of a hit-and-run, you are protected — your medical care, lost earnings, and other expenses can be covered. Additionally, other losses can be covered under UM/UIM such as pain and suffering from a collision, or damages suffered while walking or riding a non-motorized vehicle.
Tip 1: Contact your vehicle insurance carrier to inquire about adding UM/UIM coverage to protect you and your passengers from drivers who do not carry insurance, carry insufficient coverage, or illegally flee the scene.
Tip 2: Always make sure that your regular vehicle insurance policy is valid, paid-in-full, and provides the most protection you can reasonably afford.
Questions about accidents involving uninsured drivers or hit-and-runs?
Goldman & Daszkal, P.A. can answer them. Contact us at (954) 428-9333 or www.goldmandaszkal.com.
Since 1990, Goldman & Daszkal, P.A. has provided reputable legal representation to people throughout Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties. The firm has helped thousands of individuals recover compensation from motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents, product defect and liability cases, pharmacy errors, and negligent security cases to cover medical expenses, pay bills, take care of their families, and return to work. Goldman & Daszkal, P.A. can help you get the relief you need to start living your life again after a serious injury. For a free and confidential consultation, contact Goldman & Daszkal, P.A., at (954) 428-9333.