It should be of no shock to those who have ventured the roads of the Sunshine State that Florida ranks number one for having the worst drivers in the country.
In recent years, Florida has ranked terribly in aggressive driving and distracted driving. The combined factors have placed Florida in the number one spot for the worst driving two years in a row. This puts the state just ahead of Mississippi and Oklahoma.
According to a recent study conducted by AAA, Florida ranks with New Mexico and Louisiana among states with the highest rates of hit-and-run accidents per capita.
What constitutes a hit-and-run accident in Florida?
When a traffic accident occurs on Florida roads, all parties are required to stay at the scene, trade insurance information and contact the police. Unfortunately, not all drivers are willing to do that. Some drivers may flee the scene of a crash to avoid the legal consequences of causing vehicle damage or injury to another motorist. Other times, hit-and-run drivers may be uninsured, unlicensed or may be involved in other illegal activity.
A hit-and-run accident happens when a motorist leaves the scene of a crash regardless of fault. Section 316.027 of Florida Statutes makes it mandatory to stay at the scene of a crash. In order to avoid obstructing traffic, or getting struck by another vehicle, drivers must move their vehicle out of the way if they are able to do so.
Florida imposes harsh penalties for hit-and-runs. If an injury or fatality is involved, the responsible party could be charged with a felony, face prison time, and be required to pay thousands of dollars in fines. In addition, the at-fault driver can face punitive charges that would further compensate the crash victim.
Why Florida ranks #1 for hit-and-run accidents
From 2006 to 2016, AAA monitored hit-and-run accidents across the United States, finding an average of 682,000 crashes each year. In 2016, these crashes result in 2,049 fatalities. Pedestrians and bicyclists were the most affected by hit-and-runs – accounting for 65 percent of hit-and-run fatalities.
From 2006 to 2016, Florida had 1,814 hit-and-run crashes that resulted in at least one death. In 2016, the state saw a total of 206 hit-and-run accidents, resulting in one fatality.
Hit-and-run accidents aren’t just a statewide problem, the West Palm Beach area has experienced many recent incidents. One pedestrian in Lake Worth suffered fatal injuries after being struck while walking on South Military Trail. The driver fled the scene. Luckily, a nearby camera captured the crash, showing that the driver never made any attempt to stop or avoid hitting the pedestrian. The driver was later arrested.
Another pedestrian, who was staying in West Palm Beach for a “working vacation,” was struck and killed while crossing the street on Quadrille Boulevard. The driver, who was described by witnesses as a middle-aged woman with short hair, fled the scene of the crash.
West Palm Beach’s Quadrille Boulevard raises safety concerns for those who seek to make the downtown area more pedestrian-friendly. In response to the pedestrian who was killed while crossing the street, some residences are poised to take action. Jesse Bailey, the president of Connect West Palm Beach, a nonprofit organization aimed at making the city more walkable, expressed his concerns.
“Just this past Sunday, we were crossing Quadrille at Clematis and almost had a left-turning, southbound car careen into us — my wife, my baby and two pedestrians that were walking with us,” he said.
While taking measures to reduce accident risks can save lives, road users in greater West Palm Beach can also be prepared to pursue a claim after a hit-and-run accident.
Securing your claim after a hit-and-run accident
If a negligent driver causes your accident and leaves the scene, he or she can be identified by the vehicle’s license plate. You may be able to catch the plate before they speed off on your dash camera, your cellphone or by writing it down. Even nearby witnesses may be able to capture the license plate. If this happens, then the driver can be held accountable and his or her insurance company would be responsible for compensating your injuries.
However, if the driver is unable to be identified, you may have to collect compensation through your own insurance company if you have uninsured motorist coverage. You may think that intersection cameras would capture a hit-and-run, but on Palm Beach Gardens man was let down after trying to obtain footage of a hit-and-run he was involved in.
After being rear-ended by a woman driving a minivan – who fled the scene – the man reported it to the Palm Beach Gardens police. Unfortunately, they were unable to extract footage since the intersection cameras are live streamed. Red light cameras are able to capture the license plates of those who run traffic lights, but obtaining such footage can cost roughly $400.
The required no fault insurance policy has a limit of $10,000, which would barely cover your losses after being injured in a hit-and-run accident. In order to protect yourself in a hit-and-run, your best bet would be to purchase uninsured motorist coverage, which is optional in Florida. While this type of coverage is intended to protect you after accidents involving uninsured or underinsured drivers, it also applies to hit-and-run accidents.
Uninsured motorist coverage will pay for:
- Future and current medical expenses
- Future and current lost wages
- Pain and suffering and inability to enjoy life
Even if you were at fault for the accident or aren’t sure what to do after an unidentified driver flees the scene of a crash, attorney David J. Glatthorn can answer your most complex questions. If you have uninsured motorist coverage on your policy, don’t try to handle your claim alone. Insurance companies, including your own, will go to great lengths to keep their costs down, and they’ll do so at your expense. Attorney Glatthorn is experienced at handling these claims and has the case results to prove it.
If you or a loved one was injured in a hit-and-run accident, you should seek the legal advocacy of an experienced West Palm Beach auto accident attorney who can discuss your options.