A Winter Park car accident lawyer explains how victims can seek compensation for their losses
Hit-and-run accidents in Central Florida reached a record high last year, according to My News 13, and based on 2021 accident statistics compiled by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV).
These particular types of accidents have been especially bad in Florida’s Orange County, which includes Orlando. Last year, there were 6,914 hit-and-run accidents in Orange County, resulting in 35 deaths and 2,460 injuries, according to the FLHSMV.
In contrast, there were 6,136 hit-and-run accidents in Orange County in 2020, resulting in 20 deaths and 2,017 injuries. That’s an increase of 778 accidents or 12.6 percent in 2021 compared to 2020.
How common are hit-and-run accidents?
In recent years, hit-and-run accidents have become increasingly common nationwide. Each year, there are an estimated 700,000 hit-and-run accidents across the country, according to the AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety.
“Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Worst of all, the problem only seems to be getting worse with each passing year. In the past decade, hit-and-run accidents have increased on average by 7 percent annually, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
In particular, such accidents often involve cyclists and pedestrians. Nationwide in 2020, 26.3 percent of fatal bicycle crashes involved hit-and-run accidents, according to Outside Magazine. As for fatal pedestrian accidents, 21 percent involve hit-and-runs, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
How bad is the problem in Florida?
Hit-and-run accidents have been a serious problem in Florida for years. Several years ago, Florida was ranked among the top three states per capita for the most fatal hit-and-run accidents, according to Orlando Weekly based on a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
More recently, the problem has only gotten worse in Florida. In 2021, there were 108,755 hit-and-run accidents in the state, resulting in 306 fatalities and 24,197 injuries, according to accident statistics compiled by the FLHSMV.
In contrast, there were 92,247 hit-and-run accidents in Florida in 2020, resulting in 256 deaths and 20,994 injuries. That’s a 17.8 percent increase or 16,508 more hit-and-run accidents in 2021 versus 2020.
What should I do after a hit-and-run accident?
If you're the victim of a hit-and-run accident in Florida, here are some tips:
- Never try to follow, chase, or apprehend the at-fault driver. You don't know who's behind the wheel of that car, and they could be dangerous. Instead of trying to track them down, try to remember as many details about the driver and their vehicle as you can. This will be helpful to the police.
- Call the police. Let the dispatcher know you were in a car accident and the other driver fled the scene of the crash. If anyone has been injured, let the dispatcher know so they can send an ambulance.
- Take pictures of the crash scene. The more photos and/or videos you take, the better. Try different angles to get a detailed overview of the crash scene. Be sure to include all vehicle damage, accident debris, traffic signs and signals, and anything else that may be relevant to your crash.
- Talk to witnesses. If anyone saw what happened, get their full name and contact information. Eyewitness testimony can be a powerful piece of evidence when attempting to recover compensation for your losses.
- Did it happen on camera? If there’s a traffic camera at your accident site, make sure you tell the police so they can access the video right away. The police may be able to identify the driver who caused your hit-and-run accident using this footage, but if too much time passes by, the footage could be overwritten or deleted.
- Seek medical attention. Even if you don't have any noticeable pain or symptoms, never try to diagnose yourself. Your body releases adrenaline when you're involved in a car accident, and while you may feel fine in the moments immediately after the crash, you may be seriously injured and not even realize it. Get checked out at the scene by an EMT, go to one of the many hospitals in the Winter Park area, visit an urgent care center, or schedule an appointment with your doctor. This will ensure you receive a proper diagnosis and, with regard to any potential insurance claim you file, create a record of your injuries.
- Talk to an attorney. Before you talk to an insurance company, it's in your best interests to learn your legal rights and options by contacting a car accident lawyer right away.
Get Cerasa and get results
While you may feel helpless in the aftermath of a hit-and-run accident, there are often sources of compensation you can tap into to cover the cost of your damages. Your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage can help pay for your medical bills, but that's only up to policy limits, and the minimum amount of coverage is $10,000. Depending on the extent of your injuries, that might not be enough. It also doesn't cover things like lost wages or pain and suffering.
If you purchased the optional uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) with your auto insurance policy, which our law firm strongly urges Florida drivers to do, your medical expenses, lost wages, and some other losses may be covered. But remember, insurance companies are financially motivated to pay crash victims as little money as possible, and that includes your own insurance company. That's why it's typically best to contact an experienced car accident attorney who knows how to deal with insurance adjusters and maximize compensation.
Our dedicated legal team can help you every step of the way. We know the law, we know the insurance companies, and we know how to get results for our clients. To find out how we can help you, schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced car accident lawyer. Our office is located in Winter Park and we proudly serve clients in Orlando and throughout Central Florida.