Hit-and-Run Pedestrian Accidents
Hit-and-run drivers kill more than 1,500 people each year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. They are disproportionately involved in pedestrian accidents, accounting for 1 in 5 pedestrian fatalities, based on data from the NHTSA , and 1 in 4 traffic deaths in Florida.
F.S. 316.027 requires any driver involved in a crash that occurred on public or private property that results in seriously bodily injury to another person to immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash – or as close to it as possible – and remain there until the requirements of F.S. 316.062 (duty to give information and render aid) have been fulfilled. Failure to do so is, first and foremost, a crime – and that’s true even if the motorist wasn’t at-fault for the crash. It can lead to mandatory four years’ prison time if the pedestrian dies.
However, civil cases, as our Fort Lauderdale pedestrian injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm can explain, will take place completely separate and apart from those proceedings. In the civil claim for damages, it will matter who was at-fault. Fleeing the scene of a crash could be grounds on which liability may be claimed if we can show the failure to stop at the scene and render aid somehow exacerbated plaintiff/ decedent’s condition/ injuries.
In general, if the hit-and-run driver is caught, the case will be handled much like any other auto accident tort. Unfortunately, because the reason so many motorists flee the scene is because they don’t have a valid license or don’t have insurance, it can still leave injured pedestrians or survivors of those lost with limited options for recovery. These are still worth exploring with an injury lawyer, who can review the facts of your case and explain your rights in a free initial consultation.Statistics on Pedestrian Hit-and-Run Accidents
The NHTSA reports there are nearly 5,400 fatal pedestrian accidents every year, and of those, Florida reported more than 600 – more than any other state in the U.S.
Nationally, one-fifth (19 percent) of all pedestrians who die are victims of hit-and-run drivers. The problem is even worse in Florida. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports 25 percent of all Florida crashes are hit-and-run.
In a single year, there were more than 99,000 total hit-and-run crashes in Florida, with 1,300 of those resulting in serious injury and almost 200 being fatal.
When we drill it down even further, the FLHSMV reports, 12 percent of the state’s hit-and-run crashes happened in Broward County, as did 9 percent of all hit-and-run injuries and 8 percent of all hit-and-run fatalities.
Transportation for America, traffic safety researchers and advocates, opine hit-and-run pedestrian accidents are especially common in Florida because this is a region that is not only highly-developed with much urban-sprawl, but was designed with fast, efficient motor vehicle traffic in mind. This might not be terrible, except that post-WWII traffic engineers almost completely omitted pedestrians and bicyclists from the equation.
What that means is we have high speed limits, wide roads, few sidewalks and unsafe crosswalks. Add to that the fact that we have a high percentage of uninsured drivers (1 in 4), making pedestrian accidents not only more likely to occur, but also giving negligent motorists incentive to flee.
Up until recently, penalties for fatal hit-and-run crashes in Florida were less than those for DUI manslaughter. That meant drunk drivers in fatal crashes had every reason to take off; even if they were caught later, they faced lesser penalties than if they stayed on scene. The law has since changed (both offenses now carry a minimum mandatory penalty of four years in prison), but hit-and-run crashes continue to be a problem in Florida.Compensation in Hit-and-Run Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrians may have several options for compensation in the event of a hit-and-run accident.
In any pedestrian accident, we would look to the following sources for compensation:
- Florida No-fault benefits (also known as PIP or Personal Injury Protection);
- Bodily Injury Liability Insurance (from the at-fault driver/ vehicle owner/ employer);
- Umbrella or Excess Insurance Coverage (from the at-fault driver);
- Med Pay;
- Commercial Insurance Liability Coverage;
- UM/UIM (uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage, from the plaintiff’s insurer);
- Workers’ compensation benefits (if the pedestrian accident occurred while claimant/ decedent was acting in the course/ scope of employment);
- Health insurance;
- Personal assets from negligent parties.
Now, if the negligent driver in question cannot be named in a civil lawsuit, claimant won’t be able to pursue bodily injury liability, umbrella or excess insurance coverage, commercial liability coverage or personal assets. But you can see that still leaves several options on the table.
Most probably, this will involve PIP benefits and UM/UIM coverage from one’s own insurer. Workers’ compensation benefits, of course, apply regardless of who was at-fault if you are on-the-job.
If you are injured in a hit-and-run pedestrian accident or if you have lost a loved one, a discussion with an experienced pedestrian injury lawyer in Fort Lauderdale can give you a strong sense of available recovery options.
Fort Lauderdale Injury Lawyer – (954) 761-4011 – Free Consultation