Hit and Run Numbers Rising in Florida
With FHP releasing surveillance images of vehicles that struck and killed a woman in Martin County this part week, the number of hit and runs in the Florida seem to have surged as of late. According to the AAA Foundation, there were an estimated 737,100 hit-and-run crashes in 2015 (NHTSA, 2016). This translates to a hit-and-run crash happening somewhere in the U.S. every 43 seconds. The 2,049 fatalities that resulted from hit-and-run crashes in 2016 were the highest number ever recorded (NHTSA, 2017).
So why are people running?
Sometimes the motivation to flee is obvious, such as when the driver is drunk or drinking alcohol and decides to make another poor decision by fleeing the scene. However, for less severe cases, such as those where only property damage has occurred, it is less clear why someone would put themselves in legal jeopardy by fleeing the scene. Possible reasons include:
- Money: With Covid cases on the rise, fears of another possible lockdown have increased concerns over another wave of layoffs or furloughs without the guarantee of being re-employed. People who have already suffered financially due to the pandemic can barely afford food or rent, never mind an unexpected and possibly massive expense.
- Insurance: Without car insurance, people may think the risk of running is worth it to avoid a huge expense. Even with insurance, high deductibles and the fear of increased premiums may cause someone to cut and run
- Criminal Record: For those who have been in trouble with the law before, another hit to their record may call for jailtime, high fines, loss of license and other consequences they would rather avoid.
- Immigration Status: New Mexico, Louisiana, and Florida top the list of states with the highest rates of hit and runs and are home to large populations of immigrants. If the driver is in the US illegally or does not have the required paperwork for their alien status, he or she may face deportation.
- Outstanding Warrant: Even when property damage is minimal, if the driver has an outstanding warrant for their arrest, they could be trying to escape legal prosecution for another offense.
No matter what the situation, it is morally and legally wrong to flee the scene of an accident. However, if you or someone you know were the victim in a hit-and-run accident, there are options to help with the financial burden of medical bills and loss of income as well as the emotional pain and suffering an accident may cause. While not required, Florida law mandates that insurance companies selling auto insurance in the state must offer uninsured or underinsured coverage. This is a time to contact legal professionals to help you with the policies in place that should compensate you for damages incurred. A hit and run attorney can assist you with collecting from your own insurance policy under your uninsured motorist provision.