Michael Pike Appears On WPTV To Discuss Hit-And-Run Awareness
Pike & Lustig, LLP Managing Partner Mike Pike recently appeared on WPTV to discuss hit-and-run awareness. To watch the video, click here.
Nearly 25% of all crashes in Florida involve a hit and run, which translates to Florida drivers fleeing the scene of an automobile accident roughly 25 to 50 times a day. However, regardless of the situation, it is morally and legally wrong to flee the scene of an accident. In Florida, leaving the scene of a crash where there are injuries or fatalities is a felony. If the crash results in injuries, the individual may have their license revoked for at least three years, serve up to five years in prison, and have to pay a $5,000 fine. If the crash involves fatalities, the person who fled faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of four years in addition to a $10,000 fine and their license revoked for three years.
So why would anyone leave the scene of an accident? To most of us, a hit-and-run seems unimaginable and cruel. However, to try and stem the escalating statistics, we need to understand – and combat – what is behind the numbers, specifically, what makes people run from the scene of an accident?
Sometimes the motivation to flee is obvious, such as when the driver is under-the-influence of drugs or alcohol and makes another poor decision by fleeing the scene. However, there are other reasons that people put themselves in legal jeopardy by fleeing the scene, such as:
- Money: People who have already suffered financially due to the pandemic can barely afford food or rent, much less an unexpected and possibly financial ruin. Rational fears of another wave of layoffs or furloughs prompt such irrational behaviors as leaving the scene of an accident.
- Insurance: Florida ranks number one nationwide as the state with the highest number of uninsured motorists at nearly 26%. Without insurance, people may think the risk of running is worth avoiding a potentially huge expense. Even with insurance, high deductibles and the fear of increased premiums may cause someone to hit and run.
- Criminal Record: For ex-convicts, a vehicular crime may call for jailtime, high fines, loss of license and other consequences which may cause them to run from the scene.
- Immigration Status: If a driver is in the U.S. illegally or does not have the required paperwork for their alien status, he or she may face deportation if detained by law enforcement for any reason – including a motor vehicle accident. According to a Pew Research Center study, there were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. as of 2016, 775,000 of which were in Florida alone.
- Outstanding Warrant: If the driver has an outstanding warrant for their arrest, they may leave the scene of an accident to avoid a police encounter that could lead to legal prosecution for a prior offense.
While there is no mercy for perpetrators of hit and run accidents, victims have the law on their side. There are many legal options to help victims with the financial burden of medical bills and loss of income, as well as the emotional pain and suffering an accident may cause.
Victims of hit-and-run crashes will ideally have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage, also simply known as UM coverage. In the context of a hit-and-run accident, this coverage can pay for things like medical expenses, lost wages, damage to property, pain and suffering, and other damages not already covered by the driver’s no-fault insurance policy.
Drivers in Florida are not required to have Uninsured Motorist Coverage, but given the statistics around hit-and-run crashes, we recommend motorists opt in, in order to recover the maximum recovery if they are involved in an accident.
Further, for those individuals whose jobs keep them on the roads – from food delivery drivers to truckers – now is the time to contact legal professionals to ensure you have the right policies in place that will compensate you for damages that may be incurred in a hit-and-run accident.