ALARMING NUMBERS: FLORIDA HIT AND RUNS CAR ACCIDENTS
Hit and run crashes have spiked in Florida. Hundreds of hit and run crashes happen every day and unfortunately, these drivers are not taking responsibility for their actions. When these hit and run drivers decide to flee the scene, injured victims are less likely to get necessary medical care. Families of these hit and run victims are hurting and demanding justice.
Recent Hit and Runs in Florida
On February 13, 2017, University of Florida student, Karan Khullar, was killed when he was hit by a drunk driver. He was with his friends at a bus stop on campus when the drunk driver drove off the road and hit the group. Karan Khullar was sent to the hospital and died shortly after. The drunk driver fled the scene and luckily state troopers found her on Interstate 75. The driver is facing charges of driving under the influence manslaughter, DUI with injury and leaving the scene of a crash involving death.
On February 10, 2017, a man was killed in Seminole County, Florida, after a hit and run crash. The man was 22 years old, and was riding a friend’s motorcycle in Orlando when he lost control and crashed. While on the ground, he was run over by passing driver, who fled the scene. The victim’s mother made a plea to the hit and run driver and said, “Just come forward, we don’t really blame you, but the fact that you ran over my son and just left. He was a human being. He was my baby.”
Florida Hit and Run Statistics
In 2016, there were 99,004 hit-and-run crashes – equaling one quarter of all crashes in 2016. What is even more disturbing about these statistics, is the fact that only 15,851 of these hit and runs resulted in charges. That means only 16% of hit and run drivers are held accountable.
South Florida Suffered from a High Number of Hit and Runs
- In Broward County, there were nearly 12,000 hit and runs and 14 people died and 119 injured.
- Palm Beach County had 7,694 hit and runs, resulting in 12 deaths and 102 injuries.
- In Miami-Dade County, there were 19,000 hit and runs and 20 deaths and 141 injuries.
Why So Many Hit and Runs in Florida?
Some argue that Florida’s hit and run and DUI laws are to blame for the increase of hit and runs. But this was same argument made in 2013 before Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act. The new law was implemented on July 1, 2014, and was intended to discourage hit and run drivers by providing harsher penalties. Because prior to 2014, many drunk drivers involved in accidents, received lesser penalties by leaving the scene of the accident than being stopped as a drunk driver. The Act was named after a 31-year-old father of two, who was hit by a car when he was cycling in Orlando, Florida. The crash caused him to suffer life ending injuries. The driver fled the scene because he was believed to be drunk at the time of the accident. He was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and served less than two years in prison. If he stayed, he would have been charged with DUI manslaughter, and would have served more time. The new law changed the charges for leaving the scene of a crash resulting in serious bodily injury and death. The new law created a four-year minimum mandatory sentence for drivers who leave the scene of accident involving death. The law prior to 2014, did not include a minimum mandatory, which lawmakers argued sometimes gave drivers an incentive to flee the scene. The new law also makes it a second-degree felony, rather than a third-degree felony – carrying potential revocation of a driver’s license for a driver who leaves the scene of a crash involving serious bodily injuries.
These new penalties were supposed to even out the playing field between DUI and hit and run criminal sentences. But the new law really only affects fatal hit and run crashes. And since the implementation of the new law, hit and runs have only gone up in Florida. Criminal defense attorney Lyle Mazin argues this is because, “If convicted of a crash with DUI, state law requires a minimum-mandatory sentence of probation, a suspended license, fines and a criminal record – none of which is mandating with leaving the scene.” He also argues, “part of the problem is lack of public awareness. Drivers know they’ll be in trouble for a DUI, but not necessarily for leaving the scene.”
How Does a Hit and Run Victim Get Compensated
As the statistics show, it is very unlikely for victims of hit and runs to ever find out who hit them. If the other driver is never found, a victim may be able to collect damages from their own insurance company.
Florida is a no fault insurance state, which means when a driver suffers an accident their insurance policy will cover their initial medical expenses and certain non-medical related costs regardless of who was at fault. Florida drivers are required to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, and $10,000 in property damage liability benefits. But depending on the victim’s injuries, this coverage may not be enough.
This is why it is extremely important to have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Florida law does not require UM/UIM coverage, but it is highly recommended because of incidents such as hit and runs. Under a UM policy, the hit and run victim’s own insurance will stand in for the hit and run driver and compensate the victim for their injuries.
In the event of a hit and run, a victim should always contact a lawyer in their area immediately. Here at Workman Injury Law, we have handled hundreds of uninsured/underinsured motorists claims all resulting in successful results for our clients. If you or your loved one has been injured in a hit and run, contact us today for your free case review.