In Dania Beach, a man stands accused of killing an 8-year-old boy and seriously injuring his 14-year-old brother before fleeing the scene. Authorities found the 22-year-old after he reportedly attempted to have the vehicle repaired at an auto body shop. He has since been charged with one count of leaving an accident scene involving death, one count leaving the scene of a crash involving serious bodily injury and one count of tampering with physical evidence.
Despite a new Florida law that increased penalities for hit-and-run drivers, raising the punishment for those charged leaving the scene of an injurious or fatal crash, cases like the one in Dania Beach continue to proliferate.
That’s according to new figures released by the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The agency reports, in the most recent data available, that there were 15,600 crashes in 2013 in which drivers fled the scene of a crash. Many of those were simple fender-benders, but that figure includes deadly crashes too.
Compare that to the number of hit-and-runs in 2004. That year, authorities reported 11,800. That’s an increase of more than 30 percent – significant for a 10-year time frame.
There have been a large number of high profile cases recently, and that’s led to more aggressive prosecution and, last year, the passage of the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act. That measure increased the penalties for hit-and-run drivers to align with those received for DUI manslaughter. Before that, drivers had incentive to flee. If they could stay gone long enough for authorities not to test their blood-alcohol content, they had a chance at avoiding a DUI manslaughter conviction, which carries a four-year minimum mandatory prison term (with the potential for up to 15 years incarceration). However, the new law increases the minimum mandatory for leaving the scene of a fatal accident up to four years.
The hope is this will have a notable impact in future instances of hit-and-run, but so far, the anecdotal evidence doesn’t seem to bear that out.
Our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers know there are many reasons why at-fault drivers flee. They are often impaired. They may be driving on a suspended license or they may lack insurance, which is required by law.
When drivers are never caught, victims often must turn to their own insurance company for collection of uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits to cover their losses. This is sometimes true even when at-fault drivers are nabbed, as many lack insurance or don’t have enough insurance to cover all the damages.
In cases where those drivers were underage and drunk, plaintiff attorneys may explore dram shop law for recovery. If the car belonged to someone else aside from the driver, the owner of the vehicle may in some cases be held liable too.
Injuries sustained by hit-and-run crash victims are often severe, particularly when there is a delay in receiving medical attention. Our attorneys can help you begin to pick up the pieces.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Accused hit and run driver posts bond, leaves jail, Jan. 15, 2015, by Rafael Olmeda, Sun Sentinel
Victims’ families speak out; hit-and-runs up 32% since 2004, Dec. 27, 2014, By David Breen, Orlando Sentinel
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