The man was driving when he crashed at an intersection of South Pine Island Road. For unknown reasons, the truck veered off the road and struck a utility pole. His 37-year-old passenger was ejected from the vehicle in that initial impact and later pronounced dead at the scene. But the driver managed to crawl out of his truck. As he did so, he was struck by a passing vehicle. The other driver failed to stop. Victim was rushed to a nearby hospital where he also was pronounced dead.
Police have released detailed information to the public, hoping for a break in the case.
Sadly, it’s just one of many hit-and-run cases in South Florida. In fact, despite a law that hardens the penalties for those convicted of hit-and-run, the crime is on the rise.
The Florida Highway Patrol estimates there were approximately 80,000 hit-and-run crashes in Florida in 2014 alone. In Broward County that year, there were nearly 10,000. In Miami-Dade, there were nearly 17,500.
When these cases involve pedestrians, they are almost always fatal or else result in serious personal injury to the victims. Not only are these individuals struggling with the aftermath of the crash, they also must cope with the financial burdens as well.
Florida is a no-fault state. That means injured persons are covered by their own auto insurance. However, personal injury protection benefits (which are available through no-fault coverage) will only cover so much. When damages exceed that available coverage, victims then have the option of pursuing the at-fault party for compensation. But what if you don’t know who that party is because they took off? Or what if they took off because they didn’t have a license or insurance?
You may have a few options here. If the other driver had not been identified, you may consider filing a claim for uninsured motorist coverage. This is provided through one’s own auto insurance policy, and it offers the difference between your damages and what the at-fault party paid – up to policy limits. So for example, if you are struck by a hit-and-run driver and suffer $50,000 worth of damages and have $40,000 in UIM coverage, you should be able to collect $40,000 from your own insurer.
If the driver is at some point later located but does not have insurance or lacks enough insurance, you can still pursue compensation for the difference from your own carrier. Additionally, if the owner of the vehicle is different from the driver, you may potentially seek legal action against that party too.
But many of these accidents are never solved. The Miami-Dade Police Department reports a closure rate on hit-and-run cases of 50 percent. Most of those unsolved cases involve pedestrians. Another vulnerable road user, bicyclists, have seen a 55 percent increase in hit-and-run fatalities in Florida between 2013 and 2014.
Drivers who are convicted of a fatal hit-and-run now face a minimum four-year prison term – same as they would for DUI manslaughter. Still, the numbers have continued to climb.
If you are unsure about your options following injury related to a hit-and-run accident, contact our experienced team today.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Hit And Run Crashes Rising Across South Florida, July 30, 2015, By Vanessa Borge, CBS4
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