As a driver, you may park in an indoor garage often, often without thinking twice about it. You may park in a lot owned by a private company, or your building may have an indoor garage for your apartment or condo. What happens if you are attacked in a garage, get into a collision, or your car is stolen from your parking spot? Flaxman Law Group has worked with plaintiffs who have found themselves in these situations.
Any car accident is scary, but hit-and-run car crashes can be especially devastating. Unfortunately, hit and run car crashes in Homestead and other communities are all too common. They occur for many reasons. In some cases, perpetrators are driving without a license or without insurance and don’t wish to be caught by police. In other cases, perpetrators are driving drunk or have broken the law and don’t want to be caught. In some situations, perpetrators simply panic.
No matter what the reason, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident. However, each year car and pedestrian accidents in Homestead and across the country occur in just this manner. If you have been hit by a driver who then drives off, your first priority is to get medical help if you have been injured. One of the reasons hit-and-run car accidents are so devastating is because the perpetrator hasn’t stopped to offer assistance to anyone who may be injured. In some cases, this leads to fatalities because someone may be too injured to call for help on their own.
In 2015, there were 92,000 hit-and-run accidents across the state and Florida Highway Patrol has reported the problem is getting worse. Many cases grow cold and the perpetrators are never caught, even in cases where someone is killed or permanently injured as a result of the accident.
In Florida, as in every state, leaving the scene of an accident is a crime. It can carry a sentence of four years in prison. It can also mean a criminal record for the offender. Unfortunately, in many cases police rely on honesty and on public participation to catch those responsible.
Earlier this month, David Cassidy, who is most famous for his appearance on the “The Partridge Family,” was charged with driving with an expired tag and leaving the scene of an accident. Cassidy currently lives in Fort Lauderdale and denies the charges against him. In a statement made through his attorney, Cassidy alleges that he provided police with his registration and driver’s license information before leaving the scene of the crash. Witnesses, however, say that Cassidy attempted to cover his license plate number at the scene of the crash and left with a flat tire before providing any information. The case is ongoing.
This news story highlights a common problem not only in Fort Lauderdale, but also across South Florida: hit-and-run accidents. The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) reports that the state has seen an increase in these types of collisions over the past two years. In between 2013 and 2014, hit and run accidents increased 7%, to 80,000. During that same year, fatal hit and run accidents increased 23%. Currently, about one quarter of all car accidents in Florida are hit and run cases.
Between 2013 and 2014, the number of hit and run accidents in Florida increased from approximately 77,000 to about 84,000. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, hit and run collisions in Miami and other cities is increasing, and the numbers are already dangerously high. The department had made a commitment to addressing the problem by raising awareness around the issue and stepping up enforcement.
The Florida Highway Patrol reports that many hit and run drivers leave the scene of the accident because:
- They are not licensed to drive
- They are driving with a suspended license
- They have no insurance
- They are not eligible for insurance or a license
- They are driving drunk or drugged
- They have outstanding warrants
- They do not want to pay for insurance increases
No matter what the reason, leaving the scene of an accident is against the law, and authorities are working to find drivers who are involved in hit and run collisions. Details of these cases is published online and in the media so that the public can come forward with information. In addition, body shops are also sometimes able to provide clues that can help police catch these drivers.
Uninsured and underinsured drivers in Hollywood and Florida are a serious problem. In the event of an automobile crash, insurance is meant to help pay for property damage, car repairs, and injury. When a person is in a traffic collision with an uninsured driver, it becomes harder for the injured party to secure compensation for their injuries. In addition, uninsured and underinsured drivers can also raise the insurance rates for all motorists.
Authorities have also noted that uninsured drivers may contribute to hit and run crashes in Hollywood and other parts of Florida. Quite simply, when drivers know that they have done something wrong – such as driving drunk or driving without a license or without insurance – they may have a legal or financial incentive to leave the scene of an accident.
According to the Insurance Research Council, close to 24 percent of Florida motorists do not have car insurance, even though having this type of coverage is mandatory in the state. In fact, Florida is one of the top five states in terms of regions with the largest number of uninsured motorists.
The problem is so significant that Hollywood police are working with the National Insurance Crime Bureau to crack down on drivers who are driving with no insurance or fraudulent coverage. Insurance company agents have shown Hollywood police how to recognize fake insurance documents and police will be holding more traffic stops to put the information to use.
When drivers are caught without insurance or with fraudulent coverage, they can face criminal charges and other penalties. A motorist caught with expired insurance, for example, can be given a citation. Someone driving with falsified insurance documents can be charged and arrested.
Since uninsured and underinsured drivers are such a problem in the region, now is a good time for drivers to check their insurance coverage – before a car or truck crash in Hollywood occurs and that coverage is needed. If you are a motorist, take the time to:
1) Check to make sure that your insurance is valid and paid in full. In some cases, drivers are on the road without insurance inadvertently. They may allow their policy to lapse or may forget to make a payment. You don’t want to be in a car accident only to find that there is something wrong with your policy, so take steps now to ensure that everything is in place.
2) Read your insurance policy. In some cases, insurance law issues in Hollywood and other Florida communities occur because policy holders don’t understand their insurance policies. In many cases, insurance paperwork is not very user-friendly or simple to read, but making the effort is important if you want to understand your policy. If you have questions or don’t understand the terms of your insurance, contact your insurer – it is their job to explain your coverage.
3) Shop around for a better rate. If it has been a few years since you have compared rates or if you think your credit rating is better now than it was when you last applied for insurance, it pays to check to see whether you can get a better deal.
4) Get additional underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage on your policy. With the extra money you save by getting a better rate, invest in good underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage for your car insurance. With so many drivers in Florida driving without adequate insurance, this coverage is your best defense if you are ever in a collision with one of these drivers.
5) Get the most injury protection you can afford. Keep in mind that if your insurance is not enough, you may end up paying out of pocket for some of your expenses or you may find yourself sued by passengers or drivers injured in the crash.
Legislators in Florida are looking for ways to crack down on hit and run drivers in Miami and other South Florida cities. In the tri-county area, hit and run collisions have steadily increased and now occur at a rate of almost one a week.
A new bill, HB 183, known as the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, has proposed a minimum prison term of four years for drivers who cause fatal hit and run traffic crashes. The bill would also require drivers convicted of leaving the scene of an accident to have their licenses suspended for at least three years.
Supporters of the proposed law say that the legislation is needed because currently drivers who flee a fatal accident get very light sentences, in some cases a year or less in jail. In fact, under the current system a driver who is drunk faces less harsh penalties by fleeing the scene of the accident rather than by staying and offering assistance. Some feel this creates an incentive for drunk drivers to flee a crash rather than stay and offer help. By the time a drunk driver is found or turns themselves in, their blood alcohol cannot be tested and they tend to receive a lighter sentence than if they had stayed and been charged with a fatal DUI in Miami or their community. With the new law, hit and run drivers would also face harsh penalties, and some say this would encourage motorists to stay at the scene of an accident and potentially offer life-saving assistance to those injured.
The Florida Highway Patrol reports that in 2012 alone there were 168 fatal hit and run crashes across Florida and 69,994 hit-and-run collisions in the state overall. On average, about three Floridians die weekly in these types of accidents. There are many reasons why hit and run accidents are so devastating:
•The often involve pedestrians or bicyclists, who have less protection in a crash
•The victim does not get assistance from the driver, which can mean they do not get life-saving assistance in time
•If the driver cannot be found, the victim may have a hard time getting insurance money for their injuries, which can make it harder for the injured victim to get quality medical treatment
There are many reasons why drivers leave the scene of an accident. In some cases, they may panic and leave the scene because they do not want to face the consequences of their actions. Studies have also shown that in some cases hit and run drivers are unlicensed or uninsured drivers in Miami and do not want to be caught violating the rules. In other cases, hit and run drivers have a criminal record or previous convictions and do not want to be caught and punished for the crime. Unfortunately, in many cases hit and run drivers are not caught by law enforcement.
Being in a hit and run accident is a terrifying event, but it is unfortunately all too common in Southern Florida. The area is considered one of the most deadly for hit and run accidents. In 2012 alone, there were 70 000 hit and run crashes in Florida, leading to more than 160 fatalities and thousands of injuries. If you have been in a hit and run accident in Homestead or any Florida community, make sure that you:
1) Start gathering documentation at once. Your insurance provider will not usually want to offer you insurance money unless and until you can prove that your injuries and car damages occurred due to a hit and run. The best thing, clearly, is to get a photo of the car that has hit you before it leaves the scene. Since accidents occur in a fraction of a second, however, this is unlikely. If you cannot get any information about the car, take photos of the accident site and of any paint transfer on your car. Get witness testimony if you can. These things can help you prove that you have been injured in a hit and run car accident.
2) Call the police. After about half an hour, it is very unlikely that the police will be able to catch a hit and run driver – the evidence simply becomes too scant. However, you will still want to call the police because your insurance company will need to see a copy of the police report before they pay out any insurance money to you.
3) Get medical attention. If you may be injured, you will want to get medical treatment right away. Not only is this an important part of the documentation process, showing that you have been injured in a hit and run car or truck accident in Homestead or your community, but getting prompt treatment ensures that you do not suffer any unneeded complications from your injuries.
4) Call your insurance company. You can get information from your insurance company as well as immediate help. You can also begin the claims process. In most cases, you have only a limited amount of time to file your claim.
5) Get legal advice. If you have suffered a serious injury, such as burns, a spinal cord injury, or a head injury in Homestead or your community, it is important to get legal advice. Even if you have uninsured motorist coverage, you may have a hard time getting compensation for lost income, all your medical costs, and other expenses. A personal injury attorney in Homestead or your community can advise you about the best way to proceed in order to get fair compensation for your injuries.
According to a 2009 study by the nonprofit group Transportation for America, four of the top ten cities with the highest rates for pedestrian fatalities are in Florida: Miami, Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville. In addition, Southern Florida ranks as one of the worst areas in the country in many studies for hit and run collisions. In 2012 alone, for example, there were about 70 000 hit and run accidents in Florida. One out of every five pedestrian deaths that same year occurred in hit and run accidents. There are many reasons for these types of accidents:
1) Drivers who have something to hide. Drivers who are driving unlicensed or uninsured typically want to avoid taking responsibility for an accident because they fear jail time. Drivers who have outstanding warrants or who have already been arrested for drunk driving accidents in Miami or other cities may also choose to flee the scene of an accident rather than accept responsibility for their actions.
2) Design flaws. According to Transportation for America, hit and run car accidents in Miami and other cities result in part from poor city planning and design. According to the group, the focus over the years has been on suburban and urban sprawl, leaving few safe spaces for walkers and bicycles, leading to pedestrian and bicycle accidents in Miami and other cities. The driver culture also makes it harder for people to choose safer public transport options, which means more cars on the road and more risk of accidents. According to the same source, 13% of all traffic deaths in the US are cyclists and pedestrians but only 1.5% of US transportation safety budgets are earmarked for bicycle paths, sidewalks, and other pedestrian and cyclist-safety projects.
3) Distracted driving. When drivers are distracted due to mobile phones, passengers, pets, or for some other reason, they may not notice pedestrians in time. Distracted driving can easily lead to a pedestrian accident in Miami or another community, leaving the at-fault driver in a panic and leaving the scene of the accident. In some cases, drivers may also believe that they will not get caught and will leave without helping the victim because they don’t want to face the consequences of their actions.
Many government agencies, including the Florida Department of Transportation, The Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Police of Chiefs Association, the Florida Sheriffs Association and others have formed educational programs to alert drivers about the law. In Florida, it is illegal to leave the scene of a car accident without offering assistance and without exchanging contact information with the other driver. Leaving the scene of a fatal accident is considered a felony and can result in 30 years of incarceration as well as fines of $10,000.
Since Florida tends to have a high instance of hit and run drivers, it is important for motorists to carry uninsured motorist coverage. If you drive anywhere in the state, consult with your insurance carrier to ensure that you have coverage even if you are in a hit and run accident.
The Florida Highway Patrol is concerned that hit and run cases are on the rise, with close to 70,000 hit and run accidents reported across Florida last year. Experts have many explanations for why the increase in hit and run accidents in North Bay Village and across Florida is occurring:
1) Uninsured or underinsured drivers. In some cases, experts say that after a car or truck accident in North Bay Village or another community, drivers leave the scene because they do not have adequate insurance, are concerned that their insurance rates will go up, or have no insurance at all and don’t want to face authorities or insurance claims as a result. Drivers do have the option of getting additional insurance on their own policies to protect themselves against underinsured drivers.
2) Drivers with previous records. In some cases, a truck or car accident in North Bay Village is a hit and run accident because a driver has a previous record or does not want to speak with authorities because the driver has an outstanding warrant. They are worried that having an additional mark on their record can harm them further or worry that police will be able to charge them with additional offenses.
3) Unlicensed drivers. According to some experts, up to 3% of drivers across the country have no license at all and are driving without authorization or insurance. In some cases, unlicensed drivers have a suspended license or simply have never been able to qualify for a license. When unlicensed drivers cause a car or pedestrian accident in North Bay Village or another community, they may leave the scene of the collision because the penalties for driving without a license are significant.
4) Panic. In some cases, drivers panic and leave the scene of an accident. For example, young drivers may be worried about being blamed for an accident, may panic, and may therefore leave the scene of the accident. In some cases, someone may be driving distracted, under the influence, or maybe doing something else that can lead to serious charges. Therefore, rather than being charged with those offenses they leave the scene of an accident, hoping that authorities will never be able to find them. Of course, if drivers are found after leaving the scene of an accident, the charges against them can be even more significant.
Hit and run accidents in North Bay Village and across Florida are a serious cause for concern. When drivers leave the scene of a collision, they do not stop to offer help to anyone who may be injured. Each year, people die due to their injuries because no one stopped to offer help. In addition, when drivers leave the scene of an accident, anyone who is injured in the accident may have a harder time recovering insurance money for their injuries, and may face additional financial pressure due to that fact.