The statistics on hit and run accidents are prodigious. The conduct of drivers who leave the scene is absurd and preposterous. A motorist causing a crash and injuring another person is regrettable. Choosing to leave the scene, commonly called, "hit and run", without rendering aid to the injured party is senseless, depraved and immoral.
Sadly, this heinous behavior happens prolifically in Florida, especially with pedestrian and bicycling victims.
In 2015, there were 92,000 hit and run crashes in Florida. 25% of all 2015 Florida crashes involving pedestrian victims were caused by hit and run drivers! In 2015, Florida suffered 186 deaths from hit and run drivers. Over 50% of the deaths were sustained by pedestrians.
Why are the numbers of Hit and Run Accidents so high?
Motorists who leave the scene of a crash have chosen to prioritize only themselves and what consequences may happen to them. They have chosen not to render aid to the victim which could save the victim's life or diminish the impact of their injuries. Leaving the scene is especially common if the motorist is driving without a valid license or intoxicated or without insurance. However, leaving the scene of an accident can have several negative consequences to the offending driver. The motorist may lose their driver license of even go to jail. Leaving the scene is a criminal felony. By failing to render aid, the victim could die! The driver OWES A LEGAL DUTY to stay at the scene and render aid. The driver must call for help.
It becomes obvious how commonplace Florida bicyclists are victimized by hit and run drivers if one simply reads the news. 2016 has gotten off to a miserable continuation of 2015 when it comes to catastrophic cycling victims of hit and run accidents caused by motorists.
Consider the following:
- On February 26, 2016, a 14-year-old Port Charlotte boy was killed by the driver of a silver pick-up truck who crossed the center line and hit the boy in the other lane of travel. The driver immediately fled the scene.
- On May 8, 2016, a 19-year-old cyclist was struck by a car in Fort Myers. The driver fled the scene.
- On June 10, 2016, a 59-year-old man was struck on his bicycle by a car in Sanford, Florida. The drover left the victim to die.
- On July 7, 2016, a 13-year-old boy bicycling was struck by a car in Myakka City near Tampa. The driver fled the scene leaving the teenager on the nearby ground with injuries.
Florida's Stance on Hit and Runs
The Florida legislature has acknowledged the egregious problem of hit and run drivers causing bicycling and pedestrian injuries or deaths. In 2014, the Florida Senate and House passed the “Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act”. Governor Scott signed the bill into law on June 24, 2014.
Aaron Cohen was a triathlete, riding his bicycle, when he was hit and killed by a driver who left the scene. The enforcement of this law should act as a deterrent to motorists opting to leave the scene of accidents involving “vulnerable users” of our roads, such as cyclists, pedestrians, road construction workers, and disabled. The law requires the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash causing serious bodily injury to immediately stop the vehicle and remain at the scene of the crash. The law provides that a person who leaves the scene of such a crash commits a second degree felony, and the Court shall impose against this perpetrator a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 3 years if the victim sustained bodily injury, 7 years if the victim suffered serious bodily injury, and 10 years if the victim died.
If you have been struck by a motorist while riding your bicycle, and the driver fled the scene, you have legal rights to recover compensation for your injuries and damages. The perpetrator should be arrested and brought to justice. They should confront felony criminal charges along with your civil claim for money damages. If they haven't been identified, you can still secure compensation under your own insurance policy. If you own a vehicle with auto insurance, and you purchased "uninsured motorist" coverage, you can use this to be compensated. The "phantom vehicle" is most often declared to be an uninsured vehicle for purposes of your auto insurance policy. You will benefit from retaining an experienced cyclist attorney to prosecute your claim. Please give me a call if you or somone you know experiences a bicycle crash from a hit-and-run driver.