It never ceases to amaze that someone would even consider leaving the scene of an automobile accident given the harsh penalties for doing so under Florida law. Leaving the scene of an auto accident where only property damage occurred carries the most lenient penalties of up to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, and up to six months of probation. Leaving the scene involving the death of another person is a third degree felony. A person can receive 5 to 15 years in prison, 5 to 15 years of probation, and a $5,000-$10,000 fine.
That doesn’t seem to stop people from committing hit-and-runs. Several accident have occurred recently in Florida involving a person directly involved in an auto accident leaving the scene.
Katherine Godwin, 37, of Bradenton, was riding her bicycle on the sidewalk of U.S. Highway 41 at 53rd Avenue East when she was struck by vehicle that failed to stop for a red light. One witness described the suspect vehicle as a blue Dodge Charger. Godwin was taken to a local hospital where she was treated for minor injuries and released.
Police in Manatee Florida are looking for the driver of a 2006 Chrysler 300 that was last seen traveling north on 20th Street West. According to police, witnesses said the driver was approaching the intersection and was out of control, hitting a stop sign before striking two parked vehicles. The driver then fled on foot. A witness stated that the driver is a white male about 20 years old with dark hair. He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt.
The issue of hit-and-runs in South Florida have become so out of control that Huffington Post even published several articles dedicated to the subject. Miami-Dade County, Huffpost says, ranking highest in the state with 12,813 hit-and-run accidents in 2012.
The Sun Sentinel reported in December that between November 22nd and the end of the year, at least six women and children were killed from hit-and-run drivers in South Florida. Only two of the cases have seen arrests made for the drivers.
On December 22nd, 2014, 15 year-old Khiar Raymond of Boynton Beach was struck and killed by a female driver who is seen on security tape outside the fire station in front of which the accident occurred stepping out of her car, looking over the boy’s body, and then getting back in her car and fleeing.
In Jupiter, 20 year-old Ashley Southard was struck by a driver on Indiantown Road on Christmas Eve, who left her for dead. Thankfully, she survived, but is in reportedly in serious condition, still recovering at St. Mary’s Medical Center. Police are looking for the unknown driver, whom together along with possible accomplices abandoned the black Toyota Tundra that was used in the crime.
In both of these instances, the families of these victims should consider hiring a wrongful death personal injury lawyer and an auto accident lawyer.
Leaving the scene of a Florida accident laws have been put in place for a reason. Most importantly, auto accidents often involve serious injuries and you could provide critical first aid and save the injured person’s life. At the very least, you could use your cell phone to call 911, rushing emergency personnel to the scene. If you leave the scene of an accident, you could be leaving someone who is seriously injured alone to die.
If you or someone you know has lost a loved one as the result of an auto accident with a hit-and-run or unknown driver, you should consider hiring a personal injury lawyer immediately. We may be able to recover compensation from an insurance company to pay for the injuries and treatment sustained, even if the driver remains unknown. Hire a law firm with experience in the area of law that governs unknown and hit-and-run drivers.