• A car hits a pedestrian and leaves the scene
• A driver hits a parked car and drives away
• A vehicle causes an accident with another vehicle and keeps driving
Sometimes, the results of a hit and run accident are minimal; property damage toanother vehicle such as a light scratch or a small dent that is barely visible. Sometimes, the results can include personal injuries or even a fatality. No matter how big or small the damage or injury, the law requires that any accident in the state of Florida be reported to the police.
The Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act
On July 1, 2014, the penalties for hit and run drivers changed when the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act (section 316.027, Florida Statutes) was signed into Florida law. The law was created after Aaron Cohen, cyclist and father of two, was fatally struck by a driver who was under the influence of alcohol and fled the scene of the accident.
The driver was apprehended and sentenced to 2 years in prison; this is far less than what the driver would have been given had he received a DUI and manslaughter charge at the scene of the accident. The Aaron Cohen Life
Protection Act carries a minimum sentence of 4 years for any driver who causes an accident and leaves the scene when a fatality has occurred.
Hit And Run Penalties
People who leave the scene of an accident are likely to believe that they will not get caught and, sadly, some do slip through the net of justice. Most do get caught, however. Leaving the scene of an accident carries stiff penalties, so it’s better to accept responsibility than to avoid it.
Penalties for hit and run accidents where property damage is involved include:
• A Second Degree Misdemeanor charge
• Up to 60 days in prison
• A $500 fine
Penalties for hit and run accidents where injuries are involved include:
• Charge of a Second or Third Degree Felony
• Revoked license for at least 3 years
• Up to 5 years in prison
• A $5,000 fine
Penalties for hit and run accidents where fatalities are involved include:
• A First Degree Felony charge
• Revoked license for at least 3 years
• Mandatory minimum of 4 years in prison – up to 30 years
• A $10,000 fine
If you are the driver in a vehicle that is involved in an accident, stay at the scene. Staying at the scene can not only save you time, money, and keep your criminal record clear, it just might help you save a life.
What To Do After The Accident
If you are a victim in a hit and run accident, it’s likely that your stress levels will be on high alert. At times like this, it’s not always easy to keep a cool head and stay calm, but that is the number one thing that you must do. Take a deep breath and follow these steps:
• Gather information. Get as much information as you can about the car that hit you. Look for the make, model, color, license plate number, and any distinguishing characteristics that might help police spot the vehicle.
• Look for witnesses. There might be witnesses at the scene who either saw the accident occur, or spotted the vehicle as it was driving away. Get their names and contact information.
• Call the police. Even if the damage is minor, the police should be notified when a hit and run accident occurs. They will file a report and look for the perpetrator with the information that is provided.
• Cover your bases. Make note of the location, time, and date of the accident. Take pictures of your vehicle and the scene around the accident. Anything that you can document will also help with your insurance company to prove that this is not a fraudulent situation.
There are also a few things that should not be done after a hit a run accident occurs.
• Do not move any evidence of the accident until after the police arrive to appraise the situation.
• Never attempt to chase or follow the driver who is at fault.
• Do not neglect to contact your insurance company as soon after the accident as possible.
If you sustained injuries after a hit and run accident, you might need the assistance of an attorney. If this is the case, be sure to contact someone who has experience with personal injury law. Someone who is focused in the field will be better to represent you for who you are, what has happened, and what you deserve..