Two years ago Cape Coral police responded to a reported crash in which a pedestrian was run over by a Jeep driver, who fled the scene. The walker sustained life-threatening injuries and had to be trauma-alerted to Lee Memorial Hospital, where he spent the next month recovering.
Now, police have identified and arrested the driver of that Jeep, age 27, and charged her with failure to remain at the scene of a crash involving injury.
This is a serious felony crime, and though neither drugs or alcohol are believed to have played a role, defendant could still face several years in prison. However, this case occurred prior to the passage of the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, which aligned penalties with hit-and-run involving serious injury or death with DUI manslaughter (which carries a statutory four-year minimum), which means it’s possible defendant may not serve any time at all.
Still, the fact that she has been identified does give the injured man more options for compensation recovery in civil litigation.
Such scenarios are more common in Florida than one might believe. In fact, according to new figures released by the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, hit-and-run crashes are up 32 percent from 2004.
That year, there were little less than 11,800 hit-and-run crashes statewide. By comparison, in 2013,there were nearly 15,600. That means in just a decade, the number of those leaving the scene of a crash in Florida increased by nearly a third.
Not all of those collisions were fatal, but they often presented significant practical difficulties for the injured. When a driver is not identified, injured persons cannot access the at-fault driver’s insurance company – if the at-fault driver even has insurance.
This generally means injured parties must secure recovery from their own insurance company through uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Securing this can sometimes be a challenge, so it’s important injured people and their families should immediately contact an experienced injury attorney in Fort Myers.
These cases can be especially complex when the other driver is later identified. While Florida recognizes a strict, three-year time limit on personal injury claims, with the clock beginning to tick on the date injuries were incurred. However, those timelines can sometimes be tolled when the identity of the defendant was unknown until after the crash.
These scenarios are not uncommon, as recent news reports reveal. Authorities with the Florida Highway Patrol are searching for a suspect in a fatal hit-and-run in which a motorcyclist was killed on I-75 in Bonita Springs.
According to investigators, the crash occurred around 6 p.m. on a Saturday. The vehicle reportedly changed lanes behind the motorcyclist and then struck him. The vehicle driver did not stop.
In another case, authorities are searching for the driver of an unknown vehicle that struck and injured a 40-year-old pedestrian on Granada Boulevard. Again, the driver did not stop.
There are many reasons why drivers fail to stop at the scene of a crash. Those include lack of license, lack of insurance, outstanding warrants or intoxication.
Individuals harmed in these instances need to count on a personal injury lawyer who will work diligently to identify all possible defendants and help them maximize chances for full compensation.
If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Victims’ families speak out; Hit-and-runs up 32 percent since 2004, Dec. 27, 2014, By David Breen, Orlando Sentinel
More Blog Entries:
Mosley v. Lloyd – Florida Pedestrian Accident Nets $22.7M Verdict, Dec. 28, 2014, Cape Coral Accident Attorney Blog