Hit and Run: Steeper Penalties

Hit and Run: Steeper Penalties

car-accident-331408-mImagine being in the passenger side of a vehicle that is traveling down the Florida highways when another St. Petersburg driver decides to look down at his phone while you are passing. The momentary distraction is just enough for him to begin to swerve off the road. In a quick effort to correct the mistake, he cuts the wheel and slams into your side of the vehicle, crushing the metal and plastic into you. The force, of course, causes your driver to lose control, and the vehicle moves full speed into the median, flipping it. As you lay, trapped and crushed, in your state of half-consciousness, you see the other driver speed away in a hit and run scenario.

Hit and run accidents are all too common. The offenders very frequently leave victims suffering potentially fatal wounds. If you were that passenger on the Saint Petersburg highways, you would likely receive help. However, on the roads less frequently traveled, in the wee hours of the morning, such a victim could bleed to death before anyone came by to offer assistance.

These horrible circumstances have driven the authorities to change legislation with regard hit and run accident scenarios. There are more than 80,000 hit and run accidents in Florida each year. That is nearly a quarter off all accidents. Last year, government enacted a law that made fatal hit-and-runs second-degree felonies. That means that an offender could face from four to thirty years in jail, if convicted. Furthermore, even those who are fortunate enough to flee from a non-fatal scene could stand to lose their driver’s license and have driving privileges revoked for up to three years, thanks to the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act.

Why do people continue to flee the scene despite knowing that it is against the law and that they could face serious penalties? They might be hoping to avoid other problematic concerns being found out, or perhaps they are already trying to hide from previous circumstances for which they are already hiding from the law. In some cases, they do not carry the mandated auto insurance policy or fear the increase in insurance rates that would come as a result of a hefty claim. In other cases, they have illegal substances in their vehicles. In many cases, the perpetrators are drunk and fear the repercussions of a DUI/DWI. Others might be arrested should they have an encounter with the police as a result of past offenses.

Car accidents are damaging; personal injury attorneys can help victims collect financial compensation for their losses. While the hit-and-run perpetrator might hope to escape such claims as these and other charges, he can leave himself in a much worse position by fleeing the scene. Should a victim be seriously injured or killed, the police will issue media advisories and quickly spread the word to other units with a description of the guilty party’s vehicle. Should he be caught, not only could he face a license suspension and possible jail time, but he will likely face even greater financial responsibilities.

Remember, when a victim is left for an extended period of time, injuries can become more severe, or the chance for a life to be saved can be nullified. Thus, the negligent driver, who decided to run, could have blood on his hands. If you are the victim of such an accident, you should speak to an attorney. Although the other driver might have fled, there are ways to track such a person down. A personal injury attorney may be able to help collect financial compensation.