Hit and Run Crashes a Growing Problem Nationwide
Perhaps as a result of the economy, hit and runs have become an increasingly large problem throughout the U.S. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate an upward trend, from 1,274 reported hit and runs in 2009 to 1,449 in 2011, the most recent year that the NHTSA issued the statistics. Perhaps what is more shocking is a 13.7% increase in hit and run fatalities from 2009 to 2011. Many of these are alcohol related.
Legislative Response: Increase in Minimum Sentences
In response to these trends several state legislatures have introduced proposals to increase the sanctions on drivers involved in hit & run accidents. Florida in particular is taking a hard line stance against hit and runs. This summer Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portilla introduced SB 102, which would impose a minimum jail sentence to those leaving the scene of an accident to three years in prison where the individual was injured, and seven years if the individual had received serious bodily injury or death. SB 102 is also called the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, named after a cyclist who was killed by a hit and run driver in 2012. The bill is currently awaiting action several senate committees.
Consider UIM Insurance Coverage
Nevertheless, Floridians should not wait for legislative action before taking steps to protect themselves from hit and run accidents. Most drivers who flee the scene have a reason to do so, they are either drunk, have no license, or have no insurance. According to Insurance Research Council Florida has one of the highest percentages of uninsured motorists, in these cases it may be very difficult to track down the culprits and hold them accountable. In fact, in some instances the negligent driver’s lack of money can make recovery against a hit and run driver difficult.
Nevertheless, there is a relatively inexpensive solution to this problem, uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance (UIM). UIM is optional in Florida. This insurance is available after a driver exhausts the $10,000 of coverage available in Personal Injury Protection insurance; UIM insurance is available to pay for medical expenses, non-economic damages, and wage losses and is generally not significantly more expensive than minimum coverage.
Contact a Seasoned West Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyer
If you are involved in a hit and run, contact an attorney as soon as possible. The West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers of the Law Offices of William E. Johnson, P.A. help injured hit and run victims recover from negligent drivers. Call 561-832-4848 to schedule a free consultation.