Hit and run incidents in Florida have jumped by over 7 percent in just the last year, according to a report released by the Florida Highway Patrol. This sudden rise in hit and run crashes is punctuated by an increase in Pensacola hit and runs, which have risen by nearly 200% from 221 in 2012 to 435 in 2014. Crashes involving injury also rose significantly, from 25 to 38.
The exact reason for the alarming increase in hit and runs has so far eluded law enforcement agencies, but officials have noted that there are a number of reasons why drivers might feel the need to leave the scene of an accident. “It could be something minor, such as having no insurance. That could lead to a traffic ticket, but people panic,” said Lt. Kath McKinney. Florida Highway Patrol is seeking to educate drivers on the proper way to handle a car crash through an initiative called “Hit-and-Run: Bad to Worse” which emphasizes that leaving the scene is the worst possible thing that you can do.
Fleeing the Scene of an Accident is a Crime Under Florida Law
Under Florida Statute 316.027, drivers who are participants in a crash involving personal injury are obligated to stay at the scene of the accident and render reasonable assistance to the injured. A driver who willfully violates this statute can be charged with a felony in the first degree for leaving the scene of a fatal crash, punishable by a minimum of 4 years imprisonment. Florida’s hit and run laws were stiffened in 2014 with the passage of the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, which included provisions that increased mandatory minimum sentences and allowed for 1st and 2nd degree felony charges. This Act further imposed a minimum driver license revocation period of at least 3 years for offenders.
Still, the stiff penalties have failed to deter the rising number of drivers who opt to flee. “Sometimes they have warrants. Maybe they’re under the influence or have a suspended license,” said Lt. Steve Preston, when asked as to why more drivers might be fleeing hit and run crashes.
If You or Someone You Know Has Been Involved in a Hit and Run, Whibbs & Stone Can Help
Hit and run crashes can lead to devastating personal injuries that require extensive medical treatment. Fortunately, there are ways to recover compensation for your injuries in a hit and run accident, even when the other driver cannot be identified. Whibbs Stone Barnett can help to ensure that you will receive adequate compensation for these injuries through aggressive legal representation. Call us at 1-888-219-4561 to schedule a free consultation, or contact us online.