A recent study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is calling attention to a rise in fatal hit and run accidents nationwide. According to researchers, deaths involving traffic accidents where drivers fled the scene accounted for a record-setting 2,049 deaths in 2016 – a 60% increase in hit and run fatalities since 2009. What’s more – Florida ranks among the top U.S. states for the highest rates of hit and run wrecks.
The multi-year study, which was published at the end of April, details a significant rise in hit and run accidents across the country over the course of several years. As researchers noted in the report:
- 2016 saw the highest numbers of fatal hit and run collisions on record (2,049 deaths nationwide).
- In the 10-year period between 2006 and 2016, there were an average of 682,000 hit and run crashes (injury and non-injury wrecks) – which equates to over 1 hit and run accident every minute on American roadways.
- Close to 65% of all hit and run fatalities involved a bicyclist or pedestrian, and close to a quarter of all pedestrian deaths in the U.S. between 2006 and 2016 involved a hit and run crash.
- Florida, along with Louisiana and New Mexico, had the highest rates of fatal hit and run accidents per capita.
- There may be a number of reasons why drivers flee the scene of an accident, ranging from motorists who are simply scared and make the wrong decisions to drivers who think they can get away when they hit a pedestrian or bicyclist, motorists who drive without a license or on a suspended license, and drivers who are committing some type of crime, including driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Hit and Run Accidents: Reducing Risks & Protecting Your Rights
Researchers and AAA are noting that hit and run accident rates are trending in the wrong direction, and are using the data to remind pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists alike – including those throughout Florida – about ways to reduce risks of being involved in these types of accidents. A few important tips to protect yourself include:
- UM / UIM Coverage – Although most drivers carry auto insurance, not all drivers on the road are insured or have enough insurance to cover all of the damages seriously injured victims may suffer, especially when medical bills and lost income add up. To protect yourself when it matters most, you can purchase uninsured / underinsured motorist (UM / UIM) coverage as part of your own auto insurance. Such coverage, when purchased, can protect you in the event a hit and run driver can’t be located, or in any auto accident where an at-fault driver has little to no insurance.
- PIP Coverage – While Florida is one of only two states to not require auto liability insurance, it does require Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. As a form of no-fault insurance, PIP can be an essential source of compensation in accidents involving drivers who flee the scene of an accident, as well as when drivers are located, but found to carry little or no liability coverage. PIP covers medical treatment, lost wages and other associated expenses with injuries, regardless of having to prove fault and can protect you when the unexpected occurs.
- Vigilance on the Road – Being vigilant and aware of your surroundings is always critical, when driving a motor vehicle and especially when navigating roads by foot or by bike. Because pedestrians and bicyclists face increased risks of being involved and seriously injured in hit and run accidents, they should always focus on protecting themselves by riding in bike lanes when appropriate, obeying the rules of the road, and being aware of vehicles’ blind spots. Pedestrians and cyclists should be extra cautious when entering intersections, leaving parking lots, or making left- and right-hand turns, as those situations account for the majority of pedestrian and bicyclist accidents.
- See and Be Seen – It’s not enough to be vigilant when traveling the road as a pedestrian or bicyclist; you need to ensure you’re seen by drivers around you. This may mean increasing your visibility by wearing bright and reflective clothing, carrying a flashlight, using bicycle head lights and taillights, and being careful to ride in well-lit areas away from traffic at night. It also means making eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you before you proceed into an intersection, lane of traffic, or make a turn.
- After a Wreck – After a hit and run accident, your actions can help you protect your right to compensation in any personal injury case you choose to pursue. If you are able to do so, try to remember as many details about the driver and their vehicle as you can, including the make, model, and color, and the license plate. You can also get the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw what happened, and call police so that they can respond immediately to gather the facts and begin their attempts to locate and arrest the fleeing motorist.
How Our Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help
Our West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers at Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin have earned national recognition for our work protecting the rights of seriously injured victims throughout Florida and the U.S., and for securing over a billion dollars in compensation for our clients. Backed by over 220 years of combined experience, our attorneys are available to help you understand your rights after being involved in any type of auto accident involving a motorist who violated the law by fleeing the scene.
Whether you were seriously hurt in a hit-and-run accident as a driver or passenger in another vehicle or as a pedestrian or bicyclist, our firm has the experience and resources to conduct the necessary investigations, work with law enforcement in their attempts to locate a driver, and help you explore the most appropriate pathway toward recovering the financial compensation you need – which may include personal injury claims against a negligent motorist or a commercial company that employed them, claims under your own UM / UIM insurance coverage, PIP recoveries, and more.
To discuss a recent accident anywhere in Florida, call (561) 922-0258 or contact us online for a FREE case evaluation.