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Hit-and-run incidents are increasing in numbers, despite tougher sentences for irresponsible motorists who cause injury or death and then flee in the hopes that they cannot be caught. A professional West Palm Beach hit-and-run accident lawyer can act as an advocate for families harmed by these drivers and encourage civil lawsuits against offenders when they are captured.
In 2016, West Palm Beach County had more hit-and-run incidents than ever before, and ranked third in the state behind number one Miami-Dade and Broward counties in having the most hit-and-run cases, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. If you or your loved one have been injured in these circumstances, know that a skilled West Palm Beach hit-and-run accident lawyer could help you pursue a claim for your deserved compensation. Read on to learn more about how a qualified injury attorney could offer you their assistance today.
In 2014, the Florida legislature increased criminal penalties in response to the death of cyclist Aaron Cohen, who was killed in 2012 by a hit-and-run driver. The 25-year-old driver, who had a suspended license, turned himself in and was sentenced to 364 days in jail, compared to four years for a drunken driver committing vehicular manslaughter. Leaving the scene of an injury crash is a first-degree felony. It carries a sentence of three to five years in state prison, revocation of driving privileges for three years, and a fine of $5,000.
If death occurs, the driver is sentenced to a third-degree felony and four to 30 years in prison, as well as a license revocation and a $10,000 fine. The penalty for mere property damage is a misdemeanor with 60 days in jail, 6 months of probation, and a $500 fine. In addition to stricter penalties, the Florida Highway Patrol has dedicated a team to work on hit-and-run cases. The state is placing more surveillance cameras at intersections, along I-95, and the turnpike to catch runners in the act. Contact a qualified personal injury attorney to learn more.
Those who commit this criminal offense do so because they do not want to pay for property damage, were intoxicated at the time of impact, or are wanted for other crimes. If they are not caught, the civil legal recourse is limited without a defendant. If the individual who was injured in the hit-and-run accident carries uninsured motorist coverage on their own auto policy, they may be able to make an injury claim even when the driver is not apprehended.
However, because Florida requires no-fault insurance with at least $10,000 in coverage for personal injury protection benefits, individuals can use their own insurance policies to pay for the first $10,000 in medical care, paid at 80%. Know that a determined West Palm Beach hit-and-run accident lawyer can assist in communicating with the insurance company.
As police begin to investigate, it is wise to begin preparing a civil action for damages by contacting a West Palm Beach hit-and-run accident lawyer for a no-cost, obligation-free consultation, and to set the groundwork should the culprit surrender or later be captured. Personal injury lawyers work on contingency, so the attorney’s fee would be paid from the damages of a lawsuit alleging negligence.
The egregious act of causing harm, leaving the scene, and failing to provide help for the injured as required by law can be cause for punitive damages, intended to punish and set an example for other drivers. If you wish to pursue compensation after your accident, reach out to a West Palm Beach hit-and-run accident lawyer today to schedule your consultation.
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