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What to Know About a Hit-and-Run Accident with a Semi-Truck
When a truck driver hits and runs another vehicle the results can be disastrous for everyone involved. It used to be that a big rig was simply a large truck that was hauled by a flatbed semi-trailer. Nowadays, this description has changed. Big rigs can include any combination of different truck types, like 18-wheelers, five-ton trucks, tow trucks, and box trucks. There are even some big rigs that can be converted into recreational vehicles. Here is what you should know if you are involved in a hit-and-run accident with a semi-truck.
What is the Definition of a Hit and Run Accident?
In traffic law, a hit and run is the illegal act of driving a motor vehicle in a negligent manner and not stopping after an accident. The driver, who did not stop at the scene of the accident, is guilty of obstruction of justice. In Florida, the penalties for hit and run accidents can range from a second-degree misdemeanor to a felony. If it is determined that the driver caused the accident and did not stop at the scene, then the individual could be charged with felony reckless driving, gross negligence, or another related charge. Hit and runs are very common and occur most often in heavy traffic situations.
How Can I Prove a Truck Driver Left the Accident Scene?
Accidents caused by hit and runs are extremely difficult to prove. Depending on how fast the vehicles were traveling, how they hit each other, and if there were any witnesses, it is often hard to establish liability. Some of the evidence that law enforcement relies on to establish that an accident was a hit and run can include:
- Dashboard camera footage (a very good reason to always have one in your vehicle)
- Traffic, business, or residential camera footage
- Witness statements
- Analyzing the damage on a truck, if it is located
- Trucker logbooks
- Cell phone location records
In some cases, a driver may try to claim that they didn’t realize there was an accident. This attempted defense may work if there is very little damage to the truck, but that is rare. Above all, you must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accident was the cause of the injury or damage. For this, you will need the help of an experienced truck hit and run accident lawyer.
Does Florida Insurance Cover Hit and Run Semi-Truck Accidents?
Your Florida PIP coverage should cover many of your expenses if the police are unable to track down the truck driver. If the driver is caught after the PIP payout, then you may still be able to bring a claim against them to cover the remaining expenses. Carrying extra insurance that covers hit and run cases can help protect you better than just minimal coverage.
In Florida, the statute of limitations for bringing a claim is four years. However, there may be extenuating circumstances in your case that can affect this time frame. This is a prominent reason you should enlist an experienced hit-and-run accident attorney in Florida.
Are Hit and Run Big Rig Accidents Common in Florida?
In recent years, Florida has seen an increase in truck accident-related injuries. In fact, Florida ranks second nationally in the United States for the frequency of truck accident-related fatalities. According to the FLHSMV, the statistics on hit and run accidents in Florida are quite astonishing. In 2019 alone, Floridians were involved in:
- 105,663 hit and run accidents
- 217 fatalities
- 22,403 injuries
If you are involved in a hit and run on the Treasure Coast, you should contact the sheriff’s office right away. The sooner an accident report is filed, the quicker the investigation can get underway. For more information about reporting an accident, contact the local Sheriff’s office.
What Penalties Exist for Hit and Run Truck Accidents in Florida?
In Florida law, the penalties for hit and run accidents can range according to the damages in the accident. If the damages are only property-related, it is a second-degree misdemeanor with up to 60 days in prison and a $500 fine.
However, if people were injured or killed, the penalties become much harsher. Injuries will result in a second or third-degree felony charge. Tack onto that a revoked license for a minimum of 3 years, up to 5 years in prison, and $5,000 in fines. A fatality will result in a first-degree felony, revoked license for at least 3 years, and severe prison time. A mandatory minimum of 4 years in prison and up to 30 years, plus $10,000 in fines.
Should I Hire an Attorney for a Hit and Run Truck Accident in Florida?
Hiring an experienced attorney who has experience with hit and run cases is your best chance of receiving compensation for the injury you suffered. An experienced attorney knows all the laws pertaining to hit and run cases and will make sure that you receive the fair settlement you deserve.
Though hit and run truck accidents are relatively rare, they do happen. If you have recently been in an accident or know of someone who has been, you should contact your Florida truck accident attorney to discuss the details of your accident. They will help you understand the legal issues involved and will guide you through the process of filing a claim, collecting compensation, and recovering from your injuries.
At Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd, we are committed to providing you with the best legal support and guidance possible. We proudly serve the Treasure Coast area, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, Ft. Pierce, and Okeechobee. Start working with a knowledgeable, experienced semi-truck hit and run accident attorney in Florida by scheduling your free virtual consultation or call us toll-free at (866) 460-1990.
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