Under Florida law, it is a criminal offense to leave the scene of a car accident. Regardless if you feel you were at fault or not, leaving the scene of an accident can carry serious consequences. Even if you slightly damaged another person's vehicle in a small fender bender, you can still be charged with a misdemeanor and face possible revocation of your license for fleeing the scene as that is considered as a "hit and run".
Florida’s Statute 316.061 states that it is a crime to leave the scene of an accident when:
- The person is involved in a crash with another person’s property (including car or building)
- The person willfully leaves the scene of the crash without providing proper information to the owner of the property (including name, address, driver’s registration information, and driver’s license number)
Fleeing The Scene: Injuries & Fatalities
If you leave the scene of an accident where another party was injured, you can be charged with a felony and risk revocation of your license for 3-5 years.
If you fled the scene of an accident where a death occurred, you can be charged with a first-degree felony, subjected to prison time, and face permanent revocation of your license in the state of Florida. If the person who committed the hit and run was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time, they are subjected to a mandatory 2-year minimum prison sentence.
What Should I Do After Getting in a Car Accident?
If you were in a car accident that only involves property damage to another persons vehicle, you must follow these duties according to Florida Statutes, Sections 316.061-316.063 to avoid the consequences of a hit and run:
- Immediately stop his or her vehicle at the scene of the crash or as close thereto as possible;
- Notify the operator or owner of the vehicle or other property of the driver’s name, address, registration number;
- Exhibit his or her driver’s license, if requested by the other party; Provide license, registration, address, and other information to any investigating police officers;
- If the property damaged in the crash is unattended, the driver must either locate the property owner (and then comply with the duties described above) or attach securely in a conspicuous place in or on the vehicle or other property a written notice giving the driver’s name and address and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving. The driver must then notify the nearest police department or law enforcement agency of the crash.
What if You Leave and You're Not at Fault?
If you were involved in an accident where you were not at fault, you should not panic. If the accident is not your fault and you flee, you could lose out on your own personal injury case. If there is no proper documentation of what occurred in the accident, you most likely cannot recover any compensation from the other person's insurance company if you find out you are injured later on. While you may believe you're at fault for an accident, you may not be. If you flee the scene, you cannot give your side of what may have occurred. It is the insurance companies responsibility to determine who is at fault and not the individuals involved in the accident. Under Florida's Accident Report Privilege, anything you say to an officer investigating a crash cannot be used against you in court. If an officer begins a criminal investigation after an accident, then you may remain silent if you wish to do so.
Seek Help from an Attorney
If you fled the scene of an accident, it is best to seek help from an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At The Law Offices of Matthew Konecky, we can defend and guide you in making the best decisions related to your case. Click here to contact us or call as at (561) 671-5995 to get help immediately.