Florida law is very clear that those involved in a car accident should remain at the scene of the accident. Unfortunately, so many drivers flee that Florida is now facing an epidemic of hit-and-run accidents.
If you have been arrested for leaving the scene, you should meet with an attorney right away. These are very serious charges with steep penalties.
Below, our car accident attorneys identify your duties as a motorist after a crash, which will depend on the amount and type of damage caused. Please contact us if you have a question.
Property Damage Only
These are the least serious type of accidents. However, Florida law still requires that you immediately stop your vehicle and notify the owner of your name, address, and registration number. You should also provide information to a police officer who investigates the crash.
Of course, the car you hit might be unattended. In this case, you should find the owner and provide the relevant information or securely attach a note with your information.
If you leave the scene without satisfying these duties, you can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor and could spend up to 60 days in jail and have to pay a $500 fine.
Bodily Injury or Death
If someone was hurt in the car accident, you have more duties. The person injured could be a motorist or a pedestrian. You must stop your vehicle and provide full information, including name, address, and registration number. If the person you hit is too injured to receive this information, you should go to the police to report the crash.
When it is apparent a person needs medical attention, you must render “reasonable assistance.” This can include transporting a person to the hospital or calling emergency services to request that they come out and pick up the person.
The penalty for leaving the scene of an accident will depend on the victim’s injuries:
- Bodily injury—a third-degree felony with up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
- Death—a first-degree felony with up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Every case depends on the facts, which you can tell us about during a consultation. Some of the more common defenses to this charge have included:
- Not knowing that an accident occurred
- Not knowing that the person was injured by the crash (e.g., the victim had delayed symptoms)
- Not driving the vehicle
- Fear of the victim, who might have become aggressive or belligerent
Some disputes break out over whether the assistance our client rendered was “reasonable” under the law. For example, your own vehicle might have been damaged in the crash, so you could not transport someone to the hospital. If your phone was also broken, you might have walked to the nearest house to get assistance.
Speak with a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Skubiak & Rivas, P.A., has represented drivers for decades. We aggressively defend our clients and methodically identify the best course of defense. For help with your case, please contact us today to schedule a free consultation.