Accidents, Criminal DefenseLaw 101: Leaving the Scene of An Accident With Injuries in Florida

leaving the scene of an accident

PORCARO LAW: Law 101: Leaving the Scene of An Accident With Injuries in Florida

According to data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, over 100,000 reported accidents in 2022 were the result of hit-and-run collisions. Among those crashes, 22,309 resulted in minor to severe injuries and 255 were fatalities. Unfortunately, drivers leaving the scene of an accident with injuries in Florida accounts for one of the largest percentages of accidents on state roadways each year. The cause of these crashes spans from minor fender-benders to tragic pedestrian deaths, all of which can lead to criminal charges if convicted. 

Because the number of hit-and-run accidents are rising gradually throughout the Sunshine State, it’s important for you to fully understand the repercussions these crashes can have as well as what the law entails if you are charged. Most often, the circumstances of the accident dictate how the law will approach each case. If you or a family member has fallen victim to a hit-and-run crash and aren’t sure what to do next, the right defense attorney can help you weigh your options and build an effective strategy for fighting your claim.   

Porcaro Law Group has handled countless hit-and-run cases in South Florida. Let us help you navigate this sensitive time with the support of our compassionate and knowledgeable legal team. Are you the victim of a hit-and-run in South Florida? Call us right away to discuss your options!   

Florida Law on Hit and Run with Injury

Florida Statutes, Sections 316.061-316.063, defines leaving the scene of an accident as, “the driver of any vehicle involved in a crash resulting only in damage to a vehicle or other property which is driven or attended by any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such crash or as close thereto as possible, and shall forthwith return to, and in every event shall remain at, the scene of the crash….”. 

The act of departing the scene will immediately put you in bad standing through the eyes of the law. Regardless of who caused the accident, stopping and staying near the scene of the crash is the most important step in upholding your statutory duty as the at-fault driver. Beyond remaining in close proximity to the crash, you are also required to present your driver’s license, registration and any other personal details to the injured party and/or law officials at the scene.

In many cases, there are little to no witnesses nearby when a hit-and-run accident takes place. This makes it extremely difficult for injured parties to gather evidence on the spot. In addition, having someone close by to notify help if the collision resulted in bodily injury or death. Florida traffic laws clearly outline the role of responsibility in a motor vehicle collision. The other driver is obligated to provide “reasonable assistance” in times of need. 

Florida legislation defines “reasonable assistance” as seeking help for the other driver in the event of bodily injuries or death. This includes calling emergency services for transportation to a nearby hospital or taking action to get the driver out of harm’s way. 

Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Injuries in Florida

Under Florida law, the penalties for leaving the scene of an accident will generally vary between a misdemeanor to felony charges depending on the resulting injuries and/or fatalities of the parties involved. Even if the crash only involved property damage, you can anticipate a criminal offense. When drugs or alcohol are involved, the repercussions heighten. Any driver who fled the scene while under the influence will face a mandatory minimum sentence of two years. 

The legal consequences in Florida leaving the scene of an accident:

Property Damage
  • Second-degree misdemeanor
  • Up to 60 days in jail and $500 fine
Injuries
  • Second or third degree felony
  • Revoked driver’s license for at least 3 years
  • Up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 fine
Fatalities 
  • First-degree felony
  • Revoked license for at least 3 years
  • Mandatory minimum sentence of 4 years in prison, up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine

These penalties should always be taken seriously, particularly in cases when severe bodily injury or death is the result of the accident. If you are involved in a crash, Florida law requires you to remain at the scene and call for help. Following this protocol is the best way to avoid legal trouble. 

Exceptions to the rule

Any unlawful departure before information is exchanged and help is notified, especially if a person has sustained injuries, is considered a criminal traffic offense in Florida. There are no exceptions for leaving the scene, regardless of who or what caused the accident. Even if the wreck involves damage to a stationary vehicle, the person responsible has a statutory duty to notify the owner. If your attempt to locate the owner fails, your next best step is to form a written notice with your name, address, and details of the accident in addition to contacting local law enforcement. 

We recognize the aftermath of a hit-and-run car accident can be both frightening and distressing. This can cause drivers to act irrationally and make poor decisions, such as leaving the scene in shock. Many times, drivers don’t even realize what they’ve done until it’s too late and law enforcement has stepped in. 

Fortunately, attorneys can help to minimize the consequences of a criminal offense by using a variety of defense tactics. For instance, showing that the driver left the scene to get help or acted reasonably within Florida statutes. Though the law gives no exceptions, an experienced hit-and-run attorney can negotiate with the prosecution to find a solution that doesn’t involve jail time or a criminal record. 

What to Do If You Are Involved in an Accident with Injuries in Florida

Understanding Florida law on hit-and-runs with injuries is the simplest way to know how to handle this type of accident. In the likelihood you become entangled in an accident where the driver flees the scene, here’s the exact steps you should take; given you’re not in immediate need of medical services:

Step 1 Move your vehicle to a safe location nearby. Remain as close to the scene as possible. 
Step 2 Check to see that all passengers are okay.
Step 3 Call the police or emergency services if the accident caused injuries or death.
Step 4 Write down what you remember about the hit-and-run driver (ex: type of vehicle)
Step 5 Evaluate the scene. Look for evidence that could be useful in identifying the other driver.
Step 6 Exchange information with eye witnesses.
Step 7 Take pictures of the scene, property damage, and resulting injuries.
Step 8 Inform your insurance provider.

Naturally, every hit-and-run case won’t play out the same. With that said, it’s important to gather as much evidence as possible at the scene of the crime. This helps investigators locate the runaway driver. In order to prove the crime took place, the state of Florida will need to show that the person driving the vehicle was involved in a crash which led to injury or death of another person. They will also need to establish that the person in question was aware of the accident and willingly left on their own accord without rendering aid for others involved in the crash.

Conclusion 

Florida Statutes strictly defines the penalties for leaving the scene of an accident with injuries in Florida. Therefore, if you become involved in a motor vehicle collision and willingly leave the scene before information is exchanged or medical help is provided, you will likely face a series of criminal repercussions. These criminal offenses aren’t short-term either. Having a hit-and-run on your record can impact your future housing and job opportunities. For those reasons, it’s vital for all drivers to be informed on the severity of these penalties. 

Take the time to familiarize yourself with Florida’s leaving the scene of an accident law. Because these types of accidents are both alarming and stressful, it’s encouraged to seek legal representation for any accident involved with injuries. An experienced hit-and-run lawyer will understand the process and take the necessary steps for obtaining compensation.  

Contact Porcaro Law for legal guidance 

If you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run accident and are looking for legal representation, the attorneys at Porcaro Law Group are here to fight on your behalf. Our team works round-the-clock to bring justice to our clients through tough litigation. With our expansive background in criminal defense law, you’ll be assured from the very start that your interests are always best protected. That is why we support our clients through every stage of the litigation process, and remain an email or phone call away for any questions you may have. 

Call us at (561) 450-9355 to discuss your hit-and-run accident with Peter Porcaro and his legal associates. 

Call Now Button

Camp Lejeune Lawsuit

Were you stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1953-1987? Contact the attorneys at Porcaro Law Group immediately to discuss your legal options.