Earlier this month, The Miami Herald reported on the unfortunate death of a Florida International University student as a result of a hit-and-run accident. Forty-three year-old Melita Jaric was walking across Southwest 11th Street in Miami, Florida, when she was struck by a car driven by an unknown individual.
Jaric suffered serious injuries, including a fractured skull and left arm, as well as experiencing substantial swelling of the brain. Jaric was transported to nearby Jackson Memorial Hospital where she remained in a coma for several days before succumbing to her substantial injuries.
Investigators interviewed neighbors following the incident, many of whom complained that the four-way-stop at the intersection is regularly ignored. According to one resident, “This street has become like a race track. Everybody passes by here. Don’t respect the stop sign.”
A recent press release issued by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles indicated that there has been a substantial increase of fatal hit and run car accidents in Florida over the last couple years. The total number of hit and run accidents occurring in Florida in 2012 was 69,994. Between 2011 and 2012, hit and run crashes that resulted in fatalities increased from 162 to 168, and three out five of the 2012 fatalities were pedestrians.
There are a number of reasons why a motorist might flee the scene after being involved in a motor vehicle accident. Florida requires motorists to have car insurance to get a driver’s license, however, many individuals who don’t qualify for or can’t afford insurance choose to drive anyway. Unfortunately, when these uninsured individuals are involved in an accident they sometimes flee because their lack of insurance is illegal and realize they will be held responsible.
Florida law requires anyone involved in a car accident to remain at the scene and render aid and provide information. According to Florida Statutes Title XXII Section 316.027, “the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash***that results in the death of any person must immediately stop the vehicle***and remain at the scene.” Leaving the scene of an accident is a felony if there is a fatality or injuries and can result in a prison sentence of up to thirty years, as well as a hefty fine.
It is crucial that, following a car accident, the involved parties immediately contact the police and obtain the contact information of witnesses. This is especially important when the accident is a hit-and-run, as the negligent party may never be located. Witness information may be integral to identifying and locating the hit-and-run driver and holding him or her responsible for the accident.
Good Samaritan laws protect law abiding citizens from rendering aid or providing assistance to accident victims and others who are injured. This includes rendering medical care, and has even been applied where citizens have helped apprehend hit and run driver’s, drunk drivers, and others that may flee the scene of any accident.
Car accident claims can be particularly complex, and only become more difficult when the at-fault driver is nowhere to be found. The Miami car accident attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. have extensive experience representing individuals in all area of South Florida including Miami Dade and Fort Lauderdale who have been seriously injured in car, auto, and motorcycle accidents and by negligent or reckless drivers. If you or someone you know has been injured in car or automobile accident, contact a Miami, Florida injury lawyer at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. for a free consultation. Call (877) 475-2905