Fatal Hit-and-Run Crash in St. Petersburg
Authorities have few leads as they search for a man who was driving a stolen car when he caused a fatal crash and then fled the scene on foot.
The wreck occurred near the intersection of 40th Street South and Ninth Avenue South. Police say that an unknown person driving a stolen Mercedes smacked into a Chevrolet carrying multiple people. The driver and a passenger were rushed to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. Doctors say the driver is expected to survive, but the passenger was declared dead. Police believe that the Mercedes driver fled on foot before being picked up by another driver.
None of the names were released.
Tracking Down the Tortfeasor
Evidence collection is the foundation of most successful car wreck claims. This process is a bit different following a hit-and-run crash. Evidence does more than build a case. It also helps a Tampa personal injury attorney fully inform victims of their legal options.
At the beginning, both police investigators and personal injury attorneys usually have little to go on. Frequently, police investigators give up. They mostly view car crashes as civil disputes anyway. But an attorney, usually partnering with a private investigator, keeps looking. Some common techniques include:
- Reviewing Surveillance Video: Traffic and/or security cameras cover almost every intersection in the Tampa Bay area. This footage often yields important data about the tortfeasor (negligent driver), or at least the tortfeasor’s vehicle.
- Finding Additional Witnesses: For various reasons, many eyewitnesses do not loiter at crash scenes so they can speak with police officers. Experienced lawyers and investigators know how to find additional witnesses, approach them, and convince them to share their stories.
- Staking Out the Area: Most vehicle collisions occur within a few miles of home. So, there is a good chance the tortfeasor will return to the scene of an accident. If that happens, the evidentiary payoff could be huge.
A little evidence goes a long way in civil court. The burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That’s substantially different from the burden of proof in criminal court, which is beyond a reasonable doubt.
Assume there are no eyewitnesses to a fatal hit-and-run. Enhanced surveillance video shows a dark-color sedan with a license plate number ending in “KC” strike the victim. Another witness, who was a few blocks away, saw a dark blue sedan speeding away from the accident scene.
This evidence would never hold up in criminal court. But a personal injury lawyer can use this information to locate the vehicle’s owner. It is more likely than not that the owner was driving at the time, unless the owner has a rock-solid alibi.
Damages in these cases usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Legal Options in Hit-and-Run Claims
It’s not always possible to locate the tortfeasor (at-fault party) in a hit-and-run case. Fortunately, many victims have legal options to pursue against an insurance company. Hiring an experienced lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of pursuing a hit and run claim with your insurance company.
Count On Experienced Lawyers
Hit-and-run victims usually have several legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer, contact the Matassini Law Firm, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Hillsborough County and nearby jurisdictions.