Legal Options Following a Hit and Run Crash
Researchers are not exactly sure what motivates certain drivers to leave the scene of an accident. Most likely, these individuals believe that the consequences of causing a car crash outweigh the risk of getting caught. Due to the booming number of wild, crazy, and lawless people living or traveling through here, Florida has one of the highest number of hit-and-run wrecks in the country.
Many hit-and-run crash victims do not reach out to a Tampa personal injury attorney even if they are seriously injured. They reason that if there is no tortfeasor (negligent driver), they cannot possibly have a claim for damages. Not to put too fine a point on it, but these people are just as mistaken as the drivers who think they can get away with it.
Tracking Down the Tortfeasor
It is true that, in order to obtain maximum compensation, the tortfeasor must be identified, in most cases. Unfortunately, unless the victim was killed, Tampa law enforcement agencies quickly abandon the search for missing tortfeasors. They view these situations as civil matters between two insurance companies.
So, a Tampa car crash lawyer must obtain additional evidence. There are a number of possible sources, such as:
- Additional Witness Statements: Emergency responders generally only interview people who voluntarily come forward at the scene. Then, they may supplement this weak effort with an equally-weak public plea for additional information. But a diligent attorney goes door-to-door, if necessary, to find more witnesses. In nearly all cases, somebody saw something.
- Video Evidence: Many times, a camera several blocks away caught part of a license plate number or some other identifying feature. A thin clue like this is usually enough for an energetic attorney to track down the tortfeasor.
- Auto Repair Shops: A tortfeasor on the run will probably not go to a reputable or well-known body shop for repairs. Instead, this individual takes the damaged vehicle to an under-the-radar body shop. An experienced lawyer knows where to find these places.
The lower burden of proof plays a role here as well. In criminal court, prosecutors must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, generally speaking someone must see the tortfeasor cause the crash. That’s almost impossible to prove.
But in civil court, the burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). So, if an attorney identifies the vehicle, that may be enough. It is more likely than not that the vehicle owner was also the vehicle driver at any given time.
Damages in a hit-and-run case usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, as well as noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are often available as well. Most Hillsborough County jurors detest hit-and-run drivers, so they are eager to punish them.
Reach Out to Dedicated Lawyers
Hit-and-run victims have several legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Home and hospital visits are available.