These drivers may avoid a criminal charge of hit and run under this new ruling, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be responsible for paying damages in a civil case.
West Palm Beach, FL (PRWEB) March 15, 2015
West Palm Beach car accident attorneys at Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., today said victims injured in hit-and-run accidents still have options to collect compensation, despite a recent Florida Supreme Court decision on hit-and-run drivers that makes it tougher to get criminal convictions against people who leave crash scenes.
The lawyers commented on a Feb. 26 report in PalmBeachPost.com (“Boca Raton crash sparks Florida Supreme Court ruling on hit-and-run”). According to the news story, drivers who leave the scene of an accident in Florida cannot be prosecuted unless there is proof they knew they were in a crash. The Post reported that the state’s highest court on Feb. 26 upheld a January 2013 ruling from Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal overturning a man’s conviction and two-year prison sentence for leaving the scene of an accident involving injury.
Adriana Gonzalez, an experienced West Palm Beach accident lawyer at Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., said the ruling does not mean victims and families who lost loved ones in hit-and-run accidents lose their right to recover compensation for their accident-related losses.
“Our attorneys thoroughly investigate accidents to find out who was at fault so we can hold that individual accountable. Drivers who are texting or otherwise distracted or impaired might be oblivious to the fact that they hit a pedestrian,” Gonzalez said. “These drivers may avoid a criminal charge of hit and run under this new ruling, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be responsible for paying damages in a civil case.”
Gonzalez said some hit-and-run drivers flee a crash scene because they don’t have any insurance. “In accidents with uninsured drivers or hit-and-run drivers who are never found, victims can file a claim with their own insurance company if they have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage,” Gonzalez said. “These cases can be complicated. The insurance company will likely try to minimize the payout. That’s why it’s important to talk with an attorney after any type of hit-and-run accident.”
Gonzalez noted that Florida does not require motorists to carry UM coverage, but insurance companies are required to offer it.
“It’s not an expensive addition to a policy, especially when considering the benefits. We recommend all drivers add this coverage,” Gonzalez said.
According to PalmBeachPost.com, victims and family members said they were upset by the court’s decision, which appears to be a victory for defendants in hit-and-run accident cases throughout Florida.
“I feel like it’s a slap in the face, not just to us, but to all hit-and-run victims out there,” said the mother of a 15-year-old skateboarder who suffered traumatic brain injuries after being hit by a car that left the scene, according to the Post.
While criminal charges might not be filed against a hit-and-run driver, West Palm Beach attorney Charles Cartwright of Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., said a civil lawsuit can help victims obtain justice.
“Our job is not only about getting money for victims, but helping the injured and their families get closure,” Cartwright said. “A settlement or verdict can send a message throughout the community that the negligent behavior that caused the injury or death will not be tolerated.”
About Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A.
Charles Cartwright obtained his law degree from the University of Miami in 1993 and has been practicing law in South Florida for over 20 years. Well versed in all steps of the personal injury process, Cartwright is an AV-rated attorney who has received the highest rating from Martindale Hubbell.
Adriana Gonzalez obtained her law degree from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Florida, and is the current president of the Palm Beach County Hispanic Bar Association. Gonzalez has appeared on Spanish language television and radio stations discussing legal issues important to the Hispanic community. In 2014, Super Lawyers named her one of Florida’s Rising Stars for her work in personal injury law. It was the third year in a row Gonzalez received the honor. She also was elected to the board of the Palm Beach County Justice Association in 2013.
For more information on what to do if you’ve been injured or a loved one died in an accident in South Florida, call (561) 533-0345. The consultation is free and confidential. Gonzalez & Cartwright handles cases on a contingency fee basis, which means clients pay nothing unless there is recovery.
Gonzalez & Cartwright is located at 813 Lucerne Ave, Lake Worth FL 33460. Visit http://www.gonzalezcartwright.com