A recent news story involving a hit and run accident has captured a lot of attention across the Tampa Bay area recently. When a Plant High School student was visiting family in Tallahassee over Thanksgiving weekend, a car tragically struck her as she tried to cross the street and the driver fled the scene. The victim was Jacqueline Faircloth, a Plant High School senior, who suffered major head trauma, chest injuries, a broken jaw and a broken eardrum. Faircloth was in critical but stable condition at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and has experienced improvement, but continues to remain in a medically induced coma to limit brain swelling. An arrest has been made and more details continue to unravel, but it is a striking reminder of the severity of such an incident and the damage that can occur in a split second.
As for the driver of the vehicle that struck Faircloth, records indicate he had no prior criminal record in Florida. Reports indicate the driver panicked, not knowing what to do, but had the passenger traveling with the offender not come forward, police could still be searching for the perpetrator. Interestingly, hitting a pedestrian is not necessarily considered a criminal act if it is an accident and the driver stays at the scene until certain statutory duties have been fulfilled. These duties include notifying law enforcement, presenting a valid driver’s license, exchanging pertinent information and in a case where injuries are involved, provide reasonable aid to the injured party until help arrives. These requirements are covered under 316.062, the duty to give information and render aid provision. By not providing the general information required without injury, you may be charged with a civil infraction and should seek guidance from a qualified attorney. As soon as the driver leaves the scene of the accident, however, it is considered to be a hit-and-run.
Hit-and-run accidents often involve pedestrians or bicyclists – and Florida is among one of the more dangerous states in the nation for this type of accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports Florida pedestrian accidents have increased since 2012, when the number of hit-and-run crashes totaled nearly 70,000.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Injury
The crime of leaving the scene of an accident where serious bodily injury is involved is a second degree felony and punishable by up to 15 years in prison. If death results, it becomes a 1st degree felony punishable by up to 30 years. See Florida Statute 361.027.
If you are in a circumstance where you have fled the scene of a hit-and-run accident and would like to know options for avoiding formal conviction, attorneys at McIntyre Thanasides can help. We can guide you through your options to explore potentially reducing the charge, depending on the circumstances. In some cases, a strategy may include entering a pre-trial intervention program or making negotiations for withholding adjudication. We can also assist with trial if the facts and the case warrant it. There are several defenses to leaving the scene that may pertain to your situation. These options can be explored in more detail by speaking to one of our personal injury attorneys directly. Contact us to learn more about your legal rights when involved in a hit-and-run.