Leaving the Scene of an Accident Attorney
Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Leaving the scene of an accident, also known as a ‘hit and run,’ is a very common crime in Florida. Whether you fled due to fear of the consequences, had been drinking, panicked, or because you didn’t believe there was damage, Sean McQuaid can help. He specializes in these cases and has handled every type of leaving the scene charge imaginable during his career.
If you have been charged with leaving the scene of an accident in Pinellas County, then you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible for the best possible outcome. The sooner that you get in front of the case, the better the chances for a lenient resolution.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Attorney in Pinellas County
Sean McQuaid has been successfully defending people charged with leaving the scene of an accident for over 20 years. Mr. McQuaid is President at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., which for over 60 years has been providing the Tampa Bay area with exceptional legal assistance.
Mr. McQuaid is highly respected by the State Attorney’s Office and the judges at the Pinellas Justice Center and has received a perfect ranking from numerous review sources from his peers, the judges he practices in front of and his clients and their families. He knows every judge and prosecutor that will be handling your case and this can be a big advantage for you.
If you face charges for leaving the scene of an accident, please contact Sean McQuaid today for a free consultation.
What is ‘Leaving the Scene of an Accident’?
Leaving the scene of an accident (or a ‘Hit and Run’) is the failure of a driver to stay at the auto accident scene until their statutory duties are fulfilled.
Florida Statutes, Sections 316.061-316.063, state a driver must remain at the crash scene when property damage, bodily injury or death has occurred. This is necessary regardless of who is at-fault for the auto accident. This is not the time to decide or admit who was at fault.
Statutory Duties for Auto Accidents Involving Property Damage
- Immediately stop the vehicle at the scene or as close as possible.
- Notify the driver or owner of the damaged property of your name, address and registration number.
- Show your driver’s license if requested by the other party.
- Provide your license, registration and address to law enforcement.
- If there were no witnesses, you must attempt to locate the property owner. If unsuccessful in your search, you must securely attach a written notice with your name, address and account of the accident to a clear location at the scene.
- Notify law enforcement about the accident.
Statutory Duties for Auto Accidents Involving Serious Injury or Death
- Immediately stop your vehicle at the accident scene or as close as possible.
- Provide your name, address and registration to the other party.
- Provide your license, registration and address to law enforcement.
- If obvious medical treatment is requested or required by the other party, you must provide ‘reasonable assistance’ – such as transporting or arranging transportation to a hospital.
- If the other party isn’t able to receive information, you must report the accident to the nearest police authority.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Pinellas County
In Florida, the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident depends on whether there was property damage, injury, serious injury, or death.
|Property Damage and No Injuries||Injuries||Serious Bodily Injuries||Fatalities|
|Second Degree Misdemeanor||Third-degree felony||Second-degree felony||First-degree felony|
|Up to 60 days in jail.||Up to five years in prison||Up to 15 years in prison.||Up to 30 years in prison.|
|Six months’ probation.||Five years of probation.||$5,000 fine.||A minimum mandatory four years in prison.|
|$500 fine.||$5,000 fine.||Loss of license for a minimum of three years.||Up to $10,000 fine.|
|Loss of license for a minimum of three years.||Loss of license for a minimum of three years.|
Defenses to Hit and Run in Pinellas County
With the help of a leaving the scene of an accident attorney in Pinellas County, there are a number of defensive strategies to tackle the severity of the conviction. In some cases, we may be able to claim :
- Lack of knowledge that there was a collision with another person, vehicle or property.
- Mistaken identity.
- No property damage was caused.
- The other driver became hostile or threatening, causing you to leave the scene.
- The other driver refused to receive identifying information.
- You believed you hit an animal or debris.
- You provided assistance within the statutory limits of what was ‘reasonable’.
- You stopped as close to the scene as possible.
- You were responding to another emergency, such as going to a hospital or transporting a woman in labor.
- Your failure to stop was not intentional but dedicated by circumstances.
- Your vehicle was stolen or had been reported as stolen during the time when the accident occurred.
What If You Were At Fault for a Hit and Run?
Leaving the scene of accident charges are strictly enforced by the police. Sometimes, if you simply drove a short distance before stopping, they will charge you. But, even if you were at fault, you may be able to reduce the consequences, depending on the circumstances. It is critical that you contact a hit and run attorney in Pinellas County as soon as possible to gather evidence before it’s too late.
As leaving the scene of the accident attorneys, we will help guide you through the process and suggest routes to distinguish yourself from other cases. The worst thing you can do is nothing at all. You must immediately come up with a strategy that can reduce your penalties.
Insurance Company to Pay for Leaving the Scene of an Accident
You may also be able to keep your penalties down if your insurance company pays for the damages. In every case, there was an accident and there was damage to a car or injury to another. You should cooperate with your insurance company and try to reach a settlement that compensates them for their damages, such as medical bills, lost wages and/or property damage.
If a settlement is reached, the prosecutor is notified that the victim has been fully reimbursed and the victim has chosen to release the defendant from any liability. The prosecutor will call the alleged victim in every single case, so making sure that they are compensated by insurance is a great way to protect yourself.
Facts about Hit and Runs in Florida
The penalties for leaving the scene of an accident in Florida changed on July 1, 2014, when the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act (section 316.027, Florida Statutes) was signed into Florida law.
The act was named after 31-year old Aaron Cohen, a cyclist and father of two that was killed by an alcohol-impaired driver who left the scene of the crash in February 2012. The driver was sentenced to two years in prison, which was less than what he would have been sentenced to if he had been charged with DUI manslaughter.
The act was signed to impose a mandatory minimum of four years for a driver convicted of hit-and-run involving death.
- From 2015-2020, there were 600,185 hit and run accidents in Florida.
- 1,298 of these resulted in fatalities.
- In 2020, 83% of hit-and-run fatalities occurred during dawn, dusk or nighttime conditions.
- Over a third of all hit and runs involved, 18-27 year olds.
Hire a Hit and Run Lawyer in Pinellas County
In Florida, leaving the scene of an accident is a serious offense, but can be properly managed and mitigated. Keeping your record clean and avoiding jail are always our first priority. In many cases, Mr. McQuaid is able to get the criminal charge reduced down to a civil infraction.
St Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney Sean McQuaid has helped countless people through difficult times following hit and run incidents and unlike most criminal attorneys, actually cares about your future.
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