Auto accidents affect millions of Americans every year, whether through death, injury, property damage or financial loss. Whether you are the party at fault, or an innocent victim, it pays to understand the laws of the highway and be familiar with your rights and duties.
Christopher Williams, 47, was the victim of an auto accident. Struck by an SUV in a Sarasota hit and run, Williams died at the driveway of his home. Police are still investigating who was responsible for the accident. For failing to stop, the driver now faces possible felony charges.
Your duty to stop
Under Florida law, if you are involved in an accident that leads to death or injury, you are required to stop your car as close as possible to the scene of the crash, without obstructing traffic, and remain at the scene until you have fulfilled your legal obligations:
Give your contact information, vehicle registration number and driver’s license to the other party and to the police officer investigating the crash.
Provide appropriate assistance to the injured person in order to help them get medical treatment.
If the injured person is unconscious or otherwise unable to receive the information, and no police officer is on the scene, you must immediately report the accident to the local police.
If you cause damage to an unattended vehicle or property, you are required to stop immediately, and either notify the owner of the vehicle or property, or leave a note with your details. You may also need to notify the local police.
The penalties for not stopping
If you do not stop your car after you have been involved in an accident that results in an injury, you could face imprisonment for up to five years and a fine up to $5,000. If the accident results in a death, failure to stop can lead to up to 30 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. If the accident led to property or vehicle damage only, you could face imprisonment of up to 60 days, and a fine of up to $500. In addition to imprisonment and a fine, your driver’s license will be revoked, and the court likely will order you to pay restitution to the victim for any loss you caused.
Failing to stop at the scene of an accident can have serious consequences that may affect you for the rest of your life.