Car Accident 101: How to Handle a Hit & Run

Crucial Steps You Need to Take Moments After

In recent years, hit-and-run car accidents have become an increasing problem for drivers. According to Florida law, you must stop and remain at the scene of any car accident to fulfill certain legal duties – especially when the accident involves death, bodily injury, or property damage. These duties include things like exchanging information. If you a hit an unattended car, you must attempt to locate the owner or operator. If no one is available, provide a written notice of the accident to the owner or operator (such as by leaving a note under the windshield wiper). Even after you take these steps after hitting an unattended vehicle, Florida law says you must notify the nearest law enforcement agency of the crash. Failing to follow these steps is what is commonly known as a hit-and-run.

Why do Hit-and-Runs Happen?

The at-fault drivers might turn a car accident into a hit-and-run situation for many different reasons – the person may be avoiding law enforcement, they could have illegal substances or objects in the vehicle, they could be driving under the influence,  they could be wanting to avoid making an insurance claim, or they could be uninsured/underinsured.

An at-fault driver can be held to some serious consequences for committing a hit-and-run no matter what their reason is. At the same time, this can put you in a tough situation if you have been the victim of a hit-and-run car accident and you may not know what to do next. It is best to be educated about what to do next before you find yourself in a situation like this so you can make sure that the other driver is held accountable and you are not responsible for the damages done to yourself or the car.

Don’t Let a Hit-and-Run Catch You Unprepared

Some tips to help you if you have been involved in a hit-and-run situation are listed below. The more details and information you are able to give authorities, the more likely they are able to find the person who accountable for the incident. Steps to take moments after a hit-and-run car accident:

  1. Stay calm – Check to make sure you are okay and check to see if your vehicle is in working enough condition to move off the road as to not obstruct traffic.
  2. Call 911 – Request police to the scene and any medical attention needed.
  3. Write down as much information and details as you can – do this as soon as you can while you remember things most clearly.
    • Time, date, and location of the accident
    • If you WERE present and saw the car that hit you:
      • Color, Make, Model, and License Plate Number of the other car
      • Physical description of driver if possible
      • All damages found to the car
    • If you WERE NOT present for the accident:
      • All damages found to car
      • Condition of the car after the accident
  4. Seek out witnesses and get their contact information –  Witnesses are a crucial factor in hit-and-run cases.
  5. Take pictures of your car and accident scene – if the other car’s paint is visible on the damage this will help to prove you are not trying to defraud your insurance company.

The More Information You Have, The Better!

When Law enforcement arrives, be sure to give them as much information as you can for their report. Making sure you have proper coverage on your vehicle can also be a huge factor in the outcome of a hit-and-run car accident. You may think you have “full coverage”, but you should check your policy to see if it includes Underinsured and Uninsured Coverage.

A hit-and-run car accident can be scary; The process following doesn’t have to be a hassle so long as you are educated ahead of time. Having more information can increase the chances of the police finding who is responsible for the car accident; This can help your insurance company make decisions about your claim.  Insurance companies can also be tough to deal with following a hit-and-run and you should be sure to report the incident to them as soon as possible.

After any car accident, the main priority is your well-being. After that, you want to be sure to have aggressive and experienced representation on your side. If you have any more questions about what to do after a car accident or call Jennifer Meksraitis for a free consultation at (813) 600-3197 or contact her via email.

Knowing How to Handle an Arrest or Criminal Charges

Criminal Lawyer Tampa Florida

Exercise Your Rights

There are important steps you can take to exercise your rights when dealing with criminal allegations:

  1. REMAIN SILENT: Regardless of your circumstance, you must remain silent. Whether you have been arrested or are being investigated, do not speak to anyone without consulting a lawyer first. Don’t talk to the police, friends, relatives, or other people in jail. Everything you say, whether true or not, can and will be used against you. REMAIN SILENT BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT. Your right to remain silent CANNOT be used against you; however, you may provide your name, and if driving, your driver’s license.
  2. DON’T PLEAD: Do not plead guilty or no contest until you speak with a lawyer. Even if you think you are guilty, have a lawyer evaluate all of your legal options first, before you plead anything. If you plead GUILTY or NO CONTEST and are sentenced, you may be CONVICTED. In criminal court, there is no real difference between pleading guilty and pleading no contest. The result is the same and you are sentenced exactly the same, based upon the plea deal worked out with the prosecutor. Notably, this is extremely important in DUI, Domestic Battery, and Drug Possession cases.

In sum, pleading your case or pleading guilty may seem like a fast and easy solution, but a criminal conviction can affect you for the rest of your life. When applying for a job or a loan, renting an apartment, renewing a green card, obtaining a professional license, traveling abroad, or buying insurance — you will be judged FOREVER by that one mistake.

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship and is simply intended to provide information regarding auto insurance coverage. It is not a complete explanation but a summary regarding a specific topic of auto insurance coverage. Many details are excluded from this summary with the intent of brevity.

Can the Police Really Search There?

You’ve seen the crime shows, and you know that the police need a warrant to search your home. You may even know that the Fourth Amendment protects you against unlawful search and seizure.

But when an officer actually knocks on your door, will you know what to do? Do you know your constitutional rights? By the end of this article, you will.

Consent to Search

If the police show up at your door, do not give them permission to come inside and look around. By doing so, you’re waiving your Fourth Amendment rights and allowing the police to perform a search without a warrant and without probable cause.

You may be wondering if the police will tell you your rights as they do with arrests. But the answer is no: the police do not need to inform you about your right to refuse consent. Be clear when you talk to the police. Say the following: “I do not give consent for you to search my property.”

If they keep talking to you, respond to every question by refusing your consent.

If you accidentally let the police begin searching your home, you can still revoke consent. Just say the words, “I revoke my consent to this search,” and the police are required by law to stop.

Probable Cause

If you refuse consent to search your house, the police must establish probable cause to get a search warrant, except for extreme situations.

Just what does probable cause mean, though? It depends on the situation. Many law dictionaries define probable cause as enough evidence that a prudent person would think something is true.

Unfortunately, you don’t get to determine whether the evidence shows probable cause—the judge who issues the warrant does. However, if you are accused of a crime, talk with your lawyer about whether there was sufficient cause for a warrant.

Search Warrants

In the United States, search warrants must be both specific and reasonable, and the police must stay within those limits. For instance, if a search warrant allows officers to search your bedroom, they may not legally search your kitchen unless they get another warrant.

Carefully review the search warrant when the police present it, and keep an eye on them as they search your house. If they wander into areas of your house not outlined in the warrant, remind them again that you do not give them consent to search other parts of your house. Otherwise, you risk forfeiting some of your rights.

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

Though it’s crucial to know your rights, it’s just as important to know the limits to your rights. Though the police need a warrant to search your house, you can’t prevent searches in areas that aren’t your private property. The police can always search public restrooms, jail cells, and garbage set out for collection in a public place.

Also remember that you may not have control over some things the police can search. If your workplace gave you a cell phone to use for business, the company controls whether the police can search it. The same thing goes for rented property—your landlord decides if the police need a search warrant.

Inevitable Discovery

If the police discover evidence that they can easily find without a search, they’re allowed to use it in court. For example, if the police see illegal drugs on your passenger seat when they pull you over for speeding, they can use those drugs as evidence later. Be careful where you place your personal items. To best protect your privacy, stow all your items in the trunk or glove box when you drive.

Exclusionary Rule

In case the police do find enough evidence to arrest you, talk to your lawyer immediately about the search process. If the police searched your property illegally, you can have the evidence dismissed from court.

When the police knock on your door, tell them they need to get a warrant if they want to search your home. Then call your lawyer and discuss your strategy. You can’t be too careful about protecting your Fourth Amendment rights. For aggressive, experienced representation call Jennifer Meksraitis at 813-600-3197, or use the contact form.