A Driver’s Responsibility in an Accident Where Bodily Injury or Death Occurs
Involvement in a car accident quite often leaves the drivers and passengers in an agitated and nervous state that making it difficult to process the events and make rational decisions. This discombobulation is even more pronounced if someone suffered an injury or died in the accident, and leads to some drivers fleeing the scene in a panic. A recent news story out of Sarasota County recounts an accident involving a gas-tanker truck driver and a 16-year-old high school student. The truck driver rear-ended the student’s car, and was killed following ejection from the vehicle. The student fled the scene, abandoned the car, and was discovered by police several hours later. While it does not appear the student was at fault, it is a felony to flee the scene of a car accident. In fact, Florida has specific laws about how a driver in a car accident with death or injury must respond. Anyone who steps into a car assumes the risk of an accident, and if you are unfortunate enough to suffer an injury in such a situation, it is helpful to know what the law requires of the other driver. If the driver fails to follow the provisions of the law, and you experience additional suffering as result, that information can be used in a personal injury lawsuit to justify a higher damage award.
Duty to Stop
All drivers in a car accident are required to stop at the scene of the crash, or as close as possible the crash site, in order to exchange insurance and personal information with the other driver and render aid as needed. This requirement to remain applies equally to accidents where there are no injuries, accidents with serious injuries, and accidents with fatalities. Drivers should park their vehicles out of the path of traffic, and if a vehicle is damaged, reasonable attempts should be made to move it away from the flow of traffic.
Duty to Aid
As noted above, the main reason a driver is required to remain at the scene of accident is to share information and help others. Florida law specifically obligates a driver involved in accident with an injury or death to offer “reasonable assistance.” Assistance includes carrying or organizing efforts to carry an injured person to a doctor or hospital if it is clear medical help is needed. Assistance is also required if an injured party asks for help to reach medical treatment.
In addition to aiding injured persons, all drivers must provide the following information to other drivers or passengers from vehicles involved in the accident:
- Vehicle registration number; and
- Driver’s license.
This information must also be produced for any police officers attending the scene of the accident to investigate its cause. If no one at the scene is medically able to receive this information and no law enforcement officer is present, the driver must report the crash to the nearest police station and provide his/her information at that time.
If you are injured in a car accident or had a family member killed, a personal injury lawyer can help you determine if the other driver can be held responsible for your suffering. The lawyers at the Miami law firm of Pita Weber Del Prado have years of combined experience in these matters and can help you sort out the options for your case. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.