A 27-year-old British tourist vacationing in South Florida was killed recently in a hit-and-run. Witnesses say the BMW that struck him was traveling at upwards of 100 mph. The driver reportedly got out of the vehicle after the collision and fled on foot, leaving three female passengers inside the car. Police are still looking for that driver.
Authorities say the tourist, who is an airline worker vacationing with a friend, was using a zebra crosswalk on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach when the collision occurred.
A witness later told The Daily Mail it appeared as if the driver was traveling up to 100 mph. The impact of the collision was so forceful, the victim ended up nearly 100 yards away from the point of impact.
Investigators haven’t yet indicated whether they believe the driver may have been drunk or on drugs. However, it may not matter in terms of criminal penalties. Florida legislators, recognizing the gap in penalties between a fatal hit-and-run and DUI manslaughter, concluded drunk and drugged drivers had incentive to flee. This past year, that loophole was closed, and individuals convicted of both crimes face a minimum mandatory four-year prison term. The provision is F.S. 316.027, also known as the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act.
With regard to the civil wrongful death case that will also likely follow, it does sound hopeful the at-fault driver will be caught. After all, authorities have:
- The vehicle
- A physical description of the driver
- Three witnesses who were in the vehicle with him at the time of the collision
That’s far more than most hit-and-run investigators have to start.
Unfortunately, hit-and-run crashes are a major – and growing – problem in Florida. The Florida Highway Patrol reports there was a 23 percent increase in fatal hit-and-run accidents from 2013 to 2014. Nearly half of those killed in hit-and-run collisions in 2014 were pedestrians, like the one in this case. Further, about a quarter of all crashes in the state are hit-and-run accidents.
In cases where the at-fault driver is never located, there is the option of pursuing uninsured motorist coverage. It is exactly for instances like this that such coverage exists. Uninsured motorist coverage provides a certain amount of compensation (up to the policy limits) when a person is injured or killed as a result of a collision with a driver who lacks insurance, as required by law, or when the person is not identified.
Florida does not mandate that all drivers carry UM coverage, but it’s highly recommended. It can also be used when an insured is struck by a vehicle while walking or riding a bicycle; he or she need not be behind the wheel or in a car for the coverage to kick in.
For tourists, the situation may be a bit more tricky, as many may not have this important form of protection. Many visitors do carry some form of short-term insurance to cover incidents abroad resulting in injury. These plans often cover medical expenses and certain incidental costs, but may not cover pain and suffering or punitive damages.
Where the driver in a hit-and-run accident is caught, a claim may be filed directly against that person (and/or his insurer). If the vehicle that person was driving did not belong to him or her, the vehicle owner may also be held vicariously liable. There are also sometimes incidents in which a bar or restaurant may be held liable, if the driver was drunk and a minor and had been served alcohol by a licensed establishment.
If the driver is never found, your injury attorney should explore whether any other defendants are identifiable. For example, perhaps the design of the road was dangerous. Maybe a piece of protective gear you were wearing was defective. Determining all potential sources of compensation and holding each accountable is our goal.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
British tourist knocked down and killed by hit-and-run driver ‘doing 100mph’ as he used pedestrian crossing in Miami, Oct. 14, 2015, By Sam Tonkin, Daily Mail
More Blog Entries:
Clifton v. McCammack – Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, Oct. 11, 2015, Fort Lauderdale Accident Lawyer Blog