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Being involved in a hit-and-run accident can leave you feeling frustrated, angry, and helpless, especially when the responsible driver flees the scene without providing any information or assistance. In Florida, leaving the scene of an accident that results in injury, death, or property damage is a severe criminal offense, and law enforcement agencies take these incidents very seriously. If you have been the victim of a hit-and-run, you may wonder how long the investigation will take and what steps the police will take to find the responsible driver.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Florida

Under Florida law, drivers involved in an accident that results in injury, death, or property damage must stop at the scene, provide their contact and insurance information to the other parties involved, and render aid if necessary. Failing to do so constitutes leaving the scene of an accident, also known as a hit-and-run.

The penalties for leaving the scene of an accident in Florida depend on the severity of the incident:

  • Property damage: Leaving the scene of an accident that results in only property damage is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
  • Injuries: Leaving the scene of an accident that results in injuries to another person is a second- or third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
  • Fatalities: Leaving the scene of an accident that results in a fatality is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

In addition to criminal penalties, hit-and-run drivers may also face civil liability for the damages they cause, including medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.

Will Police Investigate a Minor Hit-and-Run?

If you are involved in a minor hit-and-run accident that results in only property harm, you may wonder whether the police will investigate the incident. In most cases, the answer is yes. Law enforcement agencies in Florida must investigate all reported hit-and-run incidents, regardless of the severity of the losses.

The extent of the investigation may vary, however, depending on the available evidence and resources. In minor cases with limited evidence, the investigation may consist primarily of taking a report from the victim and checking for any available surveillance footage or witness statements. More severe cases involving injuries or fatalities will typically receive a higher priority and more extensive investigative efforts.

How Do Police Find Hit-and-Run Drivers?

When investigating a hit-and-run accident, police officers in Florida use a variety of techniques and resources to identify and locate the responsible driver:

  • Witness statements: Officers will interview any witnesses who may have seen the accident or the fleeing vehicle, gathering information about the car’s make, model, color, and license plate number, as well as the driver’s distinguishing features.
  • Surveillance footage: Officers will check for any available surveillance cameras in the area that may have captured the accident or the fleeing vehicle, such as traffic cameras, business security cameras, or residential doorbell cameras.
  • Physical evidence: Officers will collect any physical evidence left at the scene, such as debris from the fleeing vehicle, paint transfers, or skid marks, which can help identify the car’s make and model.
  • Database searches: Officers will run the license plate number or vehicle description through various databases, such as the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles registry, to identify the vehicle’s registered owner.
  • Public outreach: In some cases, officers may release information about the accident and the fleeing vehicle to the public through news media or social media, asking for help identifying the responsible driver.

How Long after a Hit-and-Run Will Police Contact You?

The time it takes for the police to contact you after a hit-and-run accident can vary depending on several factors, such as the severity of the incident, the available evidence, and the workload of the investigating officers. In some cases, officers may contact you within a few hours or days of the accident to provide an update on the investigation or to request additional information.

In other cases, however, it may take several weeks or even months for the police to make significant progress in the investigation, especially if there is limited evidence or the case is complex. It is essential to remain patient and cooperative throughout the investigation, as rushing the process or becoming aggressive with the officers will not speed up the timeline.

Suppose you have yet to hear from the police within a reasonable amount of time after reporting the hit-and-run. In that case, you can contact the investigating officer or the local police department to request an update on the case status. Ensure your case or incident report number is available when making this request.

How Long Does a Hit-and-Run Investigation Take?

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The duration of a hit-and-run investigation in Florida can vary significantly depending on the complexity of the case, the available evidence, and the resources of the investigating agency. Some investigations may be resolved within a few days or weeks, while others may take several months or years to complete.

Factors that can impact the duration of a hit-and-run investigation include:

  • Severity of the incident: Investigations involving injuries or fatalities will typically receive a higher priority and more extensive resources than those involving only property damage.
  • Available evidence: Cases with clear surveillance footage, witness statements, or physical evidence may resolve more quickly than those with limited evidence.
  • Workload of the investigating agency: The duration of the investigation may be impacted by the workload and resources of the local police department or the Florida Highway Patrol.
  • Cooperation of the parties involved: The investigation may take longer if the victim or witnesses are uncooperative or if it is challenging to locate the responsible driver.

Throughout the investigation, it is essential to maintain open communication with the investigating officers and to provide any new information or evidence that becomes available. If the police cannot identify the responsible driver or if the investigation stalls, you may need to work with an experienced hit-and-run accident attorney to explore additional legal options for seeking compensation for your damages.

How Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers Group Can Help with Your Florida Hit-and-Run Case

At Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers, our dedicated team of hit-and-run accident attorneys has the knowledge, experience, and resources to effectively handle your case and fight for the compensation you deserve. We understand the physical, emotional, and financial challenges you may face after a hit-and-run accident, and we are committed to providing compassionate, personalized representation tailored to your unique needs and goals.

If you have been the victim of a hit-and-run accident in Florida, do not wait to seek the legal help you need. Contact Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers at (619) 233-5020 to schedule your free consultation and learn how our skilled hit-and-run accident attorneys can help you navigate the investigation process and pursue the compensation you deserve.

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