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Florida Supreme Court Weighs In on Hit-and-Run Liability

Earlier last month, the Florida Supreme Court heard a case regarding the criminal culpability of a hit-and-run driver who claimed he had no idea he ran over the accident victim. According to one local Florida news report, the near-fatal accident occurred on the A1A Highway in Boca Raton.

Evidently, a skateboarder had fallen off his skateboard and into the road. As the defendant was driving past, he struck the boy, running him over and dragging him for 90 feet. One eyewitness to the accident testified that she saw the truck’s tires bounce up and down after the boy was hit. Another witness testified that he saw the skateboard get spit out the back of the truck after snapping in two.

The driver was pulled over by police three miles from the accident site. There was no visible damage to his truck and no brake or skid marks. It was also raining at the time of the accident. The driver claimed that he had his radio, windshield wipers, and air-conditioning on, and that he had no idea he hit the skateboarder. At a criminal trial, the man was found guilty for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury and was sentenced to two years in jail.

The Florida Supreme Court’s Opinions and What it Means

The convicted driver then appealed to an appellate court that reversed his conviction. Then, after hearing the prosecution’s appeal, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s reversal of the man’s conviction, explaining that there was insufficient evidence that the man knew he was involved in an accident. In order to be convicted for fleeing the scene of an accident, the court determined that the driver must have actual knowledge that he was involved in the accident.

Although this case was in a criminal court, the victim of the accident could also file a civil suit seeking compensation for the injuries he sustained in the accident. The case described above has little to no bearing on civil cases, but the analysis the Court used is relevant to see how all people think about hit-and-run accidents.

Evidence in Hit-and-Run Cases

The evidence presented in the case above could also be relevant in a civil suit for damages. The issues in a negligence lawsuit differ slightly from those in a criminal case. Rather than focusing on whether the defendant’s actions were criminal in nature, a civil suit looks to whether they were merely “negligent.” For this reason, among others, the burden of proof in a civil suit is much lower than in a criminal lawsuit. To learn more about how to file a car accident lawsuit, contact a dedicated Florida personal injury attorney.

Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Hit-and-Run Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a serious or fatal hit-and-run accident in South Florida, you may be entitled to monetary damages. The skilled advocates at Cecere Santana have years of combined experience successfully bringing personal injury claims on behalf of injured Floridians. To speak with an attorney about your case, call 800-753-5529 to set up a free initial consultation.

See More Blog Posts:

Two Hospitalized in Three-Vehicle Miami-Dade Accident, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published February 23, 2015.

Man Injured in Workplace Injury Recovers $5 Million in Settlement Offer, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 13, 2015.

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