It’s normal to feel scared, angry or confused following a car accident — and this is particularly true in the case of a hit-and-run. Unfortunately, these types of accidents are quite common in the Sunshine State. Understanding how to handle a hit-and-run in Florida may reduce the stress related to such incidents. To help, Bankrate’s insurance editorial team has broken down how your insurance policy works when you can’t find the driver who damaged your vehicle. We also provide tips on how to handle a hit-and-run immediately after it happens, which could give you back some control in what can feel like a helpless situation.

Hit-and-runs in Florida

Florida state law strictly defines what constitutes a hit-and-run in the state. You could be charged with a hit and run in Florida if:

  • You leave the scene of an accident before exchanging information with the other driver(s)
  • You fail to render reasonable medical aid to anyone injured

Although there are harsh penalties for hit-and-run drivers in Florida, hit-and-run incidents are on the rise in the Sunshine State. Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) found that hit-and-run accidents rose 17 percent between 2020 and 2021. Furthermore, 304 fatalities resulted from hit-and-runs in 2021. Out of those, 70 percent of victims were pedestrians or cyclists.

Florida hit-and-run laws

In 2014, the hit-and-run Florida statute was modified with the passage of the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, which outlined a stricter Florida hit-and-run law after a cyclist and father of two was killed by a hit-and-run driver. The penalties for a hit-and-run crash in Florida depend on the severity of the accident:

  • Hit-and-run with property damage only: Second-degree misdemeanor, $500 fine and up to 60 days in prison.
  • Hit-and-run with injuries: Second- or third-degree felony, revoked license for at least three years, $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
  • Hit-and-run with fatalities: First-degree felony, revoked license for at least three years, $10,000 fine and four to 30 years in prison.

These penalties assume the driver is found. However, even if law enforcement can’t identify or locate the hit-and-run driver, you may still receive financial compensation for vehicle damage or personal injuries if you have proper car insurance coverage.

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8 things to do after a hit-and-run in Florida

If you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident in Florida, try to remain calm and take the following actions.

1. Move your vehicle to a safe place at the scene of the accident.

If you were driving when you were hit and your vehicle is still drivable, move it out of the flow of traffic, but stay as close to the accident scene as possible. If your vehicle was parked in a legal parking spot, don’t move it.

2. Make sure everyone is okay.

Check on all passengers (if applicable). Look for injuries and call paramedics as needed.

3. Call the police.

A police report will provide backup for any insurance claims that need to be filed, so it’s a good idea to call the police right away and wait at the scene until they arrive. Try to alter as little as possible at the scene, and be ready to give them a statement about the accident.

4. Write down any details you remember.

While everything’s fresh, make notes on anything you remember about the other driver or vehicle if possible, such as the make and model or the direction they traveled when they left the scene.

5. Check the scene.

It’s possible that the collision caused something to break off the other person’s vehicle. Look for any pieces on the ground that could help the police identify the hit-and-run driver. It’s a good idea not to touch or move anything; instead, direct the police to anything found.

6. Talk to eyewitnesses.

If anyone saw the hit-and-run, ask them to stay at the scene and provide details to the police. If they can’t or won’t stay, ask politely for their contact information so law enforcement — and potentially your insurance company — can reach out as needed.

7. Take pictures.

Snap pictures of any damage to your vehicle or surrounding property. Doing this can provide concrete evidence for your insurance company and the police when the fault of the accident is investigated. Capturing as much detail as possible about the scene of the incident can help the claims process go smoothly later on.

8. Contact your insurance provider.

Get on the phone with your insurance agent and ask them what information they’ll need to file your claim.

Will insurance cover a hit-and-run?

Normally, if another driver causes an accident, their property damage liability (PDL) — which Florida law requires for all drivers — will help cover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle. But if the other driver isn’t found, these three types of auto insurance coverage can help after a hit-and-run in Florida. However, note that coverage must be in place prior to the incident.

  • Personal injury protection (PIP): Like property damage, this is another type of coverage that Florida law requires for all drivers. In Florida, PIP provides $10,000 of medical coverage to help pay for any medical bills incurred no matter who is at fault for an accident, including hit-and-runs.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage: In Florida, uninsured motorist bodily injury is available to provide medical coverage for you and your passengers if you are hit by someone with no bodily injury liability insurance or not enough bodily injury insurance. This includes injuries resulting from hit-and-runs. Uninsured motorist is optional in Florida, however, so you may not carry it on your policy.
  • Collision coverage: Collision coverage could repair the damage to your vehicle caused by a hit-and-run. However, it’s important to note that you’ll have to pay a deductible. If the police find the hit-and-run driver after the fact, your insurance company may be able to recover your deductible through subrogation, though.

Because drivers in the Sunshine State already pay more than the national average cost of car insurance, purchasing additional insurance to cover a hit-and-run may not be the most appealing option. Still, it’s worth checking out different cheap car insurance companies in Florida to make sure you’re financially protected.

Frequently asked questions

    • There are several ways to report a hit-and-run in Florida. You can dial *FHP (*347) on your phone to get in touch with the Florida Highway Patrol. You can also report a hit-and-run anonymously by calling the Florida Crime Stoppers at **TIPS (**8477). Additionally, Florida Crime Stoppers has a free mobile app for download on both Apple and Android devices.
    • Your car insurance may be impacted no matter which side of a hit-and-run you’re on. For the victim of a hit-and-run, their insurance premium may increase if they file a claim. For a driver who hits another vehicle and flees the scene, there will likely be a substantial increase in their insurance premiums if they are found. Further, the at-fault driver may need to maintain an SR-22 form for a number of years following the accident. The accident can also be added to the at-fault driver’s driving record. In some situations, the driver may have difficulty finding insurance companies that will offer them coverage at that point.
    • Every driver looks for something different in their insurance company. Some people want the lowest rates and the most discounts, while others are more concerned with customer service ratings. For this reason, the best car insurance company for one person may not be a good fit for the next. Before shopping for new insurance, you may find it helpful to list your priorities and use them as a guide. A discussion with a licensed insurance agent may also help.
    • Car insurance rates vary a lot between insurance providers, and premiums are based on many factors, including age, location, credit history and vehicle type, among others. While data surrounding the average cost of car insurance can provide a baseline, getting personalized car insurance quotes is the most accurate way to figure out how much you can expect to pay. Quotes are free and can typically be initiated online, via phone or in person at a local agency.
    • Nearly every state has specific requirements for how much auto insurance is required, known as the mandatory minimum coverage for that state. These coverage limits are the amount you must maintain to drive in that state legally. Still, there are many reasons to consider expanding your coverage through increased limits or additional types of coverage. Experts recommend talking through your insurance needs with an insurance professional to help figure out how much car insurance you need.