Hit-and-Run Crash Leaves Florida Cyclist Injured

26Jun

A Crime Stoppers tip led to the arrest of Ritchie Irwin Jacobs, 76, for a hit-and-run crash that injured Margarita Lopez near Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Lopez was riding an e-bike when Jacobs collided with her. Jacobs stopped briefly to prop Lopez up against a wall, but neglected to call 911 and fled the scene. A witness to the accident phoned 911. Later identified, Jacobs faces a felony charge for leaving the scene of the May 31 crash. 

This story underscores the all-too-familiar narrative of the hit-and-run epidemic throughout the nation. Victims of car accidents, especially cyclists and pedestrians, often face severe injuries that cause them to sustain losses. When the at-fault driver in a hit-and-run can not be identified, victims are left to shoulder the burden of the accident-related losses. 

If you’ve been hurt in a hit-and-run accident, don’t hesitate. Call Magazine & Light Law Group in Florida. 727-499-9900. 

Who Pays for Medical Bills After a Hit-and-Run Crash?

In Florida, determining who pays for medical bills after a hit-and-run crash involves several factors, including the type of insurance coverage held by the injured party and the circumstances of the accident. Florida is a no-fault state, meaning drivers are required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, which covers medical expenses regardless of who is at fault in an accident.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance

Under Florida law, every driver must carry at least $10,000 in PIP coverage. PIP insurance will cover 80% of medical bills up to the policy limit, regardless of fault. This means after a hit-and-run, the injured party’s own PIP insurance will typically be the first to pay for medical expenses.

Health Insurance

If the victim’s medical expenses exceed the PIP coverage limit, his or her health insurance may come into play. Health insurance can cover additional costs, but the injured person may still be responsible for co-payments, deductibles, and uncovered services. It’s important to notify the health insurance provider about the accident to ensure coverage applies.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage

Florida drivers can also carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, which provides additional protection if the at-fault driver cannot be identified, as in a hit-and-run, or if he or she lacks sufficient insurance. UM/UIM coverage can help pay for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages when PIP coverage is insufficient.

Victim Compensation Programs

For victims without adequate insurance, Florida offers a Crime Victims’ Compensation Program, which can provide financial assistance for medical expenses, lost income, and other costs resulting from a hit-and-run. Eligibility requirements and compensation limits apply.

Legal Action

If the hit-and-run driver is eventually identified, the victim can pursue a personal injury lawsuit to recover medical expenses and other damages. A successful lawsuit can result in compensation covering medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.

When Should You Sue After a Hit-and-Run in Florida?

Deciding when to sue after a hit-and-run in Florida involves considerations like identifying the responsible party, understanding insurance coverage, and assessing the extent of your injuries and damages. A hit-and-run accident lawyer can help you decide if your case qualifies for a personal injury lawsuit.

Identifying the At-Fault Driver

Before suing, it’s crucial to identify the hit-and-run driver. Law enforcement agencies and private investigators can assist in this process. If the driver is located, obtaining his or her insurance information is essential to determine if he or she has adequate coverage for your damages.

Severity of Injuries and Damages

Florida is a no-fault state, so your initial medical expenses will be covered by your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. However, PIP only covers 80% of medical bills up to $10,000, regardless of fault. If your expenses exceed this amount, or if you suffer significant injuries, you might need to explore other insurance options, such as Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. If these options are insufficient, suing the at-fault driver becomes necessary.

Consider suing if your injuries are severe, resulting in substantial medical bills, lost wages, and other damages not covered by PIP or UM/UIM insurance. Significant injuries include permanent disfigurement, disability, or long-term medical treatment. Legal action can help you recover compensation for these additional costs.

Legal Consultation

Consulting with a personal injury attorney soon after the accident is advisable. An attorney can help assess the viability of your case, navigate legal procedures, and maximize your compensation. He or she can also handle negotiations with insurance companies and represent your interests in court if necessary.

Suing after a hit-and-run in Florida is warranted when the at-fault driver is identified, insurance coverage is inadequate, injuries are significant, and within the statute of limitations. Consulting a personal injury attorney early ensures you make informed decisions and protect your rights. The hit-and-run accident lawyers at Magazine & Light Law Group can evaluate your circumstances to determine how to cover your medical bills after a crash. Contact us at 727-499-9900. 

Dram shop lawyer Jim Magazine
Jim Magazine

James (Jim) Magazine is a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer who has spent his career helping injured victims. Jim is licensed to practice law in the State of Florida since 1990 and is also admitted to practice at the Appellate level and admitted to the United States Supreme Court.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Florida Registration Status: Active
Bar Admissions:
Clearwater Bar Association
West Pasco Bar Association

James (Jim) Magazine is a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer who has spent his career helping injured victims. Jim is licensed to practice law in the State of Florida since 1990 and is also admitted to practice at the Appellate level and admitted to the United States Supreme Court.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Florida Registration Status: Active
Bar Admissions:
Clearwater Bar Association
West Pasco Bar Association