As a motorcyclist and a Cooper City motorcycle crash attorney, I was dismayed to see a Nov. 20 article in the Daytona Beach News-Journal about an “outbreak” of hit-and-run accidents in the region. According to the newspaper, the Florida Highway Patrol is seeing a very high number of hit-and-run accidents — 19 on Nov. 18 alone. Florida saw five fatal hit-and-runs in the past month, the article said, including two in Central Florida. Central Florida has seen 13 fatalities from hit-and-runs in all of 2009. These crashes include all kinds of motorists as well as pedestrians. However, the focus of the article was on two motorcyclists killed in the past month on Volusia County roads, and a third left at the roadside with a broken leg. In all three cases, the responsible driver left the scene.
One of the motorcyclists the article talks about is John Eaton of DeLand. Eaton, 46, was rear-ended by the driver of a pickup truck as he left a bar in DeLeon Springs. He was thrown into traffic on U.S. 17. Other people tried to help him up, but a second vehicle ran him over and left the scene. It was the day after his first wedding anniversary. Another motorcyclist, 47-year-old Kevin Hill of Sanford, was hit head-on by a vehicle that was trying to pass another vehicle in the opposing lanes. He was conscious and sitting up after the crash, and others were trying to get him off the road, but driver Susan Norman, 40, hit him and kept on going. Her car was disabled and she was found a few miles away. Charges are pending. FHP Sgt. Kim Montes said drivers who leave the scene tend to have something to hide, such as driving under the influence, a suspended license or other legal problems.
As a Plantation motorcycle accident lawyer, I hope articles like this can help the FHP solve some of its unsolved fatal hit-and-runs. Leaving the scene of an accident might sound like a good idea to panicked motorists, but it tends to make matters worse in the long run. Hitting and running harms victims and their families twice, leaving them with no answers and no liability insurance policy to collect on. In some circumstances, victims can collect on uninsured/underinsured motorist policies — but even that can be difficult if the insurance company sees an opportunity to deny an expensive claim. Meanwhile, drivers who get caught are nearly certain to be criminally charged with leaving the scene. And hitting and running can also make the situation worse if the driver is hit with a lawsuit, because juries are not likely to be impressed with this behavior.
If you or a loved one was hit by a careless driver in Florida, you should call my firm, Cohn, Smith & Cohn, right away for help. I am a motorcyclist as well as a Fort Lauderdale motorcycle accident attorney, so I have firsthand knowledge of the prejudice and inattention that threatens Florida motorcyclists every day. Because I am an attorney with more than 25 years of experience, I also understand how insurance companies try to minimize their costs by denying expensive claims, incorrectly categorizing claims and exploiting juries’ anti-motorcycle prejudice. At our firm, we will negotiate hard on behalf of injured riders and their loved ones, and if necessary, we can and will file lawsuits to ensure that our clients get what they are legally owed.
Cohn, Smith & Cohn offers free, confidential case evaluations for all potential clients. To set one up, please contact us through our Web site or call our main office in Broward County at (954) 431-8100.