On June 30, a new law went into effect across Florida that has far-reaching implications for any motorist who engages in a hit and run accident. The law says that drivers who flee from accidents in which a person has been killed will get mandatory time in prison. Additionally, in a similar situation where a victim is seriously injured but not killed, the person responsible will be charged with a second-degree felony.
The new law represents the culmination of a grass-roots effort by many Floridians who viewed the previous laws as enabling hit and run accidents. Proponents of the new law say that the lax hit and run laws created an environment where drunk drivers would simply go home and sober up first before calling police to report an accident.
In fact, the new law is called the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act and is named for a 36-year-old father who was struck and killed in Miami by a motorist while riding his bicycle in 2012. The driver in that crash took off from the scene, only to turn himself in 18 hours later. Many believe the delay thwarted police from pursuing a DUI manslaughter case.
A staggering 2012 statistic shows why the new law gained so much public support. That year, the Florida Highway Patrol recorded 17,000 people injured throughout the state as a result of hit and run drivers. That number is shocking by itself, but to know that 166 of those victims were killed by those encounters is truly heartbreaking.
Victims of car accidents often suffer catastrophic injures. Even worse, many times these accidents are caused by reckless, distracted or negligent drivers. News headlines seem to be filled with stories of people causing accidents while texting and driving. The good news is that the legal system provides a way for many of the victims of such preventable car accidents to sue the responsible party. A victim of a car accident may be able to receive compensation for their medical expenses as well as the pain and suffering they had to endure.
Source: Tampa Bay Times, “Editorial: Holding drivers accountable for accidents“, June 30, 2014