One of the many advantages of living in The Villages is the presumption of safety when residents are out walking or cycling. But in recent months the community has had a rash of bicyclists being struck and injured by hit-and-run drivers. Intentionally leaving the scene of a crash is a felony when the crash involves death or bodily injury. In some circumstances, doing so can risk the life of the victim when the only person with knowledge of their injury or injuries intentionally drives off to selfishly protect their finances, employment, or reputation.
Florida Statute 316.062 requires the vehicle driver to stop at the scene, render reasonable assistance to the victim, provide personal identifying information, and call the police to report the incident if police have not been notified.
Florida Statute 316.027 was signed into law in 2014. Known as the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, it was named after a 31-year-old avid cyclist who was fatally struck by a drunk driver who fled the crash scene in 2012 in central Florida. The hit-and- run driver received only a two-year prison sentence, less than what he would have served under a DUI manslaughter charge. Among other things, the 2014 Act imposed a mandatory minimum of four years for a driver convicted of leaving the scene of a crash resulting in a fatality.
The statute further describes serious injury as: “Injury to a person…which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ.”
The driver of a vehicle involved in a crash with a vulnerable road user (e.g., pedestrians, bicyclists, electric bicyclists, motorcyclists, scooter and moped riders, and those using an electric personal assistive mobility device or wheelchair) is required to stop the vehicle, remain at the scene, and fulfill the requirements of Florida Statute 316.062. The law recognizes that leaving the scene of a serious injury is a morally bankrupt act that displays total disregard for the victim. It is also a crime with the following legal consequences.
- If minor injuries are involved in a hit-and-run accident, it is punishable with a sentence of up to five
- If there are serious injuries, it is considered a second-degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen years in There are other penalties, including fines and suspension of driving privileges.
Having recently coped with unprecedented hardships related to the pandemic, it clearly behooves everyone—as a community—to consistently do what we can to take care of each other. That includes riding and driving responsibly, soberly, and undistracted for the safety of everyone.
Jim Dodson is an experienced bicycle accident lawyer, cyclist and bicycle safety advocate who has been representing accident victims for over 25 years. Although his primary office is in Clearwater, he represents injury victims throughout Florida. He is the author of the Florida Bicycle Accident Handbook which answers the most commonly asked questions by injured cyclists. If you have questions about a Florida cycling accident, this valuable resource is available to you absolutely free of charge at www.jimdodsonlaw.com.
*Legal information is not legal advice. Nothing in this article may be considered legal advice. If you have specific questions for Jim Dodson, simply call his office at 1-888-340-0840. There is never a charge to talk about your case.