The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently ruled that a driver who causes an auto accident without actual physical contact can still be convicted on charges related to death or injury stemming from the accident.
The ruling revolved around a case in which a man recklessly cut off other vehicles on the road, causing the cars to crash, and one person to die. The man claims that he could not be convicted because to be 'involved' in an accident you must strike another vehicle.
However, the court ruled that their Motor Vehicle Code did not define what 'involved' meant, and based their ruling on case laws in California and Illinois that did not require contact for the law to apply.
In the state of Florida, a driver can be held liable for causing an accident without striking another vehicle. However, when this occurs, it may be hard tracking down the other driver as most drive away from the scene. Just last month, a family was driving west on Flagler Street around 2 a.m. when a Toyota Scion crashed head on into their SUV, killing a father and son, and sending two others to the hospital in critical condition. Police believe two other cars were racing with the car that collided into the SUV. Investigators are currently searching for the two other cars involved in the race.
The most important thing you can do as a driver is make sure you have the proper auto insurance. Florida requires a minimum coverage of $10,000 personal injury protection and $10,000 property damage liability as long as you have a valid Florida license plate. Also, Florida is a no fault state, which means that the policyholder's insurer will pay for their injuries and property damage regardless of who is found to be responsible for causing the accident.
Also, do not rely on another driver's insurance. About one in five motorists in Florida do not have auto insurance. To protect against such a situation, make sure to purchase Uninsured Motorist Coverage which is an optional addition to your liability coverage and the basic Personal Injury Protection legally required on all Florida policies. Uninsured Motorist Coverage will cover you and your family for medical expenses, loss of income, plus damages for disfigurement, disability, mental pain and suffering, or even death. Personal Injury Protection coverage only pays for lost wages and a percentage of medical bills up to $10,000.
We have seen many tragic situations when accident victims come to us when the driver at fault has no insurance, and they failed to have uninsured motorist insurance. In these cases, we have to turn the case down. Be sure you have the coverage to protect you in case of a serious car accident.
For more information, please contact us.
Source: Daily Business Review, "Impact not required to be 'involved' in accident," Nov. 1, 2012.