On August 26, a 14-year old boy was riding his bike on Sibbald Road in Northwest Jacksonville at one o’clock in the morning when he was fatally struck by a car. According to a story by News4JAX.com, the teen was riding beside two pedestrians when a car, traveling south, collided with the teen, sending him flying into a ditch. The driver of the car did not stop and render aid, and instead chose to flee the scene of the accident.
While neither of the pedestrians was injured, the teen was found dead by emergency personnel upon their arrival. Charges have not been issued against the driver.
Why Have No Charges Been Filed Against the Driver?
While police were able to quickly find the car that hit the teen and interview the owner, the owner denies that he was driving the car at the time of the accident. Jacksonville Police are still trying to determine who was driving the car.
This is an issue that is not uncommon with hit and run accidents. Due to the nature of a hit and run, the driver is obviously not present at the scene to be identified. In addition, hit and run drivers are not usually the type of drivers who are concerned for fellow citizens (after all, they usually make a conscious decision to flee the scene of an accident rather than stay and render assistance) and might also be prone to lying to police when asked if they were driving the car.
How Do These Cases Get Resolved?
In cases like these, the police have little choice but to hope that either that a camera caught the driver in the act-which is rare-or that an eyewitness will come forward. In this case, police are hoping an eyewitness comes forward. In addition to asking for an eyewitness to come forward, the police have issued a $3,000.00 reward for information leading to the arrest of the hit and run driver.
Hit and Run Accidents in Civil Cases
In cases initiated by the injured or the deceased’s family against hit and run drivers, the fact that the driver fled the scene becomes relevant in proving the driver’s liability to the injured party. If the injured party can show that the driver knew that he hit someone, and chose to flee, this shows the driver’s recklessness and disregard for human life. Juries are likely to consider this fact when determining guilt, as well as any punitive damages that may be at stake.
If the injured party can show that the driver knew he hit someone and chose to flee, then the driver can be held liable for wrongful death. This term refers to a death that is caused due to someone else’s misconduct or negligence.
Wrongful death claims differ from other types of lawsuits because the victim–the person who died– is not the plaintiff. Instead, the suit is brought by the decedent’s family members or members of the estate. The purpose in a wrongful death suit is not to recover damages which are personal to the victim, but to provide compensation to the family members who have suffered emotional and financial harm due to their loved one’s death. Compensation in a wrongful death suit may include an award for loss of support, love, benefits or services of the deceased. Awards may also include compensation may include an award for medical and funeral expenses, punitive damages or for the loss of the deceased’s future wages.
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Read Between the Lines: Don’t Text and Drive
Injured in a Hit and Run Accident?
If you have been injured in a hit and run accident, and the police have found the driver, you might be entitled to monetary damages based on that driver’s negligence and recklessness. To find out what your rights are, and to determine what courses of action are available to you, you should consult an experienced accident attorney.