·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

News & Politics

Can Hit-and-Run Accident Victims Receive Compensation for Damages?

— June 7, 2022

Death benefits are available under Florida’s no fault insurance law, but may be limited to policy coverages.

A 28-year-old pedestrian suffered fatal injury on South Military Trail in West Palm Beach earlier this year when a hit-and-run driver struck him in the northbound travel lane. The injured man was pulled out of the roadway by a friend and authorities believe the hit-and-run driver was traveling in a late-model Ford F-150. Hiring a competent accident attorney will be necessary to navigate the path to recover accident damages for families to pay untimely funeral and burial expenses. Leaving the scene of an accident causing death is a first-degree felony and comes with a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. The criminal offense will have significant bearing on any civil lawsuit outcomes surround wrongful death claims.

Death benefits

Death benefits are available under Florida’s no fault insurance law, but may be limited to policy coverages.  Funeral expenses may be paid by the victim’s no fault insurance or under a household member policy in certain circumstances, to be later recovered in a settlement from the at fault driver when appropriate.  A Florida lawyer can explain this process and how the benefits will be accessed by accident victims.

  • Mandatory Insurance. State of Florida requirements are that motor vehicles must have current auto insurance coverage with a minimum requirement of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL).  
  • No-Fault Car Insurance. The Florida No-Fault Law requires drivers to carry the PIP and this no-fault coverage pays the insured’s bills, regardless of fault, up to the limit of the $5,000.

Under the Florida no fault law, the PIP portion of the insurance may pay for a car accident victim’s losses including “death benefits” like ordinary funeral and burial expenses, and survivors’ benefits may also be available to the family or dependents of the deceased individual.  Sometimes those benefits include lost earnings, pension payments and replacement services payments.  The death has to be directly related to the use or operation of a motor vehicle to recover no fault death benefits of any sort, and must be ruled an accident, not a suicide by intentional act, which would block family members from receiving any benefits.

Excessive Work Hours Lead to Significant Health Problems, Death
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Florida PIP covers up to $5,000 of death benefits per individual. Death benefits are in addition to the medical and disability benefits. The $5,000 death benefit is paid like a life insurance-type policy in a lump-sum. An injury attorney can explain how benefits are paid out to the executor or administrator of the deceased; or to any of the deceased’s relatives by blood, legal adoption, or marriage; or to any person appearing to the insurance company as equitably entitled to such benefits. 

Surviving party actions to receive benefit

After a fatal automobile accident, the person seeking no-fault death benefits:

  • Must give the insurance company (“insurer”) a copy of the death certificate
  • Should gather information such as hospital and medical records, accident and police reports, the decedent’s tax and earnings information, and funeral bills and expenses
  • Should use the forms provided by the insurer for filing claims, and
  • Should determine if there’s more than one policy that covers the decedent, because in some states, the survivors can use multiple policies to recover more than once for the decedent’s death, which is called “stacking” of death benefits

Exclusions that would prevent the decedent from recovering no-fault benefits also bars the recovery of survivors’ benefits. 

Hire legal counsel

If a family member or loved one has been killed by a vehicle, you may need the services of a Winegar Law Injury Lawyers who have a successful track record in auto accident claims and wrongful death cases.


Join the conversation!