I was involved in an accident, but I didn't know it happened. Another driver merged into the lane I was in aggressively and made contact with my car, but between me honking, yelling(as most probably would in this situation), focusing on turning to avoid, and music I did not hear or feel any contact being made.

Shortly after, at the stoplight. The Driver got out of his car and took a picture of my plate. Did not attempt to wave me down or get my attention to pull over. I saw this as a threatening road rage move(why would someone take a picture of my plate and not notify me?)

Then as we continued travel, he followed me and flashed his beams at me, again I only saw this as threatening/taunting. In no way did I get the sense of there being 'trouble' in the sense of an accident.

Somehow he was able to flag a travelling officer and pulled me over to the side. At this point I still did not know any contact was made and was pulling me over for speeding or something minor like that, but I was thankful for that because I would tell the officer about the threatening other driver.

It wasn't until the officer told me (first thing, before I could say what I wanted to), that there was an accident and I ran. I got out of my car and to my surprise there was minor scratches on my quarter panel. So I received a citation for hit and run, but the other driver was at fault. (this was explained to me to be the case)

So, in short, I received a hit and run without any knowledge of there being a hit. I have not received a court date yet(this all happened yesterday morning), but I am very anxious and frankly, scared. What can I do now?

extra info: I am in the state of Florida and both vehicles are insured.

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    We can't offer legal advice on specific situations; you need to hire a lawyer to get that. This site is only for general information about what the law is and says. – Nate Eldredge Feb 15 '19 at 14:41

So I found information from a law firm in Florida about Hit and Run Cases. You definitely want a lawyer as it is a $500 fine and/or 60 days in jail for your case (property damage, no injury or loss of life).

The good news is that if you can argue the case correctly, it's very easy to get a Not Guilty verdict. Under Florida Law, a Hit and Run must meet the following criteria to legally find someone guilty:

  1. Disputes as to the identity of the driver;
  2. Lack of knowledge that a crash occurred;
  3. Lack of knowledge that an impact occurred with persons or property;
  4. The failure to stop was not willful, but was dictated by circumstances;
  5. The defendant stopped as close as possible to the site of the accident;
  6. The other driver refused to receive identifying information
  7. The other driver became belligerent, necessitating that the defendant leave the scene to call police;
  8. The assistance rendered was ‘reasonable’ within the meaning of the statute.

Given that you had no lack of knowledge that a crash occurred (2) AND lack of knowledge that an impact occurred with persons or property (3.) AND you would have stopped but for the circumstances of the event prevented you from recieiving knowledge of that the crash had occured (4) you already fail to meet 3 of the 8 criteria. This should be easy to argue in and of itself, but where you need a lawyer to assist is in criteria 7. While you were never fearing the other driver to such a degree that you needed to call the police, his behavior was interpreted by you as "road rage" and you had a reasonable fear to not wish to engage him. It's not rules as written, but it could be that the rules allow for leaving the scene because of the plaintiff's behavior and could be valid in other forms. I'll admit, this will vary wildly on the judge's own interpretation of that rule, BUT it's worth a try.

Keep in mind with all of these, the Prosecution will be required to prove all 8 facts against you, while you only have to disprove one, to some level of doubt. As an armchair jury, I have no facts to support your story, but I have no facts to doubt it either. And when doubt happens, you must assume innocence.

It would help if you had any hint of the officers attitude at the time. Was he friendly? Dismissive? Distracted? What was the guy who hit you's attitude towards the situation? Was he constantly yelling at you and the officer? Was he quiet and separated?

Either way, get a lawyer because 60 days of jail time and a $500 fine is not something you want to fight by yourself. Make calls (the ticketing officer should have a work number or other contact information on the ticket.). Notify the insurance company of the fact that it was cited as hit and run but not proven... it could make the difference of who's company is to pay (It will be his if there was no Hit and Run).

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Well, first, you report the accident to your insurance. Be factual. Your respective insurance companies will argue over liability compensation. As for the ticket, I am not familiar with Florida law, but I assume this is still a traffic offense and not a criminal charge. You would want to contest this ticket. You may want a lawyer, but you would plead not guilty. (BTW, you should check your ticket to see if you have to request a court date yourself.)

Based on your account, the officer cannot testify as a witness to the original incident and his interpretation of events would be hearsay (assuming the officer even shows up in the first place). So if the other party doesn't show up to testify, your ticket gets dismissed. Otherwise, the judge will decide whether you were guilty or not. Again, I'm not familiar with Florida courts and I'm assuming this is just a traffic citation, so I don't know if probation or a remedial driving class is a possible alternative to avoiding points for a guilty verdict.

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