Two 16-year-olds face possible charges in a hit-and-run crash that killed a 15-year-old Orlando-area pedestrian.

The crash occurred in the early morning hours near the intersection of Grissom Road and Carpenter Road in Bithlo. Authorities state that Nathan Franceschi was walking on Carpenter when he was struck by a passing car. A passer-by found Mr. Franceschi about an hour later; he was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was later declared dead. Shortly thereafter, Orange County Sheriff’s deputies found a 2013 Kia sedan in a fast-food restaurant’s parking lot about a half mile from the crash scene. The Kia had fresh damage, and state troopers are examining the car to see if that damage could have come from the hit-and-run.

The two teenagers – whose names were not released – were booked into a juvenile detention facility on charges of auto theft, and further charges may be forthcoming.

Facts in a Hit-and-Run Case

Statistics vary greatly by jurisdiction, but somewhere around half of all hit-and-run drivers are caught and successfully prosecuted in criminal court. The proportion is probably higher in civil court, because the burden of proof is lower in negligence cases (more likely than not) than it is in criminal court (beyond a reasonable doubt), so it is easier for a plaintiff to prove damages than for a prosecutor to prove guilt.

First responders diligently look for clues at the scene of a car crash and investigators promptly follow up on any leads that come to their attention afterwards, but very often, these cases are not a high priority for overworked law enforcement agencies. If the trail seemingly goes cold, attorneys often partner with private investigators to do things like:

  • Canvas the Area: Typically, first responders only speak with witnesses in the immediate vicinity, and there are often other witnesses that either saw the entire event or can relay important clues.
  • Conduct Surveillance: Law enforcement does not have the manpower to stake out a neighborhood and look for a particular vehicle, but private investigators often routinely do these things.
  • Review Other Evidence: Surveillance cameras at local businesses sometimes capture far more than what goes on inside a store.

Only two other states (California and Texas) have more private investigators than Florida.

Legal Aspects

If the probable tortfeasor (negligent driver) is identified, jurors often award punitive damages. By design, these additional damages punish the tortfeasor and deter future wrongdoing. In hit-and-run cases, punitive damages are mostly based on intentional wrongful conduct, which according to Section 768.72 of the Florida Statutes, means that the tortfeasor had “actual knowledge” that the conduct was illegal and “despite that knowledge, intentionally pursued that course of conduct.”

If the probable tortfeasor is not identified, most victims can pursue claims against their own insurance companies for damages. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case usually goes to binding arbitration instead of trial.

Reach Out to Resourceful Attorneys

For prompt assistance with a hit-and-run or other car crash case, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Brandon from Reed & Reed. Home and hospital consultations are available. From our office in Brandon, Reed & Reed helps clients in Tampa, New Tampa, Plant City, East Hillsborough County and throughout the state of Florida.