Any car accident is stressful and scary, but it’s even worse if it is a hit-and-run, or the driver of the other vehicle flees the scene. Every 43 seconds someone in the U.S. is involved in a hit-and-run accident. In Texas, drivers in an accident are legally required to move quickly to a safe spot and then park. That’s if the vehicle is not too damaged. The legal repercussions of leaving the scene of an accident varies and depends on whether anyone died or suffered a serious injury. Penalties could include a suspended driver’s license, a hefty fine, and even a prison term. Drivers involved in a hit-and-run shouldn’t leave the scene to follow the fleeing driver. Brad Parker says, “Do not be tempted to chase after the hit-and-run driver to catch up with or detain them. It’s very dangerous, and the outcome is unpredictable. It could make a bad situation worse.”
The reasons someone may flee the scene following an accident could be they are intoxicated, have no insurance, or have an outstanding warrant for their arrest. Victims do have options to locate the driver and hold them accountable for their negligent actions. A business near the accident scene may have surveillance cameras used for security purposes that recorded the crash that could provide identifying information about the driver or their vehicle. If the victim was able to get a full or partial license plate number of the vehicle that hit them, they may be able to obtain the driver’s name, address, and vehicle information from Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
What to Do Immediately Following a Hit-and-Run Accident
- Call the Police
Prepare to be able to give as much information as possible to the police. Take notes of what happened. Details that can help the police are the make, model, and color of the vehicle. Think about unique details such as a bumper sticker. Ideally, accident victims will be able to give the license plate number of the hit-and-run driver’s car. If that is not the case, describe the vehicle—and the driver—in as much detail as possible.
- Document Details and Take Photos
Snap photos of the accident scene and any damage to the vehicle. Make notes of the time of the accident and the direction the other vehicle was headed when they could last be seen. If anyone witnessed the accident, ask them to stick around and talk to the police. They may have been in a better position to see the driver or to note the runaway car’s license plate. Also ask for their name and contact information. Take down the names and badge numbers of all officers at the scene. It will make it easier to get the police report once it’s complete.
- Seek Medical Attention
Get checked out at the scene by medical professionals, even if there aren’t any obvious injuries. If the other driver is found, victims will have a better legal case. Medical records can link the accident and a victim’s injuries.
In Texas, the law requires drivers to have liability insurance, but that won’t pay to repair a car after an accident. To get a car repaired, accident victims need a car insurance policy with collision coverage or uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) property damage coverage. Both pay for car repairs after a hit-and-run accident. UM/UIM coverage usually has a lower deductible than collision coverage and may pay for a rental car if you need it. Brad says, “For many, the best coverage is the cheapest policy. This is such a common mistake. The only way to be certain you are fully protected is to purchase adequate insurance. Each coverage has its own job to do.”
If you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run accident and sustained serious injuries, our firm will work tirelessly to find the driver who fled the scene and hold them responsible for your injuries.