If you were injured in a car accident caused by someone else in Cameron, TX or Navasota, TX area, you may be eligible for compensation for injuries suffered. But with the at-fault driver drifting out of the picture, you may wonder how to pursue a personal injury claim. With professional legal assistance, you can still get the maximum compensation deserved for your injuries.
Can You File a Personal Injury Claim If You Were Injured in a Hit-and-Run Accident?
Compensation for auto accident victims in Texas is based on the state’s “fault and liability” system. Unfortunately, drivers who flee the scene of an auto accident make it difficult for victims and the state to determine fault and liability in hit-and-run scenarios. If caught, at-fault drivers risk paying fines of up to $5,000 and/or serving a jail term of up to 10 years, depending on the degree of injury and property damage.
Failing to stop after an accident is considered a misdemeanor if no serious injuries or deaths occur. But if it results in serious bodily injury or death, it becomes a felony. The best way to maintain a legitimate claim in a hit-and-run is to report the incident to the police. A police report can serve as an impartial assessment of what happened while providing the legal documentation required to get compensation for your injuries.
What Types of Personal Injury Compensation Are Available for Hit-and-Run Victims?
When seeking compensation for injuries suffered in a hit-and-run accident, you should know the different types of compensation you may be entitled to under Texas laws. This information can be useful for determining the extent of the errant driver’s negligence and liability, so you can claim maximum compensation for your injuries. There are three main categories of personal injury compensation: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
This is the compensation you receive to cover financial expenses incurred due to injuries suffered in a hit-and-run accident. Compensation for economic damages can include the following:
- Incurred medical bills
- Ongoing and future medical expenses
- Lost wages or income
- Lost future income
- Damage to or loss of property
Economic damages can be determined using tangible documentation such as hospital bills, paychecks, and purchase receipts. You may need to consult experts to accurately estimate the monetary value of your future medical care needs and lost future income.
Injuries sustained in a hit-and-run accident can cause you pain and suffering, as well as emotional stress. Non-economic damages, also known as general damages, are available to compensate for these damages. General damages can be difficult to calculate because they cannot be measured in quantifiable terms.
Whether you’re disfigured or have suffered loss of reputation as a direct result of your injury, your personal injury attorney can help you determine the amount of compensation you deserve for your non-economic loss. This may involve working with experts like cosmetic surgeons and psychologists to work out the extent of the damages suffered.
Leaving an accident scene is a reckless act. To discourage this behavior, trial judges can ask defendants to pay punitive damages. In Texas, punitive damages are capped at $200,000 or four times the amount of actual damages awarded, whichever is greater. These damages are awarded only when actual damages are awarded. Your attorney can help you strategize the best ways to win over the state trial jurors, so you don’t miss out on this additional compensation.
What Influences the Value of Your Claim as a Hit-and-Run Victim?
Trial judges and jurors consider several factors when determining how much to award you. The biggest determining factor is the type and severity of injuries sustained. The more serious the injury, the larger the payouts. Other factors that can determine how much compensation you’ll receive include the medical bills incurred, loss of past and future income, need for ongoing or long-term treatment, amount of insurance coverage available, and punitive damages awarded at the trial.
Some defendants and their insurance companies attempt to underpay victims of hit-and-runs by dealing with them directly. Decline such attempts as you may end up leaving money on the table. Let a seasoned lawyer negotiate the best payout on your behalf.
What Happens If the Hit-and-Run Driver Isn’t Found in the Cameron, TX or Navasota, TX Area?
In Texas, all drivers are required by law to have the minimum liability insurance to cover injuries and property damage to other drivers if they’re to blame for the accident. Although it’s mandatory, this auto insurance coverage doesn’t cover the policyholder. Hit-and-runs involving uninsured or underinsured drivers can create nightmare scenarios for accident victims. While the police always do their best to catch drivers who flee the accident scene, not all culprits are apprehended.
If your case goes cold, you can’t get compensation from the defendant or their insurer in Cameron, TX or Navasota, TX. In such situations, you may seek alternative avenues for getting compensation for your injuries. If you have uninsured and underinsured motor insurance, you can make a personal injury claim with your insurer and have them pay for your damages. However, the amount of financial compensation you can receive depends on the extent of your coverage.
Who Carries the Burden of Proof?
In Texas, the burden of proof in hit-and-run personal injury cases lies with the plaintiff. If you can’t prove that the accident happened and that your injuries are a direct consequence of that accident, your case and claim may be dismissed.
Police reports, medical reports, eyewitness testimonies, and photos you took of the accident scene can help demonstrate the legitimacy of your claim. Keep them handy!
What If You Lack Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage?
Uninsured and underinsured auto insurance can be affordable, but many Texas vehicle owners opt out of them to save money. If you hadn’t purchased this coverage when you were hit and injured, little can be done to get you the compensation you seek and deserve. But don’t let this discourage you from letting a lawyer evaluate your case and giving their expert opinion.
How Do Personal Injury Lawyers Get Paid by Hit-and-Run Victims?
Many victims of hit-and-run accidents often shy away from consulting a lawyer because they don’t have money for professional legal fees. Auto accident lawyers almost always bill their clients on a contingency basis. This means they won’t charge you anything unless they successfully negotiate your claim or win your lawsuit. However, you’ll need to discuss their contingency fees before they take up your case.
When picking your personal injury lawyer, don’t make a choice based on fees alone. Consider their specialty, experience, and success rate to increase your chances of getting maximum compensation for your injuries.
The last thing you want after you’ve been injured in a hit-and-run accident is fighting errant drivers and their insurance providers for compensation. With an experienced personal injury lawyer handling your case and representing you in trial, you’re guaranteed the best outcome possible. Not all personal injury cases go to trial, but attorney Brian Gutierrez prepares each as if it’ll end up there. Contact us today at Brian Gutierrez Law to schedule your free case evaluation. No win, no fees!