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The shock and trauma after a hit-and-run accident extend far beyond the physical injuries, and there’s an added sense of injustice when the responsible driver flees and seems able to escape all accountability. Texas law offers some protections for hit-and-run victims, and understanding these legal rights is the first step towards recovery. A qualified personal injury lawyer in Bryan, TX can help you enforce those rights and pursue avenues for compensation, even if the driver who caused your harm is never found.

Right to File a Police Report

Following a hit-and-run in Texas, your immediate right is to file a police report, and you should. A police report not only officially documents the event but can also be crucial in an insurance claim or legal case. Texas law also requires that any accident involving injury, death, or significant property damage to be reported, so this report will be foundational in exercising your other legal rights.

Getting the police involve is smart, anyway. While the driver may have run off, and you may not be able to discover their identity, the police have access to resources – like traffic cam footage – that you don’t. They may be able to identify the driver, and the sooner you get them started on doing so, the more likely it is that the guilty party will be caught.

Right to Seek Medical Attention and Compensation for Injuries

Regardless of who caused the accident, your health and safety come first. Following this, you have the right to seek compensation for any medical expenses resulting from the accident. This can include emergency care, ongoing treatment, rehabilitation costs, and any future medical expenses related to the injuries sustained in the incident.

Right to Uninsured Motorist Coverage

In Texas, if the hit-and-run driver is not identified, you have the right to claim against your own insurance policy under uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. This coverage is designed to protect you in situations where the at-fault driver is either uninsured or cannot be identified, as in most hit-and-run cases. UM coverage can compensate for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It’s important to review your policy to understand the extent of this coverage and any limitations that may apply.

You should absolutely obtain this coverage now if you don’t already have it. While the deductible on your normal collision insurance may be very high, Texas law requires that the deductible for UM coverage remain at a manageable $250. In Texas, insurance companies are required to offer you this coverage, and you must actually turn it down in writing if you don’t want it.

Right to Sue for Damages

If the hit-and-run driver is later identified, you have the right to sue them for damages. This legal action can allow you to get compensation beyond what might be covered by insurance, including punitive damages in some cases.

Punitive damages are awarded in cases of gross negligence or malicious intent and serve as a punishment for the offender: and in cases where a driver caused serious injury and then just drove away, you may have a better chance of getting punitive damages than in other situations. Suing for damages does require that you have solid evidence linking the identified driver to the accident and demonstrating the extent of the injuries and losses you have incurred.

Right to Compensation for Property Damage

You also have the right to seek compensation for property damage. This might not be the first thing on your mind after an accident, but these expenses can still be substantial. This would include things like damage to your bicycle, personal belongings, and any other property that was damaged as a result of the hit-and-run. Compensation can be claimed through your insurance policy under collision or UM coverage, or through legal action against the identified driver.

Right to Receive Information About the Investigation

As a victim of a hit-and-run accident in Texas, you have the right to be kept informed about the investigation into the incident. Law enforcement agencies are responsible for conducting these investigations. You can request updates on the status of the investigation, including whether a suspect has been identified or apprehended. It’s important to maintain communication with the investigating officers and provide any information that may aid in their investigation, such as surveillance footage or eyewitness accounts.

Right to Victim Assistance Services

In Texas, victims of hit-and-run accidents have access to various victim assistance services, and these services offer support and resources to help you rebuild your life after an accident. They can include counseling, legal advocacy, and assistance with filing claims for compensation. Victim assistance programs are designed to provide support and information to help you cope with the physical, emotional, and financial impacts of being a victim of a hit-and-run.

There is even crime victim compensation available in Texas through the attorney general’s office. This state program provides financial assistance to victims of violent crimes, including hit-and-run accidents. The compensation can cover expenses that are not reimbursed by insurance, such as medical and counseling costs, lost wages, and funeral expenses in fatal incidents. There are specific requirements and time limits for filing a claim, and your lawyer can help you understand what you’re eligible for and how to apply.

Right to Fair Treatment and Non-Discrimination

As a victim of a hit-and-run accident in Texas, you have the right to fair treatment and non-discrimination throughout the legal and insurance claim processes. You should be treated with respect and dignity by law enforcement, insurance companies, legal professionals, and the court system. Your case should be handled without bias or prejudice based on your background, identity, or circumstances of the accident. If you are not being treated with this kind of fairness and respect, talk to your personal injury lawyer in Bryan, TX right away.

Right to “Stack” Coverage to Maximize Compensation

If your injuries are severe and your own uninsured/underinsured coverage limits are insufficient to cover your damages, Texas law may allow for “stacking” your policies. This could involve combining coverage from multiple vehicles on a single policy or across multiple policies if you and your family reside in the same household. Stacking options depend on specific policy language and the extent of your losses, so talk with an experienced Texas hit-and-run accident lawyer about the best way to maximize your potential avenues for recovery.

Right to Privacy and Confidentiality

As a hit-and-run victim, you have a right to privacy and confidentiality regarding your personal information and the details of the incident. Information like your contact details and the specifics of your injuries should be kept confidential by law enforcement agencies, the courts, and other entities involved in your case. As another example, insurance companies have the right to access medical records related to the accident: they don’t have the right to unrestricted access to all your medical records. Your lawyer will help you protect this right.

The Right to Work With a Personal Injury Lawyer in Bryan, TX

As a victim of a hit-and-run in Texas, you do have rights, even if you don’t know who the other driver is and despair of finding them. A skilled lawyer can do more than you know! Don’t fail to exercise this most important right. If you’ve been hurt by a hit-and-run driver, contact Brian Gutierrez, Personal Injury Trial Lawyer, immediately for help.

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“No words describe how amazing it is to work with Brian.” J.T.

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