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Understanding a Hit-and-Run Accident

A hit-and-run accident occurs when one person involved in a car accident, typically the driver at fault, leaves the scene without stopping to identify themselves or render aid to anyone who might need help. This action not only disrespects the victims and traffic laws but also complicates the processes that follow a car accident. In Texas, like most states, leaving the scene of an accident is considered a serious crime, regardless of whether it happened on a busy highway or a quiet parking lot. It can be difficult to find a hit-and-run driver, so connecting with a College Station hit-and-run accident attorney as soon as possible, while evidence and memories are still fresh, is always wise.

The side of a car damaged from an accident

Why Do Drivers Flee?

Why would a driver choose to flee the scene of an accident? One primary cause is panic and fear. The shock and stress that come with being involved in a car accident may cause a driver to act irrationally and decide to leave the scene. Another reason is to avoid legal consequences. If the hit-and-run driver was violating any traffic laws at the time of the accident, such as driving under the influence or driving without a valid driver’s license, they may flee to evade potential criminal charges.

Additionally, a driver might leave the scene to avoid financial responsibility. A driver may not have car insurance or worry that their insurance company will increase their premiums due to the accident. Hit-and-run drivers are committing a serious crime. The fact that a driver leaves the accident scene doesn’t absolve them from responsibility. Instead, it adds a layer of criminal culpability to their actions.

Four Things to Do After a Hit-and-Run Crash

Call the Police Immediately

Once you ensure your safety and seek immediate medical attention for any injuries, call the police to the accident scene. Inform them about the hit-and-run and provide as many details as possible about the fleeing driver and their vehicle. The license plate number, if available, can be particularly useful, as will the police report on the incident and anything the police can find out about the hit-and-run car.

Gather Evidence

Document the scene of the accident. Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle and any injuries you may have sustained. Also, look for any potential witnesses and gather their contact information. This evidence can help build a solid case when pursuing insurance claims or legal recourse.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Promptly report the accident to your insurance company. They can guide you on the necessary steps to take, especially if the driver remains unidentified. The actions taken immediately after an accident play a significant role in protecting your rights and your potential to recover compensation for your property damage and medical bills.

Connect with a Bryan Hit and Run Accident Attorney

Always contact a Bryan hit-and-run accident lawyer right away after an accident. Your lawyer will get right to work investigating the accident, can help you understand all your options, and will work to protect your rights.

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Texas Law Criminal Penalties for Leaving the Scene of a Car Accident

Under Texas law, the act of leaving the scene of a car accident can result in severe criminal penalties. The consequences depend on the severity of the accident and whether it led to property damage, injuries, or fatalities.

If the accident only involves property damage under $200, and the driver leaves the scene without providing necessary information or rendering aid, they may face a misdemeanor charge. However, if the accident causes significant damage, personal injury, or death, the offense escalates. The penalties can include hefty fines, incarceration, lifetime revocation of the driver’s license, and other administrative penalties.

Keep in mind that these are only the criminal penalties. The fleeing driver may also be subject to civil penalties if the injured person or the owner of the damaged property decides to sue for damages.

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Insurance That Can Cover Your Losses in a Hit and Run Accident

In a typical car accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company would be responsible for compensating you for your losses. However, a hit-and-run incident complicates this process, as the at-fault driver might not be identified unless you’re able to get the license plate. Even if the driver is eventually found, they might not have car insurance to cover the damages, making it a case involving an uninsured driver. In such cases, your own auto insurance policy can come into play, depending on the coverage you have. Many insurance companies offer uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, which protects you when the other driver doesn’t have insurance or in accidents where the other driver isn’t found.

UM coverage can compensate for your medical bills, lost wages, and sometimes even your emotional distress. Texas law does not require this type of insurance for motor vehicles but does strongly encourage it by requiring insurance companies to offer it and requiring you to decline it in writing. If you only have liability insurance, it might not cover a hit-and-run accident. Liability insurance typically covers the other person’s losses when you’re at fault. Comprehensive insurance cover is a safer bet in protecting yourself against all eventualities, including hit-and-run accidents.

Getting Legal Help After a Hit-and-Run Accident

Between dealing with your insurance company, getting medical attention for injuries, and helping officials with the information needed for the police report, the aftermath of an accident can be overwhelming. By engaging the services of a law firm, you can have an advocate who understands the nuances of Texas law and insurance policies and can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf.

In the unfortunate event that the hit-and-run driver is never identified, a  College Station hit-and-run accident lawyer can help explore all your insurance options and ensure you leverage your policy’s benefits to the maximum. If the hit-and-run driver is found and criminal charges are brought against them, a lawyer can also guide you through the process of seeking restitution.

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Bryan and College Station, TX Experienced Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer

If you’ve been a victim of a hit-and-run, you are not alone. You have legal rights and options. Reach out to Brian C. Gutierrez, Attorney at Law, for a free consultation today.

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

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