What is a Hit and Run Accident?
A hit and run accident occurs when a driver decides to leave the scene of the accident that has caused personal injury, property damage, or death. For that reason, some people refer to a hit and run accident as leaving the scene of an accident.
In this scenario, a driver has a legal duty to stop his or her vehicle and assist others. If a person is killed in a hit and run accident, his or her survivors may have the basis for filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
More than 92,000 people are victimized by hit and run accidents across the nation every year. About 1,400 people in hit and run accidents are killed.
Have you been charged with a hit and run in Texas?
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Steps to Take after Being Involved in a Hit and Run Accident in Texas
After any collision accident, it’s important to document the accident for law enforcement and the police. If the other driver has left the scene, he or she should try to get as much information about the car, another driver, and accident scene, including:
- The driver’s license plate number
- Color, make and model of the vehicle
- Damage to the other vehicle
- Direction in which the other vehicle is headed
- Damage photos
- Time, location, and causes of the accident
Steps the driver causing the accident should take
- Never leave the scene of an accident under any circumstances.
- Safely stop your vehicle.
- Don’t accept fault for the accident—but do stay at the scene of the accident to ensure the safety of all involved.
- Realize that you have the statutory responsibility to help others involved in the collision.
- If ambulatory, check driver and passenger(s) in the other vehicle(s).
- Check the scene to identify witnesses.
- Obtain witness’s contact details and any information about the car collision. Witnesses may be able to provide you/law enforcement with a statement.
- If you and/or others are injured, call 9-1-1 right away. Provide the location of the accident, as well as your name and description of your vehicle.
- Inform the 9-1-1 operator that an ambulance is needed at the accident scene.
- Take images of your vehicle, the other vehicle(s), and the accident scene. Take photos of the vehicle(s) to show damages from all angles. Do your best to take clear images.
- When law enforcement officers arrive, provide your name, driver’s license, insurance card, and registration.
- If you have a dash cam, tell the investigating officer(s). This is evidence.
- Don’t admit fault to the other driver(s), witnesses, bystanders, or police.
- Don’t volunteer information other than the basics to law enforcement—or anyone.
- Allow law enforcement officers to determine the cause of the collision accident.
- Cooperate with others at the accident scene but, see above. Police officer(s) can use what you say to your detriment in the future.
- Allow law enforcement to determine who’s really at fault for the collision. The police officer(s) at the scene will begin the investigation.
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to file an accident claim.
Your liability after a serious collision accident
When a car accident happens, you’re responsible for stopping your vehicle, staying at the accident scene or, if it’s dangerous, as close to the scene as possible.
It’s frightening to stay at the scene of the accident, especially if others are seriously injured or possibly dead. Regardless of your fear, know that it’s the right thing to stay where you are.
Property damage is involved in many car collisions. The purpose of having motor vehicle insurance is to protect yourself and other drivers from expensive property and casualty damages.
If you and the other driver(s) are ambulatory, exchange personal documentation, including your name, driver’s license (number and address), insurance information (insurer information and your policy number), and the vehicle identification number (VIN) of your vehicle.
Take a picture of the other driver’s license and insurance card with your mobile or a camera.
After contacting the police, the officer at the scene will prepare a police report. This is the official accident report. Obtain a copy of the report or, at the very least, ask the officer how quickly you can obtain one.
Damages to Persons
In addition to the potential of facing criminal liability, the driver must take greater care when a hit and run accident results in bodily injury to an individual:
- If you leave the accident scene, you may be convicted of a felony offense and face a jail or prison sentence if found guilty.
- Even if you believe the other party is guilty—that he or she caused the collision—you’re legally bound to stay until medical care or an ambulance arrives.
- If the accident occurred in a remote location, it’s your responsibility to take the injured party to the closest hospital, urgent care center, etc., if possible.
- When a collision accident causes the death of another party, it’s your responsibility to contact local police, highway patrol persons, or the sheriff’s office to make a report.
If you left the accident scene
If you left the accident scene for any reason, return as soon as possible. Recognize that law enforcement has the tools to track down a hit and run accident perpetrator, especially when one or more people are injured as a result.
Your rights after a hit and run accident
The decision to leave the scene of an accident may carry significant penalties, such as prison time. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. He can provide you with sound legal advice as well as representation in the legal process.
What Happens if You Don’t Stop after a Car Collision?
If you don’t stop your car, you can face charges involving bodily injuries or property damages of others involved. If convicted, you could face a jail or prison sentence, loss of your driver’s license, significant financial fines, and a permanent criminal record. Your driver’s insurance policy may be cancelled. If you’re deemed responsible for the car collision, your premiums will increase.
Even if you hit a parked car without passengers, or you hit a tree or a mailbox, stop the vehicle. Leave your name and contact information.
Texas law requires you to attempt to locate the vehicle or property owner. If you can’t locate the car or property’s owner, be sure to leave a visible note including your name, address, and registration number. Responsibility is Texas state law.
If you don’t stop, you face a misdemeanor or felony charge if the collision results in property damage, bodily injury, or death. At the very least, you face a non-criminal citation for the failure to provide information or render necessary aid.
Do the right thing. Stop and help anyone involved in the crash. A motorist or pedestrian involved in the collision may die of their wounds if he or she doesn’t receive medical attention.
Contact an Experienced Hit and Run Defense Attorney in Texas
If you were involved in a hit and run accident, our experienced criminal defense team are here to help. A car collision or road accident can be an extremely traumatic event. Contact a certified criminal lawyer with former experience as a former assistant criminal district attorney for the state.
The Law Office of Brett A. Podolsky in Houston has the experience you need to positively affect the outcome of your case. Contact us at 713-227-0087 to schedule an initial case review now.