Car accidents happen every day in Texas and are stressful on all parties involved. After an accident occurs, Texas law requires drivers to stop and provide contact information to the other driver involved in the accident. While this exchange of contact information occurs after most accidents, sometimes drivers panic and flee the scene of the accident. This is what you call a hit and run accident. Hit and run accidents can happen for a number of reasons with the most common being that the driver was driving under the influence, driving without insurance, or driving with a suspended license.
Penalties and Charges for Hit and Runs
Hit and run laws in Texas are fairly straightforward. If a hit and run accident occurs, the fleeing driver may face different criminal charges depending on the severity of the accident. A driver who fails to stop after hitting an unattended car, fixture, or structure may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor if the damage is less than $200, and a Class B misdemeanor if the damage is over $200 dollars. The penalties are steeper for a driver who flees from an accident resulting in bodily injury or death. If the hit and run accident does not result in death or serious bodily injury, but resulted in minor injury, the driver could face a county jail felony. If the accident results in serious bodily injury, the driver could face third-degree felony charges. When death results from a hit and run accident, the driver could face a second-degree felony charge.
What to do After a Hit and Run
So, what should you do if you are involved in an accident with a hit and run driver? First, make sure you and your passengers are safe. If possible, get off the road, find a safe place, and call the police. Once everyone is safe, gather as much information as you can about the driver who hit you and the car they were in. The more information you can gather, the easier it will be to find the driver. Important information to try and gather includes:
- A physical description of the car (make, model, color, etc.)
- A physical description of the driver
- A license plate number of the car
- Any identifying information about the car (bumper stickers, pre-existing damage, damage due to the accident, etc.)
It is often a good idea to see if there are any witnesses to the accident that may have this information. Additionally, with the growth in popularity of dash cameras, it is possible that a witness may have inadvertently recorded the accident. This recorded can provide you with important information and help find the driver.
Who to Contact Next
After you have gathered information, it is important to reach out to your insurance company and let them know what happened. Your insurance company will most likely walk you through the process of making a claim and figuring out what the next steps will be for repairing your car.
Lastly, you may want to reach out to a local attorney who specializes in hit and run laws in Texas. An attorney can help you navigate the claims process, as well as recover expenses such as medical bills, car repairs, and lost wages. The attorneys at Tessmer Law Firm P.L.L.C. are experienced in hit and run accidents and can assist you in making certain you are taken care of during this stressful time. Our practice includes personal injury issues such as hit and run accidents, and other vehicle related accidents. Call 210-368-9708 today to schedule your confidential consultation.