Posted on March 21, 2023
Texas law requires drivers to remain at the scene when they’re involved in a car accident. When a driver flees the scene without offering information or aid to others involved in the crash, this is known as a hit and run accident.
Hit and run rates and fatalities are on the rise. Drivers may fail to stop after they hit someone because they’re breaking the law, or out of panic and fear. Some types of auto insurance provide coverage if you’re injured in a hit and run crash, even if you were hurt while biking or walking. Jim Adler & Associates can help hit and run victims pursue every option available for compensation.
Texas Has a High Number of Hit and Run Crashes
A hit and run crash occur every 43 seconds on U.S. roadways, according to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. And in a disturbing trend, they increased 60% from 2009 to 2016. Over the same period, hit and run deaths rose more than 7% each year, and they continue to rise. NHTSA reports that, in 2020, there were 2,564 hit and run fatalities—an increase of 26% from the previous year. In 2016, 2,049 fatalities occurred nationwide from hit and run crashes.
AAA data shows that Texas had the 8th highest number of hit and run accidents in the country. Over the study period, Texas averaged 181 hit and runs per year involving at least one fatality.
Notable hit and run crash trends observed by AAA and NHTSA include:
- Pedestrians and bicyclists are far more likely than motor vehicle occupants to be killed in a hit and run. Over the 10-year study period, nearly 65% of the people killed in hit and run crashes were biking or walking.
- In 2020, 24% of pedestrian fatalities involved a hit and run crash.
- In 2020, 22% of bicyclist fatalities involved a hit and run.
- Over the past 30 years, around 1 in 5 pedestrian deaths have involved a hit and run driver, compared to just 1 percent of vehicle driver deaths.
- Lower crash visibility, in terms of factors like the number of potential witnesses, traffic density, and lighting conditions, is correlated with a higher likelihood of a hit and run.
Other variables associated with hit and run accidents include driver distraction, disregarding road markings, following too closely, and improper overtaking/passing. This may suggest that drivers who flee the accident scene do so in the knowledge that they have broken traffic laws.
It Is Illegal to Flee the Crash Scene in Texas
Leaving the scene of an accident in Texas is illegal. Texas law requires drivers who have been in an accident to:
- Stop and stay as close to the scene as possible
- Remain at the scene and provide their information (including name, address, insurance company, license, and vehicle registration number) to the other driver, vehicle occupant, or anyone injured
- Determine whether anybody requires assistance
- Provide reasonable assistance to anyone injured
These rules apply for accidents involving vehicle damage only as well as accidents involving personal injury or death. The penalties for leaving the scene of a Texas accident can include:
- Jail or prison time
- License suspension
A hit and run driver may flee the scene because they lack insurance, their vehicle isn’t registered, they have an outstanding warrant for a different crime, they’re an undocumented immigrant, they don’t have a license or their license is suspended, they’re under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, or they were committing another type of illegal activity at the time of the cash.
While our hit and run lawyers handle personal injury civil cases—not criminal cases—we can file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against a hit and run driver who has been identified by the police.
Hit and Run Car Accident Claims
You’ll need to identify the hit and run driver before you can make an insurance claim against them for medical bills, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. Unfortunately, finding a driver who fled the scene can be difficult.
Once the accident is reported to the police and they launch an investigation, they’ll gather available evidence—such as witness accounts, victim statements, and photo or video footage—that may help to identify the driver. In the meantime, you may be able to make a claim against your auto policy. For example:
- Collision coverage could pay for hit and run property damage
- Uninsured motorist coverage could help pay for medical bills, lost wages, and property damage
- Medical payments coverage could provide money for medical bills
- Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage could help pay for medical bills or lost wages
These coverages are optional, but if have them, you can begin the claims process right away with your insurance company. Bicyclist and pedestrian hit and run victims with these coverages can file a claim as well.
However, just because it’s “your” insurance company, and not another driver’s, doesn’t mean the claims process will go smoothly. The insurance company will still investigate the claim, you’ll still need to provide supporting documentation, you’ll still have to speak with adjusters, and there’s still a chance your claim will be delayed, denied, or underpaid.
However, you may need to face the prospect that the driver won’t be found. And even if they are tracked down, this could actually complicate the claims process. For example, the driver might say that you were partly to blame for the crash, because you were walking on a dark street and were difficult to spot. This won’t let the driver off the hook criminally, but it could be an effective strategy for reducing their insurance payout.
Hit and Run Lawyers Serving Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio
At Jim Adler & Associates, we work with law enforcement to identify hit and run drivers and recover maximum compensation for the people they hurt. With more than 50 years of experience, over $1 billion recovered, and thousands of satisfied clients, we’re one of the largest and most successful injury law firms in Texas—and the only firm that’s home to “The Texas Hammer.”
If you were injured in a hit and run, don’t be a victim twice. Get Jim Adler & Associates on your side and get the justice you deserve. In addition to our 100% free consultations, we handle all cases on a contingency-fee basis. Pay no upfront fees unless we recover money for you. Call us at 1-800-505-1414 or send us a message to start the case review process.