Legal Help For Texas Hit and Run Victims
Any accident can be physically and financially devastating. A hit and run accident can make an already stressful situation even worse. Significant medical bills and repair costs can pile up fast. You may be worried you won’t receive compensation, or it may be unclear how to recoup damages in the event of a hit and run accident. Understanding more about hit and run accidents and the claims process may help relieve some of the stress.
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At Patterson Law Group, our Fort Worth hit and run accident lawyers are committed to preparing clients for the road ahead. We apprise our clients of their rights and options and pursue maximum compensation on their behalf.
If you were injured in an accident, do not hesitate to call us to speak with a Fort Worth personal injury lawyer.
What Is A Hit and Run Accident?
As the name implies, a hit and run accident is a type of car accident where a driver intentionally leaves the scene without providing any contact information. A driver may take off after hitting your unattended parked car, or they may speed off after a collision on the road.
Why do Hit & Run Accidents happen?
Hit and run accidents often occur because the other driver wants to evade the legal process. Common reasons include:
- Lack of insurance or valid driver’s license
- Criminal record or active arrest warrants
- Commission of another crime at the time of the accident
- Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
Less commonly, the other driver was panicked or genuinely did not realize there was contact or property damage. Regardless of the cause, fleeing the scene may be a crime in addition to the basis of a lawsuit. Contact a Fort Worth hit and run lawyer to determine whether a lawsuit is warranted in your case.
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Texas Hit & Run Laws
According to Texas statute, leaving the scene of an accident is a crime. A motorist must remain at the scene if an auto accident results in personal injury or property damage. If it only causes property damage and the other vehicle is unoccupied, the driver must leave their contact information on the vehicle. However, if the other vehicle has injured passengers, the drivers must:
- Assess whether those involved in the accident were seriously injured and render aid where necessary
- Exchange driver’s license and insurance information
- If the police are called, remain until they arrive
Fleeing the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor if it only causes property damage. However, if it caused personal injury, it is a felony–up to third-degree if it was severe or fatal. Criminal penalties are separate from civil liability. If the driver is caught, you could file a lawsuit even if they are prosecuted. If the driver is not identified, a Fort Worth hit and run attorney can review your alternative options for pursuing compensation.
Who is liable for a Hit & Run Accident in Fort Worth?
A driver whose negligence causes an accident is liable–legally responsible for the damages. If the driver is adequately insured, their insurance company usually pays the judgment or settlement. However, in a Fort Worth hit and run accident, the driver is not always identified, so they cannot be held accountable. Instead, the injured party may need to file an uninsured motorist claim under their own policy.
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Methods Used To Find Hit and Run Drivers
All hope is not lost just because the at-fault driver drove away. The police have several tools at their disposal to help you find the runaway driver.
- Surveillance Cameras: Highway cameras aren’t the only resources available to local authorities. In the golden age of video, many businesses and homes have security cameras set up. These cameras may have recorded your accident and can be used to track down the driver.
- Eyewitnesses: Gathering eyewitness information will be important. The police can collect additional information on the other driver from those that witnessed the accident.
- Social Media/News Outlets: Depending on the case, police may take the story to local news outlets, who then also distribute the story across social media. The news coverage may lead to the submission of additional details. It could also lead the driver to come forward to help the victim.
- Dash Cam Footage: If you don’t own a dash cam, it’s highly recommended you invest in one. Many Texans don’t own a dash cam, yet spend $60-100 a month on home security cameras. Car accidents occur with more frequency than home burglaries and you can invest in a dash cam for a one time payment ranging from $30-100. It’s worth investing in security for your car. At the very least, a dash cam will prove that a hit and run actually occurred. High definition dash cams can also capture the drivers plate in certain circumstances.
Common Injuries from Fort Worth Hit & Run Accidents
Hit and run accidents can cause injuries ranging from fatal to minor. Common car accident injuries include:
- Head and neck injuries
- Brain injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Sprains and other soft tissue injuries
- Lacerations and bruises
This type of accident can cause less obvious injuries as well. It may also cause mental and emotional pain, disability, and other serious effects that are more challenging to quantify but still very real.
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What To Do After A Hit and Run Accident
As a victim of a hit and run, you’ll likely be in shock and in pain (if injured on impact), and possibly anger. The sudden nature of a hit and run can leave you with a lot to process. It’s important to remain calm, avoid making any regrettable decisions, and document as much as you can. After a hit and run you should take the following actions:
- Do not try to stop or chase down the driver yourself: For many drivers, the first instinct in a hit and run accident is to chase down the at fault driver in an attempt to retrieve information. However, chasing down the driver could put your life and the lives of others at risk with reckless driving.
- Try to document the make, model, and license plate of a vehicle: The more information you have on the vehicle, the easier it will be for authorities to try to track down the driver.
- Call the police immediately: It’s important to report the accident to Texas authorities. Try to provide as many details as possible.
- Obtain information from any witnesses: You’ll want to retrieve names, addresses, and phone numbers for any bystanders who witnessed the accident. Their statements could also help authorities track down the runaway driver.
- Take photos of the accident scene and any damage or injuries: There is no such thing as too much evidence. Make sure to document the damage to your property, the street the accident occurred on, and any injuries you sustained. This evidence will help when your claim is filed.
- Contact a local Texas car accident attorney: Even if you don’t decide to retain the services of an attorney, most personal injury attorneys offer a free initial consultation. It’s worth scheduling a consultation to have your accident reviewed and receive legal advice regarding your case. Nevertheless, it’s to your benefit to hire an attorney. Your attorney can help you investigate the accident and pursue a claim, so that you earn the compensation you deserve.
Can You File A Claim To Recover For Hit and Run Accidents?
If the at-fault driver is identified, you can file a claim with the other driver’s insurance. Fortunately, you are not out of luck if the driver cannot be found. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you can make a claim against the coverage. With uninsured motorist coverage, you can claim both economic and non-economic damages.
Naturally, many victims worry that filing an uninsured motorist claim will cause premiums to go up. Insurance companies will use this misconception to their advantage and try to offer a reduced claim in return for the same rates. However, Texas law forbids insurance carriers from raising their rates based on uninsured motorist claims.
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What damages can you receive for a Fort Worth Hit & Run Accident
In Texas, a car accident victim has the right to pursue compensation for economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include:
- Medical bills – those already incurred as well as future necessary accident-related treatment
- Lost wages – including lost business opportunities and reduced earning capacity
- Property damage
- Funeral costs in the case of wrongful death
- Other expenses necessitated by the injury, like transportation costs to medical appointments and in-home care
Non-economic damages include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The losses may be substantial but they are not always collectible from the driver who flees the scene. It is a good idea to speak with a Fort Worth car accident lawyer to discuss the possibility of pursuing an uninsured and underinsured motorist claim.
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Learn How A Fort Worth Car Accident Attorney Can Help
The car accident attorneys at Patterson Law Group have dedicated their careers to protecting the rights of all those who have been injured in Texas, regardless of the severity of those injuries. If you’ve been involved in a hit and run accident, our attorneys can help you put together a case that will earn you the compensation you deserve. Contact Patterson Law Group today to schedule a free initial consultation. Simply fill out the contact form on this page or call us today.
Texas Statutes, Transportation Code TITLE 7. VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC SUBTITLE C. RULES OF THE ROAD CHAPTER 550. ACCIDENTS AND ACCIDENT REPORTS, https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/TN/htm/TN.550.htm