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In Texas, a hit-and-run is a serious offense where a driver leaves the scene of an accident without properly identifying themselves to anyone else involved or the police, or without providing aid to anyone who is injured, and it's a felony if anyone is injured or killed. If you are the victim of a hit-and-run in any Texas city, like Houston, San Antonio or Dallas, make a careful note of everything about the incident in order to maximize your chances of finding the driver, as well as making the insurance claim process as straightforward as possible.
What to Do After a Hit-and-Run in Texas
If you're the victim of a hit-and-run, your first priority should be the safety and well-being of everyone involved. If your car is hit while you're inside it, get to a safe place, whether that means moving your car off the road or exiting the vehicle entirely, and call Texas police immediately if anyone is injured.
Once everyone is safe, try to gather all the information you can about the vehicle and the driver who hit you. The more data the police have, the more likely they are to be able to track them down. If possible, write it down while it's still fresh in your mind.
Information to Record After a Hit-and-Run
- Physical description and/or make and model of the car
- Identifying details and marks on the car, both pre-existing and resulting from the crash
- Physical description of the driver
- License plate number
- Exact location and circumstances of the crash
Call the police to the scene if they aren't already there, so they can assist you in making sure everyone is safe, and begin the process of collecting evidence about the hit-and-run in order to determine who did it. The police will ask anyone nearby if they witnessed the crash, and get their contact information to corroborate what happened. If there are businesses or homes nearby, the police will ask if they have a security camera that captured footage of the crash to use as evidence or help identifying the other driver. After the police have left, contact your insurance provider to begin the process of making a claim.
If you weren’t in an accident and instead return to your car and discover it was hit while parked, you should take the same steps as if you were inside when it was hit: Take careful note of the circumstances of the incident, call the police to make a report and see if anyone nearby might've recorded it. You should do an extra-thorough inspection before driving it, as you weren't around to observe the severity of the impact, and it may not be immediately obvious whether it is safe to drive.
What Kinds of Insurance Available in Texas Cover Hit-and-Runs?
There are several kinds of car insurance coverage available to Texas drivers that may provide coverage after you are the victim of a hit-and-run crash, depending on the circumstances of the accident. Of course, the ideal outcome would be that you determine the identity of the person who hit you or your property and are able to make a claim against their liability coverage. However, even if you're unable to identify the driver, there are several types of coverage that can help you recoup expenses after the crash. Note that the coverages that protect you after being the victim of a hit-and-run are not required by law, and will only apply if you've chosen to add them to your insurance policy.
|Kind of Coverage||Does it Apply to Hit-and-Runs?|
|Other driver's liability coverage||Yes, if you are able to identify the other driver|
|Personal injury protection or medical payments||Yes, if anyone is injured|
|Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury||Yes, if anyone is injured, and you are not able to identify the other driver or they do not have insurance|
|Uninsured motorist property damage||Yes, if you are not able to identify the other driver or they do not have insurance|
|Your own liability coverage||No|
The Consequences of Committing a Hit-and-Run
According to Texas state law, the consequences of committing a hit-and-run can range from relatively small to severe. Drivers are most likely to face extreme consequences for committing a hit-and-run if anyone was injured or killed. In 2013, Texas increased the penalty of committing a hit-and-run to the same as a DUI, in order to discourage drivers from fleeing the scene in order to avoid a DUI charge. Drivers may also receive points on their license or lose driving privileges for committing a hit-and-run.
|Circumstances of crash||Severity||Punishment|
|If someone was injured||Felony||Up to five years in jail and $5,000 fine|
|If someone was severely injured or killed||Felony||Up to 20 years in jail and $5,000 fine|
|If there are no injuries, and there is more than $200 in damage to a car or other property||Class B misdemeanor||Up to $2,000 fine and six months jail|
|If there are no injuries, and there is less than $200 in damage to a car or other property||Class C misdemeanor||Up to $500 fine|
Source: Texas Transportation Code Sections 550.021-025
If no one is injured from the hit-and-run, the penalties are the same whether the driver hits a car on the road, a parked or empty car, or any other object such as a fence or sign. The only factor is the dollar amount of damage caused.
If you have committed a hit-and-run, you should speak to a lawyer licensed by the Texas Bar Association and weigh your legal options. Hit-and-runs, especially those involving injury or death, are vigorously pursued in the Texas legal system, so it's a bad idea to simply hope you will not get caught.
What is a Hit-and-Run in Texas?
In Texas, the action colloquially referred to as a "hit-and-run" is legally known as "failure to give information and render aid." After a car crash, you're generally required to stop your car and provide your identification to anyone else involved in the crash, as well as the police. Failing to do any of these constitutes a hit-and-run. And you're required to stay regardless of whether you were responsible for the accident; in fact, leaving the scene of a crash without exchanging information can suggest that you were at fault in the accident.
Information You're Required to Provide After an Accident in Texas
- Driver's name and address
- Vehicle's registration number
- Driver's insurance information
- Driver's license, if requested
If you hit an unoccupied car or some kind of property that's not a car, like a street sign or a fence, you're required to "take reasonable steps" to notify the owner. For example, you might do this by leaving a note containing a description of what happened and your contact information.
Drivers are also required to notify Texas police of the crash within seven days if an officer did not come to the scene of the accident and damages exceed $1,000.