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Hit-and-Run Accidents in Texas

Texas Car Accident Lawyer

What to Do When a Driver Flees after a Car Wreck

Texas ranks second in the nation for having the most hit-and-run car accidents, with an average of five hit and runs daily. If you’re ever in one of these crashes and another motorist flees the scene, remember:

  • You may still be able to file a claim and seek compensation.
  • What you do immediately after a hit and run can go a long way towards helping you recover.

Texas Law Requires Drivers to Remain at the Scene of a Crash

Any motorist involved in a traffic crash in Texas is required by law to:

  1. Stop at the scene of the wreck.
  2. Exchange driver and insurance information.
  3. Help anyone hurt in the accident.

If police are called, all involved parties are typically required to wait at the scene until police arrive, investigate the accident, and clear them to go.

Drivers who fail to stop at the scene of a Texas auto accident — or who leave before police arrive or finish their investigation — can be:

  • Violating state law
  • Charged with a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the specific circumstances and if they are ever identified and tracked down

Most of this shouldn’t be much of a surprise to Texas drivers. Still, many choose to flee the scenes of traffic collisions, especially when factors like (but not limited to) the following are involved:

  • Drunk driving
  • Invalid driver’s licenses
  • Outstanding warrants
  • Speeding or street racing
  • Other traffic or legal violations
  • Panic for whatever reason
  • Failure to realize a wreck has occurred

No matter why drivers flee the scenes of crashes in the Lone Star State, victims can feel like they’ve been left holding the bag. But they’re not without rights or options.

10 Steps to Take After a Hit & Run in Texas

1. (or 2.) Record as many details about the hit-and-run motorist ASAP.

Try to snap pictures, take video, and/or memorize as many details as you can about the vehicle and driver who have fled. Some specifics to note, if possible, include:

  • The make, model, and/or color of the other vehicle
  • Part or all of the fleeing vehicle’s license plate number
  • Any distinguishing features of the vehicle, like bumper stickers or visible damage
  • Any details about the driver, like gender, approximate age, or hair color

If you can’t get photos or video of the vehicle before it’s gone:

  • Call 911 first.
  • You can always record yourself describing the vehicle, driver, and what happened while it’s all still fresh (and so you don’t have to write it down or worry about losing that piece of paper).

1. (or 2.) Call 911.

If there are any police nearby, there may still be a chance for them to catch up with or track down the driver who’s fled. Whether or not that’s possible, police can also:

  • Try to identify and locate the hit-and-run driver afterward.
  • Help you get medical attention if you’ve been injured.
  • Develop an official police report for the accident, which could help later when you file a claim.

3. Get medical attention ASAP & after.

You’re best off letting emergency medical technicians (EMTs) check you out at the scene, regardless of how you feel at the moment and even if you believe you’re not too badly banged up.

Adrenaline and shock can quiet some of the pain initially. Plus, some injuries won’t be obvious to you immediately, but EMTs may be able to spot initial warning signs.

Beyond immediate medical attention, it’s also typically in victims’ best interests to:

  • See a doctor ASAP after leaving the accident scene.
  • Get the treatments medical experts prescribe while also following through with all check-ups and follow-up appointments.
  • Not delay or skip any medical care.

All of this can address the physical trauma suffered in a wreck, which can lead to better outcomes. It can also mean there’s official documentation (via doctor’s reports and medical records), detailing the physical harm you suffered in the crash. These medical records can crucially support a future claim.

4. Take pictures & videos of the accident scene.

Whether or not you get photos of the at-fault hit-and-run driver, do your best to get as many pictures as you can of:

  • The damage to your vehicle
  • Damage to any surrounding roadway features
  • Your visible injuries and/or any injuries your passengers suffered
  • The road and/or weather conditions
  • The crash scene as a whole

As you do this, here are some helpful crash scene photo tips to keep in mind:

  • Take close-up pictures of different points of damage.
  • Try to include a “universal” point of reference, like a quarter, a driver’s license, or a business card. This can provide better context for the damage, especially when third parties review your pictures.
  • Record videos of your encounters with EMTs, police, and/or others at the scene immediately after the hit-and-run.

5. Record witness information.

If there are any witnesses to the hit and run, including passengers in your vehicle, record their accounts of what occurred, along with their name(s) and contact information.

Please remember that witnesses may come forward after the crash, contacting police in the hours or days that follow. So, be sure to request a copy of the official police report for your accident. It can give you important witness accounts and possibly more key evidence.

6. Gather any relevant, useful, or accessible debris.

If any debris fell off of your vehicle or the one that fled the scene, try to collect it (or get a picture of it) if you are safely able to. Items to look out for and try to gather can include (and are not limited to):

  • Pieces of tires or wiring
  • Broken side-view mirrors
  • Cargo that fell off of a vehicle
  • Busted windshield wipers
  • Other fragments of damaged vehicles and/or surrounding road features

7. Review your auto insurance policy.

If the at-fault driver is never found, you may still be able to file a claim with your own insurance company IF you have uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage.

Whether or not you have this coverage should be spelled out clearly in your auto insurance policy documents — and by law in Texas, you DO have this coverage if you never specifically rejected it in writing.

So, a little digging here can go a long way to giving hit-and-run victims a viable way to still recover even if the at-fault driver disappears forever.

8. Report the accident to your auto insurance provider.

Try to do this as soon as reasonably possible after the crash. When reporting the accident:

  • Only discuss the facts of the crash.
  • Do not guess any details, even simple things like the color of another vehicle.
  • Never admit or accept blame for the accident, even if you think you could have been partly to blame.
  • Do not give an “official statement” (i.e., a recorded statement) if you are not ready to. Insurers can use anything you tell them to try to reduce or deny your claim – and they’re typically focused on doing just that.

9. Keep everything & make backup

No matter how small or insignificant the item may be, if it’s related to the crash, keep it until your claim is all wrapped up. You never know what could come up and end up being important later, so don’t risk tossing anything.

Also, it’s smart to create backups of as much of your potential evidence as possible. That can mean doing things like:

  • Scanning paperwork, so there’s a digital version in case the paper gets lost or destroyed
  • Emailing digital files to yourself, so there’s always a copy in your inbox
  • Copying digital files onto thumb drives and keeping those in a safe place you can access later.

10. Talk to an experienced car accident attorney.

An experienced lawyer can explain your legal options and help you build and present the strongest possible claim. In fact, while a car crash attorney can conduct additional investigations and track down more helpful evidence, (s)he can also help you identify all at-fault parties – and hold them all accountable. That can be the key to obtaining full, fair compensation for your crash-related medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain, suffering, and more.