Hit and run accidents are extremely frustrating, and they can leave injury victims in serious trouble. If the police are unable to identify and track down the driver at-fault for your wreck, you have precious few options. In many cases, your only option will be to make a claim against your own insurance policy (using uninsured motorist insurance coverage, if you have it). If you're injured, it's also a good idea to give us a call, since injuries complicate the process and our attorneys can ensure you don't make mistakes.
Why Drivers Flee the Scene of an Accident
Texas Law Once Encouraged Hit and Runs
There was once a loophole with the law in Texas that actually encouraged hit and run driver to flee the scene of a crash, since DWI drivers faced far greater penalties than those who fled the scene of a wreck.
The problem with this was that a lot of car wrecks occur late at night, often as a result of driver intoxication. As far as drunk drivers were concerned, it was better to flee the scene. That way, even if they were caught the next day, they'd be able to hide the fact that they were drunk when they hit their victim.
Other Reasons Drivers Might Flee the Scene
If they were the negligent driver responsible for causing the crash, they may flee the scene because they don't want to pay for the damage. Sometimes, however, drivers will flee the scene even if they aren't at-fault. In these cases, it is usually the case that the driver had something to hide. Perhaps they didn’t have a valid driver’s license, perhaps they were not insured, or maybe they were intoxicated, as mentioned above.
Texas Hit and Run Laws Have Changed
Thankfully, our law makers in Austin saw sense and introduced two bills to close these loopholes.
The First Bill: H.B. 3668
H.B. 3668 relates to a driver’s responsibility following an accident. It modifies Section 550.021(a) of the Texas Transportation Code as follows:
(a) The operator of a vehicle involved in an accident that results or is reasonably likely to result in injury or death of a person shall:
(1) immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene as possible;
(2) immediately return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the accident;
(3) immediately determine whether a person is involved in the accident, and if a person is involved in the accident, whether that person requires aid; and
(4) remain at the scene of the accident until the operator complies with the requirements of Section 550.023.
The Second Bill: SB 275
SB 275 relates to the penalty for committing the criminal offense of leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in a personal injury or fatality. It amends Section 550.021(c) of the Texas Transportation Code, so that it is becomes a felony of the second degree to flee a wreck that resulted in a fatality, and a felony of the third degree if it resulted in a serious bodily injury.
Consequences for Fleeing the Scene of an Accident
Under Texas law, if a person is involved in any kind of car, truck or motorcycle accident (regardless of whether or not they were at fault), they have an obligation to stop and make sure that all occupants of the other vehicle are unhurt. This is known as your "duty to render aid."
Fleeing the scene of an accident - or of any crime - is considered a third-degree felony in the State of Texas. This can be punishable from two to ten years, depending on the severity of the injuries that the person in the accident withstood.
What To Do After a Hit and Run Car Accident
All of the legalities are good and well, but it won't stop some drivers from breaking the law. If you’ve been hurt in an accident by a hit and run driver in Fort Worth, there are a few steps you should take.
Finding the Driver Who Hit You
First, there’s always the hope that the hit and run driver can be found. To tip the odds in your favor, you should immediately report the wreck to the police. Call 911 at the scene of the crime and tell the investigating police officer anything you can remember: license plate numbers, a description of the car, etc.
Filing a Claim Against Your Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Let's assume that the hit and run driver can’t be found. If you have uninsured motorist insurance (UIM), you can make a claim using it (as long as there’s been contact between the vehicles). Uninsured motorist insurance is exactly what it sounds like – insurance to cover you in the event that you’re hit by a driver who doesn’t have any of their own, or a driver who hits you and runs.
Contact a Hit and Run Attorney (We Don't Charge Upfront)
If you want to ensure you are fairly compensated for your hit and run accident, your best bet is to hire an experienced hit and run attorney. Read on for more information.
Who Needs to Hire a Hit and Run Lawyer?
If you've never hired a lawyer before, you might be wondering, "What will an attorney do for me? Do I even need one?" You will benefit from hiring a lawyer if you:
- Were hurt in an accident caused by another driver who fled the scene
- Don't have health insurance after a wreck and can't afford to get treatment
- Have never handled a claim before and feel confused about what to do next
- Tried handling the claim on your own but encountered trouble with the insurance adjuster
- Received an unfair settlement offer from the insurance company
- Want a professional to ensure you win everything you deserve to cover the cost of your accident
After a hit and run accident, you have options. Either we'll find the driver who hit you and pursue a claim against them, or we'll pursue other avenues to win you the compensation you deserve.
What Our Hit and Run Accident Injury Firm Can Do For You
We'll immediately investigate your accident.
In my experience, uninsured motorist cases - and especially hit and run cases - tend to be complicated. There are often lots of unanswered questions, and insurance companies will use the holes to deny or undervalue your claim. For this reason, quick and thorough car accident investigations are crucial, which is why we make yours a priority. Since evidence like skid marks, debris, vehicle damage, video camera recordings and injuries tend to diminish and disappear fairly quickly, we'll act quickly to begin building your case.
We'll determine what insurance is available.
If you're certain that the at-fault driver doesn't have insurance, or if the accident was a hit and run, it's time to review your own insurance. By law, every insurance company must offer you uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance (also known as UM or UIM). If you have UM, we will pursue a claim for compensation to cover any medical bills related to the accident, compensation for missed work as a result of the accident or your injuries, and more. We will also look at all additional avenues for compensation to make sure we're going after the most money possible.
We'll work hard to win you the money you deserve.
Even if the other driver has insurance, sometimes it's not enough.
For example, if a driver crashes their car into yours and it turns out that they only have the state minimum of $30,000 in liability insurance coverage, but your medical bills amount to $40,000, you can use your UM to cover the missing $10,000, plus money for your lost wages, pain and suffering. You might feel reluctant to make a claim against your own insurance company. This is understandable. However, I always tell my clients that if you’re paying for UM, you should use it. Your insurance company is NOT allowed to raise your rates based solely on this type of claim.
If you've been in a car accident that wasn't your fault, you shouldn't have to pay the price. Under Texas law, you're entitled to compensation for your medical bills, missed work days, pain and suffering. The Anderson Law Firm can help you get it.
How Does It Work?
Schedule Your Free Consultation
First, you'll schedule your free consultation with our firm. When you come to our office, we'll listen to your story and get all the facts of the case, then form a plan to get you the medical care you need. From there, we'll gather evidence to build your case against the other driver and start our battle to win you everything you deserve to cover the cost of the accident.
You Pay Zero Upfront Costs
If you choose to hire our firm, there are no costs upfront. Instead, we work on a contingency basis, meaning we take a percentage of the money we win for you once you're satisfied with the results and your case is complete.
We Set You Up with Doctors
Even if you don't have health insurance, you shouldn't be left to suffer. We work with a network of doctors we trust who can get you the care you need now, and defer payment until later (after we've won your case and the money needed to pay these bills).
We Handle Everything, Giving You Updates Along the Way
You'll be assigned a case manager who is there to answer questions every step of the way. As your case progresses, we'll keep you updated on its status and check in with you to see how you're healing, but we handle all the paperwork, evidence-gathering and negotiations. Your only job is to get better.
Once You're Healed, We Fight the Insurance Company
After you're fully recovered from the accident, we'll gather all your medical bills, photo documentation, police reports and other evidence and bring it to the insurance company to demand a fair settlement. Attorney Mark Anderson has over 25 years of experience negotiating with insurance adjusters, and he won't let an adjuster lowball us. If at the end of negotiations we still don't believe the insurance company is offering you fair compensation, we'll file a lawsuit.
Filing a Lawsuit
In addition to our attorneys, we have a full litigation team trained to bring your case to court. We've won millions of dollars for our clients over the years, and we are confidant in our ability to bring justice to hurt accident victims.
Why Trust the Anderson Law Firm?
The Anderson Law Firm's founder Mark Anderson is one of the most recognized attorneys in our area. Most notably, Mark was named a Top Attorney by Fort Worth Magazine, and recognized as a 2016 Super Lawyer by Thompson Reuters. He is rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau and is ranked in the top one percent of practicing attorneys in the United States, according to the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.