A hit-and-run accident occurs when a driver knowingly leaves the scene of an accident without stopping to provide his or her contact information. When a negligent driver hits another vehicle, bicyclist, or pedestrian and causes serious injury, failing to stop can pose frustrating challenges for accident victims who are left behind.
Although it is still often possible for those hurt to claim compensation for injuries suffered in these crashes, cases involving hit-and-runs are unquestionably complex. It’s important to speak to a Houston hit-and-run accident lawyer as soon as possible to explore your legal options.
Contact The Law Offices of Hilda Sibrian now to speak to an attorney for free.
What to Do If You Are the Victim of a Houston Hit-and-Run Accident
The scene after any crash can be chaotic, but the moments after a hit-and-run are even more stressful. You may be scrambling to figure out where the car went or whether anyone saw the driver who hit you. You may feel powerless and worry about who will pay for your injuries if the police cannot find the driver.
Still, there are steps you can take after a hit-and-run accident to protect your legal rights:
- Document information: If you were able to see the other car or driver involved, it’s important that you record any information you can. Write down the make and model of the car, the color, the full or partial license plate number, and any other distinguishing characteristics. Write down where the car may have sustained damage from the accident, such as if it would have a damaged bumper or broken front light. Also write down the time and location of the accident and the weather conditions.
- Collect statements from witnesses: Witness testimony can provide valuable evidence that may help find the driver and prove useful if the case goes to trial. The courts understand that eyewitnesses are impartial parties. Therefore, their testimony is taken very seriously. Write down the contact information of any witnesses so an attorney can contact them later.
- Take pictures: If you are able to, take as many pictures as you can of the accident scene. Most importantly, if you are able to take a picture of the fleeing vehicle, this can help during the investigation and claims process. Also, be sure to take photos of your injuries.
- Seek medical attention: It’s important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible after a crash. This is not only because your health is the most important priority, but also because getting immediate medical help can ensure your injuries are properly documented from the start.
After these first important steps have been taken, you should speak with a hit-and-run accident attorney. A lawyer can identify all possible sources of compensation and gather further evidence to support your claim.
Recovery in Hit-and-Run Car Accidents
When people are hurt in a hit-and-run crash, they often assume there is no way to claim compensation for their injuries and other expenses. However, this isn’t always the case. There may be a few ways to collect compensation after a hit-and-run car crash.
If law enforcement can find the other motorist, you can file a claim with the at-fault party’s auto insurance company to collect damages. In many instances, the minimum amount of auto insurance required by Texas law is not enough to cover the cost of injuries. When this is the case, you can file a lawsuit directly against the at-fault party to claim the remaining compensation you need.
In many cases, hit-and-run drivers leave the scene of an accident because they do not have the required auto insurance. If you purchased uninsured motorist coverage when you originally took out your policy, you can file a claim through your own insurance. This is true regardless of whether the other driver was found.
After a hit-and-run accident, our Houston personal injury lawyers can help determine all possible sources of compensation and calculate the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive.
How a Lawyer Can Help If You Were Hurt in a Hit and Run
If you were hurt in a car accident and the other driver left the scene, you need the help of an experienced attorney. After a hit-and-run crash, there are many ways a lawyer can help, including:
- Proving liability when the driver can be found
- Pursuing a claim through your own insurance company
- Managing all communication with the insurance company
- Documenting your total losses (both now and for the future)
- Negotiating effectively in pursuit of a fair settlement
- Ensuring your claim is filed before the statute of limitations expires
- Taking your case to trial, if necessary
These are just a few of the ways an accident attorney will help take the burden off you after a hit-and-run crash. Most importantly, our lawyers will act as your advocates and ensure your rights are upheld throughout the entire process.
What Are the Consequences of Leaving the Scene in Houston, TX?
Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious criminal offense in Houston. Under Texas law, if a driver fled the scene of an accident that involved serious injury or death, he or she can be charged with a third-degree felony. Those convicted of this offense will face two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If an injury was suffered but was not serious, the hit and run driver could face up to one year in county jail or up to five years in state prison, as well as a fine of up to $5,000.
If an accident resulted in property damage valued at less than $200, it is a Class C misdemeanor. This crime carries a penalty of a fine of up to $500. When property damage is valued at more than $200, the charge is upgraded to a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
In addition to criminal charges, the driver can be held liable for damages in a civil action. Victims may pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the driver to demand compensation for the losses they suffered.
Talk to a Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer Now
If you’ve been hurt in a hit-and-run crash, we understand the frustration and anger you are feeling. At The Law Offices of Hilda Sibrian, our Houston hit-and-run accident attorneys want to help.
We will work hard to try to find the at-fault driver and to explore all your options for recovering the compensation you need. Contact us online to schedule your free consultation so we can get started reviewing your case today.