Here’s a hearbreaking story from the M Streets neighborhood: a Dallas hit-and-run this morning tragically took the life of a young man, Ethan Vasquez, who was 13 years old. His mother, Sandy, age 40, was critically injured.
My prayers go out to her and her family. Ethan was the son of Victor Vasquez, a sergeant with the Cedar Hill Police Department.
The collision occurred at Monticello Avenue and Homer Street, just off Central Expressway near Henderson. The Highland Park police could not stop a blue Chrysler van, which had ran a stop sign. When the van entered the residential area, the trooper turned off his siren but continued to pursue the vehicle, which was reported stolen two weeks ago.
The van continued driving recklessly. It was speeding north on Homer when it ran a stop sign and crashed into the mother and her son in their small Nissan Versa as they were driving westbound towards Central.
A Nissan Xterra was also hit, but fortunately its driver was not seriously injured.
The driver of the van and a passenger got out and ran from the scene. Dallas Police are combing the scene, looking in every house, garage, and garbage can. It reminds me of the chase for the younger Boston Marathon bomber almost a year ago.
I hate to read stories like this. I hate reckless drivers, let alone criminals who kill innocent people and then flee the scene. And my daughter lives very near to the scene. This senseless carnage has got to stop.
I have been representing the victims of hit-and-run accidents and their families to help them recover money for their often extensive medical bills and lost wages, in addition to pain and sufferering and other damages that the law allows, for 34 years.
These collisions can be devastating — and common. There are over 700,000 hit and run car accidents in the U.S. each year.
I am about to file a lawsuit on behalf of a young man and his sister who were seriously injured when their Ford Fusion was hit by a Lexus. The driver of the Lexus fled on foot. Police were able to track down the driver of the Lexus and determined that he was heavily intoxicated. He was promptly arrested and charged with DWI and leaving the scene of a crash. Here is a photograph from the scene of the crash.
The Dallas police are presently combing the area with blood hounds and trying to find the perpetrator and his passenger. I hope they are able to arrest them and that they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In case you’re wondering, here are our Texas laws regulating and punishing hit-and-run drivers.
A hit-and-run is an accident after which an individual leaves the scene without exchanging information with the person they hit or contacting the police. If a driver leaves the scene of a collision, even if he did not cause the accident, he may be charged with a crime..
Hit-and-run laws in Texas
The laws pertaining to hit and run collisions are specific and punitive. The Texas Transportation Code § 550.021 provides that immediately after an accident involving injury or death the driver is required to
- Stop their vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene as possible;
- Stop without obstructing more traffic than is necessary;
- Return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the accident; and
- Remain at the scene of the accident until certain requirements have been met.
Furthermore, § 550.022 states that immediately after an accident involving damage to another vehicle, a person must
- Stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene without obstructing more traffic than necessary; and
- Remain at the scene until certain requirements have been met.
- If the collision happens on the highway or even on the shoulder, the drivers must move their vehicles to a safer spot and exchange information.
- If a driver crashes into a parked vehicle, he is required to immediately stop and either locate the owner or leave a note on the vehicle with his name, address, and phone number.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene in Texas
- The Texas Penal Code mandates that a person who does not stop their vehicle after an accident involving death or serious bodily injury be charged with a third degree felony. Under § 12.34 of the Penal Code, the person can be imprisoned from two years to 10 years fined up to $10,000.
- If a person does not stop their vehicle after an accident involving injury, he can be sentenced to up to five years in prison and fined up to $5,000.
- An only property damage is involved, an individual can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor if the vehicle damage is less than $200.00 and fined up to $500.00, and if the property damage exceeds $200.00 (and what damage could be less than that?), a fine of up to $2,000.00 and/or a prison sentence up to 180 days can be imposed.
- An individual who is involved with an accident resulting in property damage on a freeway in a metropolitan area where the vehicles are able to be driven to a suitable location, but does not do so can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
- A person who hits a parked car, but does not find the owner or leave a note can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor if the damage to the vehicle is less than $200 or a Class B misdemeanor if the damage is $200 or more.
- An individual who hits a fixture or landscaping on a highway can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor if the property damage is less than $200 or a Class B misdemeanor if the damage was $200 or more.
This Information Is Required To Be Exchanged After a Hit and Run Collision
- Vehicle operator’s name;
- Vehicle operator’s address;
- Name of the operator’s insurance company; and
- Registered number of the vehicle;
- An individual must show his driver’s license, if so requested.
Further, if requested a person must assist the injured party in any way possible, even taking him to a hospital or doctor.
Other Factors That Might Be Involved
The attorney will know to investigate to see whether there is any evidence regarding the following:
- Driving while intoxicated
- Drivers with oustanding warrants
- Driving while talking on cell phones
- Unsafe Speed
- Unlicensed drivers and drivers with suspended licenses
Hit-and-run cases can be difficult to prosecute on the civil side, even if the at-fault driver can be located. There is a reason the driver fled the scene, unless he just panicked. He often does not have a valid insurance policy or one with sufficient limits, and/or collectible assets, to pay for the damages incurred by the victims. And of course the defendant may not be a legal resident and is fleeing detection.
We have handled many of these cases in the past 34 years. We have often more successful in recovering damages for our clients under their uninsured/underinsured policies, however. The services of a good Dallas Fort Worth personal injury lawyer are almost always required in cases like these.
Call an Experienced Board Certified Texas Car Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by a hit-and-run driver, you should act quickly to protect your legal rights. Call Board Certified Texas auto collision lawyer William Berenson at 817-885-8000 for a free confidential consultation to talk about your injury car accident claim.