The only thing worse than being in a car wreck is seeing the other driver take off. But this happens often — over 700,000 times each year in our country. In your shock, pain, and anger, you will not know what to do. This post will help you be ready if, God forbid, this happens to you – like it did to our clients injured in this photograph.
The latest hit and run in North Texas happened Wednesday night in Cleburne where a Dodge pickup truck was driving on the wrong side of the highway and hit a 26-year-old man head-on, tragically killing him. Then the truck driver ran away. Liquor bottles were found inside the truck. Police found him walking down the road the next morning and arrested him for failing to stop and render aid, driving a stolen vehicle, and driving with a suspended license. The criminal, who had a very long record including DWIs, never had the decency to call 911 which might have saved the man’s life.
I hate to read stories like this. Criminals who kill or injure innocent people should be punished and made to repay the damage they cause. This mayhem has got to stop.
Hit and Run Crash Laws
Texas like all states regulates and punishes hit and run drivers. Texas Transportation Code Section 550.021 requires drivers involved with a collision that causes injury or death to
- Stop their vehicle as close to the collision site as possible without blocking traffic;
- Remain at the scene;
- Exchange certain information; and
- Wait for the police to arrive.
The Texas Penal Code makes hit and run accidents a third degree felony with a punishment of two to ten years in the state penitentiary and a fine up to $10,000 if death or serious injury occur. Lesser jail terms and fines are assessed for lesser injuries or property damage only.
Information That Should Be Obtained At the Scene
We don’t recommend that you chase the other driver since he may be violent and even armed. Hopefully he will stop. But we just successfully resolved a case where our client pursued a pickup truck driver who rear ended her car and fled.
You may not know exactly what you are supposed to be exchanging if you should have the misfortune for being in a crash. The first four are required, but make sure you write down the following:
- Names, addresses (street and email), and phone numbers of the other drivers;
- Insurance company – policy number, coverage, and whether the driver is excluded from the policy, if available
- Registered owner of the vehicle
- Driver’s license information
- Make and model and license plate number
- Everything the other driver says about how the collision happened
- Witness names, addresses, phone numbers, and what they witnessed
Grab your cell phone and take photos of this information if you want. While you are at it, photograph or videotape all vehicle damage, stop signs and lights, skid marks, the other people involve, and any visible injuries. People are also required to help any one at the scene who requests medical attention.
Other important information a personal injury lawyer can use to help you
Document any of the following behavior:
- Driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of drugs
- Unusual nervousness, talking, shaking, or arguing
- Cell phone use just before the crash, especially texting
- Unsafe speed or other reckless conduct
- Outstanding warrants mentioned by the police
Even if the hit and run driver is found, they can often be difficult to prosecute unless extreme caution is taken. Any resulting insurance claim or lawsuit will be jeopardized without this information. Usually, when someone flees the scene, there’s a reason, including lack of citizenship, criminal warrants outstanding, or lack of insurance — or all of the above.
Berenson Injury Law has represented many people injured in these unfortunate collisions for over 38 years. We are often successful in making the driver’s insurance company pay his entire insurance policy amount and even more money if our client has underinsured motorist insurance, personal injury protection, and other benefits available. We were able to obtain substantial settlements for the two people injured in the photograph, for example.
Call an Experienced Board Certified Texas Car Wreck Lawyer
If you or a loved member of your family or friend has been injured or dies in a car accident, you need to act quickly to protect your rights. Call us at 817-885-8000 or contact us here.