Tragic Reminder: Dallas Hit and Run Driver Sentenced on Monday
On Christmas Eve, a 31-year-old man was found guilty of manslaughter and failing to stop and render aid after he crashed into Rachel Lynn Spelman last year on Cedar Springs Road. After hitting her at a speed of 53 in a 30 mph zone, the man kept driving — all the way to Oklahoma. There he repaired the car’s windshield and hid. At trial on Monday, the hit and run driver actually had the nerve to blame his victim for crossing the street in front of him. With his criminal activity, arrogant attitude, and prior history of driving while intoxicated and reckless driving, the judge sentenced him to the maximum 20 years for failing to stop and render aid and 10 years for manslaughter.
This story angers us and would be horrible to read any time, but especially during the holidays. This beautiful woman had just graduated from Texas A & M with a 4.0 average and was working for Hewlett Packard in Plano. And on a personal level, she was a member of the same sorority Mr. Berenson’s daughter, who also works in Plano, was in when she attended Southern Methodist University. We send our sincerest condolences to her family and hope that no other family has to go through this nightmare.
Texas Law Controls Hit and Run Collisions
A driver is required under the Texas Transportation Code Section 550.021 to stop and take action after a collision that causes injury, even if it is only property damage.
If there is injury or death, he or she must return to where the crash occurred, render aid, and provide identification. Fleeing can result in a conviction for a third degree felony, as happened in Dallas on Monday.
If there is only property damage to a parked and not occupied vehicle, he must stop, try to locate the driver or owner, and leave a note with identifying information. Failing to do so can result in a conviction for a Class C misdemeanor and a fine up to $500.00 and six months in a county jail.
Why do people do this? Our law office sees drivers fleeing collision scenes because they are intoxicated, unlicensed or driving on a suspended license, illegal, uninsured, driving a stolen vehicle, don’t want the owner of the car or employer to know what happened — or a combination of these.
On the other hand, if you mistakenly hit another vehicle, don’t panic and drive away. Give your name, insurance policy, driver’s license, and other identifying information to the other driver. Call the police. Call an ambulance if needed. Move your car out of traffic.
What You Should Do If You Are Injured By Hit and Run Driver
- Call the police. Do not chase him or her down as this can compound the situation.
- Write down everything you can remember at the scene if you are able, including the make, model, color, and license plate number of the vehicle. If there are witnesses, get their contact information and jot down what they saw. Take photos and notes on your cell phone.
- Get medical attention ASAP. Injuries sometimes take hours or even days after the shock and adrenaline wears off to be felt. You may be hurt and not know it.
- Check your insurance policies. Your own auto and health insurance policies can help pay for your damages until the other driver’s liability policy reimburses you, and if he cannot be found, you may have coverage that will pay you.
Why You Should Consider Hiring a Hit and Run Attorney
Our injury law office only represents people who have been injured in car and truck collisions. We have handled many of these hit and run cases over the past 38 years and will guide you through what can be a difficult process.
These are your best options:
- We can help you locate the other driver. Granted, this is not easy, but we have represented people after our client or others chased down the other driver and got a license plate number and called the police. We also have a data base and other resources to locate drivers. We can file a claim against his insurance company or a lawsuit against him.
- If you can’t find the hit and run driver, hopefully you have insurance on your own policy called uninsured motorist benefits that will help you collect your damages. Or he may have insurance but the amount is insufficient to repay you for your damages. These underinsured motorist benefits can pay the rest of your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. And you may have other benefits you are paying for and don’t remember or know you have. They add up.
- We can help arrange medical treatment, work with your doctors and health insurance company, and get medical bills and subrogation liens reduced.
We are certainly hoping this has not happened to you or someone you know. We are also hoping word about what happened in Dallas on Monday will get out and encourage drivers to slow down and stop after causing a crash and call for medical assistance.
If you are researching a personal injury attorney to help you recover your damages in a car accident, call us at 1-885-801-8585 or click here.
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