Everyone knows that the proper procedure following an accident, whether the accident was your fault or not, is to exchange insurance information with the other driver and make an incident report with the police.
However, that knowledge does not keep dishonest people from fleeing the scene of an accident that they caused. Such an incident is usually referred to as a hit-and-run, and it leaves the victims in an incredibly difficult position.
How do you file a claim and receive compensation for serious injuries when you don’t know who hit you? This may come as a surprise, but you have more resources than you realize. The greatest resource of all is our firm, The Lenahan Law Firm. We have worked with severely injured hit-and-run victims in the past, and we know just how devastating these collisions can be. If you suffered catastrophic injuries following a hit-and-run, reach out to our legal team at (214) 295-1008. We are waiting to help you.
In Texas, as in most other states, fleeing the scene of an accident is illegal, whether it was your fault or not. For a felony hit-and-run conviction, which means that the victim suffered severe injuries or was killed, the at-fault driver could be facing up to a decade in jail. Given the serious nature of this crime, you would expect that people would not flee after causing an accident. But many people ignore the law and assume they will be able to get away with no consequences, so the potential jail time does not bother them. This especially true if they were already breaking the law when they caused the crash.
Those who own and operate a car in Texas are legally required to have car insurance. The minimum requirements for car insurance in Texas are:
- $30,000 of liability insurance per person
- $60,000 of liability insurance per accident
- $25,000 of insurance for damage to the cars
Driving without this minimum coverage in Texas is also a criminal offense that could result in heavy fines if the uninsured driver is caught. If an insured driver causes an accident, whether it be major or minor, there is motivation for them to flee and avoid the consequences of driving without the legally required auto insurance.
In a similar vein, the at-fault driver may choose to flee if he was drinking and driving. The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit is .08%. When drivers go over this limit, then they are breaking the law, and could face a conviction for a DUI. For many drivers, the risk of facing a conviction for a hit-and-run is far less of a concern than facing charges for a DUI.
If you have found yourself the victim of a hit-and-run, chances are the at-fault driver fled because they broke the law in some way and does not want to be caught. The police may be your best resource to track the at-fault driver down.
Collisions happen in seconds, and if you were injured, you may not have been paying close attention to the other driver. You should report the incident to police as soon as you can anyway. Remember, hit-and-runs are illegal, so the police have a vested interest in finding the at-fault driver and bringing them to justice. You can help this process by giving the police as much information you can. Important pieces of evidence you can provide are:
- The make and model of the car
- Important features of the car, such as dents or decals
- The time and location of the accident
- A description of the at-fault driver
- The full or partial license plate number
On top of that, you can also let the police examine your car. They may be able to find important pieces of evidence, such as paint chips from the at-fault driver’s car, or dents that line up with the profile of a specific model of car. Of course, the police can only do so much. Even if they are actively looking for the culprit, it could be weeks or months before the driver is caught. That is, if the at-fault driver is caught at all. But that does not mean you will be unable to claim compensation, however.
Uninsured motorist coverage is not a legal requirement in Texas. However, if you do not want it in your policy, then you need to inform your insurance provider in writing. If you have not gone through this process already, then you likely have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. The purpose of this type of policy is to make sure you are covered even if the at-fault driver does not have any auto insurance. Rather than getting compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance provider, you will get it from your own insurance company.
This can apply to hit-and-run accident in which you don’t identify the at-fault driver as well. Under Texas auto insurance laws, the at-fault driver would be considered uninsured, and you can turn to your own insurance company for compensation. However, that does not mean your insurance provider will approve the claim. Insurance companies, even your own, care more about profits than anything else. They may fight the claim and even deny coverage. That is why you need to work with an experienced and dedicated Dallas attorney.
Insurance companies, whether your own or the at-fault driver’s, work incredibly hard to pay out small settlements or avoid paying settlements altogether. Going into a claim without your own attorney is a costly mistake that could leave you accepting far less in compensation than you deserve.
To make sure you get the settlement you need after a hit-and-run, contact our firm, The Lenahan Law Firm, at (214) 295-1008. As top Dallas car accident attorneys, we will fight for your right to proper compensation.