According to the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety, approximately 11 percent of all police-reported crashes involve someone leaving the scene of the accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports, however, that hit-and-run estimates are even higher: about one in every five pedestrian fatalities is caused by this type of accident. Over the course of a year, research indicates that hit-and-run drivers cause more than 2,500 fatal traffic accidents.
Hit and Run Accidents
When someone flees the scene of an auto accident, this is commonly referred to as a “hit-and-run” accident. Texas state law, in addition to the laws of a majority of the other states across the nation, prohibits a driver from fleeing the scene after an accident. Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious offense in Texas, which can range from a misdemeanor to a felony depending on the degree of the damage or injury as a result of the crash.
No matter which driver is at fault, any party that is involved in an auto accident is required to remain at the scene. This is especially true if anyone is injured as a result of the crash. The reasoning behind this mandate is, generally, to provide an opportunity for all parties to provide specific information to law enforcement as well as to one another. There is an exception to the requirement of staying at the scene: if a driver is in need of immediate emergency medical care, the law does not prohibit a person from leaving for this reason.
Leaving the scene of an accident that results in death or serious injury in Texas is classified as a third-degree felony and is punishable by up to 10 years in state prison. If the injuries resulting from the crash are not serious, the felony is punishable by up to one year in a county jail or up to five years in a state prison as well as the possibility of a fine of up to $5,000. On the other hand, a hit-and-run that results in damage to an unoccupied vehicle is classified as a Class C misdemeanor, with fines imposed of up to $500, if the damage to the vehicles is estimated at less than $200. Conversely, fleeing the scene is a Class B misdemeanor and may result in up to six months in county jail if the damages is more than $200. Finally, these same penalties apply when someone hits a parked vehicle and leaves the scene, or damages fixtures or landscaping without stopping or reporting the crash.
We Can Help
Do not fall victim a second time. If you or someone you know is the victim of a hit-and-run in Texas, seek legal advice from an experienced New Braunfels hit-and-run accident attorney as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that vital evidence may be destroyed. Moreover, any witnesses may forget important details from the incident if you delay in taking action. Serving clients across Texas for years, the The Bettersworth Law Firm knows how to advocate for victims’ rights with respect to Texas law and auto insurers. Contact us today.