A woman was recently struck in a hit-and-run accident on San Antonio’s south side. She and her boyfriend were crossing the intersection of South Zarzamora and West Gerald Avenue when a black vehicle struck her and sped away, failing to stop and render aid at the scene. She was taken to University Hospital and expected to recover from her injuries, but definitely, not everyone who is involved in a hit-and-run is so lucky. Fortunately, Texas laws on hit-and-run accidents are clear and can work in your favor to get you the compensation you need to get your life back on track.
Failing to Stop Is a Crime
The Texas Transportation Code sets out what one has to do in the event of a hit-and-run accident, depending on what level of damage or bodily injury was sustained. If any kind of damage was sustained, either to a person or to property, the driver must stop and render aid, or be guilty of a crime – a felony if injury or death has resulted, and a misdemeanor if property damage was the outcome. It is important to recognize this – in many states, failing to stop and render aid is a civil infraction – in Texas, it is a crime.
It is important, however, to note that a driver who does make a report – that is, admits to striking someone with their car or causing property damage – is protected from that report being used as evidence against them in civil court. Texas permits this small protection so as to encourage more motorists and pedestrians to file reports if accidents do happen. The state’s public policy wants more drivers to come forward, and while a driver can be sued in civil court if they do so, it is still a favorable policy outcome since more crime victims are able to have closure.
If you are struck by a hit-and-run driver, there are still things you can do to prepare a case even if the driver is not located until a later date. Information is key – the police may be able to locate the driver based on surveillance footage, news reports or even eyewitnesses. In the absence of the driver, however, you may still be able to file a claim with your insurer, especially if you have underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, as most Texas drivers do.
If the driver is located, you may also be able to bring a claim in court for your injuries under a theory of negligence. If you can show that the driver who hit you breached the duty to exercise reasonable care that all motorists owe to one another, you may be able to prove that the driver was negligent and thus liable for any harm you suffered. Also, Texas honors a common law concept called negligence per se, meaning that if a defendant breaks a law designed to protect members of a class that would include the plaintiff, they may be deemed negligent under the law without the plaintiff having to prove it – which may make a plaintiff’s case much easier to prove.
Seek an Experienced Attorney
Though the woman on South Zarzamora Road will apparently make a full recovery, it is very common for hit-and-run accidents to end much more sadly. If you or someone you love has been struck by a hit-and-run driver, you are entitled to seek out compensation for your medical bills, and the skilled New Braunfels car accident lawyers at the Bettersworth Law Firm are ready and willing to try and help you. Contact our office today at 888-392-0039 to schedule a free consultation.