A hit-and-run in Bexar County injured two pedestrians, landing both in the hospital where one still remains as of this writing. A middle-aged gentleman and his adult daughter were struck by a vehicle in the intersection of North Lyndon B. Johnson Drive and East Hutchison Street, which was then narrowed down to two possibilities by Bexar County police. If the vehicle is found – maroon in color, and either a GMC Yukon or a Chevrolet Tahoe – the driver will face serious penalties, in addition to a possible civil suit if the pedestrians choose to file one.
Leaving an Accident Scene Is a Crime
Many people think that if they cannot be caught after a hit-and-run, they have escaped responsibility, or at most, they might face a civil suit from any victim’s family. In reality, leaving an accident scene is a crime in Texas, and can be a second or third-degree felony if injury or death results. Even a hit-and-run which only causes property damage may be punished by anywhere between 1-5 years in the county jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
The sentences under this law can seem surprisingly harsh, but the rationale is that drivers have responsibilities in Texas, chief among which is to render aid and/or give information to law enforcement in the event of an accident. Even if the hit-and-run only damaged property, a failure to do that carries consequences. Ignorance of this responsibility is no excuse, either; Texas law criminalizes causing damage, whether or not that damage was intentional. Texas has so many drivers that the state legislature wanted to send a message that accountability matters.
Filing a Civil Suit
A civil lawsuit does not carry jail time, but it can carry significant costs to the defendant if the plaintiff is successful. Filing a negligence lawsuit is an option for the injured pedestrians, given that both sustained injuries that may require significant medical bills to treat. There are four components to a negligence case in Texas. One must show that a duty of care existed between the plaintiff and the defendant (this is stipulated in Texas). It must also be shown that the defendant’s actions breached that duty of care and that there was no superseding cause for the harm the plaintiff suffered. The plaintiff must also show, as one might imagine, that they actually suffered harm.
Unlike in criminal court, the standard of evidence in a civil case is not ‘beyond a reasonable doubt;’ rather, a plaintiff may recover damages if they are found to be less than 50 percent responsible for their own injuries – in other words, that a preponderance of the evidence favors the plaintiff’s case. The plaintiff can seek both economic and non-economic damages in a civil case like this, meaning that they can sue for tangible compensation like medical bills, but also for intangible causes of action like pain and suffering and loss of companionship. Even if a defendant is cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, an injured pedestrian can still seek civil relief for their pain.
Seek Legal Help Today
Hit-and-runs can be devastating for all involved, but if you have been injured by someone who does not stop and face the consequences of what they have done, it can be doubly frustrating. Contacting a knowledgeable attorney can help you decide how best to proceed in the best way possible to get your life back on track. The dedicated New Braunfels auto accident lawyers at the Bettersworth Law Firm are well versed in this type of law and are happy to try and help you with any questions. Call our office today at 888-392-0039 to schedule a free consultation.