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TX injury lawyerOn February 1, a woman in a Toyota Camry struck a cyclist, knocking him off his bicycle near the area where West 35th Street becomes West 38th Street in Austin. She declined to remain at the scene of the accident, saying she had ‘somewhere to be,’ but provided a phone number. On May 23, the police determined that the number the woman had given was fake, and an arrest warrant for failing to stop and render aid was subsequently issued. If you are ever involved in a bicycle accident, this is perhaps the least appropriate thing you could possibly do, and it may very well result in your being convicted of a third-degree felony - it is critical to be aware of Texas law surrounding this type of crash.

Statistics Show Specific Trends

Bicycling accidents are common, but among reported accidents, it is possible to determine certain trends and prepare accordingly. For example, statistics from Share The Road Texas seem to establish a possible link between gender and age and likelihood of injury, with 81 percent of recorded crash victims being male, and roughly 60 percent being under the age of 25. While some young people are obviously more careful than others, some do tend to take risks while operating a vehicle, and it can, unfortunately, result in significant injury.

Speed is also a major factor. The data shows that more bicycle fatalities occur on roads with higher speed limits, as one might imagine, but more injuries actually occur on roads with lower limits. Bexar County posted the fourth-highest injury total for bicyclists in the years tracked, and while some of the total is due to sheer population, it can also plausibly be due to speed. Many cities impose 45 mph speed limits, but within Austin, speeds can get as high as 65 mph (or could until recently). The woman in the Camry was allegedly speeding when she struck the cyclist, which may compound her problems.

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TX injury lawyerIn 2017, a young man was struck by a pickup truck and killed while riding his bicycle in Georgetown. The driver was sentenced to two years in prison and 10 months’ probation after pleading to manslaughter and accident involving death. However, due to a peculiarity in Texas law, he was released to mandatory supervision before ever serving any time of his sentence, causing the victim's family serious pain and mental anguish. Now, a bill is before the Texas legislature which would close that loophole. If you are involved in a hit-and-run, it would significantly alter your prospects at sentencing.

Hit-And-Run Is a Crime

In Texas, leaving the scene of an accident is a crime, punishable by anywhere between a $500 fine and a 10-year prison sentence, depending on the nature of the accident. Leaving the scene of an accident where someone was killed or seriously injured is a third-degree felony. The driver in the above case did leave the scene of the accident, and he could have been found guilty of leaving the scene had he not negotiated a plea deal. The penalties are lesser if your accident only involves minor injury or property damage, but serious injury or death is taken very seriously.

However, even with the sentencing guidelines, Texas law has a loophole depending on how long a person has spent in detention. It is possible for someone who has spent a significant amount of time in pretrial detention to be released into mandatory supervision without ever actually spending any time in prison once they are sentenced. This occurred in this, given the defendant spent almost 400 days in detention before his trial and sentencing. However, the victim's family was never notified.

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TX injury lawyerRecently a driver deliberately struck and injured two pedestrians outside the Well, a bar near I-10, off UTSA Boulevard. Witnesses described one woman being struck, after which her companion jumped on the hood of the car and was then thrown off. Instead of stopping to render aid as required by law, the car sped away, and as of this writing, San Antonio police are still seeking the driver. If you are injured due to being struck by a driver, you have the right to seek compensation from them, and in some cases, they may even be on the proverbial hook for criminal charges.

Texas Law Is Clear

Hit-and-run, called leaving the scene of an accident in Texas, carries serious penalties, and the law is unambiguous about them. Sec. 550.021 of the Texas Transportation Code states that anyone who is involved in an accident that results in (or might reasonably result in) injury or death must (1) immediately stop their vehicle; (2) return to the scene; (3) try to determine if someone else was involved and whether or not they require aid; and (4) render assistance such as giving your information and insurance, as well as potentially summoning help.

If you are involved in an accident where you believe there has been injury or death, you must comply with all four orders laid out in the relevant law. Failure to do so may open you up to civil liability, and in most cases, to criminal charges, especially if someone is killed or seriously injured. In the event of death or serious injury, leaving the scene of an accident is a second or third-degree felony, which carries prison time between 2 and 20 years, with a fine of up to $10,000.

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TX injury lawyerA hit-and-run in San Marcos 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 San Marcos 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.

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TX injury lawyerA 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.

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The sooner you call, the sooner we can build your case, secure evidence and get maximum compensation for your injuries.

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