Hit and Run Accidents
The state of Texas requires all drivers to remain at the scene of a crash in which they are involved if it results in property damage or is reasonably likely to have resulted in an injury. A driver who flees the scene—whether or not that driver was at fault for the collision—is guilty of a felony. Although the crime is called “leaving the scene of an accident,” these situations are commonly referred to as “hit-and-run” crashes. While many people believe they have no recourse to compensation when a hit-and-run driver has struck them, there may be ways to recover damages. If you have been the victim of a hit-and-run crash in Bexar County or beyond, San Antonio car accident lawyer Jeramie Gertz can assist you. He can explore the details of your situation and craft a strategy to assert your rights.Protecting Your Rights After a Hit-and-Run Accident
Texas’ hit-and-run law requires drivers involved in collisions to provide their vehicle, license, and insurance information to the other parties involved and, if applicable, to law enforcement. Drivers are further required to render aid to any people who may be injured. This latter provision is especially important because some injuries can become more serious or even life-threatening if they do not receive attention immediately.
As recently as 2013, the Texas legislature amended this law to increase the penalties for people who leave the scene. Nonetheless, hit-and-runs still occur. In many of these cases, drivers are more scared of facing law enforcement than of being caught later because they may be:
- Drunk or under the influence of drugs;
- Wanted for outstanding warrants;
- Driving without insurance;
- Driving illegally due to a suspended or revoked license;
- Carrying illegal substances or other contraband in the vehicle;
- Afraid of the consequences from law enforcement, parents, or peers; or
- In a state of panic.
For some hit-and-run crashes, traffic cameras, eyewitnesses, or other evidence may make it possible to identify and locate the driver who left the scene. In these cases, victims can potentially seek compensation from the other driver or the driver’s insurer through a negligence claim. They would need to show that the crash resulted from a careless action by the other driver, which led directly to their injuries. In addition to compensatory damages like medical costs, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering, they may be able to obtain punitive damages based on the defendant’s egregious conduct.
However, in many cases, the perpetrator of a hit-and-run is never identified. Unless the crash caused a death, law enforcement may not allocate many resources to find the driver if the evidence is scant. Consequently, in order to obtain compensation, you will likely need to trigger the uninsured/underinsured provisions of your own insurance policy. It is not always easy to make a claim under the uninsured/underinsured provisions of an insurance policy without legal advice and assistance. No insurer wants to pay out a claim, especially when its own client is not at fault. As a result, your insurer will likely comb through the details of your policy, your accident, and the law to find a way to try to avoid or minimize payment.
For example, in Texas, the uninsured/underinsured provisions only “kick in” in a hit-and-run accident if there is an actual vehicle collision. In other words, if the other driver simply ran you off the road but never actually collided with you, your claim may not be covered. “Catches” like this can trap the unwary, so it is vital that you obtain legal advice when you pursue—and before you agree to settle—a claim.Explore Your Options with a Car Accident Lawyer in San Antonio or Beyond
When you are pursuing a hit-and-run accident claim, the advice of an experienced car crash lawyer is critical. Your attorney can review and explain the terms of your insurance policy and, if appropriate, pursue a remedy through your insurer. Meanwhile, your insurer is much more likely to take your claim seriously if you have a knowledgeable injury attorney as your advocate. San Antonio car accident attorney Jeramie Gertz represents victims throughout Bexar, Maverick, Kendall, Medina, Comal, Bandera, and Atascosa Counties. Contact us online or at 210-807-4444 to set up a free consultation.