Involvement in any type of car accident can be physically, mentally, and financially draining. Things only get worse if you are the victim in a hit and run case. Hire a hit and run lawyer immediately to improve your chances of making it through that difficult ordeal.
The circumstances of hit and run cases can make them challenging to manage. Find out how you can put yourself in the best position to receive compensation by continuing with this article.
I’ve Been Involved in a Hit and Run Accident. What Do I Do?
Hit and run crashes tend to be more complicated because of the absent assailant. If you are careless with your actions, you could easily miss out on compensation.
Take Down Any Information You Can Get about the Other Driver: It is difficult to react in time in a hit and run accident, but if possible, you should try to get information about the other driver. Pull out your phone and try to capture video of their vehicle speeding away. Take as many pictures as possible so you can reference them later. Focus on the car’s license plate number to track the driver down faster.
Check for Injuries: Pulling out your phone to record video of your assailant may have alerted you to a potential injury. Examine yourself further and confirm if you are hurt. You should also examine your other passengers for injuries.
Call 911: Call 911 regardless of how the people in your vehicle are doing. Even if you do not need an ambulance, you should still call 911 to get the police on the scene.
Gather Evidence: Since there is no other driver for you to speak to, you will need to lean on evidence to determine the identity of your assailant. Speak to witnesses and ask them for details about the other car. During this time, you should also take pictures of your car to illustrate the damage it sustained.
Talk to the Police Officers: Speak to the police officers right as they get to the scene of the accident. Tell them about what happened and share what you can about the other driver. Make sure you get the names and contact details of the responding police officers so you can regularly follow up on the investigation.
Go to the Doctor: The number one mistake victims in car accidents make is minimizing their injuries. If you minimize the extent of your injuries, you will likely miss out on fair compensation. Instead, go to the doctor and learn the full extent of your injuries so you can ask for adequate compensation later.
Hire a Hit and Run Attorney: Hiring a hit and run accident attorney as you pursue compensation in your hit and run case is an absolute must. Their skills and expertise will be helpful as you look to hold the guilty party responsible for their actions.
Inform Your Insurer: Lastly, you should tell your insurer about the accident. Let them know that you were involved in an accident but do not get into specifics until you speak to your San Antonio personal injury lawyer.
What Are the Hit and Run Laws in Texas?
We know that hitting another vehicle and speeding away from the scene is unacceptable, but what do Texas laws specifically say about those incidents? Let’s talk more about the relevant laws Bexar County residents need to know in this article.
The Requirement to Stop
According to Texas law, any driver who is involved in an accident that either causes injury or is “reasonably likely” to cause injury must immediately stop their vehicle. Likewise, you must return immediately if you instinctively sped away from the accident site.
You should also determine if another person was involved in the accident after you stop your vehicle. You are still required to stop your vehicle even if you think that the other driver only sustained property damage. The absence of an injury does not give you the right to speed away from your responsibilities.
The Duty to Provide Information
After hitting someone with your vehicle, by law, you must stop your car and provide your information. Share your name, contact details, driver’s license, car information, and insurance information with the other driver.
The Obligation to Render Aid
If you accidentally hit another driver on the road, you are obligated to provide anyone injured by your actions “reasonable assistance”. Reasonable assistance could come in the form of transporting the injured person to the hospital or helping prepare them for the ambulance. You must also be ready to transport the victim to the hospital if they request it.
How Often Do Hit and Run Accidents Occur?
Car accidents are truly awful incidents. They only get worse if they become hit and run accidents. No one wants to ponder the possibility of being involved in a hit and run accident, but it is a possibility you cannot dismiss. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, they recorded 737,100 hit and run accidents in the United States in 2015. They accounted for 11.7% of all crashes that year. Furthermore, 138,500 injuries were also linked to those hit and run crashes.
Let’s reference some more recent numbers to gauge how deadly these accidents can be. California is the state where the most fatal hit and run accidents took place from 2010 to 2019. The site reports 2,948 fatal hit and run accidents in the state, and 3,056 people died in those incidents.
Texas is not that far behind California regarding hit and run accidents and fatalities. During that same timeframe, 1,965 fatal crashes took place in Texas. Also, 2,054 people died due to their involvement in those accidents.
San Antonio residents and other people who live in the Lone Star State must be keenly aware of how common hit and run accidents are in their area. In addition, they must always be aware of the drivers around them to shield themselves from potential disasters.
What Are the Most Common Types of Hit and Run Accidents?
Numerous factors can contribute to the occurrence of hit and run accidents. In this section of the article, we will discuss the more common types of those accidents based on their causes.
- Hit and Run Accidents Caused by Distractions: Drivers who are not paying close attention to their surroundings may hit another vehicle and speed off instinctively. Hunt down that distracted driver with the help of your San Antonio car accident lawyer.
- Intoxication: Intoxicated drivers may not recognize or understand the things happening around them. As a result, they may hit your car and run away from the scene without fully understanding what they did.
- Recklessness: A criminal trying to get away from the cops probably would not care if they hit your vehicle while attempting to escape. Once the police catch them, you and your car crash lawyer can also sue them for compensation.
- Carelessness: Do not forget that cars are not the only vehicles on the road. Routinely check for any cyclists or motorcycle riders nearby, so you do not accidentally hit them. If you accidentally hit a cyclist or motorcycle rider, make sure you remain at the scene of the accident.
How Do You Identify a Hit and Run Driver?
You need to hire a skilled car crash attorney to handle your accident because not knowing your assailant significantly increases the degree of difficulty for the case. Thankfully, there are things that your San Antonio hit and run accident lawyer and law enforcement can do to determine the identity of your assailant.
Expect both parties to carry out thorough investigations of the accident. They will comb through available footage of the accident and speak to any people who were present when it happened. The investigating parties can also examine your vehicle for clues.
After that, they can check with body shops near the accident site to see if anyone fitting the description of your assailant came by recently.
Your lawyer and the investigators have one more card to play while trying to hunt down the guilty party in your case. They can use phone records to ascertain the identity of the people who were at the scene of the accident. Those phone records could eventually lead them to the person who caused the crash.
How Much Is My Hit and Run Settlement Worth?
The value of your settlement will depend on the losses you sustained. In most car accident cases where the defendant is found guilty, they must offer compensation for the plaintiff’s damaged property. In addition, defendants must also cover all of the plaintiff’s medical expenses related to the injuries they sustained from the accident.
Hit and run settlements may also include compensation for the plaintiff’s lost wages. Plaintiffs who experience pain and suffering due to their involvement in the accident are also entitled to additional compensation. Again, your lawyer can help determine the proper compensation for that. Of course, the issue with hit and run cases is that there is no guarantee that you will locate your assailant.
If that happens, your best chance of recovering compensation involves filing a personal injury protection (PIP) claim with your insurer. All auto insurance policies in Texas come with PIP insurance, but you can waive it if you choose. In the aftermath of a hit and run accident, that PIP provision in your policy could be the only way for you to pay for your medical expenses and repair bills.
PIP coverage should be worth at least $2,500 in Texas. Increasing your coverage is possible if you are willing to make larger payments.
Proving Liability in a Texas Hit-and-Run Case
You must establish three things to prove liability in any car accident case. You must establish that the other party owed you a duty of care, that they violated their duty of care, and that their decision to violate their duty directly led to your injuries.
Having a skilled hit and run attorney helps speed that process up. A good lawyer can establish those elements of your case fairly quickly. Proving liability in a Texas hit and run case is easier because simply leaving the scene and failing to render aid are already clear violations on the part of your assailant. It will be difficult for them to deny fault when their violations are obvious.
Still, you cannot assume that they will find the other driver guilty as soon as they find them. Therefore, you and your attorney should still gather as much evidence as possible to bolster your case.
What Is the Average Time for a Hit and Run Case Settlement?
Time is not on your side if you are the victim in a hit and run case. The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Texas is two years from the date of the crash. That means you must file your lawsuit within that time. It is even harder to meet that deadline because you probably will not know the person’s identity right away. Therefore, they must conduct investigations first to identify your assailant.
Given how complex those investigations can become, developing a potential timeline for them is difficult. The best you can do in that situation is to hire an experienced lawyer who can conduct a fast yet thorough investigation that will hopefully uncover the other driver’s identity.
If you are planning to cover your losses using your PIP coverage, you should know that the timeline for payouts there depends heavily on the severity of your accident. In cases where their client sustained heavy losses, insurers will likely take more time before providing payouts.
Take all of those factors into consideration as you continue to pursue compensation.
Hit and Run Law Firm in San Antonio, Texas
We at Barrus Injury Lawyers are ready to take on your hit and run case. Contact us today so we can help identify your assailant and recoup the compensation you deserve.
Some of the cities in Bexar County which our hit and run lawyers serve include: San Antonio, Kirby, Leon Valley, Converse, Live Oak, Universal City, Schertz, New Braunfels, Pleasanton, Seguin, Canyon Lake, Hondo, San Marcos, Kyle, Kerryville and Lockhart.