Getting into an auto accident is bad enough. Getting into a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence or reckless driving is worse. Getting hit by a driver who immediately leaves the scene of the crash to avoid having to take responsibility and face the consequences of their conduct is infuriating.
Unfortunately, hit-and-run drivers are responsible for thousands of crashes, injuries, and deaths every year. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal hit-and-run incidents are increasing, from 1,274 deaths in 2009, to 1,393 in 2010, to 1,449 in 2011.
While some hit-and-run drivers are ultimately found and held accountable both by the law and by those injured, sometimes they disappear completely, leaving victims with little recourse and no opportunity to seek justice and compensation.
So what should you do after you’ve been hurt in a hit-and-run accident?
- Try to ID the car and the driver. It can be a tall order to try to get a bead on the other car or driver right after you’ve been hit and before they’ve sped away. But any information you can provide to the police may help them track down the driver. Even if you can’t get a physical description or a license plate number, just the make and model of the car could useful in helping the cops find the offender and hold them to account for their conduct.
- Stay in touch with the police. The police want to find the driver as much as you do, so keep in touch with them to see if they’ve turned up anything. If they do apprehend the driver, they will charge them with a criminal offense. Texas increased the penalties for hit-and-runs in 2013, raising the crime from a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison to a second-degree felony which could lead to a 20-year prison sentence, which is the same as for intoxicated manslaughter. Once the cops find the driver, you can pursue a personal injury lawsuit against them as you would in any other auto accident case.
- Make a claim with your car insurance company. Even if the police can’t find and identify the driver, you still may be able to obtain some compensation from your own insurance company through any uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage you have. While you are not required to have UIM coverage in Texas, if you did purchase UIM coverage it will include coverage for injuries or wrongful death caused by a hit-and-run driver.
At Greening Law, P.C., we provide aggressive, compassionate and experienced representation for car accident victims in Dallas and throughout Texas. Please give us a call at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free initial consultation.