Were you the victim of a hit-and-run?
Did you suffer property damage, serious injuries or worse, lose a loved one as a result?
If so, it’s understandable that you may be feeling scared, confused, furious and in shock. You probably have a lot of questions and concerns on your mind, such as:
- Will the police ever catch the person responsible for my accident?
- How will my family ever recover from this loss?
- What legal options do I have?
- Should I call an attorney?
If you have any of these questions, it may be time to seek the legal counsel of an experienced hit-and-run injury lawyer near you. Hit-and-run laws vary by state and community, and they can apply differently to various injury cases.
This complexity means that it’s important you consult with an attorney or law firm that specializes in injury cases like yours, and that has a track record to prove that they know how to maximize the value of your case.
Hit-and-run accidents cause far more damage than a typical pedestrian or auto accident. The emotional fallout from a cowardly driver fleeing the scene can be devastating, especially if the person struck was killed in the process. To make sense of the senseless and take the necessary steps to move on, you’ll need closure and compensation.
Over the years, our team of board-certified auto accident lawyers in Waco, Texas has helped many individuals and families obtain justice and compensation following a serious crash such as a hit-and-run. If you have been injured in a crash caused by another party, contact us today to receive your free consultation and learn more about how we can help protect your legal rights.
What Our Clients Say
"A friend referred us to the firm. These lawyers were down home, very understanding and easy to talk to. If my husband or I had any problems, we could call them day or night. They never kept us in the dark and always made sure we knew what was going on."
"…expertise, experience, integrity and caring…long proven to be able to achieve the best result available for each client within the facts and the law. These lawyers really understand what it means to be professionals and advocates."
"In my layman’s judgment, this firm has done an extremely good job representing their clients… They are a classy bunch…You cannot find a higher quality of people…"
What to Do After a Hit-and-Run
Hit-and-runs can leave an accident victim in shock and furious that someone could act so cowardly and heartless by leaving the scene without checking to see if you were hurt. This shock and anger can then give way to feeling paralyzed and confused about what to do next.
If a driver is able to flee the scene without being identified, this will make it much more difficult for you to obtain compensation for your damages and injuries. For this reason, it’s important to do everything you can to protect your rights. Sometimes, these drivers are never located, but there are some steps you can take right away to increase the chances of identifying the hit-and-run driver and securing compensation:
- Try to remember as many details as you can about the collision and write them down in your phone or on a piece of paper. Focus on recalling details such as the color, make and model of the car, characteristics of the driver and their passengers, the license plate (including the state and number) and which direction the driver fled.
- Look for witnesses who saw the accident happen. Before they leave the scene, ask eyewitnesses to describe what they saw and have them write down their name and contact information.
- Contact local law enforcement and report the incident. Even if you don’t think you were seriously hurt or the damage doesn’t look too bad, you should call the police immediately and file a report. Tell them what you can about the collision and how it happened. When on the phone with 911, give the operator a description of the vehicle so that officers can start searching for the driver immediately, and request an ambulance if you or anyone else is injured. Tell the responding officer everything you can remember, as well as any witness information you were able to collect.
- Take pictures of the accident scene. Whether your parked car was hit or you were struck by a vehicle in your vehicle, on your bicycle or while walking, try to snap some photographs of the accident scene—including any injuries, property damage and the surrounding environment. These pictures might be critical pieces of evidence later on.
- Notify your auto insurance company about the incident. Regardless of whether or not the police have been able to locate the hit-and-run driver, you should call your insurance company and let them know that you were involved in a hit-and-run as soon as possible. This puts them on notice and fulfills your responsibility to promptly notify your insurance company following an accident.
- Contact an experienced Texas hit-and-run lawyer. Few cases are as complex and confusing as hit-and-run claims. Before giving up on your case, meet with a knowledgeable auto accident injury attorney in your area who specializes in hit-and-run cases. We offer free initial consultations to learn more about your case and explain your legal rights and options.
What NOT to do
Under no circumstances should you attempt to follow the driver who hit you and fled the scene. The other driver may be dangerous and trying to follow and confront them could escalate the situation. Let law enforcement authorities do their job and track down the at-fault driver.
Of course, there are times when you might not have the opportunity to follow these steps—for instance, if you were knocked unconscious, if a loved one was killed or if someone damaged your parked car. In these circumstances, it’s more important than ever to consult an experienced hit-and-run lawyer near you for legal advice.
When to Talk With a Waco Auto Accident Attorney
More than 1 hit-and-run crash occurs every minute in the U.S. Texas is the 8th highest state in the rate of hit-and-run crashes. Hit-and-run deaths have increased an average of 7.2 percent each year since 2009. Thousands are killed and tens of thousands are seriously injured annually.
In other words, if you or a loved one were the victim of a hit-and-run in Waco, you’re not alone.
It’s natural to question whether or not you really need to hire an attorney at this time. As a survivor, you more than likely only wish to move on with your life and not get caught up in a drawn-out legal battle. After all, the damage has already been done. A lawsuit will never be able to reverse that.
While it’s true that no amount of money will be able to compensate you for what was lost, a successful claim could grant you and your family significant monetary compensation that can help you move on from this horrible tragedy.
But it’s up to you—and no one else—to take the first step and we encourage you to do so as soon as possible.
What is the Texas Hit-and-Run Statute of Limitations?
Even though you may be the victim in this situation, it’s vital you know that the state of Texas requires all injury claims to be filed within a specific window of time. Most auto accident cases in Texas, including hit-and-run injury claims, must be filed within 2 years from the date of the crash. Failing to hit this legal deadline (known as the “statute of limitations”) can mean a complete forfeiture of your rights and compensation.
What Kind of Compensation Can I Expect in Texas for a Hit-and-Run?
No matter how many hit-and-run cases we have handled or injury claims we have successfully filed, there is no way to perfectly predict what the outcome of your case might be—especially without knowing the details. Every claim is as unique as the person or family filing it. As a result, the outcome is almost always specific to that particular accident.
However, because of the particularly heinous nature in which hit-and-run collisions play out, you can expect the amount of compensation to be at, or well above, average car accident settlements if the person is eventually caught.
At Brown Trial Firm, we thoroughly investigate every client’s accident to help determine liability and calculate the potential value of their claim. We believe it’s important that our clients receive the maximum amount of compensation possible in order to recover financially from their accident and move on with their lives. Most auto accident losses (known as “damages”) fall into 1 of 2 categories: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are reimbursement for direct financial losses resulting from your crash. We can seek compensation on your behalf for:
- Emergency medical transportation and care
- Medical and prescriptions bills
- Long-term caretaker expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity (disability)
- Property damage
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, cover indirect losses that impact you and your family, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Punitive damages for a hit-and-run
In rare cases, punitive damages may be awarded in addition to economic and non-economic losses in order to punish the at-fault driver for acting in an intentionally malicious or recklessly egregious way. Punitive damages are more common in car accident cases involving a hit-and-run or drunk driver; however, they are by no means guaranteed. You’ll require help from an experienced attorney if you wish to seek punitive damages in your case.
What if the at-fault driver is never found?
If the hit-and-run driver isn’t found, then you won’t be able to sue them for personal injury. However, there may still be other avenues to pursue injury compensation. One such option is your own auto insurance. Depending on your policy, your own car insurance company may cover some or all of the costs associated with a hit-and-run crash.
Uninsured/underinsured motorists (UM/UIM) policies usually cover hit-and-run accidents. UM/UIM coverage isn’t required by law in Texas, though most auto policies include some type of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. If you don’t want UM/UIM coverage, you have to reject it in writing.
Texas Hit-and-Run Laws and Penalties
All states have laws in the books to discourage hit-and-run car accidents and set a minimum expectation of drivers who are involved in collisions. In Texas, “leaving the scene of an accident” (also known as a “hit-and-run”) is a criminal offense.
According to Texas Transportation Code (§ 550.021, 550.022 and 550.23), all drivers involved in a crash have a duty to:
- Immediately stop their vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close as possible to the scene of the accident without obstructing traffic more than is necessary
- Immediately return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the accident
- Provide their name and address, vehicle registration number and the name of their auto insurer to any person injured or involved in the collision
- Provide any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including transporting or making arrangements for transporting the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if the injured person requests the transportation
- Remain at the scene of the accident until all of these requirements are met
What if a person hits an unattended or parked car?
If a person collides with an unattended vehicle in a parking lot or elsewhere, they are required to immediately stop and attempt to locate the vehicle’s owner and give that person their name and address. If the vehicle owner cannot be found, they are required by law to leave a written note “in a conspicuous place” or securely attach the note “in a plainly visible way.” This note must contain their name and address, as well as a statement of the circumstances of the collision.
Any person who violates this law and flees the accident scene without providing their info to the vehicle’s owner in person or via written notice may be charged with a Class B or Class C misdemeanor.
Hit-and-run penalties for accidents involving property damage, injury or death
If a driver is involved in an auto accident involving property damage, personal injury or death and fails to stop or flees the accident scene, penalties can range from a Class C misdemeanor to a 3rd-degree felony. Jail time, significant fines and loss of driving privileges are standard punishments. Charges are brought by a state prosecutor and punishments vary depending on the extent of the damage or injuries caused in the accident.
Even if the defendant is found, charged and convicted, the hit-and-run victim will not be compensated for their loss in criminal court. Other than a sense of justice, accident victims gain nothing from a criminal conviction. In order to obtain compensation from the at-fault driver, you’ll have to file a personal injury claim in civil court. And in civil court, you may run into other obstacles as the hit-and-run driver mounts a defense.
This is where a Texas hit-and-run injury lawyer can help.
Talk to Experienced Waco Car Accident Lawyers for Free
Car accidents are bad enough, but they’re even worse when someone flees the accident scene without stopping to give help and exchange information. There are many reasons why a driver might flee the scene of a wreck. Perhaps they are uninsured or unlicensed, have a criminal record, are impaired by drugs or alcohol or don’t want to be held accountable for their negligence.
At Brown Trial Firm, we pride ourselves in providing compassionate guidance, support and legal advice. We seek justice and compensation on behalf of hit-and-run victims throughout Texas by skillfully negotiating with insurance companies, working with law enforcement and overseeing independent crash investigations to identify and locate the at-fault driver.
Not all attorneys and law firms are created equal. Laws that apply to different kinds of injury cases are complex. An attorney or law firm that occasionally handles injury cases like yours may not have the experience or track record that is necessary to maximize the value of your case.