A hit and run accident can be one of the most traumatic moments of your life. Not only might you have suffered personal and property damage, but finding out who caused it may be a struggle, depending on what evidence you were able to gather at the scene and elsewhere, what you remember of the incident and other factors.

For those reasons, consider the services of a Texas-based hit and run accident attorney who understands Texas law. Doing so will allow you to receive maximum compensation for your pain and suffering.

What Is a Hit and Run Accident?

A hit and run accident is a collision that features a motor vehicle and the driver of it leaving the scene without offering assistance or calling for help for any injured parties and without offering any sort of contact or insurance information. Note that if the individual departed the scene not of their own free will, it is not judged to be a hit and run accident.

The most common examples of hit and run accidents involve a pair of cars or a car being driven into a pedestrian. However, they can also consist of animals being injured or killed, multi-car collisions or solely property damage, such as your vehicle being sideswiped while it was sitting in a parking lot. With that said, the latter example would generally not result in you or someone else being injured by the driver.

Why Do People Engage in Hit and Run Accidents?

Hit and run accidents are prevalent, accounting for more than 5% of traffic-related fatalities.

Why do people engage in this activity? Of course, general panic greatly influences the thought process in a number of cases. However, there are often other factors that cause that panic to increase significantly. These can include:

  • not having a valid driver’s license
  • having outstanding criminal warrants
  • driving a stolen vehicle
  • having illegal drugs, weapons or other paraphernalia in their vehicle
  • being intoxicated
  • not possessing car insurance
  • not being a legal U.S. citizen or resident

With that said, it should be noted that being the perpetrator in a hit-and-run collision is a serious offense. Not only does this person have liability for the incident itself, but they may also face a felony or misdemeanor charge and imprisonment.

What To Do in the Immediate Aftermath of a Hit and Run Accident

If you are able to, take note of all identifying features possible of the departing vehicle. Of course, the license plate number would prove invaluable, but also, if possible, record its make, model, color, bumper stickers and any other identifying features. Taking note of where the vehicle came from and where it went after could prove important as well.

Of course, being able to do those things is highly dependent on your status as you may be incapacitated.

Also make sure to not follow the other driver. Not only should that person be deemed dangerous, but you may also be viewed as a hit-and-run driver in the eyes of the law after doing so. In addition, this will harm your ability to gather evidence, talk to witnesses and take other important steps.

At this point, take pictures of your vehicle’s exterior and interior if you were not a pedestrian as well as any relevant images of the road, including ones that show where you were when you were hit, such as mile markers, street signs and landmarks. Also get information from any witnesses, including their full contact information, and take note of the date and time of the incident.

Having an operating dashcam can provide significant assistance to these efforts, but also do the aforementioned steps. It is always best to err on the side of caution as far as gathering evidence.

If it is safe to do so and necessary, move your vehicle to a safe place off of the roadway but only after fully documenting the scene.

Contact the police, and ensure that a crash report is filed. A law enforcement officer is required to do this if the incident occurred on public property and if anyone was injured or if the apparent extent of any property damage is $1,000 or more.

While doing all of this, keep in mind that you may be in a state of shock. That is one of the reasons why it is important to gather as much visual and written evidence as possible.

Of course, getting medical attention for yourself and for any other injured individuals or animals is of utmost importance and takes priority.

Unfortunately, one of the most prevalent repercussions of a hit and run accident is a victim or victims left behind by the perpetrator experiencing a delay in receiving treatment, particularly if this occurred in a remote area.

Talking to a Lawyer and Your Insurance Company

Only after taking these steps should you contact a Texas law firm and then your insurance company. But do not delay, particularly in the case of the insurance company. That call should be made within a few hours or, if you were injured, days of the incident. However, this timeline is dependent on your specific insurance company’s regulations, so make sure to adhere to any deadlines that it has in place.

If you do call the insurance company before reaching out to a lawyer, only provide general, basic information, and ensure that you do not discuss who was at fault. Also do not make the mistake of talking about your medical history or if you are injured and the extent of any injuries.

Avoid Discussing What Happened on Social Media

Although you may want to share what happened on social media, particularly if you usually post aspects of your life there, you should refrain from doing so related to this until you speak with a lawyer and are told that it is safe to do so.

One of the main reasons why is because your insurance company may be able to view your social media profile, even if it is set to a private setting, and could then gain access to information about what happened that you had initially been responsible enough to avoid telling them over the phone.

In particular, do not discuss your health status on social media, and note that any evidence that you post, such as photos or videos of the scene, could ultimately be used against you.

And keep in mind that the public discussion of any settlement offers that you may receive from an insurance company is usually not allowed.

Finding the Hit and Run Driver

Obviously, the preferred outcome is locating the hit and run driver. In some cases, they will come forward themself. However, most of the time, this will not occur. In those latter situations, any evidence that you or someone else on scene had gathered could prove pivotal in finding this individual.

It is possible that a nearby business or home recorded the incident. In addition, if the driver was speeding or ran through a red light, there might be a traffic camera image of the relevant car and driver.

You should refrain from physically locating the driver on your own.

With that said, social media can be an invaluable tool in identifying a hit and run driver. However, make sure to speak with a lawyer before you begin using it for that purpose to ensure that it is an appropriate avenue to take and that you do not harm your case by doing so.

If this individual is found or turns themself in, they may be held responsible for damages to your vehicle and person, and their insurance coverage may need to pay for expenses related to those.

Regardless of how the hit and run driver is identified, it is important to procure the services of an attorney to ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve from this individual and their insurance company. A lawsuit could also be filed against them.

If the Other Driver Is Not Found

If the other driver is never found, your best chance for receiving money for your pain and suffering would be through your uninsured motorist coverage, which applies in cases where the other person remains at large.

In this situation, it is also important to seek the services of an attorney who will ensure that your insurance company fairly compensates you for what happened.

Hit and Run-Related Expenses

Hit and run-related expenses and other factors impacting your monetary state are usually related to these categories:

  • repairing or, if it was severely damaged, replacing your vehicle
  • car’s reduced value
  • medical bills
  • loss of quality of life
  • lost wages resulting from forced time away from work
  • decrease in future earning capacity

Make sure to keep all receipts related to recovering from this incident and repairing or replacing your car or other property that was damaged as a result of what had happened.

How Can a Car Accident Attorney Help?

An attorney who specializes in these types of cases can prove invaluable to this experience and to your compensation. This individual will not only negotiate with insurance companies and ensure that everything that needs to be filed is and by their relevant deadlines, but they can also investigate the crash.

That investigation can involve analyzing any evidence that you have gathered, going to the scene themself, seeing if any cameras nearby recorded the incident and interviewing any witnesses who you had gathered contact information from.

This individual will also keep you updated on your case’s status and inform you about the entire process, including what to expect.

Of course, if it is necessary to ensure that you are fairly compensated, your attorney will represent you in the courtroom.

Reaching Out to an Attorney

Consulting the services of attorneys such as those at PM Law Firm is an important step, particularly because receiving an initial consultation is free, and you are under no obligation to continue past that session.

Consider that our lawyers have years of experience working with these types of cases, understand the common tactics that insurance companies use to reimburse you as minimally as possible and ensure that our clients are fairly compensated.

Our lawyers also fully understand Texas’ comparative fault laws, which means that individuals who are involved in this type of incident could both be partially at fault for it, and how those laws relate to your case. The most significant impact that this could have is adjusting how much money you are eligible to receive.

Although you could make a claim on your own, having an entity that has lawyers with the experience, education and training that PM Law Firm’s do can significantly impact what you are ultimately awarded or even if you win or lose your case.