Posted on Friday, July 13th, 2018 at 10:50 pm
Anyone who is involved in a car crash in Texas in which someone has been injured, or died or even when only property has been damaged has an obligation to stop and provide information as well as render assistance where necessary and inform the police. If someone leaves the scene of the crash without doing any of these things it is referred to as a ‘hit and run’ accident.
There are severe penalties for anyone who is convicted of a hit and run offense, but this doesn’t necessarily help the victim of such an accident. What can you do if you are the victim of a hit and run accident and find that you have a damaged car, or a total write off and you yourself are injured badly into the bargain?
Hit and run accidents are on the rise
Hit and run accidents have increased across the U.S. in recent years and there is no evidence that Texas is immune from the national trend. The number of hit and run accidents has increased by 62% nationwide in the last decade. In 2016, over 2,000 fatalities were documented as a result of hit and run accidents. There are more than 600,000 of these accidents every year. Most victims are pedestrians and bicyclists, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot be hurt if you are in your own car.
Claiming compensation if the hit and run driver is found
If the hit and run driver is found, there is the chance that legal action can be taken to recover damages, even if the driver is charged separately by police with a ‘fleeing from the scene’ offense, which in Texas is a felony. Just because the driver has been located this doesn’t mean that you can automatically file a personal injury claim against him or her. As in any personal injury claim, you must still prove that the person caused property damage and / or injuries as a result of the accident. The driver must also have sufficient insurance to cover the amount you are claiming. Unfortunately, in many cases, a hit and run driver may not have any insurance at all and may not even be licensed to drive.
Assuming that the driver does in fact have insurance, you should file the damages claim with the driver’s insurance provider. If the police have charged the person with fleeing from the scene, then your chances of successfully obtaining compensation are likely to be higher.
Compensation may be claimed for:
- medical treatment;
- repair or the cost of replacement of your vehicle;
- loss of earnings as a result of the accident;
- pain and suffering caused;
- punitive damages (normally reserved for cases where particular negligence can be proven: hit and run accidents could be considered definitely negligent).
Compensation when the hit and run driver is uninsured or underinsured or never located
In the quite possible situation where the hit and run driver either has no insurance or is underinsured, the only definite compensation that might be available is if you had taken out uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance with your own provider. This is quite commonly done in any case, especially as crashes involving these sorts of drivers are increasing. However, not all drivers realize that they actually have this type of cover.
It is also possible that the driver, despite having no insurance, has other substantial recoverable assets which can be used to pay compensation should you win a personal injury claim against him or her. It is unlikely that this would be an easy task without the help of an experienced McAllen car accident attorney.
You will also have little other recourse to compensation apart from your own medical insurance if the hit and run driver is never located. If any of these cases describes what has happened to you, you should contact the Patino Law Office in McAllen to discuss your legal options. Call (956) 631-3535 today.