Posted on behalf of Stephens, Anderson & Cummings on May 03, 2017 in Auto Accidents
Hit and run accidents happen all the time, despite the fact that fleeing the scene of an accident is illegal in Texas and across the nation.
Victims of hit and run accidents are often unsure about what to do next. That is why our Fort Worth hit and run accident lawyers have created a list of steps detailing what to do after a hit and run accident.
Keep Your Composure
It is only natural to get angry when you see a car race away after crashing into your car and hurting you or anyone else who was in your vehicle. However, if you want to have a chance to recover compensation for your injuries and hold the driver accountable, you need to do your best to remain calm and keep your composure.
Do Not Try to Chase the Other Car
If the accident was particularly severe, it might not be safe for your car to be on the road. There is also a chance that you could make your injuries worse if you pursue the other vehicle.
The other reason not to pursue the driver is that you do not know why he or she fled the scene. The driver may have stolen the car. He or she could also be involved in some type of illegal activity, such as transporting illegal drugs or stolen goods.
If the driver is a criminal or engaging in illegal activity, you could put yourself in danger by giving chase.
Write Down the License Plate Number
It is best to try to do this while you are still in your car. You should only exit your car to read the license plate number if doing so will not endanger your safety.
You should also take note of the color, make and model of the vehicle along with the area of the car that was damaged in the collision. Your goal is to provide the police with as much information as possible to help them find the car.
If you react quickly enough, try to take pictures or video footage of the car with your smartphone.
Try to Get a Good Look at the Driver
If you can see the driver, take mental or physical notes about the individual. Attempt to answer these questions:
- Is it a man or a woman?
- Is the person young or old?
- What color is the person's hair?
- What is the person's race?
- What other identifying features does the person have?
- What did the individual's face look like?
Your description will help police confirm the identity of the driver. The police cannot file criminal charges unless they know who to file charges against. Also, the person who was driving the car is the only one who can be held criminally liable.
It is not enough for police to find the car, as the person it is registered to may not have been driving it. Without a description of the driver, the registered owner could simply deny responsibility and the case would be closed.
Talk to Witnesses
It is tough to get a good look at the driver after a hit and run car accident, particularly if you suffered severe injuries. You may have been so focused on your injuries that you did not look up quickly enough to see more than the back of the person's head before he or she was out of view.
That is why you should ask anyone in the area if they saw the driver. Do not be afraid to knock on doors or walk into retail stores or restaurants in your immediate vicinity to see if anyone saw the accident and can provide details about the driver or the car.
Ask local business owners if they have surveillance cameras. They may have footage of the crash that could fill in the gaps in the information you provide to police, particularly about the driver.
Call the Police
When the police arrive, give them all of the information you can about the accident, the other car and the person who was driving it. The police will use this information to help them find the car and the driver and file an accident report.
If the police find the car and driver, they may be able to charge the individual with leaving the scene of an accident. This is illegal under the transportation code of Texas, which states that a driver involved in an accident is required to immediately stop his or her car near the scene of the accident to determine if anyone in the other car needs assistance. This is also known as the duty to render aid.
A charge for leaving the scene can be a felony or misdemeanor depending on the severity of damages and injuries you suffered in the crash.
Before the police leave the scene of the crash, ask how you can obtain a copy of the accident report. You will need it to obtain compensation through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Go to the Hospital
Qualified medical professionals can identify all of the injuries you suffered in the accident and provide the treatment you need.
Doctors will note your injuries and your treatment plan in your medical records, so you need to obtain copies. You will not be able to recover compensation unless you have medical proof of your injuries and a medical opinion that your injuries were caused by the crash.
File an Insurance Claim
If you can identify the driver and find out the name of his or her insurance company, you can file a claim to recover compensation for medical expenses and damage to your car. Texas is a fault state, so the at-fault driver is responsible for the damages you suffered in the crash.
Give the insurance company copies of the police report and your medical records and provide other basic facts about the crash.
If police cannot find the driver, or the driver does not have insurance, you can recover compensation from your insurance if you have collision coverage or uninsured motorist coverage.
Collision coverage provides compensation for damage to your car from an accident. Uninsured motorist coverage compensates you for accidents involving an uninsured drivers.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney
An attorney can guide you through the insurance claims process. An attorney can also help you file a personal injury lawsuit if the police found the driver but he or she is uninsured and you do not have the coverage you need to obtain compensation from your insurance company.
Your attorney can also pursue compensation from the owner of the vehicle, if he or she was not the one driving it.
The owner's percentage of liability will depend on the circumstances under which the driver who caused the crash used the vehicle. In the case of car theft, the owner is typically not liable for hit and run injuries.
The car accident injury attorneys of Stephens, Anderson & Cummings will pursue your claim, working to hold at-fault drivers accountable for the harm they have caused while working to recover fair compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.