Getting in a car accident is always a frightening experience. But the aftermath of the crash can be even more stressful and frustrating when the other driver flees the scene of the accident. Knowing what to do after the accident is important, as it can make all the difference in whether the police are able to track down the hit and run driver, whether you are able to recover compensation for your injuries and vehicle damage, and how quickly you are able to get back on your feet.
Here, we have compiled a helpful list of steps to take after a hit and run accident in Texas. Most importantly, we encourage you to reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand your various rights and options. Our Waco car accident lawyers have extensive experience and offer free initial consultations so you can get the information you need, completely risk-free. Contact us today to learn more.
1. Check Yourself & Others for Injuries
The first thing to do after any auto accident is to check yourself and others for injuries. If you or anyone else needs medical attention, including emergency care, call 911 and wait for paramedics/police to arrive. Do not move anyone who appears seriously injured unless it is unsafe to leave them in their current position.
It is always best to leave your vehicle in its crash position until law enforcement can make an accident report. However, if you are able, remove yourself from the vehicle and get to a place of safety. If it is unsafe to leave your vehicle where it is—for example, if your car is in the middle of the roadway where it poses a serious danger to other motorists—carefully move it to the side of the road or another safe place.
To ensure your continued health and well-being, make sure to receive medical attention as soon as possible after the accident. In some cases, injuries can take hours, days, or even weeks to appear; even if you believe you were not seriously injured, always see a medical professional after any car accident and be sure to follow all your doctor’s instructions. Attend follow-up appointments, take prescribed medications, complete physical rehabilitation exercises, and rest as much as possible.
2. Gather as Much Information as You Can
After a hit and run accident, it is important that you gather as much information about the other driver as possible. This can be challenging, as the driver may flee the scene immediately after the crash. However, the more information you can provide to the police, the better chance they have of tracking down the driver who hit you and caused your injuries.
After a hit and run accident, try to obtain and immediately record the following information:
- A physical description of the other vehicle (color, make, model, etc.)
- Any identifying details on the other vehicle, including damage from the crash
- A physical description of the other driver (sex, age, hair color, etc.)
- The license plate number of the other vehicle, even if only partial
- Details of the crash, including when, where, and how it happened
Write down as much as you can remember about the other driver, their vehicle, and the crash itself and provide this information to the police. If there were any witnesses who saw the accident, talk to them and record a brief statement about what they saw/heard. Additionally, you should use your cell phone to take pictures of the accident, including the position of your vehicle, damage to your vehicle, and your injuries.
If your vehicle was hit while it was parked, take the same steps in gathering evidence about the crash as if you were involved in the accident. Take pictures of your car and contact local law enforcement to notify them that you were the victim of a hit and run as soon as possible.
3. Notify the Police
Contact the police right away after the accident to notify them of the hit and run. It is best if the police can come out to the scene of the accident and create an official accident report. The police can also begin gathering evidence at the scene, including eyewitness statements, video recordings from nearby businesses’ security cameras, and other pertinent information.
Fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime in Texas. The police will take appropriate measures to locate the offending driver and, if possible, enforce criminal penalties against them. As a victim, however, criminal penalties against the hit and run driver do not do much—if anything—to help you recover. The good news is, if the police are able to find the driver who hit you, this can assist you in bringing a personal injury lawsuit and seeking financial compensation for your damages.
4. Review Your Auto Insurance Policy
Unfortunately, the police are not always able to locate hit and run drivers. For injured victims, this can be devastating, as it not only prevents them from obtaining a sense of justice after the accident, but it can also lead to serious hurdles in the recovery process.
In standard motor vehicle accident cases in Texas, injured individuals can bring claims against the at-fault person or party. If successful, these claims allow victims to recover compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. This compensation is typically provided by the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company, either in the form of a settlement or, when a settlement cannot be reached, a verdict obtained in court. Because Texas is an at-fault state, this is often the only recourse for accident victims seeking compensation for their losses.
However, when the at-fault driver cannot be identified, it is impossible to bring a standard car accident claim. Instead, you will need to turn to your own insurance provider and see whether you have any possible avenues for compensation this way.
Some forms of auto insurance cover you when you are hit by a driver who cannot be identified or who is not insured. These include:
- Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage
- Collision coverage
- Personal injury protection/medical payments coverage
Your best option after a hit and run accident is usually uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. Depending on your specific policy, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage, as well as other losses, through your UM coverage. This is true if you are unable to identify the other driver, as is the case in many hit and run accidents, or when the at-fault driver does not have auto insurance.
UM coverage is not mandatory in Texas. However, your insurance provider must offer you this coverage and the only way to reject it is in writing. If your insurance company tries to argue that you do not have UM coverage after a hit and run accident, they must provide proof that you rejected UM coverage in writing.
5. Contact an Attorney
Navigating the aftermath of a hit and run accident can be challenging, especially when you are already dealing with serious injuries and missed work. Most people are unaware of the various options available to them after such an accident, including possible avenues of compensation through their own insurance providers. By working with an attorney, you can better protect your rights and improve your chances of being fairly compensated for your losses.
It is important to select an attorney who not only has experience but also has the right experience. These are complex cases, and you want to know that your attorney has successfully handled hit and run accidents and uninsured motorist claims in Texas in the past. While every case is different, knowing the processes involved and how the law works can make all the difference in your attorney’s ability to effectively represent you and your rights.
At the Law Offices of Vic Feazell, P.C., we are proud to be a premier personal injury law firm. With several office locations, we serve clients in Waco and throughout the nearby areas, offering compassionate, client-focused service and aggressive, results-driven advocacy. Our attorneys utilize the resources of a large, well-established firm while also providing the personal attention and care you can only find at a small, boutique office.
We know that results are what matter most. If you were the victim of a hit and run accident in Waco or anywhere in Texas, turn to our legal team for the personalized guidance you need and the dedicated representation you deserve.Call the Law Offices of Vic Feazell, P.C. at (254) 938-6885 or contact us online to request a free, no-obligation consultation.