Can I Seek Compensation After a Texas Hit-and-Run Crash?
State law requires drivers to stop at the scene of an accident if it caused property damage, injury or death. Unfortunately, some drivers flee the scene, either to escape financial liability, because they have a warrant or they lack car insurance coverage.
If you are ever involved in a hit-and-run accident, you may be unsure of how or even if you may be able to pursue compensation. Below, learn more about what you should do in the aftermath of a hit-and-run crash, including what you should do the moments after it happens.
An Austin car accident lawyer from our firm is ready to help you pursue compensation for your damages. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.
What Should I Do Right After the Crash?
It is important to try to remain calm, particularly after a hit-and-run crash. You may have a matter of seconds to get a look at the license plate of the fleeing vehicle. You should also take mental notes about the make, model and color of the car, along with what the driver looks like. Once the car is out of view, write down what you saw or record a video on your smartphone. It is easy to forget minor details that could become important later.
There are several other steps you should take to help protect your health and safety and preserve your claim:
- Call 9-1-1 and tell them what happened. It is possible the police may dispatch someone to try to find the fleeing driver. Once the police arrive, they can review what happened and complete an official police report. Make sure to give the police officer all the information you collected about the car and driver.
- Seek medical attention, even if you think your injuries are minor. Sometimes an injury seems minor at first but gets worse later.
- Take pictures of your car and the scene. If you have visible injuries, take pictures of those as well.
- Look around for witnesses. For example, if someone comes to help you, ask them if they saw the crash. Do they remember what the driver looked like? Did they see the car?
- Contact an experienced lawyer and discuss what happened. The insurance claims process can become confusing, particularly when the crash was a hit and run. Insurance companies are focused on their bottom line, which is paying out the least possible amount of compensation.
- Above all, you should never chase the driver who fled the scene. It might be dangerous, and this is a job best left to the police. It may not be safe to drive your car, and you could potentially make your injuries worse.
Pursuing Compensation from the Driver
If the police find the driver, and he or she has car insurance, you should be able to pursue compensation from the policy. Texas is an at-fault state, so the at-fault driver is liable for your damages. Texas requires drivers to purchase a minimum amount of liability insurance to cover damages from a crash they cause. The other driver is also liable for damage to your vehicle.
Using Your Own Insurance Policy
Unfortunately, the police might not be able to find the driver. Even if they do, the driver might not have insurance – that may be the reason he or she fled the scene.
In either of these situations, you may be able to file a claim against the uninsured motorist coverage in your auto insurance policy. Texas does not require this coverage, but insurers are required to offer it. Uninsured motorist coverage is designed for crashes with a driver who does not have insurance or a driver who fled the scene. You should be eligible for compensation up to the limits of your policy.
Can an Attorney File a Lawsuit?
If your insurance claim is denied or the insurance company makes a lowball offer, it is important that you discuss the situation with a lawyer. He or she may be able to file a lawsuit against the driver, if he or she can be located. However, this is often a last resort when negotiations are unsuccessful.
Contact Our Experienced Legal Team to Learn More
A hit-and-run accident may leave you feeling uncertain and overwhelmed. The licensed attorneys at Lorenz & Lorenz are ready to discuss your situation in a free consultation. If we validate your claim, we are prepared to manage the legal process on your behalf. Our goal is to recover maximum compensation for your damages to help you move forward.
It is easy to get started. Call 1-888-418-8853 today.