Being in a car accident is bad enough, but being the victim of a hit and run is even worse. Who will pay for your injuries and vehicle’s damages? Each state has a different set of laws addressing hit and run accidents. The following will help you understand the rules in Texas, what to expect, and when to consult a personal injury attorney for further assistance.
In the immediate aftermath of the accident, the first thing you should be worried about is your safety. Pull over to the side of the road and look for injuries. It may be tempting to engage in a chase with the runner, but this is unwise. Catching the perpetrator is a job for law enforcement personnel. Your job is to tend to your injuries and call the police and emergency medical services, as necessary. Take a couple of deep calming breaths while waiting for them to arrive.
Calling the police to file a report is essential. Your insurance company generally handles hit and run claims, and it may deny your claim without a report. Alert the authorities, even if you don’t have the license plate information or other identifying information – just give them as much as you can.
In some precincts, police won’t respond to the scene of an accident unless there are injuries. If this is the case in your area, you’ll have to go down to the station and request a report. Do this as soon as possible after the accident.
If you’ve tended to injuries and filed a report, all you can do now is gather evidence for your insurance company. Take pictures of all angles of your vehicle’s damage, as well as any property damage (to light posts, road signs, etc.). Claims adjustors from your insurance company may also want to take their own pictures of the damage and scene.
Write down everything you can remember. Ask for email address or phone numbers of eyewitnesses while you are at the scene. If you’re lucky, one of them may have seen the license plate number of the person who hit you – making it possible for your insurance company to pursue the other insurance company for damages.
In the state of Texas, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is optional, though insurance companies are, by law, required to give you the option to purchase it. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, your insurance company will likely pay for the damage to your vehicle – though you’ll be stuck with the deductibles. If you don’t have uninsured or underinsured motorists’ coverage, and the police don’t catch the person who hit you, you’ll be paying for any damages out of pocket. For this reason, it’s wise to purchase uninsured motorist coverage when you insure your vehicle.
Ideally, your insurance company (or the insurance company of the perpetrator, if caught) will pay for your medical bills and compensate you for lost wages if you’ve been injured by a hit and run driver. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. If you’re struggling to pay your medical bills and make ends meet because of a hit and run accident, you may need a personal injury attorney. Luckily, most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations, which help them determine if you would qualify for a settlement.
Being in a hit and run accident may seem like the end of the world, but it doesn’t have to be. With a level head and a proactive approach, you will be back on the road in no time.