May 27, 2024

Panic is a natural human reaction to road accidents, but there’s a difference between someone who panics and stays and someone who panics and flees.

In most states, if you hit someone with your car and flee the scene, you’re facing potential jail time and a hefty fee. 

At the Napier Law Firm, we can help you assess your legal situation after causing a car accident and fleeing. But first, let’s discuss the consequences of leaving the scene of an accident in Texas.

Accident Sign On The Road

Hit-and-Run Accident Law in Texas

The Texas Transportation Code Chapter 550 dictates that if you get into an accident while driving, you have to stop or return to the accident scene immediately. Otherwise, you’ll be facing criminal penalties, which may vary depending on the type of accident and whether there’s a felony offense.

This includes accidents with unattended vehicles, moving vehicles, fixed structures, and personal injuries. 

Here’s an overview of what the law demands you to do in the case of an accident:

Hitting Another Moving Vehicle

If you hit another moving car while driving, you’re required by law to stop your car at the scene of the accident or as close as possible. Then, you should check whether the driver or passengers of the other car have been injured.

In such cases, you have to provide reasonable assistance, which includes calling for help or arranging for transportation to a hospital.

Lastly, whether the accident caused injuries or not, you need to provide your contact information, including your name, address, driver’s license, car registration number, and insurance details.

Hitting an Unattended Vehicle/Property

If you hit a parked car or a fixed property or structure, the law requires you to stop at the scene and try to locate the owner. If you do locate them, you should provide your name, address, and contact information.

If you can’t locate the owner, you should leave a written notice with the necessary info, along with the reason for the collision.

The same goes if you hit a private structure or a fixture like a lamp post. You should stop, try to locate the owner, and give a notification of the accident along with the necessary info.

Accident Between Two Vehicles

Injuring Someone

If you hit someone with your car and cause bodily injury, you should stop immediately at the scene of the accident and check on the injured person.

If they need medical care, you should act fast to provide it, whether by calling for help or trying to transport them to the nearest hospital.

Failing to do so or fleeing the scene without offering help may be considered a criminal offense, even if the injured person doesn’t die.

What Are the Consequences of Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Texas?

If you leave the scene of an accident in Texas without providing help or your contact information, you’ll likely face a penalty. The severity of it will differ according to the results of the accident and whether it caused a personal injury.

Here are the possible charges for fleeing an accident scene in Texas:

Misdemeanor Charge

If you cause an accident that only results in property damage, you’re likely to be charged with a Class B or C misdemeanor charge. 

A misdemeanor charge mostly calls for probation, a fine, community service, or less than 365 days in jail—depending on the severity of the damage you caused.

A misdemeanor is a Class B when the damage caused is worth $200 or more. Meanwhile, a Class C misdemeanor involves damage of less than $200.

County Jail Felony

If you cause an accident that injures someone, but the injury isn’t serious or fatal, it’ll likely be classified as a county jail felony.

Such a felony is often punishable by up to 12 months of county jail or a $5000 fine.

Third-Degree Felony

A car accident may result in a felony charge if there’s a personal injury involved. It’s either second or third-degree, depending on the extent of the injury and whether it’s fatal.

According to Texas Penal Code 12.34, you’re facing a third-degree felony if you cause an accident that results in serious, non-fatal injuries and flee the scene.

Such a felony may result in 2–10 years of imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.

Second-Degree Felony

According to Texas Penal Code 12.33, you may be charged with a second-degree felony if you flee the scene of an accident that results in death.

Unfortunately, a second-degree felony means that you’re facing up to 20 years of imprisonment and a hefty fine. 

Possible Defenses for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Texas

Leaving the scene of an accident in Texas doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to jail. At Napier Law Firm, we can help with the possible defenses for your legal situation:

  • Unawareness: In some cases, a driver may not be aware that they caused an accident, especially when driving a large car. This often happens at night when you think you’ve hit a bump or a pothole in low visibility. The state must prove that you were aware that you caused an accident before charging you—your lawyer could use this to your advantage.
  • Involuntary intoxication or impeded driving ability: If you were drugged without your knowledge before getting into the accident, your criminal defense attorney could argue that you’re not at fault. The same goes if you’re under the influence of a new prescription drug that you don’t know the side effects of.
  • Emergency situation: if you’re injured in the accident and need emergent medical assistance, your lawyer can use this to your defense—that your priority was getting medical treatment rather than stopping to provide your information. The same case may apply if you’ve caused the accident while on your way to the hospital or to address an emergent situation.

Final Thoughts

Leaving the scene of an accident in Texas is often a criminal offense punishable by law, but there are possible defenses your lawyer can adopt depending on the situation.

At the Napier Law Firm, we can help you figure out the severity of the situation and what charge you’re facing.