May 27, 2024

Were you or someone you know involved in a hit-and-run in Texas? Whether you were the perpetrator of the crash or the victim, we at Napier Law Firm are here to guide you through the legal process and make sure all your rights are protected.

Vehicle With Damaged Rear Bumper

Defining “Hit and Run” in Texas

Under the Texas Transportation Code Chapter 550, the legal definition of a hit-and-run incident is “failure to give information and render aid.”

This means that if your driving resulted in a car crash, you’re required to stop the car on the side of the road and provide identification to those involved in the incident as well as law enforcement. This includes your name and address, your vehicle’s registration and license plate numbers, and your insurance information.

You’re also obligated to render aid to the injured parties if possible. Failing to do any of these is considered a hit-and-run.

Even if you weren’t responsible for the crash, you’re still required to remain at the scene of the incident. Otherwise, leaving without providing your information could suggest to law enforcement that you were at fault.

The Legal Consequences of Committing a Hit and Run in Texas

In 2013, Texas law increased the penalty for committing a hit-and-run to be the same as a DUI, which is a fine of up to $2,000, jail time of up to 180 days, and a possible suspension of the driver’s license for up to a year. The idea behind this move is to prevent drivers from fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run incident to avoid a DUI.

As for the legal ramifications of committing a hit-and-run, they range from relatively small for first-time offenders to the extreme in the event that someone was severely injured or killed.

For example, if you committed a hit-and-run accident and no one was injured, then the penalties would be the same if you had hit an empty, parked car or another stationary object on the road, such as a signpost or fence. The only thing that would be taken into consideration is the cost of the property damage caused by the crash.

Say you hit an occupied car or a stationary object, it’s recommended that you take the appropriate measures to notify the owner of what happened. You can leave a note with a brief description of what happened along with your contact information.

In addition, if you think the damages exceeded $1,000, you’re required to notify Texas police of the incident within seven days of the crash.

Below is a brief outline of various hit-and-run cases and their penalties:

  • If no one was injured but the crash caused less than $200 in damages to a car or other property: a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500
  • If no one was injured but the crash caused more than $200 in damages to a car or other property: a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of no more than $2,000
  • If someone was injured: a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in jail and a fine of no more than $5,000
  • If someone was severely injured or killed: a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in jail and a fine of no more than $5,000
Judges Hammer With Hit And Run Sign

What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Incident?

In many instances, hit-and-run accidents happen not because of bad intentions but due to panic, fear, and ill judgment. If you were involved in a hit-and-run, here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Contact an Attorney

A hit-and-run criminal charge is typically initiated when you receive a letter from the police informing you that you’re a likely suspect and that they’d like to question you. It could also be initiated by receiving a criminal citation in the mail.

So, if you left the scene of a hit-and-run either intentionally or not, and the police want to question you, the first thing you must do is to speak to a lawyer licensed by the State Bar of Texas. They can help you avoid criminal charges, unfair prosecution, as well as insurance and other financial hiccups.

Step 2: Speak with the Police

The police may have gathered evidence from witness testimonies and security cameras. Yet, they can’t prove that it was you behind the wheel unless you admit it to them directly. And if you admit it, you’ll be cited or arrested.

So, it’s imperative that you don’t speak with the police without talking to an attorney first.

Step 3: Call Your Insurance Provider

It’s common knowledge that insurance companies record calls because they’re obligated by law to turn over any evidence to law enforcement that can then be used against you in a criminal case.

That’s why you should also speak to an attorney before calling your car insurance provider to report the incident. They can help you get the coverage needed to fix your car and even provide the victim of your hit-and-run with financial aid without any legal risk to you.

It’s worth mentioning that Texas auto insurance coverage isn’t required by law to cover victims of hit-and-run incidents. The only way to ensure you’re covered is by including additional coverage options to your original insurance policy specific to this kind of accident.

Here are the most common types of insurance coverage available for hit-and-run incidents:

  • Other driver’s liability coverage: yes, but only if you were the victim and were able to identify the other driver
  • Personal injury protection/medical payments: yes, if anyone was injured
  • uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) bodily injury: yes, if anyone was injured and the other driver doesn’t have insurance or if you’re not able to identify the other driver
  • Uninsured motorist property damage: yes, if the other driver doesn’t have insurance or you’re not able to identify the other driver
  • Collision coverage: yes
  • Comprehensive coverage: no
  • Your personal liability coverage: no

Final Thoughts

A hit-and-run conviction in Texas can have serious repercussions on your freedom and future. At Napier Law Firm, we have the experience required to put together a strong case to guarantee the best possible outcome.

If you have any questions about a specific case, call us at 713-352-1496 for a free consultation or contact us online. With our extensive legal expertise, you can be sure that we’ll be able to come up with the best defense strategy to help you avoid a conviction.