Hit and run car crashes continue to happen across the country, despite their severe legal consequences. States have different traffic laws, but it is mandatory in any jurisdiction for involved drivers to stop and stay at an accident scene. In Texas, involved parties have to exchange necessary information, render aid, or wait until the police arrive; otherwise, they will face criminal charges.
If you suffered injuries, property damage, or both from a hit and run driver, you may take legal action to get compensation. However, some injury victims give up on pursuing a claim because the liable driver is missing. If you find yourself in this predicament, consult a San Antonio hit and run accident lawyer from Ben Crump Law, PLLC to explore your legal options. Reach out at (800)-598-7557 to speak to someone from our team.
Hit and Run Drivers Also Have a Civil Liability
Leaving the scene after a car crash is illegal. Even if the other driver is not at fault, they will face a criminal offense ranging from misdemeanor to felony when caught by authorities. Punishment could include fines and jail time but no compensation for their victims. Fortunately, injury victims can seek damages in a civil court.
Aside from criminal liability, hit and run drivers must face civil liability from those harmed by their negligent actions. You can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to receive fair compensation for your injuries and damaged property. Remember that a personal injury claim is separate from the criminal case filed. A conviction from the latter will help further your case since it can serve as evidence to prove fault and establish liability.
For a free legal consultation with a hit and run accidents lawyer serving San Antonio, call 800-598-7557
Filing an Insurance Claim for Damages
In many hit and run accidents, the errant driver is never found or identified. If this happens in your case, your only recourse is to file a claim with your insurance provider against your uninsured or underinsured motorist policy. Most states require this coverage, but in Texas, it is not mandatory. The minimum requirement only includes liability for bodily injury and property damage.
When making a claim under the uninsured motorist coverage, you have to show that it was a hit and run accident. To do this, you will need the police report that documents what might have happened during the car crash. That is why it is crucial to contact the authorities immediately instead of going after the driver who hit you—a police report on file will be instrumental in the insurance claims process.
If the hit and run driver gets identified, you can pursue a claim against their insurance policy. Texas is an at-fault insurance state, which means that those liable for the accident should pay for the incurred damages up to the policy limits. Anything in excess is recoverable by filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Insurance companies, be it yours or the at-fault driver’s, want to minimize their monetary payouts as much as possible. Whatever recourse you take, it is best to have legal counsel. A San Antonio hit and run accident lawyer at Ben Crump Law, PLLC can help you ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.
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How to Protect Your Right to Compensation
Many hit and run accident victims lose their legal rights to compensation because of an oversight or ill-advised action. Avoid similar mistakes that may have costly repercussions with the following tips:
Seek Medical Attention
Even if there is no pain or visible signs of injury, you must get medical care as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more serious that complications may become to your health. Legally, it will also be more difficult to show the link between your injuries and the incident.
Collect as many pieces of evidence as you can while at the accident scene. Take photos of the damage and surroundings. If there are witnesses, get their details to provide a statement. Write down whatever you remember about the accident.
Never Admit Fault
When you give your account of the accident, do not admit fault. You may think you are partly to blame, but it may not be the case after a thorough investigation. Apologizing for the incident may count as admission.
Inform Your Insurer, But Be Wary
Notify your insurance company about the hit and run accident, and file the claim according to their procedures. However, be careful when providing a statement or signing any document—it may reduce your claim.
Hire a Qualified Lawyer
The best way to preserve your rights is to retain legal counsel. A San Antonio hit and run accident lawyer will investigate the accident, build a strong case, and advise you on your next steps.
Your Degree of Fault Might Impact Your Claim
When pursuing claims from either the insurance company or at-fault driver, the issue of comparative negligence may arise. This principle applies in accidents where multiple parties are to blame, assigning a degree of fault for every involved party, including the injured victim.
Texas is a modified comparative negligence state. This means that your responsibility in the accident reduces the amount you can recover. If the total damages amount to $10,000 and your percentage of fault is 30 percent, you can only receive $7,000 as compensation.
Moreover, according to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §33.001, Texas follows the modified rule, wherein a party can only recover damages if their percentage of fault is less than half. Work with a San Antonio hit and run accident lawyer to preserve your claim by proving the at-fault driver’s liability.
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What to Know About Time Limits
Regardless of your option for financial recovery, you must know the appropriate time limits. When you file beyond the deadline, you cannot seek compensation, unless there are acceptable or extraordinary circumstances.
If you decide to file an insurance claim, it is best to file it within weeks after the incident. Do so only if you are sure that there is no need for future medical treatments. The insurer will have you sign a release form that prevents you from filing more claims.
But if you choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against the identified at-fault driver, you have two years from the accident date to file, according to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §16.003. Work with a San Antonio hit and run accident lawyer from Ben Crump Law, PLLC, to ensure that your legal action remains within the specified time limit.
To get started, call (800)-598-7557 or complete a free case evaluation form online.