It is not uncommon to hear about drivers leaving the scene of accidents in Texas, also referred to as a “hit and run.” Sometimes the accident is a minor fender-bender while others may involve a major crash resulting in serious injuries or even death.
Most drivers who flee the scene do so because they are scared of the consequences. Perhaps they had something to drink, were driving on a suspended license, or were speeding or texting. What they may not realize is that by failing to stop and render aid or failing to leave contact or insurance information, they very likely will make their situation worse if they get caught. To be sure, waiting for a knock on the door by police is also a very frightening way to live.
In Texas, leaving the scene of an accident involving death, injury or property damage is a crime. The consequences for hit and run accidents can be severe depending on the facts and circumstances of the wreck. Here’s a look at requirements for drivers involved in motor vehicle accidents, including the possible punishments for failure to stop and render aid or failure to give information.
The laws described in this article only apply to accidents that take place on:
(1) a road owned and controlled by a water control and improvement district;
(2) a private access way or parking area provided for a client or patron by a business, other than a private residential property, or the property of a garage or parking lot for which a charge is made for storing or parking a motor vehicle; and
(3) a highway or other public place.
In Texas, drivers are legally obligated to stop if they are involved in a wreck where a person was injured or died. Section 550.021 of the Texas Transportation Code specifically outlines what is required of drivers who are involved in a motor vehicle accident that results in injury or death of another person:
Failing to stop and render aid (FRSA) accidents are taken very seriously in Texas and can result in significant jail time and hefty fines. As mentioned, the penalties for failing to stop in render aid depend on the severity of the hit and run accident.
In Texas, serious bodily injury means bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
Every day in just about every city in the country, drivers are involved in accidents involving damage to occupied vehicles. Most likely, you or a loved one has been involved in an accident that resulted in vehicle damage. In Texas, if you are involved in an accident that results in damage to an occupied vehicle, you are required to:
Leaving the scene after hitting and damaging an occupied vehicle is a misdemeanor in Texas. The penalties for this type of hit and run are not as severe as if someone was hurt, but it can still result in arrest and a criminal record. What level misdemeanor depends on the amount of damage.
It’s not uncommon for drivers to strike an unattended vehicle in a parking lot or come out of a store and notice a dent in their own vehicle. In Texas, subject to the limitations on where the accident took place listed at the top of this article, the law specifies that drivers must take responsibility for striking an unattended vehicle by immediately stopping and:
Failing to provide this information is a Class C misdemeanor if the damage to all vehicles involved is less than $200. It’s a Class B misdemeanor if the damage to all vehicles involved is more than $200.
Drivers who hit a light pole or guardrail or some other structure adjacent to a highway or landscape also have a duty under the law to report the accident by:
|Failure to Stop in Crash Involving Death of a Person||Second-degree felony, punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine|
|Failure to Stop in Crash Involving Serious Bodily Injury||Third-degree felony, punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison, up to a $10,000 fine|
|Failure to Stop in Crash Involving Minor Injury||Imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for up to 5 years or confinement in the county jail for up to a year and up to a $5,000 fine.|
|Failure to Stop in Crash Resulting in More than $200 Damage to Occupied Vehicle||Class B Misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine.|
|Failure to Stop in Crash Resulting in Less than $200 to Occupied Vehicle||Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum $500 fine|
|Failure to Give Information in Crash Resulting in More than $200 Damage to Unattended Vehicles||Class B Misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a maximum $2000 fine.|
|Failure to Give Information in Crash Resulting in Less than $200 Damage to Unattended Vehicles||Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum $500 fine.|
|Failure to Give Information in Crash Resulting in More than $200 in Damages to Fixture, Landscaping or Structure||Class B Misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a maximum $2000 fine.|
|Failure to Give Information in Crash Resulting in Less than $200 in Damages to Fixture, Landscaping or Structure||Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum $500 fine.|
There are a number of possible defenses that can be raised in hit and run cases, including but not limited to:
If you or a loved one was involved in a hit and run where someone may have been injured or died or involved property damage, it’s imperative that you contact a skilled defense attorney as soon as possible. The attorney can intervene between you, the police and insurance company and protect your rights and, possibly, your freedom and criminal record. We can help. Call an experienced Fort Worth hit and run attorney today at 817-809-6679.