You’re driving down a Houston road when a car hits you. You’re injured. Your vehicle is wrecked. Before exchanging information, the other driver takes off and leaves you at the scene to face the consequences on your own. You’ve just been involved in a hit-and-run accident.
The Why Behind Hit-and-Runs
People may flee the scene of an accident for many reasons. They may be drunk. They may not have insurance. They may not have a driver’s license. They may know that the police have issued an outstanding warrant for their arrest. They may simply panic, particularly if they know they were at fault. For whatever reason, they abandon you to your fate and renounce all responsibility for the incident.
The impact of a hit-and-run can be severe and long-lasting. While the other driver flees, you’re left with mounting medical bills and other expenses. Without access to the responsible party’s insurance information, it seems that you’re left with no way to recover the damages. It may be difficult to pay your mounting bills—medical bills, car repair bills, loss of wages.
The consequences for the hit-and-run driver, should they be caught, are equally serious. Penalties can range from mere traffic tickets to felony hit-and-run charges. In most cases, it’s a crime to leave the scene of an accident before exchanging information with the other driver. How long both parties must stay at the scene depends on a number of factors, including how serious the accident was (whether it caused merely property damage or serious injury and even death).
How to Deal with a Hit-and-Run Accident
Someone hits you and then speeds off. You’re standing on the side of the road, or perhaps sitting in your vehicle. You’re dazed. You’re shaken. Maybe you’re angry. What should you do? What step comes first?
- Stay at the Scene: It may be tempting to follow the fleeing driver. Don’t. They may be dangerous. You may be more seriously injured than you think. Finally, a chase may put other innocent people in danger. Stay at the scene and wait for the authorities to arrive.
- Call 9-1-1: No matter what type of accident you’re involved in, the first step is always the same: Get the police and paramedics to the scene. The EMTs will handle any medical emergencies that may need attention; they’ll transport you to the hospital if necessary. The police will interview you and the other witnesses in order to get a description of the fleeing driver and his or her vehicle. They will do what they can to apprehend the guilty party. If they succeed, it will be far easier to recover damages.
- Collect Evidence: If you’re not seriously hurt, it may be wise to gather some evidence of your own. Talk to witnesses and ask for their contact info. Take pictures of your car, the scene, and any injuries you may have. If you go to the hospital, obtain a copy of your medical records.
- Call a Lawyer: It’s difficult to receive compensation in a hit-and-run case, but it’s not impossible, at least if you hire an attorney for hit-and-runs early on in the process. Even if you never discover the identity of the hit-and-run driver, you may be able to receive compensation in some cases. If it is possible to receive settlement, then a hit-and-run lawyer will be your best hope of success.
Houston Hit-and-Run Lawyers
If you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run accident around the Houston area, call Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. We’re a local Houston, TX law firm with plenty of experience representing hit-and-run clients. We can help you overcome the administrative hurdles and win your legal battle.
Call us today at (713) 574-5089 to take advantage of a free consultation.