Texas Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?
- Texas Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?
- Texas hit and run laws explained: What happens if you leave the scene of an accident?
- What to do after a hit and run in Texas
- Is leaving the scene of an accident a misdemeanor in Texas?
In Texas, you are guilty of a class B misdemeanor if you leave the scene of an accident involving property damage above $200. If the accident involves death or serious injury, you are guilty of a third-degree felony if you leave the scene without fulfilling statutory obligations.
Quick take: Leaving the scene of an accident
- Never admit fault at the scene of an accident.
- You may leave the scene to aid the victim or if you have a valid reason to fear for your safety.
- You must report any accident that results in death, injury, or property damage above $1000, using the quickest means of communication.
- You have ten days to file a report.
- Failure to file a report may result in additional charges, and your insurer may deny you compensation.
- Do not leave the scene of an accident before collecting evidence that you may use in your defense or to prove your claim.
- Contact your lawyer if anyone dies or suffers serious injuries.
Texas hit and run laws explained: What happens if you leave the scene of an accident?
Under chapter 550, “Accidents and Accident Reports” section 550.021 through to 550.067, whenever a driver in the state is involved in an accident, that driver has a legal obligation to immediately stop the vehicle and fulfill the obligations listed in subsection 550.021.
Section 550.021, “Duties following an Accident” require you to do the following before leaving the scene.
- Stop the vehicle at the scene or as close as possible to the scene. If you do not park the vehicle at the scene, you must immediately return.
- Investigate the scene. If someone has suffered injuries, you must render reasonable assistance to that person.
- Remain at the scene until you give your name, registration number, and insurance information to the struck person or the struck property owner.
- Upon request and if available, you must exhibit your driver’s license to the struck person or law enforcement officer present at the scene.
Note that section 550.023 requires you to render reasonable aid to anyone who needs it. Because of that, if the injured person requests it or if it is apparent that immediate medical assistance is necessary, you may transport the victim to a hospital or emergency center.
What to do after a hit and run in Texas
What you do immediately after an accident determines the potential charges. For example, if you fulfill the statutory obligations above, you may avoid criminal charges. But remember, the victim has the option to take civil action. That makes it vital that you do the following:
- Remain at the scene until law enforcement clears you to leave.
- Never admit fault, apologize, or use language that the other party may interpret as guilt.
- Render reasonable assistance to anyone who needs it.
- Gather evidence, including dashcam footage, witness testimonies, and anything else useful.
- If someone dies or suffers serious injuries, contact your attorney immediately.
- If the police arrest you, do not talk about the details of the case with other inmates.
In short, if the accident involves expensive property damage, death, or serious injury, you should let your lawyer speak for you.
Is leaving the scene of an accident a misdemeanor in Texas?
Yes. Under state law, the severity of the accident determines the charges. Consequently, if you do not immediately stop and fulfill the obligations above, you could be guilty of the following.
- If the damage is below $200, you are guilty of a class C misdemeanor.
- Damage above $200 constitutes a class B misdemeanor.
- If you block traffic more than is necessary and the vehicle was operational, you may face class C misdemeanor charges.
- If the accident involves a death or serious injury, you may be charged with a felony.
What happens if you hit an unattended vehicle in Texas?
Section 550.024. “Duty on Striking Unattended Vehicle” says that you must immediately stop your vehicle and make a reasonable effort to find the owner. If you cannot find the owner, section 2 requires, quote:
“Leave in a conspicuous place in, or securely attach in a visible way to, the unattended vehicle a written notice giving the name and address of the operator and the owner of the vehicle that struck the unattended vehicle and a statement of the circumstances of the collision.”
Failure to locate the driver or leave a note constitutes a class C misdemeanor if the damage done is below $200 and a class B misdemeanor if the damage is above $200.
What is a reportable accident in Texas?
Under section 550.026, “Immediate Report of Accident” you have a legal obligation to immediately report any accident that results in death or serious injury. The section reads, quote:
“The operator of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of a person or damage to a vehicle to the extent that it cannot be normally and safely driven shall immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice of the accident to the:(1) local police department if the accident occurred in a municipality;(2) local police department or the sheriff’s office if the accident occurred not more than 100 feet outside the limits of a municipality; or(3) sheriff’s office or the nearest office of the department if the accident is not required to be reported under Subdivision”.
What you need to remember is a Reportable Accident in Texas is any accident that results in death, serious injury, or property damage above $1000.
Do police investigate minor hit and runs in Texas?
Under state law, leaving the scene of an accident without fulfilling statutory obligations is a criminal offense. Consequently, the police investigate minor hit-and-runs. Because of that, if someone hits your vehicle and flees, you should do the following:
- If capable, collect evidence, including dashcam footage and the driver’s description. Also, document the damage done to the fleeing vehicle, colour, make, and other useful features.
- Do not admit fault or engage in road rage.
- Seek medical assistance and do not comment about your health before consulting with a physician. Remember, some injuries take time to manifest.
- Render reasonable assistance to anyone who needs it.
- Call the police and remain at the scene until they arrive.
- Take photos
- Contact your insurer.
Is leaving the scene of an accident a felony in Texas?
Yes. If the accident involves death or serious injury, leaving the scene without fulfilling the requirements above constitutes a felony.
Under section 550.021. you are guilty of a felony of the second degree if you leave the scene of an accident involving death. If the accident involves serious injury -that is, an injury that puts the victim at significant risk of death or permanent disfigurement or disability- you are guilty of a felony of the third degree.
What is the penalty for vehicular manslaughter in Texas?
Under Texas Penal Code 49.08. “Intoxication Manslaughter” you are guilty of vehicular manslaughter if you operate any vehicle, including amusement rides while under the influence of drugs or alcohol -resulting in death. Vehicular manslaughter is a felony of the second degree.
If you cause the death of another through negligent actions, chapter 19, section 19.05 “Criminally Negligent Homicide” states that, quote:
“A person commits an offense if he causes the death of an individual by criminal negligence. (b) An offense under this section is a state jail felony.”
A state jail felony in Texas is punishable by up to two years in jail and a maximum fine of $10000.
What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in Texas?
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage less than $200, class C misdemeanor. Punishable by a maximum fine of $500 with no jail or prison time.
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage above $200, class B misdemeanor. Punishable by up to 180 days in county jail and a maximum fine of $2000.
- Hit and run involving serious bodily injury. Felony of the third degree. Punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10000.
- Hit and run involving death/vehicular manslaughter. Felony of the second degree. Punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10000.
The state may suspend or revoke your driving privileges upon conviction for any of the crimes above. Also, every hit may constitute a separate offense. Consequently, you must consult with an experienced attorney immediately.
Civil and administrative penalties
If the police fail to arrest the fleeing driver, you may recover compensation from your insurer.
Upon arrest, the victim has the right to take civil action and recover damages, including medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, etc. In addition, depending on your actions immediately after the accident, the court may impose punitive damages.
How is fault determined in Texas?
Texas is an at-fault state. What that means is the person responsible for the accident pays the victim. Then, under the state’s comparative negligence rule, the state reduces damages based on your share of responsibility.
What is the statute of limitations on accidents in Texas?
How do you prove innocence after a hit and run?
As mentioned, you may leave the scene of an accident while assisting an injured person. However, the best defense is based on the facts presented. Therefore, we recommend that you contact a defense attorney.
That said. Common defenses include:
- You were unaware of your involvement in a traffic collision
- Mistaken identity.
- Involuntary intoxication (drugged without your knowledge)
- You were responding to an emergency.
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