The open roads of Texas have been marred by a disturbing trend: the rise of hit and run accidents. These incidents leave a trail of unanswered questions and unaccounted damages, affecting countless lives each year. In the sprawling metropolis of Houston, the situation is particularly alarming. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has identified Texas as one of the states with the highest rates of such accidents, with Houston leading the charge.
In 2019, the city reported a staggering 31,000 hit and run accidents, resulting in 72 fatalities and injuring 142 individuals. Although 2020 saw a slight decrease in these numbers, the relief was short-lived. The following year, the frequency of hit and run incidents surged, averaging one fatal occurrence every day. By February 2022, Houston was on track to surpass previous records, having already experienced 20 fatal hit and run cases.
Common Injuries in Hit and Run Accidents
The physical toll of a hit and run can be as unpredictable as the accident itself. Victims may suffer from a range of injuries, including but not limited to:
- Concussions and other forms of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Whiplash, along with other neck and back injuries
- Fractures, broken bones, and lacerations
- Spinal cord injuries, potentially leading to paralysis
- Damage to knees, shoulders, and other joints
- In the most tragic cases, death
The aftermath of such injuries can be life-altering, necessitating long-term care and rehabilitation. For those who have lost a loved one in a hit and run, the emotional and financial burdens can be overwhelming. Families in such dire circumstances may find solace and support by reaching out to a Houston wrongful death lawyer.
Common Causes of Hit and Run Accidents
Understanding the causes behind hit and run accidents is crucial for prevention and accountability. Common factors contributing to these incidents in Texas include:
- Distracted driving, such as texting or using a smartphone
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (drunk or drugged driving)
- Fatigued driving, which impairs reaction times and judgment
- Speeding or driving recklessly for road conditions
- Ignoring traffic signals, such as running red lights or stop signs
- Failing to yield the right of way, endangering pedestrians and other motorists
- Reckless or aggressive driving behavior
These negligent actions not only endanger the lives of others but can also lead to severe legal consequences for the perpetrators. For victims, understanding these causes is a step toward seeking justice and compensation with the help of a skilled Houston car accident attorney.
What to Do After a Hit and Run Accident
If you find yourself the victim of a hit and run, taking immediate and appropriate action is critical. Here are the steps you should follow:
- Call 911 to report the accident and receive emergency medical assistance if necessary.
- Collect and document evidence at the scene, such as taking photographs and noting any details of the fleeing vehicle.
- Speak to witnesses and gather their contact and insurance information if available.
- File a police report, providing all the information you have about the suspect driver or vehicle.
- Notify your own insurance company about the accident promptly.
These steps are not only vital for your health and safety but also for building a strong foundation for your legal case. If you’re unsure about the process or what to do next, contacting an experienced Houston hit and run accident lawyer can guide you through the complexities of your situation.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
In Texas, drivers are mandated to carry a minimum of $30,000 in coverage for each injured person, up to a total of $60,000 per accident. However, navigating insurance claims can be a daunting task, especially after a hit and run. Understanding your insurance policy is essential, as is knowing the state’s car accident laws to effectively manage the claims process. If you’re facing difficulties with your insurance company or if you’re uncertain about your coverage, seeking advice from a knowledgeable Houston car accident lawyer can be invaluable.
Impact on Insurance Premiums
It’s a common concern that filing a car accident claim might lead to increased insurance premiums. While this is generally not the case when you’re not at fault, being responsible for a hit and run can indeed result in higher rates. Your insurer may view you as a higher risk and adjust your premium accordingly. In severe cases, your policy could even be canceled, necessitating the search for a new provider.
For those involved in a hit and run, whether as a victim or a perpetrator, understanding the implications on insurance is crucial. It’s advisable to consult with a Houston car accident attorney who can provide clarity on these matters and help protect your rights.
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Rehabilitation and Recovery
The journey to recovery after a hit and run accident can be lengthy and challenging. Prioritizing your health by seeking immediate medical attention is the first step. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may require various forms of rehabilitation, such as:
- Physical therapy to regain strength and mobility
- Occupational therapy to assist with daily activities and work-related tasks
- Psychological counseling to address the emotional trauma of the accident
Each individual’s path to recovery is unique, and the duration of rehabilitation will vary. It’s crucial to follow medical advice and complete the prescribed treatment plan to achieve the best possible outcome. During this period, having a supportive legal team, like the one at Adley Law Firm, can alleviate the stress of dealing with legal and insurance matters, allowing you to focus on your recovery.
Traffic Laws and Legal Obligations
Texas traffic laws are clear: drivers involved in an accident must stop, provide identification, and, if necessary, call for law enforcement or emergency services. Fleeing the scene of a crash is a serious offense, punishable by law.
If you witness a hit and run, try to note the license plate number and a description of the vehicle to assist in tracking down the responsible party. For victims, knowing these laws is essential for holding the offender accountable and can be instrumental in a hit and run accident claim.
To safeguard your health and potential compensation claims, follow this post-accident checklist if you’re involved in a hit and run:
- Call 911 for emergency assistance if needed.
- Document the scene with photos of the damage and your injuries.
- Collect contact and insurance information from any witnesses.
- File a police report with all available information on the suspect.
- Report the accident to your insurance company without delay.
Adhering to these steps not only protects your rights but also strengthens your case when seeking legal representation from firms like Adley Law Firm.
Hit and Run Accident Prevention
While not all accidents can be prevented, responsible driving can significantly reduce the risk of hit and runs. Steps to promote safer roads include:
- Paying full attention to the road and avoiding distractions
- Adhering to speed limits and adjusting for road conditions
- Obeying traffic signals and signs
- Yielding the right of way when required by law
- Utilizing vehicle lighting appropriately
By following these practices, drivers can contribute to a safer driving environment for everyone on the road.
Liability and Compensation
In Texas, drivers responsible for an accident are financially liable for any damages or injuries they cause. If a driver flees the scene, it’s not only a crime but also complicates the victim’s ability to seek compensation. When the at-fault party is unknown, the victim’s insurance company may cover damages under the terms of the UM/UIM auto insurance coverage, subject to policy limits.
Victims of hit and run accidents should consider consulting with a Houston car accident attorney to explore their options for compensation and ensure their rights are protected.
What if I don’t have insurance coverage?
If you lack insurance and are involved in a hit and run, your options for compensation may be limited. Texas law prohibits filing a claim against another person’s policy in cases where neither driver has insurance. It’s essential to seek legal advice to understand your rights and potential avenues for recovery.
Can Adley Law Firm help me determine who is responsible for the accident?
Adley Law Firm, with over 30 years of experience and a team of Board Certified attorneys, has the resources to help determine liability in hit and run cases. If you or a loved one has suffered due to such an accident, a lawyer from Adley Law Firm can fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact them at (713) 999-8669 or visit their office at 1421 Preston St, Houston, TX 77002, USA, for a consultation.