Hit and run accidents leave many questions as you struggle to figure out what happened. Who hit your car? Who caused the accident? Unfortunately, hit and run accidents may also carry substantial financial consequences. If the police fail to identify the individual who caused your car accident and fled from the scene, you may need to rely on uninsured motorist coverage to take care of your bills, from paying for your medical expenses to covering the damage to your vehicle. Not only that, hit and run accidents can also cause substantial delays in the insurance claim process.
The problem is getting worse, nationally, in Texas, and in Austin. The state recently hit a 10-year high for hit-and-run accidents, and had the fifth most hit-and-run deaths of any state in the Union.
Did you suffer injuries in a hit and run accident? You may need a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf. Contact The Law Offices of George Salinas today at (512) 851-1004 to schedule your free consultation.
Why Should You Call The Law Offices of George Salinas?
When you suffer injuries in a hit and run accident, you don’t have time to wait around. At The Law Offices of George Salinas, we do not just offer compassion and determination to our clients. We understand your sense of urgency, and we work hard to get results for our clients as soon as possible. We fight aggressively for our clients while offering caring, personalized service, from walking each client through the process of filing a claim to offering access to services that can help improve their quality of life in the interim. If you need an attorney who will fight for you, The Law Offices of George Salinas can help.
Hit and Run Accidents: An Overview
After an auto accident, Texas law requires you to remain at the scene. You must exchange contact information with the other driver, including insurance information. If the accident involves serious injuries or substantial property damage, you may need to wait for the police to arrive to make a report and collect information from both parties. Unfortunately, some people may speed away from the accident scene. They may not want to accept responsibility, or they may fear the financial or legal repercussions of the accident. Only in rare cases can a driver leave the scene of the accident without legal consequence:
- The driver needs to seek medical attention immediately. If the other driver or someone in their vehicle needs immediate medical attention and can drive to seek it faster than they could receive medical attention in an ambulance, the driver may choose to leave the scene of the accident. In order to leave the scene of the accident, however, the driver needs to notify police dispatch of his intentions so that the police can contact him later.
- They fear for their safety. One driver is threatening the other, and the driver under threat chooses to get back in the vehicle and leave the scene of the accident to keep themselves safe. Perhaps a danger occurs at the scene: hazardous chemicals spilled, the immediate accident scene poses substantial danger to both parties due to traffic passing too close, or a weather hazard threatens the area. In this case, drivers may choose to leave the scene of the accident; however, drivers will need to notify police dispatch of their decision to leave the scene of the accident and let them know where they plan to go.
- They must leave the scene of the accident to contact the police. In modern Texas, most people carry cell phones that can summon police from the scene of the accident. If, however, neither driver has a phone to contact the police and there are no alternatives on hand, or cell phones suffer damage in the accident or do not have adequate service in the area of the accident, the driver may need to leave the scene of the accident to contact the police.
What Injuries Often Occur in Hit and Run Accidents?
Hit and run accidents have very similar injuries to other types of car accidents. These include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord trauma
- Organ damage
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Lacerations requiring surgery to repair
Deciding Fault in Hit and Run Accidents
Most of the time, the driver running from the scene of the accident caused the accident. They often flee because they do not carry adequate insurance, because they used a stolen vehicle at the time of the accident, because of intoxication, or because of a suspended driver’s license. However, the driver who runs from the scene does not automatically bear fault for the entire accident. In some cases, others may bear liability:
- The driver who remained at the scene may bear partial liability for the accident. In some cases, both drivers may contribute to the accident. In others, the driver who remains at the scene may actually have caused the accident. If you contributed to the accident, you may have your settlement or award reduced by the percentage of the responsibility you bear.
- Others with influence on the driver who fled from the scene may bear partial liability. This includes, for example, the bar or restaurant that over-served the driver. During the workday, if the driver drove a company vehicle or used his personal vehicle to perform a company errand, the driver’s employer may share partial liability for the accident.
If the police cannot identify the driver who flees from the scene and they bear responsibility for the accident, you may receive compensation from your uninsured motorist coverage. Though you do not bear liability for your accident, your uninsured motorist coverage can help provide the funds you need to repair your vehicle and seek medical attention.
What Damages Can You Recover After a Hit and Run Accident
After a hit and run accident, you may need to recover financial damages to help pay for your bills after the accident. Typically, you will recover damages from the other driver’s insurance company. If the driver carries inadequate insurance or if the police cannot identify the driver, you may recover damages from your insurance company under your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
- Medical expenses. Your injuries may require substantial medical care, both immediately after the accident and in the weeks and months that follow. You may require expensive hospitalization, surgery, or ongoing physical therapy to help you heal from the accident. You may also need to make alterations to your home or vehicle in order to improve your quality of life after the accident.
- Pain and suffering. After an accident, you may suffer serious pain and suffering. Amputations, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord damage all cause life-altering complications that may leave you struggling to return to your ordinary life after the accident. You may not enjoy activities that once brought you immense joy, or you might miss out on much-anticipated activities due to your injuries. In addition, you may suffer significant pain during your recovery. Not only that, many victims of serious auto accidents find themselves with psychological issues, including PTSD, after the accident.
- Lost income and lost earning potential. You may need substantial time off work to recover from your accident. Some injuries may allow you to return on a limited schedule soon after your accident; others may lead to substantial long-term limitations that prevent you from going back to your job for a long time. In a time when your medical bills and other expenses add up fast, you may find yourself unable to work to provide for yourself or your family. Many accident victims include lost wages in their damage claims. Other injuries may prevent you from returning to work in your former capacity altogether. Serious traumatic brain injury, for example, may prevent many individuals from returning to their previous area of employment. Substantial physical injuries may prevent you from returning to a physical job, or from sitting behind a desk during the day. In this case, rather than just lost wages, you may include lost earning potential as part of your claim.
- Wrongful death compensation. If you lost a loved one in a hit and run accident, you may recover wrongful death compensation from the other party’s insurance. In general, wrongful death compensation includes the factors that the individual would have filed for, had he survived the accident.
How Do Insurance Companies Try to Avoid Paying After a Hit and Run Accident?
After a car accident, you’d like to expect the insurance company will pay up quickly. Unfortunately, many insurance companies use a wide range of strategies to decrease their financial liability after a car accident, especially an accident with serious injuries and substantial property damage.
- The insurance company may refuse to accept its client’s responsibility. In some cases, the police may struggle to identify the party responsible for a hit and run accident. The insurance company may try to establish reasonable doubt that their client caused the accident due to a lack of proof. The insurance company may also attempt to prove that you caused the accident or a percentage of the accident, causing them to deny the claim.
- The insurance company may try to prove you misrepresented your injuries. The company may hire a private investigator to take a look at you and your activities and attempt to prove that your injuries cause less trouble than you indicate. The investigator may attempt to catch you doing things you claim yourself unable to do or participating in activities that you should not perform with the injuries you claimed. The company may also try to prove that your injuries stemmed from another cause, rather than from the accident.
- Your insurance company may try to drag out the process. If the hit and run driver goes unidentified, your insurance company may attempt to deny your claim because you do not know whether the other party carried insurance. They will likely wait for the police investigation to stop and may attempt to deny your claim.
- The insurance company may provide a low settlement offer. In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, you may receive contact from the insurance company offering a fast settlement. Often, this settlement fails to take into account the full extent of your injuries, including your ongoing expenses after the accident and the way your injuries could impact your life long-term. The insurance representative wants you to accept this initial offer to reduce their overall liability.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire an Austin Hit and Run Attorney?
After a hit and run accident, you have a number of substantial expenses, and adding an attorney to them seems daunting. You should, however, ask yourself, “Can I afford not to hire an attorney?” An attorney can provide a number of key advantages as you file your claim and deal with a hit and run driver and their insurance company, including:
- Increasing the amount you may receive. Many insurance companies offer higher settlements when approached by a lawyer than they do when they work with accident victims on their own.
- Offering valuable legal advice about your claim, from helping you understand what you can or should post on social media while you wait for a resolution to your claim and when you should take a settlement offer.
- Fighting for you if your case goes to court.
- Representing you to the insurance company, which decreases your stress as you attempt to obtain compensation for your accident. Communications with the insurance company can go through your lawyer, allowing you to concentrate on other things.
- Preventing you from making statements that may decrease the compensation you receive for your injuries.
At The Law Offices of George Salinas, we understand how difficult many accident victims find it to handle the expenses associated with their accident. We start with a free consultation with all of our clients, allowing us to better understand their needs and determine whether we will accept them as clients. In many cases, we accept our clients on a contingent fee basis: we get paid only when they receive a settlement or judgment, rather than taking our compensation from clients ahead of time.
Your Austin Hit and Run Attorney: Contact Us Today
If you need an attorney after a hit and run accident, do not wait. Contact The Law Offices of George Salinas today at (512) 851-1004 to set up your free consultation.