No car accident is ever ideal, but a hit and run is particularly headache-inducing. Without insurance information for the person who hit your vehicle, you’re left feeling like you need to scramble.
The good news is that you have some recourse after a Texas hit and run. For starters, if the other driver is ever caught, they’ll face legal ramifications per Section 550 of the Texas Transportation Code. Also, if you’re carrying certain types of insurance, your insurer can foot the bill even if the other driver is never located.
All this said, if you live in the Lone Star State, it can be helpful to know your rights and responsibilities after a hit and run.
Hit and runs in Texas
What, exactly, is a hit and run in Texas? Anytime a driver in Texas gets involved in an accident that results in a person’s injury (including a fatality) or damage to a vehicle with an occupant in it, they’re required to stop and do two things: give their information and provide any necessary help. Any time a driver doesn’t do those two things, they’ve committed a hit and run.
(If you hit an unattended vehicle, you still have a responsibility to stop and either locate the driver of that vehicle or leave your information in an obvious place.)
Despite Texas law, these types of accidents are all too common in Texas. In 2013, the state passed new laws stiffening penalties for leaving the scene of an accident. Even with that hit and run Texas statute in place, the Lone Star State still ranks eighth for most hit and runs, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Texas hit and run laws
With the new, stricter hit and run Texas statute in place, you might be wondering what kind of penalties are in place for these types of accidents. It all depends on the damage the hit and run driver caused.
- Accidents resulting in deaths or serious injuries: If the other driver is found, they’ll be subject to a felony (second-degree for a fatality, third-degree for serious bodily injury).
- Accidents resulting in less serious injuries: The driver could face up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
- Accidents resulting in vehicle damage: The driver, if found, faces a Class C misdemeanor for less than $200 in vehicle damage. If the total reaches $200 or goes over that limit, it’s a Class B misdemeanor.
Ultimately, what you should know about the current hit and run Texas statute is this: Section 550.023 of the transportation code ultimately requires all drivers involved in an accident to stop, provide their information and provide assistance to anyone who was hurt in the accident.
The information you’re required by state law to provide to the other driver — and vice versa — is:
- Vehicle registration number
- Insurance information
- Driver’s license
When it comes to insurance, if the other driver is found, Texas law says you can make a claim on their liability insurance. If they aren’t found or they don’t have insurance, you’ll turn to your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage — assuming you have it.
4 things to do after a hit and run in Texas
A Texas hit and run can be scary. Take a deep breath and move through these steps:
1. Get everyone to safety
Move your vehicle out of the way of traffic. Check on your passengers and check yourself for injuries. After the shock of an accident — particularly one where the other driver sped away — you might not notice how you’re hurt right away. Take a moment to scan yourself and make sure you’re okay.
2. Call the police
The benefits here are twofold. First, getting law enforcement involved significantly increases the chances of finding the hit and run driver. Secondly, the police report you file can help with your insurance claim.
3. Write down anything you can remember
While you wait for the police to show up, start taking notes. What did the driver’s vehicle look like? Can you remember their license plate number, or even any part of it? Ask passengers or bystanders for any details they remember, too. Make sure you share this information with the law enforcement officers who arrive on the scene.
You can also start to gather evidence yourself. If any pieces of the hit and run driver’s vehicle broke off, grab them. Also, check your car for any paint scrapes or other evidence that could help identify the other vehicle.
4. Call your insurance provider
They’ll let you know what information you’ll need to file your car insurance claim. If you’re unsure if your coverage will help with your Texas hit and run, your insurance representative can also help to clarify what coverage you have that can step in.
Will insurance cover a hit and run?
Assuming no one in your vehicle was hurt during the accident, this is probably your most pressing question after a hit and run.
For starters, unless you specifically told your insurer to leave off personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, your Texas auto insurance policy includes it. You can rely on that for any medical care you and your passengers need after the accident.
What about your car, though? In an ideal scenario, the other driver will be found and you’ll be able to make a claim through their liability coverage, just like you would with any other car accident.
But what happens if that driver eludes you and law enforcement? You have a couple of options:
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: This optional type of insurance coverage is designed to help pay for damages to your vehicle if another driver causes an accident but doesn’t have enough insurance — or any insurance at all — to foot the bill. In the case of a Texas hit and run, because the other driver doesn’t have insurance you can use, your insurance company considers them an uninsured motorist. So this portion of your policy (assuming you opted for this coverage) can help cover your repair bills.
- Collision coverage: Another optional coverage, collision coverage covers your vehicle repairs if you’re at-fault in an accident. In some cases, you might be able to turn to this coverage for repairs after a Texas hit and run. One thing to note: you’ll need to pay your deductible for this coverage to kick in.
Ultimately, insurance can cover a hit and run in Texas, but you’ll need to have opted for the right kind of optional coverage. If you’re not carrying uninsured motorist or collision coverage now, consider it to prepare for the future.
Frequently asked questions
What is the best car insurance company?
When you’re dealing with a hit and run in Texas, it helps to have an insurer you trust and a robust policy. The perfect car insurance company for you depends on quite a few factors, from the car you drive to your budget. But, to get you started, we’ve rounded up the best car insurance companies nationwide, and in Texas specifically.
What is the average cost of car insurance in Texas?
The average Texas driver pays $1,800 a year for a car insurance policy that includes collision and uninsured motorist coverage. Texas is a big state, though, with a wide variety of drivers. But to get a ballpark idea of your specific costs, it’s best to get quotes from a few insurers. Here are the cheapest Texas insurers to help.
Will a hit and run impact my insurance rates?
Generally, no — assuming you’re the victim. If you’re caught after committing a hit and run, though, insurers will see you as higher-risk — and you’ll pay more for your insurance coverage as a result.