Skip to content

I was in an accident and the other driver left the scene. What do I do?

This happens more often than we would like to think and it can be a very difficult situation, particularly if there are serious injuries involved. Leaving the scene of an accident is against the law, and yet, it still happens. Often the reason someone leaves an accident scene is because they are not supposed to be driving in the first place, due to a DWI/DUI or a suspended license. But, what do you do?

The law in Texas requires that a driver stop and perform certain actions, including: rendering aid to the injured person, exchanging drivers’ licenses and insurance information if asked, and if a police officer has been called and is on police to arrive, if they have been called.

Leaving the scene of a car accident can result in the driver, if apprehended, being charged criminally and/or have a claim filed against him or him in the form of a civil lawsuit. The crime committed, either a felony or a misdemeanor, depends on the severity of the damages and injuries caused in the wreck. If the hit-and-run caused serious bodily injury or death, it may be a felony. The penalties for hit-and-run in Texas include six months in county jail to 10 years in state prison and/or fines of $500 to $5,000 or more.

So what do you do? First, call the police. In some cases, the police are able to identify a driver and that means you can try to seek damages from that driver. However, if the police do not locate the driver and he or she remains unknown, you may still able to file a claim through your own insurance company.

Second, call your insurance company. You may have purchased insurance on your own policy that would protect you in these situations.

The first type of coverage is personal injury protection (PIP). PIP is important insurance that may pay for some of your medical expenses and reimburse you for the loss of some your earnings. There can be several potential PIP policies. If the car that you are riding in at the time of the wreck has insurance with PIP, then the PIP will provide benefits to everyone riding in that car at the time of the wreck. But what if you’re in someone else’s car? If you’re in someone else’s car, then your own car insurance covering your car, even if your car wasn’t in the wreck, may have PIP that can cover you. PIP is so important that the law is that you automatically get $2,500.00 of PIP (and you can buy other amounts more than $2,500) unless you specifically reject it in writing.

The other option for your injuries is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If you bought this coverage on your own car (or if you’re a passenger in a car that has uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage), then you can make a claim on that policy. UM/UIM will actually cover both personal injury damages and property damages to the vehicle.

If you don’t have any applicable uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, then you might be able to make a claim on your insurance’s collision coverage.

In order to recover damages and compensation for medical care, you need to have the right type of optional insurance coverage, because you can never be sure what whether an accident is going to happen and how it may affect you physically and financially.

Other Auto Accident FAQs: