Stop and Check To If Anyone Needs Help
Recently, a witness said she saw a Dallas city councilman allegedly hit a disabled pedestrian and say to the victim “don’t you know who I am before driving away. His lawyer tells a different story. We’ll wait for the facts to come out before reaching any conclusions. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in court based on credible evidence.
Notwithstanding the presumption of innocence in the above case, drivers sometimes leave the accident scene after crashing into pedestrians or someone’s car. That’s a hit-and-run car wreck. Besides being illegal, hit-and-run car wrecks are dangerous because the injured party often needs the assistance of the hit-and-run driver. A 911 call can literally save the hit-and-run victim.
Duties Following an Accident
Under Texas law, a person involved in a car wreck that results or is reasonably likely to result in injury to or death of a person has specific duties. § 550.021 Texas Transportation Code (TTC). Specifically, the person must take these actions.
First, he must immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene as possible. If something is preventing him from staying at the scene, he must stop as near to the car wreck as possible.
Second, he must immediately return to the scene of the accident if he stopped a short distance from the scene of the accident.
Third, he must immediately determine whether a person is involved in the accident and if a person is involved in the accident, whether that person requires aid. This is the intent of the law in the first place—to see if someone involved in the car wreck needs assistance. It shows extreme indifference to leave the scene knowing someone may be injured in the wreck.
Fourth, he must remain at the scene of the accident and give the other driver his name and address, the registration number of the vehicle he was driving, and the name of his insurance company to any person injured or involved in the collision. Also, he must show his driver license, if requested.
These duties are self-explanatory and obviously needful. The health and wellbeing of the other persons are paramount, which is the reason the law requires all drivers to hang around until they know everyone is all right or receiving medical attention.
Consequences of Leaving the Scene of An Accident
If the person violates § 550.021 TTC, he may be charged with a second-degree felony if someone died in the accident. A second-degree felony carries up to 20 years in the penitentiary and a $10,000 fine. If someone in the accident was seriously injured, the police could charge the hit-and-run driver could be charged with a third-degree felony, which carries up to 10 years and a $10,000 fine.
If there were no death or serious bodily injuries, the hit-and-run driver still could be imprisoned for up to five years in the penitentiary or up to one year in county jail and fined up to a $5000. Any way you cut it the consequences can be severe for leaving the scene of an accident.
What’s more, the hit-and-run driver will likely face a civil lawsuit. Clearly, the police must identify and arrest the hit-and-run driver before he can be held accountable.
One involved in an accident should need no incentive to remain at the scene of an accident. Leaving could cause very severe consequences criminally and civilly. But even more critical, an injured party in the accident could die all because hit-and-run driver left the scene of the accident. Please consider these factors before leaving the scene of an accident.