A new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety puts Texas at the top of the list when it comes to hit and run accidents. According to the agency’s research, Texas sees some of the highest rates of auto accidents involving drivers who flee the scene nationwide, placing the state among the Top 10 in the nation for such wrecks. That’s certainly not something to celebrate, but it is a point that speaks to the rising numbers of hit-and-run accidents nationwide. Here are a few details about AAA’s recent report:
- Since 2006, there have been an average of 680,000+ hit and run accidents annually – that equates to more than one hit and run accident every minute nationwide
- In 2016 alone, hit and run accidents resulted in more than 2,000 deaths – the highest number of hit and run fatalities on record and a 60% increase over numbers reported in 2009.
- Nearly one-third of all victims killed in hit and run accidents are bicyclists or pedestrians
- Since 2009, hit and run fatalities have increased by roughly 7% each year.
- While Texas ranks amid the Top 10 (coming in at #8), states with the highest rates of fatal hit and run wrecks per capita were Louisiana, Florida, and New Mexico.
Researchers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says the numbers of hit and run crashes are trending in the wrong direction throughout the U.S. They also show that pedestrians and bicyclists – who are among the most vulnerable individuals on our roads – face the greatest risks of being involved in hit and run accidents, as well as the greatest risks of suffering catastrophic injuries or death. In fact, nearly a quarter of all pedestrian fatalities in the past 10 years involve hit and run accidents. Those statistics mirror those in Texas, where hit and run accidents are common in cities and small towns across the state. Authorities cite not only uninsured drivers as a factor in why motorists flee, but also crimes such as drunk driving.
How to Protect Yourself
Amid such alarming numbers, especially here in Texas, it becomes vital for all pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists to take steps that can protect themselves in the event a driver violates the law and flees the scene of a traffic accidents. A few ways to protect yourself can include:
- UM / UIM Coverage – Purchasing additional uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM / UIM) as part of your auto insurance. Such coverage can prove critical when you are injured by a driver who does not carry auto insurance, or has limited insurance to provide all the compensation you may need, especially when medical bills and lost income pile-up. In cases where drivers flee the scene and are not located, or simply when drivers are underinsured or uninsured, victims can filed claims for compensation with their own insurance company, if they have UM / UIM coverage.
- Be Vigilant – Vigilance is key anytime you venture onto public roads as a pedestrian or bicyclist. Remember, negligent motorists can easily oversee people on foot or on bikes, so be sure you are always on the lookout for cars entering intersections, leaving parking lots, or making left-hand and right-hand turns. Be extra vigilant of large trucks with blind spots, and of drivers who may be distracted by cell phones.
- Be Seen – Being seen is just as important as seeing those around you. Don’t expect a driver will see you when you’re walking or riding on or near roads, or to yield when you are crossing the intersection (a place where most pedestrian and bicycle accident occur). Instead, attempt to make eye contact with a driver to ensure they see you before proceeding. You can also increase your visibility during the day and at night by wearing bright and reflective clothing, and using flashlights on your bicycle.
Your Rights as a Victim
Even when you do take extra precautions as a pedestrian or bicyclist, you can still suffer harm in motor vehicle collisions caused by negligent drivers. However, it is your right after these wrecks to hold that driver accountable for your damages, including your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. After a hit and run accident, protecting this right becomes critically important, especially if drivers commit the crime of fleeing a scene. Depending on the circumstances involved, this may involve:
- Getting the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw what happened and can later help in locating the hit and run driver, or noting as many details about the driver, vehicle, and their license plate as possible.
- Calling police, if you are able to do so, is critical after a hit and run accident. Fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime in Texas, and an immediate call to authorities can help them locate and arrest the driver who may have caused your wreck.
- Locating a driver may help you in holding an at-fault party accountable for your damages, but it doesn’t guarantee they’ll have insurance. This is why protecting your rights as a victim may require you to file claims with your own insurance provider if you have purchased UM / UIM coverage.
Whether your driver is located or not, protecting your rights as a victim should begin with consulting experienced and proven attorneys like those at The Daspit Law Firm. Our legal team can help victims of hit and run accidents – including victims harmed as pedestrians or bicyclists – in taking the steps needed to explore their options for compensation, whether that happens through personal injury claims filed against a negligent motorist who was later located or arrested, filing a UM / UIM claim, or even pursuing compensation through your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.
The Daspit Law Firm has a track record of proven success representing injured victims throughout Texas when they need it most. If you wish to discuss a potential case with a Houston personal injury lawyer from our firm, contact us today for a FREE consultation. We’re available 24/7 to help!