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Family Encourages Texas Lawmakers to Update Hit-And-Run Laws

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The AAA Foundation estimates that one hit-and-run collision occurs every 60 seconds in the United States. Sadly, most victims of fatal hit-and-run crashes are pedestrians and bicyclists. When an incident does occur, it’s not unusual for an at-fault driver to panic and speed away to avoid the legal and financial repercussions. However, this leaves the injured party to dial 911 and pray that medical assistance arrives in time – if the victim is even able to make a call.

A victim can sustain the following injuries in a hit-and-run crash:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Neck and spinal cord injuries
  • Organ damage
  • Multiple bone fractures
  • Burn injuries
  • Paralysis

For this reason and more, hit-and-run offenders in Texas can face serious misdemeanor or felony charges for fleeing the scene of an accident.  However, there is a major deficiency in this law which allows courts to turn a judicial blind eye to hit-and-run fatalities.

A Grieving Family Pursues Justice & Change

In 2014, Joseph Cantu crashed into a pedestrian who was walking across a highway at 2 a.m. in the morning. The victim, Philip Wood, was a former Pennington School and University of Texas track and cross-country runner. Cantu immediately fled the scene, but police were able to track him down after recovering parts of his vehicle left on the highway.

Three years later, a jury in Austin found Cantu guilty of failing to stop and render after the crash. Everyone was shocked when the judge issued a light sentence: 6 years of probation and 12 days in jail, which Cantu never served due to the judge’s leniency.

Wood’s parents were appalled at the sentence and immediately sought justice on behalf of their son. In an interview with The Intelligencer, David Woods, the victim’s father, explained, “Following the inexplicable decision by the judge (Brad Urrutia) not to give meaningful jail time to the driver, we decided to initiate the process of lobbying for what we saw as an essential change to the Texas law. We approached, and subsequently worked with, the Texas state legislature and the Texas District Attorneys Association, to include a minimum of 120 days required jail time for drivers convicted of hit and run in Texas in cases where a fatality is involved…Ultimately, we were very grateful that the bill containing the amendment requiring 120 days of required jail time passed both houses of the Texas state legislature by overwhelming bipartisan majority – by 144 votes to 1 in the Texas House, and by 31 to 0 in the Senate.”

As previously stated, this bill mandates that anyone found guilty of a hit-and-run fatality will serve 120 days in jail.  Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed the bill into law on May 29, 2019.  

But What Should I Do If I’m Injured in a Hit-And-Run Accident?

Being the victim of a hit-and-run collision can be a terrifying and stressful experience, especially if no one else is around to help you call for medical assistance. Somehow, you need to pay your medical bills, file a police report, and initiate the claims process without having the at-fault party’s name or insurance information. This scenario can get even more complicated if your injuries prevent you from working and your insurance policy only goes so far in mitigating costs.

To protect your right to damages, follow these steps immediately after a hit-and-run crash:

  1. Try to memories details about the driver and their vehicle, such as: car model and color, the license plate number, and which direction the car was traveling.
  2. Make sure any passengers are safe and call 911 for immediate assistance.
  3. Take pictures of your injuries, the accident scene, and your damaged vehicle (if applicable).
  4. If you happened to be a rideshare passenger, take screencaps of your receipt.
  5. Write down witness information, including their names, phone numbers, and recollections of the collision.
  6. Help the law enforcement officials complete the accident report.
  7. Seek immediate medical attention, even if your injuries seem “minor.”
  8. Notify your insurance company about the accident and ask the representative questions about your policy option.
  9. Keep an ongoing record of your injury-related bills, receipts, etc.
  10. Request copies of your medical record and the accident report.
  11. Discuss your legal options with a qualified personal injury lawyer.

Schedule a Free Consultation Today

Contact the personal injury attorneys at The Daspit Law Firm if you’ve been harmed by a hit-and-run driver. Our experienced legal team can investigate your case, negotiate with insurance company representatives, and help you obtain restitution through civil litigation. Even if the police are unable to locate the at-fault driver, our team can represent your case and help you recover compensation through an uninsured motorist claim.

Contact The Daspit Law Firm at (888) 273-1045 to schedule a case evaluation today.

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