The Legal Consequences of Fleeing the Scene of an Accident

The Legal Consequences of Fleeing the Scene of an Accident

As a driver, you have a legal and ethical responsibility to stop when you are involved in a car accident. However, panic and fear may lead you to make the critical mistake of fleeing the scene. While understandable, this choice carries severe legal consequences that can negatively impact your life for years to come. In this article, you will learn about the legal penalties for hit-and-run offenses in your state. We will outline the typical fines, license suspensions, and jail sentences so you fully understand the risks. With this knowledge, you will be prepared to make the right choice to stop and take responsibility if you are ever in an accident. Though difficult, staying at the scene provides the best opportunity to avoid extended legal problems.

Understanding Hit and Run Accidents in Texas

Penalties for Leaving the Scene

In Texas, leaving the scene of an accident is considered a serious criminal offense. If you leave the scene of an accident where there are injuries or major property damage, you may face legal penalties including jail time, license suspension, and steep fines.

Failure to Stop and Give Information

Failing to stop and provide your personal information to the other parties involved in the accident is illegal. You are required by law to share details such as your name, address, vehicle registration number, and insurance details. Failure to do so may result in misdemeanor charges punishable by up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,000.

Failure to Render Aid

In the event of an accident where there are any injuries, you are obligated to call for emergency help immediately and provide reasonable assistance to anyone who is hurt. Failure to render aid to injured victims of a collision you were involved in is considered a felony in Texas, punishable by up to five years in prison and fines up to $5,000.

Severe Bodily Injury or Death

If the accident you fled from resulted in severe bodily harm or death, leaving the scene becomes an even more serious criminal offense. It is considered a 3rd degree felony, punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. Your driver’s license would also be automatically suspended for a hit and run resulting in injury or death.

In summary, leaving the scene of an accident in Texas can have devastating legal and financial consequences. No matter the circumstances, you are generally required to stop, share details with the other parties involved, call for emergency aid if anyone is injured, and fully cooperate with law enforcement. Failure to do so may result in serious criminal charges.

Fines and License Suspension

If you leave the scene of an accident, you will face legal penalties such as fines and license suspension. The fines can range from $500 to $1000 for a first offense and increase for subsequent offenses. Your driver's license may also be suspended for a minimum of 6 months. The severity of the penalties depends on the nature of the accident and whether there were any injuries. More serious accidents resulting in injury or death carry heavier fines and longer license suspensions.

Criminal Charges

In some cases, leaving the scene of an accident is considered a criminal offense. Felony charges are possible if the accident caused serious injury or death. You may face charges such as reckless endangerment, vehicular manslaughter or hit and run. These criminal offenses can result in jail time in addition to the usual penalties. The charges depend on the state in which the accident occurred and the circumstances surrounding the accident.

Civil Lawsuits

You may also face civil lawsuits from the other parties involved in the accident. They can sue you to recover damages for injuries, vehicle repairs, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Without insurance, the costs from a civil lawsuit can be financially devastating. The best way to avoid these severe legal consequences is to remain at the scene of any accident you are involved in, no matter how minor it may seem at the time.

Long Term Consequences

The legal penalties for a hit and run extend well beyond any fines, license suspension or jail time. Your insurance rates will likely increase significantly, and some insurance companies may drop you altogether. A hit and run conviction will also remain on your driving record, damaging your reputation and making it difficult to find employment that involves driving. The stigma from leaving the scene of an accident can last for many years. It is always best to do the responsible and ethical thing - stop immediately and exchange information with the other parties involved.

Will My Insurance Cover an Accident if I Fled?

While fleeing the scene of an accident is illegal, that does not necessarily mean your insurance provider will deny a claim resulting from the incident. However, failing to report an accident, especially one involving injuries or major property damage, can complicate the claims process and reduce your chances of coverage.

Duty to Report

Most insurance policies require the insured to report any accidents in a timely manner. Failing to do so can be seen as a breach of your contractual duty and provide grounds for a denied claim. However, insurance companies understand that accidents happen, and not all incidents are reported immediately. Unless fleeing the scene can be proven as intentional or illegal, your insurer may still honor an otherwise valid claim.

Mitigating Factors

There are circumstances that may mitigate your failure to report the accident, such as lack of knowledge that a collision occurred, inability to safely stop at the scene, or reasonable belief that reporting would not change the outcome. Your insurance company will evaluate the details of your specific situation to determine if mitigating factors apply before denying coverage outright. Providing a prompt report once you are able, along with an explanation for the delay, can help strengthen your claim.

Cooperation is Key

The most important thing you can do after fleeing an accident, whether intentionally or not, is to fully cooperate with your insurance company's investigation. Be transparent about the events leading up to and following the incident. Work with your insurer to determine appropriate next steps, which may include filing a police report, contacting the other driver, or scheduling a damage assessment. Taking responsibility for your actions and doing what you can to remedy the situation will make it much more likely your insurance company provides coverage, even after you have left the scene.

While fleeing an accident is never advisable, that action alone does not necessarily mean denied insurance benefits. However, failing to then cooperate fully with your provider does significantly increase that risk. An open, honest dialog about the events, along with taking prompt action to resolve issues from the incident, are your best paths to securing coverage.

How a Texas Car Accident Lawyer Can Help After a Hit and Run

In the unfortunate event that you are involved in a hit and run accident, contacting an experienced car accident lawyer should be one of your top priorities.

They can advise you on the proper steps to take and help ensure your rights are protected.

First, a lawyer can assist you in conducting a thorough investigation into the accident. They have the resources and experience to track down any available witnesses, review potential camera footage, and work with police to identify the at-fault driver. ### With a lawyer advocating for you, the chances of locating the responsible party increase significantly.

Once the at-fault driver has been found, your lawyer can handle negotiating with their insurance company to pursue a fair settlement for your injuries and damages.

Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, so they will try to get you to accept the lowest amount possible. A lawyer knows how to stand up to their tactics and fight for full compensation on your behalf.

If a settlement cannot be reached, your lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover damages through the court system.

They will handle all aspects of the litigation process for you, including collecting evidence, questioning witnesses, and presenting arguments in front of a judge and jury.

Being the victim of a hit and run is an extremely stressful situation. Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer can help lift that burden from your shoulders so you can focus on recovery.

They have the knowledge and skills to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions and make sure you receive fair compensation for your losses. If you were injured in a hit and run accident, don't delay in consulting with a lawyer regarding your legal options.

Texas Car Accident Lawyer FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About Fleeing the Scene

What are the penalties for leaving the scene of an accident in Texas?

In Texas, leaving the scene of an accident is considered a serious criminal offense. According to Texas Transportation Code §550.021, the penalties for fleeing the scene of an accident that causes property damage or personal injury include:

  • Up to 5 years in prison
  • Fines up to $5,000
  • Driver's license suspension up to 1 year

If the accident resulted in a fatality, the penalties increase to 2-10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. In addition to criminal penalties, the driver may face a civil lawsuit to recover damages from the accident.

What should I do if I flee the scene of an accident?

Leaving the scene of an accident is never advisable. However, if it occurs, the best course of action is to:

  • Contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. They can advise you on how to turn yourself in to the authorities and defend you in court.
  • Do not speak to insurance companies or investigators until speaking with an attorney. Anything you say can be used as evidence against you.

How can a lawyer help if I fled the scene of an accident?

A criminal defense attorney is critical in this situation. They can:

  • Help you turn yourself in safely to the authorities.
  • Defend you in court and work to get charges reduced or dropped.
  • Challenge any unlawful search and seizure that led to your identification as the driver.
  • Negotiate with prosecutors to get a favorable plea deal to avoid a lengthy prison sentence.
  • File motions to suppress any incriminating statements made before legal counsel was obtained.

With the help of an experienced attorney, drivers who flee the scene still have rights and options for reducing legal consequences. Speaking to an attorney as soon as possible is critical for the best possible outcome.


As we have explored, fleeing the scene of an accident can lead to severe legal consequences. Even if the accident was unintentional, failing to stop, provide aid, and report it to authorities with the help of lawyers at Fletcher Law, demonstrates negligence and disregard for others. The penalties for hit-and-run convictions can include heavy fines, license suspension, and even jail time in addition to the civil liability. While it may be tempting to panic and leave after an accident, you must gather your wits and do the right thing. Staying can greatly mitigate the charges, while fleeing exacerbates them. Weighing fight or flight after an accident, the legal system and basic human decency demand that you stay. Make the choice that shows accountability over avoidance. You will be better off facing the truth than living with the torment of having fled.oo