Starting in September, the state of Texas increased the penalty for hit-and-run traffic accidents. Legislators felt that the old law created an incentive for a driver to leave the scene of an auto accident if he or she was intoxicated. The previous penalty for failure to render aid was a third-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Failure to render aid is now a second degree felony, punishable by as much as 20 years in prison.
Several other states have also increased penalties for leaving the scene of an accident. The new laws in these states make the penalty for hit-and-run align more closely with the penalties for DUI manslaughter. California has increased the statute of limitations for hit-and-run from three years to six years.
Reports of hit-and-run incidents are on the rise in Texas and throughout the United States. Experts believe that most of these incidents involve a driver who was intoxicated. Although traffic fatalities are on the decrease overall, deaths in hit-and-run accidents are on the rise. Many of the victims in these incidents are pedestrians, and many of the drivers involved have had something to drink before the incident.
Anyone who has been the victim of a hit-and-run driver — or has lost a loved one because of such an incident — may want to consider legal assistance. Deciding upon the best course of action in order to seek compensation for medical expenses and loss of earnings can be a long and difficult process. An attorney can help advise on options available and the likelihood of recovering damages.
Source: USA Today, “Fatal hit-and-run crashes on rise in U.S.“, Larry Copeland, November 10, 2013