As a driver, you’re well aware that it’s against the law to intentionally injure or kill someone with your vehicle. To do so, would be a form of murder. But, what if you are in a collision and someone else is seriously injured or killed and you don’t stick around? Can you face criminal penalties under Texas law?
For starters, whenever you are in any type of collision in Texas, you are required by law to STOP your vehicle, see if anyone was hurt, and if so, call the paramedics. Beyond that, you’re supposed to exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident.
You can learn more about this under Section 550.023 of the Texas Transportation Code, Duty to Give Information and Render Aid. Now, let’s take a look at what happens if you’re involved in a hit and run involving serious bodily injuries or death:
Fleeing the Scene of an Injury Accident
Suppose you are in a serious injury crash. You get nervous and your adrenaline gets the best of you. Before you know it, you’re speeding away from the crash. You don’t know if anybody was hurt, but by the looks of the other driver’s car, there’s a good chance that someone was seriously hurt. What are the consequences of you fleeing the scene?
Under Section 550.021 of the Texas Penal Code, Accident Involving Personal Injury or Death, if a driver is involved in an accident that is likely to result in injury or death, he or she must stop at the accident scene and determine if anyone involved in the accident was hurt. If an ambulance is needed, the driver must call 911 for help. If such a driver fails to follow the above steps and he or she decides to flee the scene, he or she commits:
- A felony of the second degree if the accident involved a fatality, or
- A felony of the third degree if the accident involved serious injuries.
If the accident simply involved “injuries,” but not serious injuries and the driver fled the scene of the accident, he or she would face 1 to 5 years behind bars, or a fine not to exceed $5,000, or both a fine and imprisonment.
Note: A driver can be charged with leaving the scene of an accident, even if he or she was not at fault for the crash. Fault is not the issue, leaving the scene is.