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Is Hitting a Parked Car and Leaving the Scene a Hit-and-Run?

Posted in Car Accidents on August 23, 2019

In the busy city of Dallas, minor collisions such as hitting a parked car happen daily. It is a driver’s legal responsibility to remain at the scene and fulfill certain obligations before leaving – even if no one was around to see the accident occur. Hitting a parked car and leaving without fulfilling these duties constitutes the crime of hit-and-run in Texas.

No matter which side of a hit-and-run you were on, learn what laws may apply to your case. Learn more about hit and run laws from our Dallas personal injury lawyer.

Texas’ Hit-and-Run Laws

Texas Transportation Code Title 7, Section 550.001 contains the state’s main hit-and-run law, described as a driver’s duties following an accident. It states that anyone involved in a wreck with another driver or with a parked vehicle must stop as close to the scene of the collision as possible. The driver must determine if anyone involved in the crash needs medical assistance. In a crash involving a parked, unattended vehicle, a driver must remain on the scene until he or she has fulfilled the required duties under Section 550.024.

  • Taken reasonable measures to locate the owner of the vehicle
  • Left a note in a visible place with the driver’s name and address
  • Included how the accident happened
  • Left other contact information, such as a phone number
  • Given the name of the driver’s insurance company

Striking a parked car and fleeing the scene is a hit-and-run in Texas. The charge for this crime is either a Class C or Class B misdemeanor depending on the value of the damage to all vehicles. Damage exceeding $200 is a Class B misdemeanor. If the accident caused bodily injuries, the hit-and-run could be a felony crime, punishable with a jail or prison sentence and/or fines.

What To Do if You Accidentally Hit a Parked Car

Hitting a parked vehicle in Dallas is a simple mistake thousands of drivers make each year. Texas has insurance requirements for just such reason. Your insurance company should cover the damages to the other person’s vehicle. Your insurance premium may increase, but you will not face criminal charges if you remained at the scene and fulfilled your duties.

You can get into much more trouble if you commit a hit-and-run. If you strike a parked car in Dallas, remain at the scene and provide the required information, either to the owner if you locate him or her or in the form of a note.

What To Do if Someone Damaged Your Parked Car and Left

If you were the victim of a parked car hit-and-run accident in Dallas, you have rights. Remain calm and document the collision. Immediately ask around for anyone who may have witnessed the accident. Record their statements using your phone, if possible. Take photographs of the vehicle damage, the location of the accident and any other visible evidence. Call the police to report the hit-and-run. Even if the damage does not look severe, the police can write an official accident report you can give your insurance company.

Texas is a traditional fault state when it comes to car accidents. If the at-fault party flees the scene without leaving information, however, you will seek damage reimbursement from your insurance company instead. Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance is an optional type of coverage in Texas. Your insurance agent will tell you if you have this coverage. If so, it will pay for your damages after a hit-and-run collision. You may end up paying out of pocket, however, if you do not have this type of insurance.

Could You Sue for Hit-and-Run?

If the police catch the driver that hit your parked vehicle and ran, you will have the right to file a civil claim against the driver. A civil claim differs from a criminal one. It serves to reimburse you for your property damage repairs and other related damages, not to punish the perpetrator for a crime.

You may bring your action during an ongoing hit-and-run criminal trial or you may wait until the trial ends. The Texas courts will toll your statute of limitations until the completion of a criminal case involving the hit-and-run driver. To learn more, speak to an experienced Dallas car accident lawyer about what your options are for filing an accident claim for your damages.

Click to read a more in-depth dive into Texas Hit-and-Run Laws.