In the State of Texas, accidents causing less than severe injuries are punishable in the state by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. This sentence may be no more than five years. Additionally, the individual may be sentenced to confinement in a county jail for no more than one year with an attached fine that may not exceed $5,000. Accidents causing $200 or more in damages without injuries are deemed a class B misdemeanor in the state of Texas. Accidents causing less than this figure are regarded as class C misdemeanors.

Presently, leaving the scene of a crash is a misdemeanor, often a class B misdemeanor punishable only by a fine of $250. That’s less than the fine for running a red light.

“There was a perverse incentive to leave the scene of a wreck if you were intoxicated” because the penalties for intoxication were higher, said Bill Lewis, a spokesman for MADD. The legislation, he said, “gives people a reason to hang around.”

Requiring drivers to stop and render aid could mean the difference between life and death, as a telephone call made within minutes, rather than hours of an accident could mean that “the person who was hurt would have a better chance to recover.” This new legislation passed easily with bipartisan support, which is rather uncommon for the State of Texas. Some legislators “don’t like to mess with enhancing penalties.”

Why are hit-and-run accidents on the rise?

Often victims of a hit and run feel as if they’ve been violated twice—once when they were hit, but then again when the other party showed no remorse or didn’t care enough to stop to see if the victim was okay. Unfortunately, hit and run incidents are on the rise, especially in the Las Vegas area. Here are some statistics as to why:

Federal research shows that more hit and run incidents occur in the western section of the country
•Hit-and-run accidents have increased by 15 percent since 2000
•The Insurance Information Institute reports that the majority of hit and run accidents resulted in property damage
•The Las Vegas area has experienced a 45 percent increase in hit and runs since 2001
•Statistics from the Auto Club report that unlicensed drivers are some of the deadliest on the road making up for approximately 20 percent of all crashes

In Los Angeles alone, roughly 20,000 hit-and-run crashes occur in a single year. In Michigan, even if an at-fault hit-and-run driver is never caught, their victims can generally still collect Michigan No-Fault PIP (personal injury protection) through their own No-fault insurance company. Furthermore, the state allows hit-and-run prosecutions to be brought within six years after the offense is committed.

What is being done?

In the State of Texas, new laws will increase penalties for drivers involved in hit-and-run fatalities, or those who fail to stop and render aid, advocates are hoping that Texas drivers have a greater incentive to stay at the scene of the accident. As of September 1, the penalty for hit-and-run fatalities will be equal to that for intoxicated manslaughter. Currently, it is a third-degree felony, and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. This new law will raise the offense to a second-degree felony, with a maximum penalty of 20 years. Furthermore, another law makes a failure to stop and render aid after an accident that may have caused injury, and is punishable by up to 10 years.

If you have sustained serious injuries or your car was severely damaged in an accident, it is crucial to file claims. These claims will provide a foundation for compensation. Bodily injury protection will provide monetary compensation for injuries you or your passengers incur. These funds will provide compensation for convalescence and the costs associated with lost wages and time and suffering. The latter form of protection will offer compensation for damages sustained to your motor vehicle.

Hit-and-run accidents obviously pose a huge threat in our country. While most motorists will indefinitely exchange necessary information, as we can see as staggering majority do not. With this potential legislation on the table, the State of Texas seems to be taking steps in the right direction.