What are My Duties Following a Car Accident?

Know Your Legal Obligations After a Car Wreck in Texas

If you plan to commute in any major city in Texas, you need to have a good understanding of your duties when you get involved in an automobile accident. Your obligations depend upon a few things. First, were you a driver or a passenger?  Second, were there any injuries or just vehicle property damage?  Being familiar with your duties and when they apply will make you a more prepared driver. Below are several duties following a car accident all drivers should be familiar with.

Do I have Duty to Stop and Render Aid if Someone is Injured?

duties following a car accidentUnder the Texas Transportation Code, If you are involved in an accident “that results or is reasonably likely to result in injury to or death of a person,” then you have a duty to stop, remain at the scene, and do the following things:

  • give the operator’s name and address, the registration number of the vehicle the operator was driving, and the name of the operator’s motor vehicle liability insurer to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision;
  • if requested and available, show the operator’s driver’s license to a person described by Subdivision (1); and
  • provide any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including transporting or making arrangements for transporting the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if the injured person requests the transportation.

See Texas Transportation Code Sections 500.021 and 550.023.

Failure to stop and render aid by a driver involved in a motor vehicle collision may result in criminal penalties of a third-degree felony if someone dies due to the collision, a second-degree felony if there is a severe injury or a year in jail and/or up to $5000.00 fine for accidents involving non-severe injuries.

If you are a passenger or an eyewitness, you do not have a duty to stop and render aid. There is no good Samaritan law in Texas mandating that witnesses render aid, even in emergency situations unless they are trained medical/emergency professionals.

Do I have Duty to Stop if Nobody is Injured?

Under the Texas Transportation Code, you have duties that arise if you are the driver of a vehicle involved in a collision. These duties are different depending upon whether the vehicle you collide with is moving or parked.

What Duty Do I Have After A Moving Collision Involving Only Property Damage?

If you are involved in a wreck where there is damage to a vehicle that is driven or attended by a person, you must:

  • immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close as possible to the scene of the accident without obstructing traffic more than is necessary;
  • immediately return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the accident; and

Remain at the scene of the accident and do and do the following things:

  • give the operator’s name and address, the registration number of the vehicle the operator was driving, and the name of the operator’s motor vehicle liability insurer to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision;
  • if requested and available, show the operator’s driver’s license to a person described by Subdivision (1); and
  • provide any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including transporting or making arrangements for transporting the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if the injured person requests the transportation.

See Texas Transportation Code Sections 500.022 and 550.023.

Furthermore, if the accident occurs on a main lane, ramp, shoulder, median, or adjacent area of a freeway in a metropolitan area and each vehicle involved can be normally and safely driven, each operator has a duty to move their vehicle as soon as possible to a designated accident investigation site, if available, a location on the frontage road, the nearest suitable cross street, or other suitable location to complete the complete (1)-(3) above while minimizing interference with freeway traffic.  Failure to  stop following an accident involving property damage only is a Class C misdemeanor if the damage is less than $200.00 and a Class B misdemeanor if the damage is $200 or more. It is also a Class C misdemeanor if the people can but fail to move the vehicles to a safe area to exchange the required information.

Again, if you are a passenger or an eyewitness, you do not have a duty to stop.

Do I Have a Duty to Stop if I Hit a Parked Car?

If you collide with a parked car as a driver, you have a a duty to stop and do one of two things.  You may either:

  • Locate the owner and give them your name and address, or
  • leave in a conspicuous place in, or securely attach in a plainly visible way to, the unattended vehicle a written notice giving the name and address of the operator and the owner of the vehicle that struck the unattended vehicle and a statement of the circumstances of the collision.

Failure to  do the above following an collision with an unattended or parked car is a Class C misdemeanor if the damage is less than $200.00 and a Class B misdemeanor if the damage is $200 or more.  See Texas Transportation Code Section 550.024. An eyewitness or a passenger has no duty in this situation.