Texas & New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyers

Will Insurance Cover a Hit-And-Run Accident?

Hit-and-run accidents have been on the rise in the U.S. in recent years. That’s certainly not anything anyone wants to hear. Why is this happening? It undoubtedly has something to do with the desire to avoid personal responsibility by those who have made bad choices.

Apparently afraid to face the consequences of what they have done, hit-and-run drivers choose to disobey the law and leave an accident scene even when they know people have been injured. If a fleeing driver cannot be identified, his insurance will not cover the losses, and financial responsibility for the damage could fall to those who are injured.

Whether your own car insurance will cover a hit-and-run accident depends on the type of policy purchased. Auto insurance that will provide coverage for hit-and-run accidents is optional in Texas and New Mexico and not all drivers choose to purchase it.

Hit-and-Run Drivers Leave Serious Accident Scenes

The chances of having an at-fault driver leave the scene of a serious car accident have been trending upward according to national driving statistics. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that there were 2,564 traffic fatalities involving hit-and-run drivers in 2020 – a 26% increase over 2019 and a 54% increase from 2010 numbers.

Drivers who leave the scene of a serious accident are in trouble if they can be tracked down. Not only have they abandoned their financial responsibility for the damage, but they may actually be contributing to the injuries by causing needed medical assistance to be delayed.

Hit-and-Run is a Crime

In Texas, there are criminal penalties for leaving the scene of even the most minor fender bender. A driver involved in an auto accident has a duty to identify themselves, give vehicle and insurance information, and render aid to injured persons. The more serious the injuries are, the greater the penalty for failing to stop and render aid.

The following penalties can be imposed when hit-and-run drivers leave the scene of an injury accident:

  • Fatality – The crime is a second-degree felony punishable by a $10,000 fine and between 2 and 20 years in prison.
  • Serious bodily injury – If the injury is one that can cause death, permanent disfigurement, or long-term impairment of the use of a part of the body, it is a third-degree felony punishable by a $10,000 fine and between 2 and 10 years in prison.
  • Other injury – For any other type of injury the punishment can be up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Why Hit-and-Run Drivers Leave the Scene

In a study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety, various theories were presented that attempt to explain the motivation for hit-and-run drivers to leave an accident scene. The following reasons have been suggested as to why drivers may decide to flee:

  • Don’t think they’ll get caught
  • In the habit of breaking rules
  • Trying to conceal another crime
  • Don’t realize they need to stop
  • Don’t think the accident is serious

Insurance That May Cover a Hit-and-Run Accident

One reason a hit-and-run driver may leave an accident scene is because they have no insurance to cover the damage caused. When there is no other available source of compensation, someone who was injured in a hit-and-run accident may need to look to their own insurance for coverage.

The type of insurance that may cover a hit-and-run accident is usually not required to be purchased. Drivers in Texas, for example, are only required to purchase auto coverage for the damage they cause to others. Liability insurance is necessary, but coverage for injury and property damage is optional.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Auto insurance companies in Texas are required to offer at least $2,500 per person PIP to pay for reasonable medical expenses related to an accident. Higher limits are usually available. The coverage must be declined in writing if not purchased.

The coverage applies to family members in the same household, anyone driving the vehicle with permission, and passengers. The benefits can be paid for three years following the accident. PIP will also pay up to 80% of lost wages and household services that cannot be performed.

Medical Payments (Med-Pay)

Med-Pay is similar to PIP but generally provides less coverage and for a shorter period of time. It does not cover lost wages or household services in Texas, and there is no requirement for insurance companies to offer the coverage.


The optional insurance that may cover medical expenses will not cover property damage. Drivers have the option to purchase collision coverage to repair or replace their vehicles when they get in accidents.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM)

Uninsured motorist coverage is self-insuring against the liability of someone who is at fault but doesn’t have insurance or enough insurance to pay for the losses. The limits are typically the same as the liability limits that are carried. UM covers the damages the uninsured motorist would be liable for – both injuries and property damage. UM must be offered to Texas drivers and declined in writing if drivers want to opt out.

If an auto policy does not have medical coverage, health insurance will provide coverage for injuries subject to deductibles and other policy restrictions. However, health insurance will not cover anyone outside the family or pay for non-healthcare expenses.

How to Make Sure You Have Insurance to Cover a Hit-and-Run Accident

Hit-and-run accidents are not only extremely frustrating for anyone left holding the bag, but they can also end up being very expensive and financially devastating for the person who is not adequately insured.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the average cost of a motor vehicle accident with non-disabling injuries was $40,000 in 2021. When the accident involves a fatality, the cost goes up considerably to more than $1.75 million.

The best way to prepare for the possibility of damage caused by a driver who does not take responsibility for their actions is to insure against the risk by purchasing optional auto insurance coverage like Personal Injury Protection and Uninsured Motorist coverage in amounts appropriate to cover your potential exposure. Find out how our car accident attorneys can help you with your claim. Contact us today.