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What are my legal duties at the scene of a traffic accident?

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

A traffic accident can leave you shocked and confused. You might feel the urge to go and escape the chaos, but you should stay and assess the situation to avoid committing an offense.

Texas law has provisions that enforce legal duties on drivers involved in road accidents that result in injury or death. They include the following tasks:

  • Stopping their vehicle in a safe spot near the scene or returning if their car passed it
  • Checking on any people who might have suffered injuries
  • Providing aid to injured people at the scene
  • Remaining at the location to provide information and cooperate with other involved drivers
  • Reporting the crash to the authorities

Additionally, if the accident happens on a freeway’s main lane, ramp, shoulder or median, drivers should adjust and stop at a safe location near the area to avoid obstructing traffic.

Penalties for failing to perform these duties

You may receive a misdemeanor charge if you fail to comply with these responsibilities. The severity of the offense depends on the following:

  • Class C misdemeanor if the collective vehicle damage is worth less than $200
  • Class B misdemeanor if the collective vehicle damage is worth $200 and up

These charges can also escalate to felonies, depending on the circumstances of the accident.

Are there any exceptions?

Passengers and witnesses can leave the crash scene. Additionally, there is an absolute exception if staying would cause physical harm, such as fires or toxic spills caused by the collision.

The best course of action might change based on the circumstances, but you should stop and help in a crash scene when it is reasonable.