Out for a sunny ride on a lazy Sunday afternoon Izzy Skeerd and his family suddenly found themselves surrounded by motorcycles in front, behind and on either side of their sport utility vehicle. One motorcyclist was wearing a GoPro camera that later showed EZ Ryder “brake-checking” Izzy’s SUV. When Izzy tapped EZ’s rear tire and stopped, the bikers started to beat his car with their helmets and slashed his SUV’s tires. Fearing for his life and that of his family, Izzy punched the gas and left the scene, seriously injuring EZ and hitting two other bikers. Later other motorcyclists ripped Izzy from the SUV and beat him requiring medical treatment. Is Izzy liable for running over EZ? What about leaving the scene?
Because he was in fear of his life and reasonably believed that force was immediately necessary because EZ Ryder and his gang were attempting to enter his vehicle, it’s not likely that Izzy would be found guilty of any criminal conduct in Texas. Equally as important, Texas statutes protect Izzy by giving him civil immunity from personal injury lawsuits from EZ Ryder and his motorcyclist friends. Some argue such statutes improperly shift the burden by requiring prosecutors to prove that the use of deadly force was not in self defense. For a list of which states have “Stand Your Ground Laws” (like Texas) and which have “Castle Doctrine” laws, click HERE.
What About Leaving the Accident Scene?
Is Izzy criminally liable for fleeing the scene of an injury accident? Wanting to close a loophole in the law that effectively encouraged intoxicated hit and run drivers to flee the scene of a crash, the Texas Legislature recently approved a tougher hit-and-run law raising failure to stop and render aid to the same penalty level as intoxication manslaughter – a second degree felony. Former assistant district attorney Alex Fuller in our office advises that under the Texas Penal Code, Izzy is justified in leaving the scene if he believes it is immediately necessary to avoid imminent harm and that Izzy’s avoiding the harm clearly outweighs the harm of Izzy fleeing the scene.
Tilting the Scales in Your Favor
If you used deadly force when someone forcibly entered or attempted to enter your occupied habitation, vehicle or place of business or employment
- Ensure that it is safe to do so, and then –
- Dial 9-1-1 and ask for an ambulance and the police – be honest and explain what happened
- Contact your attorney prior to providing a statement to the police
Your responsibilities after a car accident, if it is safe to do so –
- If personal injury or death – Stop or immediately return to render aid, provide personal information, and show driver’s license if requested;
- If damage to occupied vehicle – Stop as close as possible without obstructing traffic, render aid, provide personal information, and show driver’s license if requested;
- If damage to unattended vehicle – Stop and locate the driver or owner and provide contact information, or leave conspicuous note providing information and circumstances;
- If damage to fixtures or highway landscaping – Stop and take “reasonable steps” to find the property owner or person in charge, provide contact information, and show driver’s license if requested. If more than $1,000, file a report with law enforcement.