A hit-and-run accident occurs when a motorist strikes another vehicle, pedestrian, or object and immediately leaves the scene without rendering aid or exchanging contact information. In Indiana, the driver who flees the scene could face charges.
A hit-and-run is a very serious crime. A person is subject to severe penalties, including fines and jail time, if they flee the scene of an accident. In the event that you are involved in a hit-and-run, it is important to know what to do and how to report the accident to preserve your legal rights.
If you are the victim of a hit-and-run, you should be prepared to take the steps necessary to pursue financial recompense for your injuries and property damage. A personal injury lawyer in Indianapolis may be able to help you collect on some of your insurance if you were not at fault.
What to Do First When You’re Involved in a Hit and Run Accident
Once involved in a traffic crash, the most important priority is to remain calm and composed. If anyone has been injured, you or someone else at the scene should call 911 for medical assistance and police response.
Once the police arrive, it’s important that you remain cooperative but do not admit any fault for the incident. It’s essential that you don’t run away from the scene of the accident since this is illegal in Indiana and could result in serious legal consequences. It’s also important to do the following:
- Speak to any witnesses and gather their contact information as well as notes about what they saw
- Additionally, obtaining medical aid when necessary should be prioritized after assistance from emergency services has been sought.
- To best preserve your health and your claim, seek medical treatment within 24 hours of the crash
- Ask the police how to obtain a copy of your traffic accident or police report
- Speak to any witnesses and gather their contact information and note what they saw
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to learn the time frame allowable for reporting according to your policy
- Reach out to a car accident lawyer to learn more about what legal options you may have for collecting compensation
Why Might a Driver Flee from the Scene of a Crash?
Most people will remain at the site of an accident. In most cases, motorists who flee the scene don’t want to become involved with the police. They may flee for many reasons:
For instance, if someone had been drinking before the accident and fears that law enforcement will discover this truth if they remain, they might attempt to leave the scene as quickly as possible before being held responsible for their behavior.
Additionally, those with outstanding arrest warrants may wish to avoid detection and use fleeing as an opportunity to escape police custody.
Finally, participants who possess illegal items such as drugs or guns may run in order to avoid getting arrested for such offenses when discovered by officers at the scene. They may be on a suspended license or driving a stolen car.
Leaving the accident to pursue the other party in a hit-and-run crash is never wise. This can put you and other motorists at risk. Try to note the license plate, look for surveillance cameras in the area, or speak to an attorney to see if it might be possible to identify the driver through traffic camera footage.
If the Other Driver Is Not Identified, How Can I Be Compensated?
When a hit-and-run driver injures someone, the compensation process is complex and largely dependent on the insurance coverage held by either the victim or the driver. If UM/UIM coverage has been purchased by the victim, then they may be able to submit a claim up to the policy limit.
If no uninsured/underinsured policy exists on behalf of either party, then personal injury and collision coverage may act as an alternative form of compensation. In some cases, health insurance policies may also cover some or all of the cost associated with damages sustained in a hit-and-run crash.
However, this will depend on the terms and conditions of each individual policy. In other circumstances, other sources of liability may be found. This is why it’s important to work with a car accident lawyer. Your attorney can help you seek alternate sources of compensation and may be able to help you locate the driver.
Indiana Laws on Reporting Hit and Run Accidents
Indiana law requires that you notify the police within a certain amount of time after being involved in a car crash that involves:
- Property damage of at least $1000
- Someone trapped in a vehicle
- Injury accidents
- Fatal accidents
- Accidents that impact property that is unattended and the owner can’t be found
The incident must be reported to the police or sheriff’s department, and a report must be filed with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) within 10 days.
The driver also has 24 hours to report the accident to the Indiana State Police if someone was hurt or killed.
Penalties, fines, and even criminal charges may arise from an incident not being reported. Additionally, failure to report the crash may make filing an insurance claim more difficult, decreasing the amount of money you might get for your injuries.
If you want to safeguard your legal and financial interests, you should familiarize yourself with Indiana’s reporting requirements and act accordingly.
Contact a Lawyer in Indiana for Help After a Hit and Run Accident
When dealing with a car accident, it can be difficult to know exactly what steps to take or what rights you have under Indiana law. In order to ensure that your case is handled properly and your hit-and-run accident is reported within the legal time frame, it can be beneficial to contact a lawyer.
The personal injury lawyers of Vaughan & Vaughan are knowledgeable and experienced in all types of motor vehicle accidents and can help guide you through every step of the legal process. We can answer any questions you might have about filing a car accident report or getting the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about how we may be able to help you.