You should not leave the scene of an auto accident before the police arrive. If you do, Indiana law states that the officers may charge you with a hit and run. Those charges can see you face felony consequences, including substantial fines and jail time, even if the accident didn’t injure anyone.
What can you do, then, if you recently left the scene of an auto accident or if the party liable for your losses fled the scene? When in doubt, turn to the Indiana personal injury attorneys with Vaughan & Vaughan. We can help you assess your circumstances, clarify those circumstances to the right parties, and pursue compensation for any losses you endured in a personal injury accident.
What You Should Do After an Auto Accident
If you want to protect yourself after an auto accident, it’s in your best interest to:
Wait For the Police and Other Emergency Responders
Do not leave an accident scene. It does not matter if no one is injured or if there doesn’t appear to be damage to either vehicle involved. If you don’t stay on the scene, you risk facing unnecessary criminal consequences for seemingly innocent behavior.
What’s more, wait for emergency responders to arrive on the scene. While you might think that you don’t have any injuries after a car accident, there are some conditions that can manifest the further away from the crash you get. Emergency responders can also help treat stress and shock, both of which might limit your ability to accurately assess your health.
Document Your Accident and Speak With Bystanders
If you’re physically able to, you should document the scene of your accident. This may mean taking pictures of the debris, if any, or gathering witness statements and contact information. The more information you take away from the scene of a crash, the easier it may be for you to assign liability for your losses later down the line.
Exchange Insurance Information With a Liable Party
On the one hand, you need to exchange insurance information with the party that caused your accident if you want to later file for coverage. On the other hand, you should never pursue a party fleeing the scene of an accident. Stay where you are. Do not engage if the liable party seems aggressive or reckless.
Police officers can step in and pursue a fleeing individual if the need to do so arises. You can then work with law enforcement to get the insurance information you need to file a post-accident claim.
The good news, of course, is that if the liable party stays on the scene, this job becomes much simpler. You should write down the liable party’s name, address, insurance provider, and policy number so that you can later reach out for financial support.
Contact an Indiana Car Accident Lawyer
You are not obligated to take legal action against another party after a car accident, particularly if the accident isn’t severe. That said, you have the option to. What’s more, you can work with an attorney if the party liable for your crash appears belligerent or unwilling to cooperate with you.
With that in mind, you can contact an attorney for legal guidance about your case within hours of your initial crash. So long as you reach out to an Indiana car accident lawyer before your statute of limitations expires, you can secure representation while working with the liable party’s insurance provider or initiating a personal injury claim.
You can contact Vaughan & Vaughan for more information on the best ways to start working with an Indiana car accident lawyer.
The Legal Consequences of Leaving an Auto Accident Scene
What can happen to you if you do leave the scene of an auto accident before the police arrive? Officers may assume, regardless of the nature of the accident, that you’re engaging in a felony hit and run. You may, in turn, face criminal charges for leaving the scene.
What can you do if there isn’t anyone injured at the scene, though? While you’re no longer committing felony hit and run, you may still face Class B misdemeanor charges for leaving the scene. If you don’t challenge those charges, you risk spending up to 180 days in jail and paying fines of up to $1,000.
Indiana’s Minimum Property Damage Reporting Requirements
It’s always in your best interest to report a car accident, particularly those that result in property damage. Any accident that generates more than $1,000 in damaged property must merit a police report. If you fail to report extensive property damage or a liable party refuses to acknowledge those losses, Indiana’s criminal courts may have to look deeper into your case.
Discuss Your Recent Auto Accident With Vaughan & Vaughan
It’s in no one’s best interest to leave the scene of an auto accident before the police arrive. You and the other party or parties involved in your accident should stay on the scene even if no one is injured. Anyone who leaves the scene may face accusations of criminal behavior should losses reveal themselves in the days or weeks following the accident.
That said, what can you do if you leave the scene of an auto accident or if another driver disappears down the street? First and foremost, don’t pursue a fleeing party. You should make every effort to cooperate with local law enforcement. Then, as soon as you can, you should contact an Indiana personal injury attorney.
The car crash lawyers with Vaughan & Vaughan can guide you through the process of holding the party liable for your auto accident responsible for their misconduct in civil court. If you want more information about our legal services, you can schedule an initial case consultation with our team. Contact us to book your free appointment.