After a car crash, you are likely experiencing a rush of adrenaline that makes you anxious to take action to protect yourself (but that also clouds your judgment). Such a feeling is why you should never leave the scene of a car accident.
It may appear that you would be able to make a “clean getaway” from the scene of the accident. This tactic is rarely successful, however, and often leads to additional negative consequences.
There May Be Evidence After a Driver Leaves the Scene
It is possible that your “clean getaway” will be foiled. Identifying evidence may still be found, including:
- An observant witness, or the other driver, who hears your car’s engine revving and takes note of your general physical description (and that of your car)
- A witness or street camera that is able to record your license plate number
- Officers responding to the scene of a reported accident who observe your vehicle and determine it matches the description of a vehicle reported to be involved in the crash
Leaving after a vehicle collision can cause more problems than you might expect.
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Indiana Laws on Leaving an Accident Scene
Indiana Code 9-26-1-1.1 requires that motorists involved in a car wreck with another driver must stop at the scene of the accident and exchange insurance and registration information with the other drivers involved.
The driver of a vehicle who is able to safely move his or her vehicle out of the way of other traffic may do so. This can occur only if there is a location close by where the car can be moved (a nearby business, for instance).
The drivers must remain near the scene of the crash until law enforcement officers and first responders arrive and complete their investigation of the crash. This duty applies even if you and the other driver are uninjured.
You Are Obligated to Help if Someone Is Injured
If others involved in the crash were injured in some way, you must provide “reasonable assistance” to them. This does not necessarily require you to rush into a fire to save the other driver or provide emergency medical care that you are not qualified to provide.
However, it does (at a bare minimum) require you to summon emergency medical help. You should avoid providing first aid without the other driver’s consent, unless:
- He or she is suffering from obviously serious injuries
- You are qualified and trained to administer first aid.
Refrain from moving an injured person who appears to be suffering from a head, neck, and/or spine injury unless it is absolutely necessary to preserve the person’s life. Otherwise, you may end up causing serious or permanent injuries and/or disabilities.
You Could Suffer Criminal Consequences for Leaving the Scene
Leaving the scene of an accident for which there are no injuries can result in a criminal case being filed against you. This means you could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and could be punished by up to one year in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
If the crash resulted in serious injuries to the other driver and you left the scene of the accident, you could be charged with a Class D felony. This may result in you being sent to prison for a period of between six months and three years and/or you being assessed up to $10,000 in fines.
What to Do if You Have Been in a Crash With a Hit-and-Run Driver
If you have been in a car crash caused by another driver and you see that driver speeding away from the accident scene, you need to take prompt action (if possible) to help law enforcement identify the driver.
As soon as possible, you should make notes about the following observations and give these notes to law enforcement and your Indianapolis car accident lawyer:
- A physical description of the driver who left the scene, including age, skin color, hair color, clothing, identifying features, approximate age and height, sex, etc.
- A physical description of the car the other driver was operating, including make, model and year (if known), license plate information (even the state of the license plate can be helpful), any distinguishing features of the car, the direction of travel, and what damage the car appeared to sustain
- Any witnesses or bystanders who have information about the car and/or its driver
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Collecting Benefits from Uninsured Motorist Coverage for a Hit and Run
You do not need to wait to discover the name and insurance information of a hit-and-run driver before obtaining compensation for your injuries. If you have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage as part of your car insurance policy, your insurance company will pay your claim up to the policy limits if you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Your Indiana personal injury law firm can assist you in filing a claim with your insurance company for benefits after a hit-and-run accident where someone left the scene.
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How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You Seek Compensation
A lawyer from our team can take on the stressful tasks your case requires. You deserve to take time for yourself and heal with your family. We have experience with car accident claims and lawsuits and will know what kind of compensation you could recover and what to do in your case. We can:
- Speak with the insurance company and the other party’s lawyers for you
- Search for and analyze evidence that supports your claim
- Recruit expert medical witnesses and accident reconstructionists to give testimony
- Interview eyewitnesses to the accident
- Secure the accident report that explains fault for the accident
- Value all of your damages
- Stand by you in court, if the need arises
- Help your case stay within the statute of limitations
- Keep you informed about any updates
There are many other ways your legal team can help you.
Retain Legal Help from Expert Car Accident Attorneys
If you have been injured in a hit-and-run accident, contact Sevenish Law Firm, P.C. today for assistance in pursuing a car accident lawsuit. Our firm’s Indianapolis car accident lawyers and resources can assist you in identifying and bringing action against the hit-and-run driver.
We can also work with your own insurance company to help you obtain the benefits you need following your crash. Call us or complete our online contact form. We cannot get started until you reach out to us.