While headlines focus on car accidents that cause fatalities and extensive property damage, about 85% of car accidents in Indiana are reported as only causing property damage in the latest edition of Indiana Traffic Safety Facts.
Most car accidents are minor fender benders and may leave drivers involved wondering whether there is anything they have to do other than get their vehicle repaired and move on. If there is no apparent fault or injury, why complicate matters?
As experienced car accident lawyers in Indianapolis, we can advise you that, legally, you do not have to report an accident in Indiana that only causes minor damage to the vehicles – but you absolutely should. It is not unusual to discover unexpected expenses and complications after a car accident. After the fact, you may realize you should file a claim for compensation. But if there is no accident report, you could be out of luck.
If you are involved in a car accident in Indiana, report it according to the steps we outline below. If you have been injured in a car accident that was not your fault, contact a personal injury attorney. At Truitt Law Offices, we’ll review your car accident and discuss a potential car accident claim at no charge. If we can pursue a claim for you, we’ll seek full compensation for you. Contact us today.
Reporting Minor Car Accidents in Indiana
If a car accident involves injury, death, damage to property beyond the vehicles (such as a streetlamp or guardrail) or damage to the vehicles totaling more than $1,000, Indiana law requires that you contact the police.
Between two vehicles, it takes surprisingly little damage to add up to $1,000 or more. Most auto insurance policies also require you to report any accident that involves another vehicle. Most car accidents should be reported.
You should always stop as soon as possible after a collision and move your vehicle out of the roadway while remaining as close as possible to where the accident happened. Don’t move a vehicle involved in an accident that has caused injury, death or entrapment, until instructed to do so by the police.
Exchange information with everyone involved in the automobile accident, including:
- Contact information
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Insurance information.
Indiana’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles may send you a notice asking for proof of financial responsibility (insurance) after it receives an accident report from law enforcement. Your insurance provider should send a Certificate of Compliance (COC) to demonstrate that you held coverage at the time of the accident that meets the state’s minimum liability protection requirements. If you receive a request for financial responsibility verification from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, do not delay in asking your insurance provider to send a COC on your behalf.
If the police don’t respond to your accident and file a report and you fail to report it to the BMV within 10 days, your driver’s license may be suspended, and your vehicle registration could be revoked. Failing to report an accident is a Class C misdemeanor in Indiana is punishable by up to $500 in fines and up to 60 days in jail.
Serious Injuries that Can Happen in a Fender Bender
After a car accident, you should see a doctor if you were hurt in any way. Even if you feel unhurt, you should have a medical evaluation. A trained medical professional may recognize a potentially serious injury even though the symptoms are not apparent to you. When symptoms do appear, you could be dealing with a medical emergency.
Here are a few such symptoms and injuries:
- Headache and traumatic brain injury. Banging your head and suffering a concussion, a mild traumatic brain injury, is a common injury in a car accident. It’s also common for people to shrug off a bump on the head and a slight headache. A headache caused by a blow to the head may indicate bleeding on the brain, swelling of the brain and/or blood clots.
- Neck, shoulder or back pain and spinal injury. A collision can twist your body quickly, and sometimes without you realizing it. Pain, numbness or stiffness around your head, neck, or shoulders that develops later may be signs of whiplash or a more serious spinal injury. Whiplash is damage to the cervical spine caused by the neck stretching and then snapping back into place. It is most common in rear-end accidents. Back pain days after an accident could be a symptom of a herniated disc or a sprain. Injury to the spine and spinal cord can cause loss of sensation and mobility.
- Knee injury. It is very easy to bang your knee against the underside of the dash or against a door, or to twist your knee in a fender bender. Any of the bones in or around the knee can suffer hairline fractures or worse. A blow can cause one or more of the bones of the knee to slip out of place, a knee dislocation. Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which runs diagonally down the front of the knee and provides stability to the joint, can be serious and require surgery.
- Abdominal pain or bruising and internal organ damage. Pain in the abdomen as well as large areas of deep purple bruising with or without pain could be signs of internal bleeding from damaged tissue or organs. This may be a life-threatening situation that could lead to septic shock.
Contact an Indiana Car Accident Attorney
If you’ve suffered property damage or personal injuries in a car accident in Indiana caused by another driver’s negligence, you may:
- File a property damage or personal injury claim with your own insurance company (a “first party” claim)
- File a property damage or personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company (a “third party” claim)
- File a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Indianapolis personal injury law is complex, and any claim can become complicated. You may be able to handle a collision claim for property damage on you own. But if you have sustained significant injuries, you will want to consult an attorney to discuss your options. Let one of the experienced and knowledgeable attorneys at Truitt Law Offices in Indianapolis handle your injury case.
The Indianapolis attorneys at Truitt Law Offices will protect your rights and push aggressively to recover all the compensation available for your losses. Contact the Truitt Law Offices in Indianapolis for a free, no-obligation discussion of your accident, injuries and legal options.