If you get hurt in a hit-and-run car accident in Indiana, call 911. Next, write down anything you remember about the other motorist and their vehicle. Information such as a license plate number, the make and model of the car, and the driver’s appearance might help police to locate the driver. After you have sought medical treatment, make sure to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer as early as possible.
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How Common Are Hit and Run Accidents?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 682,000 hit-and-run accidents occur annually. In one recent year, 737,100 hit-and-runs occurred.
A driver might leave the crash scene because they fear getting into trouble. The most common reasons for hit-and-run accidents include:
- Lack of insurance — According to the Insurance Information Institute, nearly 16 percent of Indiana motorists lack legally mandated insurance. A driver might flee an accident scene to avoid a traffic citation for driving without insurance.
- Outstanding warrant — If there is an outstanding warrant for a driver’s arrest, fleeing the scene might seem better than getting arrested. Some drivers take their chances and drive off before law enforcement arrives.
- Driving under the influence — It is illegal to operate a vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. An impaired driver may leave the scene to avoid criminal charges.
- Lack of license — Driving without a valid driver’s license is also a crime in Indiana. Car crashes often involve police investigations. Fleeing might seem more appealing than remaining at the scene to avoid civil or criminal penalties.
Are You Required to Stay at the Scene and Render Aid After an Accident?
Yes. According to the Indiana Code of Motor Vehicles, any motor vehicle driver involved in an accident must:
- Stop the car immediately at the accident scene or as close to the scene as possible to avoid obstructing traffic.
- Remain at the scene until providing their name, address, and motor vehicle registration number to anyone involved in the crash.
- Show a driver’s license to anyone involved in the collision or attending to a car involved in the accident.
If the car wreck leads to someone’s injury or death, the motor vehicle driver must also:
- Provide anyone injured or entrapped by the crash with reasonable assistance as directed by medical personnel, law enforcement, or a 911 operator.
- Provide immediate notice of the accident as soon as possible or ensure someone else gives notice of the accident to a 911 operator, county sheriff’s office or nearest state police post, or the local police department, whichever is fastest.
Are There Criminal Penalties for Fleeing the Scene?
Yes. It is a crime to flee the scene of a car crash. The penalties outlined in the Indiana Code of Motor Vehicles depend on the circumstances of the accident.
Leaving the scene of a car accident is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by no more than 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The offense increases to more serious penalties if specific factors apply, such as:
- Bodily injury — A hit and run resulting in someone’s bodily injury can lead to a Class A misdemeanor charge. Sentencing can include a maximum of a $5,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
- Moderate or serious bodily injury — If a hit-and-run causes another person’s moderate or serious bodily injury, the offense is a Level 6 felony. It can lead to six months to two and a half years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
- Death — A hit-and-run accident causing someone’s death is a Level 4 felony. Penalties can include up to a $10,000 fine and between two to 12 years in prison.
Will Insurance Cover Me After a Hit and Run?
Seeking compensation for your injury after a hit-and-run is challenging if you cannot locate the driver. However, you may have options such as:
- Uninsured motorist (UM) — This coverage pays for accident-related expenses when the at-fault driver lacks the required liability coverage or flees the scene of a crash. It is not mandatory coverage in Indiana. So, you must review your policy to determine if you have it.
- Medical Payments (MedPay) — This insurance is another optional form of coverage. It is immediately available after a crash, regardless of who is at fault. It can cover medical expenses, such as doctor’s appointments, diagnostic testing, hospital stays, and prescriptions.
- Collision insurance — Pays for vehicle damage regardless of who is to blame.
What Should I Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident?
Taking the following steps after a hit-and-run accident can help to protect your health and safeguard your rights:
- Immediately notify the police — Call 911 to report the crash. Provide as many details as possible about the driver’s appearance, car, and anything else you can remember.
- Collect evidence at the accident scene — If your injury isn’t too severe and it’s safe to walk around, collect evidence at the scene. Take pictures of damage, road debris, and anything else you see that might help your case.
- Speak to witnesses — Talk to bystanders who saw the crash. Ask for their names and phone numbers. They might give a statement to the investigating officer or insurance company or testify if your case goes to trial.
- Seek medical attention — Go to the emergency room for an examination, even if your injury doesn’t seem serious. A doctor can diagnose you and might recommend follow-up care. Continue to treat your injury regularly until your medical providers release you from their care.
Our Indiana Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyers Want to Help You
At Truitt Law Offices, we have more than 40 years of experience fighting for the rights of injured motorists in Fort Wayne and throughout Indiana. We will treat you as a priority and provide the quality representation you deserve. You can always count on our team to work hard for you and work tirelessly to recover all compensation you are due. Contact us today for a free consultation with our Indiana hit-and-run car accident lawyers.