In Indiana, hit-and-run accidents are unfortunately not uncommon. And can be devastating, leaving victims with physical injuries and property damage without receiving the urgent medical assistance they need.
But according to Indiana law, if this happened to you, you can claim compensation if you suffered injuries due to the negligence of another driver.
Understanding the legal aspects surrounding such accidents is crucial for protecting your rights as a victim, and ensuring you get the compensation you deserve. Here are important facts about hit-and-run accidents that will help you understand how to proceed after an accident to protect your legal rights.
Most Common Cause of Collisions in Indiana
According to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute’s 2020 Traffic Safety Facts Report, the most common factors contributing to collisions in Indiana are speeding, distracted driving, failure to yield, improper lane usage, driver fatigue, and following too closely.
Speeding-related collisions accounted for over 21% of all collisions in Indiana in 2020, and it remains the most common cause of collisions in the state. When drivers exceed the posted speed limit, they reduce their ability to react to unexpected situations and increase their stopping distances. This makes it more difficult to avoid collisions, especially in adverse weather conditions or high-traffic areas.
Distracted driving is the second most common cause of collisions in Indiana, and this includes any activity that takes the driver’s attention away from the road, such as texting, using a cell phone, or adjusting the radio.
Consequences to Responsible Drivers on Hit-and-Run Accidents
In Indiana, a hit-and-run accident is a serious offense with severe consequences for the responsible driver. According to Indiana Code 9-26-1-1, any driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of another person, or property damage, must immediately stop at the scene of the accident and remain there until fulfilling certain requirements.
These requirements include providing their name, address, vehicle registration number, and driver’s license information to the injured party or property owner, and rendering reasonable assistance to any injured person, including arranging for medical care if necessary.
But what happens if you run after a collision?
Failing to fulfill these requirements can result in criminal charges, including felony charges if the accident resulted in serious bodily injury or wrongful death.
Additionally, a responsible driver who flees the scene of a hit-and-run accident may face civil liability for the damages caused.
Understanding vicarious liability
Indiana follows the doctrine of “vicarious liability,” which means that the owner of a vehicle can be held liable for the actions of a driver operating their vehicle with their permission.
This means that even if the responsible driver cannot be identified or located, the owner of the vehicle can still be held financially responsible for the damages resulting from the hit-and-run accident.
So, if this happens to you then you might be entitled to pursue economic compensation for the damages, including the punitive damages involved in not holding you responsible once the accident happened.
What to Do -And What to Not Do- After a Collision
After being involved in a hit-and-run accident, it’s crucial to take immediate action to protect your legal rights and ensure that you have the best chance of recovering compensation for your damages.
Here are some important steps to take after an accident in Indiana, even if the accident was not your fault:
Stay at the scene
Indiana law requires drivers involved in an accident resulting in injury, death, or property damage to immediately stop at the scene. As we mentioned earlier, leaving the scene of an accident can result in serious consequences, including criminal charges and potential civil liability for damages caused. Therefore, it is important to stay at the scene until law enforcement arrives.
Check for injuries
Check yourself and others involved in the accident for injuries. If anyone is hurt, call 911 immediately to request emergency medical assistance. Remember to stay calm and not move anyone who is seriously injured, as this could cause further harm.
Collect as much information as possible about the accident, including the other driver’s license plate number, the make and model of their car, and any other details about the incident. Take photos of the scene and any damages, if possible. Additionally, if there are any witnesses to the accident, be sure to get their names and contact information.
Contact law enforcement
Report the hit-and-run accident to the police as soon as possible. Give them as much information as you have collected about the incident and any injuries sustained. Failing to report a hit-and-run accident can result in criminal charges according to Indiana Code, so it’s important to take this step seriously.
Notify your insurance company
When it comes to hit-and-run accidents in Indiana, it’s important to notify your insurance company as soon as possible. However, it’s also important to remember that insurance companies are businesses that prioritize their profits, and some of them may offer you a settlement that is lower than what you are entitled to. In the middle of a confusing and unpleasant situation, it’s easy to accept an offer that seems good enough, but sometimes it turns out to be pretty lower than what you could get.
In these cases, an attorney can advise you on how to handle any communication with the insurance company to protect your legal rights and avoid any missteps that could harm your case. At Christie Farrell Lee & Bell, we can help you notify and negotiate with insurance companies to make sure you’ll get the compensation you deserve.
Damages You Can Recover if You Suffered a Hit-and-Run Accident in Indiana
As a victim of a hit-and-run accident in Indiana, you may be entitled to seek compensation for various damages incurred. These damages can include:
- Property damages: If your vehicle was damaged in the hit-and-run accident, you may be entitled to seek compensation for the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle.
- Medical expenses: You may be able to seek compensation for the cost of medical treatment, including hospitalization, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, and future medical expenses related to the injuries.
- Lost wages: If your injuries from the hit-and-run accident caused you to miss work and lose wages, you may be entitled to seek compensation for the income you would have earned during the time you were unable to work.
- Pain and suffering: You may be entitled to seek compensation for the physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish you experienced as a result of the hit-and-run accident.
- Punitive damages: In some cases, if the responsible driver’s conduct was particularly egregious, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may be entitled to seek punitive damages.
If you or a loved one have suffered an accident due to a hit-and-run driver in Indiana, it’s important to take immediate action to protect your legal rights and ensure that you have the best chance of recovering compensation for your damages.
At Christie Farrell Lee & Bell Law Firm, our personal injury attorneys can help you navigate the legal process and seek the justice and compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and let us help you reclaim the compensation you deserve.