Can a Driver Face Consequences for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Indiana?
Everyone knows they should remain at the scene following an accident, but hit-and-run incidents still occur frequently in Indiana. These crashes can lead to serious harm for victims who may not receive the prompt medical help they need. Hit-and-run victims may also face further challenges in recovering damages after the accident. A knowledgeable Lake County personal injury lawyer can detail the penalties a driver may face for engaging in a hit-and-run and what victims can do if the other driver has fled the scene.
What is Required From a Driver Who Has Been Involved in an Accident?
Indiana state law specifies the actions a driver must take after an accident. The driver’s duties can vary based on whether there are injured individuals or if there was simply property damage. Of course, a driver may be limited in their ability to help others if they are injured in the accident. However, the driver is still expected to remain on the scene unless they are being transported for medical care.
Under the law, a driver’s priorities after a crash are as follows:
- Stop their vehicle at the accident scene or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary.
- Stay at the accident site until they can provide their name, address, driver’s license information, and vehicle registration to individuals involved in the crash.
- If anyone is injured or killed, the driver must provide reasonable assistance to the hurt individuals and immediately inform the proper local authorities of the crash or call 911.
- If the crash only involves property damage, the driver must attempt to locate and inform the property owner. If the property owner cannot be found, the driver must contact local law enforcement and provide them with the required information.
Are There Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident?
A hit-and-run is considered a serious crime, especially if someone was severely injured in the collision and the other driver did nothing to try to help them. While some people may be afraid to stay at the scene of an accident if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the punishment for leaving the crash scene increases if intoxication is a factor. The penalties for engaging in a hit-and-run depend on several factors, but the general guidelines are:
- If the driver was intoxicated and the hit and run caused catastrophic injuries or death: Level 3 felony, punishable by 10-30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- If the accident caused death or catastrophic injury: Level 4 felony, which can result in two to ten years in prison, plus a fine of up to $10,000.
- If the accident caused serious injury: Level 6 felony, punishable by six months to two and a half years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
- If the accident caused any bodily injury: Class A misdemeanor, which may lead to imprisonment for up to one year and a maximum fine of $5,000.
- If the accident only caused property damage of $1,000 or more: Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
What Should You Do if a Hit-and-Run Driver Has Injured You?
Some drivers panic after they’ve struck another motorist or pedestrian and choose to leave the scene of the accident. If a hit-and-run driver has injured you, try to record every detail you can remember following the accident. License plate numbers, vehicle descriptions, and the direction in which they fled can all be helpful information that law enforcement can use to try to locate the driver.
You should not attempt to follow or track down a hit-and-run driver on your own. Not only are you delaying crucial medical treatment, but you could also be placing yourself in a dangerous situation. Many people leave crash scenes because they are not thinking clearly, but others may have more serious reasons for fleeing, such as engaging in illegal activities. It is best to leave the investigation to the police and focus on caring for your health and well-being following the accident.
What Are Your Options for Recovering Damages After a Hit and Run?
Unfortunately, some hit-and-run drivers are never brought to justice for their actions. This can leave injured victims in a difficult position when trying to recover from their losses. There are three main alternatives for compensation for victims if the hit-and-run driver cannot be identified:
- File a claim through your underinsured or uninsured motorist (UM or UIM) coverage: If you have UM or UIM coverage, it will pay for damages resulting from your hit-and-run injuries up to your coverage limits. Most policies in Indiana are limited to $25,000. This coverage is optional for Indiana drivers but is highly recommended for situations where the other driver is not adequately insured or cannot be identified.
- File a personal injury or collision claim through your own car insurance: Your insurance coverage may pay for some of your damages in a hit and run, but this depends on your coverage terms and limits.
- Use your health insurance: Your health insurance will likely pay for some of your medical expenses. However, you may need to pay deductibles and copays.
How Can a Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer Help You?
Hit-and-run drivers can face severe legal ramifications for leaving the scene of an accident, and it will likely limit their ability to file a personal injury claim for their losses. Sadly, if the driver cannot be identified, it can also be difficult for victims to recover full compensation.
An experienced Indiana hit-and-run accident lawyer can help thoroughly investigate your case and explain your options for recovering damages following your injury. Contact Hassuneh Law Firm at 219-400-2200 for a free case evaluation.