Automobile accidents disable, injure, and take the lives of more than 3.25 million Americans every year. If you’re one of the millions involved in an accident, knowing the laws will serve you well. The ins-and-outs can get complicated, but knowing the basics will be beneficial in the long run if you end up taking legal action.
First and foremost, you should know that you don’t always need to take the legal route after you’ve been in a car accident. So what should you actually do after an accident? Everything is circumstantial, but there are some ground rules we recommend you follow.
What to Do on the Scene of an Accident
Health and safety come first. Check to make sure that everyone is okay, but don’t touch or move anyone unless there is immediate danger; you don’t want to risk injuring someone further. If anyone involved in the accident has been injured, seek medical attention as quickly as possible. If death has occurred, call your local emergency number immediately.
Gather all information from the parties involved, such as:
- First and last names of the driver and passengers
- License plate number
- Color, make, model and other distinct traits of the other vehicle, such as bumper stickers or dents
- Driver’s insurance information
You should try to gather information from any eyewitnesses and take photographs of the site. Also take note of traffic and weather conditions. When you speak to the officers on the scene, make note of exactly what you and the other parties said. Location will be included in a police report, but the specific location–such as street names–is good to have for your own records and your insurance company. If no injuries were sustained, call the non-emergency number in your area to report the accident.
What to Do Off the Scene of an Accident
After the accident, your first move is to report it to your insurance company. You will need all of the information you obtained from the accident and a copy of the accident report, which can be ordered from your local police department.
You can always call your insurance company while you’re on the scene of the accident, but you run the risk of an agent coming by to begin the assessment. While this starts the process sooner rather than later, we recommend waiting until you are off-scene when you have a more complete package of information.
Take your car to a repair shop and get an estimate. If you have a trusted mechanic, we recommend going there before you go to one an insurance adjuster will recommend. Don’t forget that you have a choice in this.
Indiana Statute of Limitations
In Indiana, the statute of limitation allows a two year window for filing a claim after a car accident. The clock starts ticking the day of the accident, so move as quickly as you can. If the accident caused someone’s death, the statute of limitation is still two years, except that the clock starts ticking at the time of death. For example, if death occurred three weeks after the accident and the cause of death is related to the accident, the two-year timeline will begin that day.
When to Contact an Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorney
Every auto accident is different, so how and why you decide to hire a lawyer is circumstantial. If there are no injuries and the property damage is minor and coverable by an insurance policy, chances are an accident lawyer won’t be necessary.
If you’re experiencing any of the following complications, consider hiring an attorney:
- You or the other party sustained serious injuries that required hospitalization
- You have lost wages due to your injuries
- You have long-term or permanent disabilities as a result of the accident
- You have insurance complications (e.g. you didn’t have insurance at the time of the crash, your provider claims you don’t have a policy with them, or your provider is refusing to cover damages)
- The accident occurred in a construction zone
- Pedestrians were involved
- Fault is evidently yours
- Death has occurred
The Indianapolis auto accident attorneys at Wilson Kehoe Winingham have decades of experience with personal injury cases. If you’re in need of guidance or have some questions about your case, contact our office for a free evaluation. Reach out today by phone at 317.920.6400 or 800.525.8028 or through our online form to schedule your appointment.