According to the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, “hit-and-run collisions accounted for 13 percent or 28,122 of the 217,396 collisions in Indiana in 2019.”
The same study reported that 19.5% of motor collisions in Marion County, the home of Indianapolis, were hit-and-runs. In addition, in Allen County, home of Fort Wayne, 20.6% of motor collisions are hit-and-runs. The more densely populated areas in Indiana tend to have a higher percentage of car accidents, and therefore, hit-and-runs. Unfortunately, hit-and-runs are an exception—no matter how careful you are, you can’t anticipate when another driver will leave the scene of an accident. So, what can you do to be prepared?
With the increased popularity of large vehicles, car accidents are becoming more harmful, and if you—or a family member— are the victim in a hit-and-run accident, you need to be prepared to seek the kind of help that will get you compensation for both vehicle and medical damages.
The penalties for leaving the scene of an accident in Indiana are severe, but even if you don’t find the other driver, you may be eligible for certain insurance coverage.
Suppose it’s 11:00 at night and you’re driving on 1-65 from downtown Indianapolis to Greenwood. You see a car in your rearview mirror that’s driving very close to your back bumper, and then it passes you on the right, shattering your side view mirror and denting your passenger side door. You pull over and look to your right, only to see the other driver has sped away.
Do not pursue the driver. This might be your first inclination if you aren’t seriously injured and your car still works. However, pursuing the perpetrator of a hit-and-run puts you at more risk, as you don’t know why the person fled the scene.
The perpetrator of a hit-and-run may leave the scene of the accident for many reasons. Sometimes, the person is impaired and wants to avoid a DUI or DWI charge. They may also be fleeing from the law because of an outstanding arrest warrant, or because they are driving a stolen vehicle. Often, hit-and-run perpetrators do not carry insurance and are trying to avoid paying out of pocket.
Depending on the damages caused by a hit-and-run, the person who caused it may be charged with a minimum of a Class B Misdemeanor (for a collision that resulted in no injuries), which includes 180 days of prison and a $1,000 fine.
The maximum sentence is generally reserved for when the offending motorist was intoxicated and caused serious injury or death. If caught, that person will be penalized with a Level 3 felony, meaning 3-16 years of prison time and a maximum fine of $10,000.
The penalties for a hit-and-run are severe, but unfortunately, many people still attempt to avoid facing the consequences of an accident they’ve caused. So where does this leave you as the victim?
Once you’ve been hit, if you’re able to pull your car away from oncoming traffic, do so. If you or a passenger needs medical attention, call 911 immediately, or ask a witness to do so. This call to 911 should also request the police.
If you are able to move around the area safely, we recommend photographing the damage and surrounding area as much as you can, including the cross-street street signs. If you’re able, also take a video of the surroundings.
If there are witnesses nearby, approach them and ask for their contact information. You can explain that you may need witness testimony in order to have your insurance cover any damages. If there are no witnesses nearby, make a note of any places of businesses that may have security cameras in the area.
If and when you involve a personal injury lawyer in the process to cover your damages, photos, video footage, and eyewitness statements can be valuable pieces of evidence.
If you have any recollection of the make and model of the car that hit yours, or the physical description of the driver, write it down. And be sure to include any part of the license plate number that you can remember.
If you’re in too much shock to make notes, or if you’re injured, consider recording a voice memo on your phone and sending it to yourself and your emergency contact. If you’re in shock, it can be hard to write things down, but you need to record them, so you and your lawyer can review the facts of your own account.
Once the police arrive, describe the incident as clearly as you can, and do not admit to any fault for the accident. Police must provide you with a copy of the accident report—usually available two to three days after the incident—but be sure to request the accident report number before they leave the scene so you can get that record once it is available.
Finally, report the accident to your insurance company immediately. Many insurance companies will deny coverage if you fail to do so.
People injured in hit-and-run accidents frequently report brain trauma, burns, neck damage/whiplash, and in more serious cases, broken bones, internal bleeding, and loss of limbs. Even if you aren’t injured, you’re likely still going to need coverage for damages to your car, even if the other driver fled the scene of the accident.
If law enforcement does catch the other driver, you have the option of filing an insurance claim with that driver’s insurance or suing the person directly to cover your damages.
After your accident and completing the proper paperwork with law enforcement, you should seek advice from a lawyer who specializes in either personal injury or auto accidents. We specialize in both at Wilson Kehoe Winingham.
Our lawyers specialize in dealing with insurance claims and lawsuits involving serious injury, taking the pressure off of you so you have the space and time to recover from your injuries—and find a new means of transportation.
At Wilson Kehoe Winingham, we offer free initial case evaluations, and our firm works on a contingency fee basis. This means we don’t collect any fees unless your case is successful and you’re getting the payout you deserve. Find out more about setting up an appointment here.
If the person who caused the hit-and-run is found, your lawyer will begin by making a claim against their insurance. Your attorney can also build a case to press charges for leaving the scene of the accident. This is called a personal injury lawsuit, and our team is skilled in prosecuting perpetrators of hit-and-run accidents in Indiana.
You may receive payment for economic (or “special”) damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages or income, damages to your vehicle, and hospital bills.
Your lawyer can also advise you on seeking coverage for non-economic (or “general”) damages, including pain and suffering, mental anguish, and long-term disability. Find out more about what kinds of compensation you may be eligible for after a car collision.
In the case that the drive is not found, your lawyer can manage the payout process from your insurance. It is harder to get compensation if you can’t locate the offending driver, but the insurance options listed below may still provide you with coverage.
MedPay coverage: Like PIP, MedPay is not included in all policies, but if you have it, it will provide coverage for medical expenses in a hit-and-run regardless of who is at fault.
Located in the heart of Indianapolis, our law firm has served the people of Indiana for over 40 years. WKW will investigate and analyze your case, and make sure you have a thorough understanding of your options as the victim of a hit-and-run accident.
Our attorneys have extensive experience in both auto accident and personal injury cases, and we serve clients in the Indianapolis area and nearby counties.
Call us at 317.669.9983, or fill out this contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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