Indiana Hit and Run Law: What You Need to Know about Recovering Damages
Indiana hit and run law protects injured individuals when the person who caused an accident flees the scene. Unfortunately, hit and run accidents can result in serious injuries that significantly impact the injured person’s life. For those injured by a driver who leaves the scene, the law provides an opportunity to recover damages despite the responsible party being unknown.
Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime in Indiana. However, when the responsible party goes unidentified, an injured party may bring a claim against their own insurance company for damages arising as a result of the accident. For help maximizing hit and run accident compensation, contact trusted Indiana hit and run lawyers.
Next Steps under Indiana Hit and Run Law
Car accidents are emotional and overwhelming events. When the other driver takes off after the accident, you may feel hopeless and limited in options. There are several reasons a driver may leave the scene of an accident, including not having insurance coverage, driving without a license, or having a warrant out for their arrest.
Regardless of why the other driver left, Indiana hit and run law provides for coverage under your own policy in such cases, but it’s critical to take certain steps immediately after the accident to protect your right to recovery. When the other driver leaves the scene, you should first remain focused on your well-being and collect any information relevant to the accident, if possible. As such, immediately after a hit and run accident, you should take the following steps, if you are able:
- Assess your health and the health of any passengers
- Call 911 and request the police and any necessary medical personnel
- Note any relevant information, including the make, model, and color of the other vehicle and any license plate information you can gather as well as a description of the driver if possible
- Identify any witnesses and collect contact information
- Get medical assistance
- Inform your insurance company of the hit and run accident
By taking these steps, you ensure the treatment of your injuries while collecting useful information to help prove your claim later. From here, Indiana hit and run lawyers can help ensure you contacted the correct parties and take steps to ensure you are in a position to recover damages.
A Driver’s Duty to Render Aid
Drivers involved in an accident must aid others involved in the accident if they are able. Under Indiana Code chapter 9-26-1, Indiana hit and run law makes it illegal for a driver to leave the scene of an accident. Specifically, drivers involved in an accident must:
- Bring their vehicle to an immediate stop at or near the accident without obstructing traffic
- Request medical attention to the accident scene and call 911 or ensure somebody else has called 911
- Cooperate with the police
- Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver or provide this information to the police
Failure to take these steps constitutes fleeing from the scene, which places the driver at the mercy of criminal prosecution under Indiana hit and run law.
Hit and Run Litigation in Indiana
Once you initiate a claim with your own insurance company or that of another driver, the path of the case is the same as in other personal injury lawsuits. First, you must formally make an insurance claim for injuries arising from the accident. Should the insurance company fail to make a fair offer, you may file a lawsuit.
Once a lawsuit starts, the parties engage in discovery, investigating the cause of the accident and extend of injuries and damage, and then they exchange such information. As part of this process, the injured parties may have to give a statement under oath regarding how the accident occurred and the nature of injuries sustained.
In the last step of the litigation, the parties generally resolve the claim through arbitration, mediation, or trial. Mediation uses a neutral third party to help the sides negotiate a settlement. Arbitration is similar to a trial, and an arbitrator can award damages without going to a regular trial.
Regardless of where you are in your hit and run lawsuit, experienced Indiana hit and run lawyers are best positioned to help you achieve a successful outcome.
Who is Responsible for Paying Hit and Run Injury Compensation under Indiana Hit and Run Law
Often, hit and run accidents end without finding the other person’s identity. As a result, the injured party may think that compensation for a hit and run accident is impossible. However, the law allows hit and run victims to recover compensation from their own insurance companies in these cases.
When you know the other vehicle’s driver, you pursue compensation through that driver or the driver’s insurance company. The first step is usually to file a claim with their insurance company, which will kickstart an investigation by the insurer into the accident and your injuries.
It can be difficult to find the other driver in most hit and run cases, and this makes it impossible to submit a claim to their insurance company. When you cannot identify the other driver, Indiana hit and run law allows you to bring a claim against your own insurance company. An attorney can help you seek hit and run injury compensation from your own insurance company or that of another driver.
All drivers in Indiana must carry auto insurance, and each insurance policy must have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage unless you reject such coverage in writing. Uninsured motorist insurance coverage lets you collect compensation from your insurance company if you cannot identify the at-fault party. The minimum coverages are $25,000/$50,000 when an uninsured motorist causes bodily injury, $50,000 for underinsured motorist coverage for bodily injury, and $25,000 for property damage.
You may think your insurance company will simply pay a fair settlement if you or a loved one were injured or killed in a hit and run. However, the insurance company will often treat your case as if you are not their insured, and they may challenge liability or question your injuries.
As a result of the insurance company’s pushback, you should approach your claim as if your insurer is the defendant’s insurance company. Further, too much is at stake to handle a hit and run case on your own. Experienced Indiana hit and run lawyers can help represent your interests when you are seeking damages from your insurance company.
The Insurance Claim Process
Whether you are pursuing a claim against your own insurance company or the other driver’s insurer, the claims process is typically very similar. Once you submit a claim for your injuries, the insurance company will open an investigation into the accident and your injuries. The insurance company will then assign an adjuster to your case. The adjuster’s investigation may include:
- Taking recorded statements
- Requesting records, including your medical and phone records
- Reviewing the police report, if there is one
- Conducting a background check
The insurance company will determine whether you were fully or partially at fault for the accident. In placing fault elsewhere, the insurance company is looking to avoid paying for your injuries. As such, it is important to present evidence that supports your claim, including:
- A police accident report, if one exists
- Photographs of your vehicle’s damage, which can indicate how the accident occurred
- Photographs of the accident scene
- Any video of the accident
- Witness statements
Once you establish fault, it is important to prove that your injuries arose from the hit and run accident. The insurance companies may claim that another event caused your injury, which would allow the insurer to avoid paying for your medical care. Medical records and proof of treatment are the strongest evidence to prove the accident is the cause of your injuries.
Even when you prove another driver is at fault and the accident caused your injuries, you may be surprised to see how low the offer from the insurance company could be. Insurance companies often make very low offers before litigation in the hope that the injured person will jump at any amount of money. Experienced Indiana hit and run lawyers can help you evaluate the strength and value of your case so you can make an informed decision about any settlement offer.
Compensation Is Available under Indiana Hit and Run Law
Whether you find the other driver or make a claim with your own insurance company, you are entitled to the same types of compensation, called damages. Damages can include compensation for financial losses and your physical injuries resulting from the hit and run. Damages available under Indiana hit and run law include:
- Repair costs for your vehicle
- Medical bills, including the cost of surgeries, hospital stays, medication, follow-up visits, and rehabilitation
- Lost wages, if the accident causes you to miss time from work
- Pain and suffering damages to compensate you for the physical, mental, and emotional trauma endured as a result of the accident
It is important to understand that your compensation is limited to the available insurance coverage. If you have the minimum uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you may recover only up to that amount.
Common Hit and Run Injuries
While each hit and run accident is different, some types of injuries are more common. A hit and run can be any type of accident, and thus the injuries range from minor to severe. Common hit and run accident injuries include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord and disc injuries
- Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries
- Broken bones
- Cuts and lacerations
Regardless of the severity of your injury, you may be entitled to recover damages. Whether you bring a claim against the other driver’s insurance company or your own, an experienced attorney can help you recover damages for your injuries.
Keffer Hirschauer LLP: Indiana Hit and Run Lawyers
The trauma of being injured in an accident is compounded when the other driver doesn’t stick around to take responsibility. You may still be able to seek compensation under your own insurance policy under Indiana hit and run law, but the process can be daunting, and your insurer is likely to resist paying. An experienced attorney will fight for you to recover damages to make you whole. The Indiana hit and run lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are ready to help you recover compensation for your injuries. Schedule a free consultation by calling (317) 455-4043 or complete our online contact form.