The Legal Consequences: Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Indiana
According to the NHTSA report in 2016, it was estimated that there were approximately 737,100 hit-and-run crashes in 2015 alone. This means that a hit-and-run crash happens somewhere in the U.S. approximately every 43 seconds.
Being involved in a traffic accident is something that drivers fear. When the accident results in bodily injury, especially a serious one, the consequences become even more devastating.
However, not all drivers involved in accidents follow Indiana law, which requires them to stop at the scene. Some drivers panic and quickly flee without realizing that such actions can lead to serious consequences, including being charged with a class B misdemeanor or facing even harsher penalties.
In this article, drivers will learn more about the aftermath of a car accident in Indiana, specifically focusing on the legal consequences of fleeing the scene and the steps to take to pursue a personal injury claim and attain justice.
What Are Hit-and-run Accidents?
According to Indiana law, leaving the scene of an accident is not taken lightly. Depending on the severity, a driver involved in such an incident can face a Class A misdemeanor charge, leading to a year in jail or fines of $5,000.
The stakes are even higher when a serious injury or a catastrophic outcome, such as death, is involved, with potential escalation to a high-level felony charge.
Often, people might wonder about the common reasons compelling a hit-and-run driver to abandon the scene of an accident. A prevalent factor appears to be intoxication.
Fear of being caught with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit of 0.08 may trigger a panicked departure from the accident scene. Nevertheless, such actions bear severe consequences, often leading to serious injuries or, worse, for innocent drivers or pedestrians.
Regrettably, there are also instances where the driver may underestimate the severity of an Indiana accident or attempt to elude law enforcement officers due to other illicit activities.
These scenarios lead to drivers leaving the scene, which enhances the danger for all parties involved and turns a simple car accident into a serious legal quandary.
Therefore, it is crucial for victims to understand their rights and seek appropriate legal guidance, especially when pursuing a personal injury claim. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also advise on who is at fault in a rear-end collision in Indiana.
What Are the Legal Consequences when Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Indiana?
In Indiana, the repercussions for leaving the scene of an accident are dire, and understanding the penalties is a critical aspect for anyone involved in a car accident.
Moreover, when a driver willingly neglects their responsibility to remain at the scene, it is deemed as a hit-and-run offense. The legal sanctions vary based on the severity of the accident's consequences.
Misdemeanor or Felony: The Level of Charges for Minor and a Serious Bodily Injury
Hit-and-run incidents are categorized into two broad sections, misdemeanors and felonies.
Should a driver fail to report a minor accident or provide the necessary contact information, it typically results in a misdemeanor charge. This applies when the other driver implicated in the car accident suffers minor injuries.
However, if the incident involves catastrophic injury or even death, the charge escalates to a felony. Further, if the driver was under the influence during the accident, it heightens the felony level.
If an intoxicated driver left the scene, causing a serious injury or death, it would be classified as a Level 3 felony.
Understanding the Severity of Penalties
The penalties imposed for hit-and-run incidents in Indiana can range from fines to imprisonment, depending on the seriousness of the case. A misdemeanor charge can result in up to a whole year in prison and a fine of $5,000.
Moreover, the penalties are significantly severe for felony charges. Imprisonment ranging from six months to 2.5 years and a fine of up to $10,000 can be the outcome of a Level 6 felony, which is considered the least severe.
On the other hand, a Level 3 felony, the most severe, can lead to a jail term between 10 and 30 years, alongside a hefty fine.
In addition to imprisonment and fines, the driver's license of the person involved may be revoked or suspended for a considerable time period. Furthermore, insurance companies may increase premiums for the driver's motor vehicle due to the driver's negligent actions.
Navigating Legal Challenges
Victims of a hit-and-run can seek legal recourse through an injury lawsuit against the responsible party. Managing such legal battles without experienced car accident lawyers can be daunting.
Hence, understanding the implications of leaving the scene of an accident in Indiana underpins the importance of being responsible and compliant with law enforcement officers at the accident scene.
Responsibilities and Legal Requirements at an Accident Scene
Indiana law imposes certain duties on drivers at an accident scene. Foremost, it demands an immediate stop, as close to the scene as possible. Drivers must be mindful of not parking in a way that could obstruct traffic flow and cause disruptions on the road.
Providing assistance, whether through direct aid or a timely 9-1-1 call, becomes a priority in such situations, especially when another person is injured.
Moreover, it is incumbent upon the operator to notify a law enforcement officer promptly about the occurrence. Swift communication ensures the right help reaches on time, and necessary legal procedures can commence.
Exchanging key details, including the operator's driver's license, name, address, and vehicle registration, with the other driver involved in a single-car accident is obligatory.
In cases involving an unattended vehicle, the driver must make sincere efforts to locate and inform the owner about the damage. Should this prove unsuccessful, the next step is contacting a law enforcement officer.
Following these guidelines can protect drivers from potential legal repercussions and help ensure fair treatment for all parties.
The Role of an Attorney in Hit-and-run Incidents for the Driver Involved
In the aftermath of a hit-and-run, navigating the legal landscape can be a complex task. Dealing with the insurance company, law enforcement officers, and the other driver involved in the accident can be challenging.
Moreover, understanding the technicalities of reasonable assistance, the operator's motor vehicle involved, and the specific laws around unattended vehicle cases or obstructing traffic scenarios requires expertise.
It's essential to use the help of a personal injury lawyer who understands the intricacies of the accident results. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys are proficient in handling such cases, ensuring the best possible outcome for the victims.
Navigating the chaotic scene of an accident can be a daunting task, with crucial steps to be followed to avoid obstructing traffic and potential legal ramifications. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also answer questions like, "How long does it take to get a settlement from a car accident in Indiana?"
If an accident involves a serious bodily injury, it demands immediate action, clear thinking, and an understanding of the complexities of dealing with the driver's insurance company and law enforcement.
Having the right legal representation can make a significant difference amid these challenges. Moreover, for individuals seeking the best legal assistance and guidance through this complicated process, Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys stands ready to help.
With the team's support, drivers can deal with these situations more confidently and effectively.