Hit and run accidents are incredibly frustrating and even traumatizing. Not only are you potentially left with severe injuries, but you may also be left without answers or justice if the negligent driver cannot be found.
Unfortunately, a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed that fatalities following hit and run accidents are at an all-time high. According to the study:
- From 2009 to 2016, there was a 60% increase in hit and run fatalities.
- Hit and run accidents occur every minute in the U.S.
- Each year, hit and run crashes increase by 7%.
- Pedestrians and bicyclists suffer the majority of fatalities in hit and run accidents.
- An average of nearly 700,000 hit and run accidents occur every year.
It can be hard to prove fault and seek compensation in a normal car accident case, but it is especially difficult with hit and run collisions. If you don’t have sufficient insurance coverage and cannot track down the negligent driver, recovering compensation to help cover your medical expenses and other damages will be challenging. In these cases, injured victims must work with an experienced attorney who can fight for their cause to get them the compensation they deserve.
At Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery, our attorneys will do everything they can to help you prove fault and get the compensation you need. We will walk you through your case and the legal process to ensure all necessary steps are taken to win your case. When you are the victim of a car accident, you have a right to pursue legal action and be awarded compensation for any damages, such as medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of wages.
Let the Law Office of Poynter & Bucheri fight for your rights to protect you and your family. Call us today at 1-800-265-9881 or (317) 780-8000 for a free case review.
Why Do Hit and Run Accidents Occur?
A hit and run accident occurs when a driver hits another vehicle, property, a pedestrian, or a bicyclist and immediately flees the scene without leaving behind any information or offering to help. In some cases, the guilty driver may get out of their car to initially inspect the damage before driving away, but they most often drive off before anyone can identify them or call the authorities.
There is any number of reasons why someone may flee an accident scene before they can be held liable. Typically it is because they fear the consequences, but it simply depends on their individual situation.
The most common reasons for hit and run accidents include the following:
- They are uninsured
- They are driving without a license
- They were driving a stolen or borrowed car
- They were driving while intoxicated
- They are in possession of illegal substances
- They have a prior criminal record
- They fear going to jail
- They fear getting a ticket
- They don’t have the money if they get fined or sued or owe compensation
Legalities of a Hit and Run Accident in Indiana
It is illegal in the state of Indiana to leave the scene of an accident you were involved in. Many drivers will flee the scene for fear of repercussions, but if they are caught, they will suffer even more severe consequences for having left the scene.
According to Indiana Code 9-26-1-1.1, drivers involved in an accident must do the following:
- Immediately stop their car at the scene of the vehicle accident.
- Remain at the scene of the accident until they have given their contact information, vehicle registration number, and shown their driver’s license to the other person(s) involved.
- If the accident results in the death or injury of another person, the driver must (in addition to the above) give reasonable assistance to the injured person(s) and give notice of the accident to the authorities OR ensure that someone else gives notice.
- If the accident involves a collision with an unattended vehicle or damage to property, the driver must take reasonable steps to locate and notify the owner or person in charge of the damaged vehicle or property. If the driver cannot find the owner or person in charge, they must notify the authorities and provide their contact information.
The charges for failing to comply with the above requirements are as follows:
- If the driver leaves the scene of an accident, it is a Class B misdemeanor.
- If the accident resulted in bodily injury, it is a Class A misdemeanor.
- If the accident resulted in a serious bodily injury or if the driver was convicted of another offense in the past five years, it is a Level 6 felony.
- If the accident resulted in a death, it is a Level 5 felony.
- If the driver was intoxicated and the accident resulted in serious bodily injury or death, it is a Level 3 felony.
- It is considered a separate offense for each person that the driver injures or kills as a result of the accident.
- A court may order consecutive terms of imprisonment for each offense committed.
According to Indiana Code 35-50-2,3, sentences for the above misdemeanors and felonies are as follows:
- Class A misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
- Class B misdemeanor: Up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
- Level 6 felony: 6 months to 2 ½ years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.
- Level 5 felony: 1 to 6 years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.
- Level 3 felony: 3 to 16 years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.
What You Should Do Following a Hit and Run Accident in Indianapolis
As the victim of a hit and run accident, you should never leave the scene. The steps you take following the incident can help you build a stronger case when you decide to pursue compensation.
Following a hit and run collision, you should:
- Stay where you are. Do not attempt to go after the fleeing driver, as this could negatively impact your claim.
- Call 911 immediately. A police report should be filed with as much information and details as you can remember to help them catch the suspect. Be sure to have them send emergency medical responders as well to treat your injuries.
- Gather contact information from as many witnesses at the scene as possible. Eyewitnesses can be highly beneficial in criminal cases when authorities are attempting to identify the guilty driver. The witnesses can also provide testimony in an injury claim should the insurance company try to deny coverage.
- Take photos of the scene. Photographic evidence is also very helpful in criminal and personal injury cases. Take photos of your injuries, damage to your car, damage to other property, and photos of the scene as a whole.
- Seek medical attention. After the accident, if you were not immediately taken to the hospital by emergency responders, you should see your doctor for treatment of any potential injuries. Even if you feel fine, it can take days and even weeks for some symptoms to appear. It is always best to seek treatment as soon as possible to avoid further injury. Medical documents and doctor testimonies can also help support a personal injury claim.
- Write down as much as you can remember. Following the accident, you should write down every detail about the accident that you can remember. Even though you may have already given a statement for the police report, you may remember more details once the shock of the accident wears off.
- Report the accident to your car insurance company. While the police will handle the criminal investigation, your insurance will be responsible for handling your accident claim to help you get coverage for your injuries and any damage to your car.
- Contact an attorney. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to deny a claim in an effort to reduce the amount of money they have to pay out to the victim. Both your insurance and the insurance of the guilty party may try to do this. It is crucial in these situations to work with an attorney who knows how to fight back against insurers to get you the compensation you deserve.
At Poynter and Bucheri Accident Recovery, we will fight for your rights and do everything we can to protect you against insurance companies seeking to undervalue and deny your claim.
Pursuing Compensation After a Hit and Run
Seeking compensation after a hit and run collision can be tricky. If you pursue a personal injury claim, you will need to be able to find the guilty driver and prove fault for them to be held liable and responsible for paying your compensation. If authorities cannot identify and track down the negligent driver, your other option is to pursue compensation through your own insurance coverage.
Insurance Coverage for Hit and Runs
Your auto insurance policy should include Uninsured Motorist (UIM) coverage. In the case of a hit and run, an unknown at-fault driver is considered the same as an at-fault driver without insurance. This means that your UIM coverage should cover your hit and run expenses up to the policy limit, which is typically $25,000 for bodily injury.
However, if you decline this coverage, it may be more difficult to receive the compensation you need to cover your injury-related expenses. In Indiana, insurance companies have something called medical payments insurance, or Medpay. Medpay can help, but it is often much less than other types of personal injury protection and will not provide you with provisions for lost wages or other damages relating to the accident.
If you have the coverage needed through your insurance policy, but they attempt to deny your claim, you will need to work with an experienced personal injury attorney. If proper evidence is provided, there is no reason your insurance company should deny your claim, but it does happen. An attorney can help you fight against a denial to ensure you get the full amount of compensation you deserve.
Proving Fault After a Hit and Run
If the guilty driver is identified, even if they fled, they are responsible for paying your claim. Unfortunately, their insurance company may try to deny fault or contend that you were partially responsible, which could result in a reduced claim amount. In this situation, your lawyer can work with you to gather the necessary information and evidence to prove fault.
Evidence that can be used to establish fault for a hit and run can include:
- Photos or video surveillance from the accident scene
- Eyewitness testimonies
- Physical evidence from the scene, such as the vehicles or property that was damaged
- Medical records
- Physician statements
- The police report
In some cases, accident reconstruction experts or engineers may be brought in to help with the case. They may use diagrams or models of the accident scene to help show how the accident occurred and who was at fault.
Contact a Hit and Run Accident Attorney at Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery in Indianapolis
If you or a loved one are involved in a hit and run accident, contact the accident recovery experts at Poynter & Bucheri. We offer free case evaluations, which include an explanation of your legal rights, a discussion of your options, and our legal opinion of your claim based on years of experience handling car accident claims in Indianapolis. Call our law firm today at 1-800-265-9881 for a free case review.