Anyone involved in a traffic accident in the state of Indiana must stop at the scene of the accident or remain reasonably close by. Failure to stop and comply with Indiana traffic laws will result in misdemeanor or felony charges.
Duty of Any Indiana Driver Involved in an Accident
Any driver involved in an auto accident must first move out of the way of traffic (if possible). If a driver travels a reasonable distance from an accident to pull over to a safe spot, this is not a hit and run.
Second, any involved drivers must check to see if anyone is injured on the scene. If there are injuries, they must provide reasonable care, even if the only care they can provide is to call an ambulance.
Third, one of the involved drivers must contact the police and report the accident. Technically, drivers are not required to report the accident to the police unless property damage to vehicles amounts to $1,000 or more. However, it can be very difficult to surmise the cost of the damage. As such, it is always best to contact the authorities so you do not risk a traffic violation.
Last, all involved drivers must exchange contact information, along with insurance and registration information.
It is also a good idea to take pictures of the scene and any damage to property. If any eyewitnesses are willing to assist, you should also get their names and contact information. Make sure to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.
Misdemeanor Charges for Leaving the Scene
For someone who leaves the scene of an accident before following the responsibilities outlined above, it only constitutes a misdemeanor charge, so long as they were not intoxicated and no one was seriously injured.
Failure to report the accident to the police or provide contact information is a misdemeanor offense in Indiana. Indiana misdemeanors are classified as either B (less serious) or A (more serious). For example, leaving the scene while the other driver was injured—but not seriously—is a Class A misdemeanor.
Felony Charges for Leaving the Scene
Individuals who left people seriously injured or dead at the scene of the accident will be charged with a felony. The severity of the felony depends on that driver’s driving record and the severity of the injuries.
Indiana felonies for hit and runs or OWIs (operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol) usually run from Level 6 (less severe) to Level 3 (most severe). If an intoxicated driver fled the scene and left someone dead or seriously injured, that is a Level 3 felony.
Felony convictions typically involve jail time, fines, and license suspension.
The Most Common Reason for a Hit and Run
The most common reason that a driver flees the scene of an accident is that they are intoxicated. Obviously, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above. Some drivers are so intoxicated that they can’t even remember the accident. Other drivers are afraid of getting caught driving while intoxicated, and they think that they can escape arrest if they flee the scene.
Either way, IWO-related hit and runs are serious, as they often result in injuries or death to innocent drivers and their passengers. If you or someone you love is hurt after an accident where the other driver attempted to flee the scene, you may be eligible for compensation in a personal injury claim.
For more information about how an Indiana attorney can help you with your hit and run case, contact Stewart & Stewart at 800-333-3529 or visit our website.