Hit and run accidents happen when a driver hits you, fails to stop, and flees the scene of the accident. As the injured party, this can easily put you in a vulnerable and challenging legal position.
If you’ve been the victim of a hit and run accident in Fishers, Indiana, or Hamilton County, you may wonder how to proceed with your lawsuit and potentially receive compensation for your injuries.
After all, you don’t know the driver’s identity and who was responsible for your injuries. The Fishers hit and run lawyers, at our personal injury law firm outline all you need to know about hit and run accidents in Indiana below.
Hit and Run Charges in Indiana
In Indiana, leaving the scene of an accident or getting charged with failure to stop is classified as a Class A misdemeanor or a felony. Convictions for a hit and run charge can result in fines upwards of $5,000 and up to a year in jail.
If the other party is killed or severely injured by the hit and run accident, it’s possible to face a high-level felony charge. For a single-car accident with minimal damage, it’ll typically result in a Level 3 misdemeanor charge.
Fleeing the scene of the accident can result in state prison time, county jail time, or thousands of dollars in fines. The court system may issue restitution orders, and this can require you to pay back medical bills or property damages. Probation or community service may also be part of the penalties.
On top of this, the court may suspend or revoke your driver’s license for several months. Car insurance premiums may increase, and the victim of the hit and run may try to file a lawsuit for property damages or personal injuries. Fighting this lawsuit without the help of an experienced Fishers personal injury lawyer will be challenging.
Do Hit and Run Accidents Occur Often?
According to AAA, in 2015, there were roughly 737,100 hit-and-run accidents. This works out to one accident every 43 seconds. Also, there were 2,049 fatalities as a result of hit and run accidents, and this was the highest number ever recorded at the time of the analysis.
In Indiana alone, hit and run accidents made up 24,892 of the 175,816 vehicle collisions in 2020. This works out to 14% of all crashes. This same survey showed that the more urban counties in Indiana of Lake, Vigo, Marion, St. Joseph, and Allen had the highest hit and run rates during 2020.
Also, nearly one in four pedestrians who were killed by a vehicle was the result of a hit and run in 2020.
Types of Hit and Run Accidents
You now know that hit and run car accidents are very frequent throughout the United States. Drivers flee the scene of the accident for several reasons, including driving a stolen vehicle, they were intoxicated, or they have no insurance on their vehicle.
Some other drivers may flee because they have outstanding warrants or they’re afraid of the legal ramifications of the crash. Some drivers may not even realize that they struck a bicyclist or pedestrian and continue driving. There are several very common types of hit and run accidents in Indiana, and they include but are not limited to:
- Bicyclists who accidentally get struck by the vehicle’s side mirror or by the vehicle itself
- Bikers who are struck by vehicles while riding on the highways
- Distracted drivers who are talking to passengers in the vehicle or who are looking at their phones
- Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol who flee the accident scene to avoid being arrested
- Drivers who are in stolen vehicles who are fleeing the police after they committed a crime
- Pedestrians who are on the shoulder of the highway or road and get stuck by a passing car
- Reckless drivers who don’t care about causing any harm to innocent bystanders
Identifying a Hit and Run Driver: Steps To Take
The Yellow Alert Program was established and signed into law to allow police throughout the state to share information quickly to help find and capture a hit and run driver. The program can help law enforcement officers find vehicles that fled the scene of an accident involving death or serious injury.
Along with using this program to rapidly transmit data regarding the fleeing vehicle and suspect, there are several other ways local police departments and hit and run accident lawyers can find and identify a hit and run driver, and these methods include:
Damage to the Car
Damage to the vehicle is one of the most important clues used to identify a driver in a hit and run. Paint may have been left behind or chipped as residue on the road or on the car it struck. A laboratory can analyze paint to help narrow down the type of car that has that specific paint color.
The at-fault driver’s friends or family may notice vehicle damage and report it, and this is very common if the driver has a criminal activity history.
Witness cameras or cameras from nearby businesses or at intersections could have captured videos or photos of the hit and run or the at-fault vehicle. If there is a photograph of the license, the driver is usually easier for the police to find. Your Indiana hit and run accident attorney can talk to the local police and any others who may have video or photo evidence of the crash.
Due to satellite technology, police can use cell phone records to track the missing person, criminal, or victim’s phone. If the phone is with its owner and the power is on, a phone company can show the police exactly where the phone was at the time. So, if the police know who the driver is but not where they are, a phone can lead it to them.
If the police identify the at-fault driver, your Indiana hit and run attorney will get any possible evidence to build a case on your behalf. If they don’t locate the driver, your injury attorney can review your insurance policy to see if filing a claim would be possible to get the proper compensation.
If anyone saw what type of vehicle was involved in the accident or saw the driver, the police report will have it documented. Your attorney can then take this documentation and talk to the witness or witnesses to get more information about the at-fault drive or the vehicle.
What To Do After a Hit And Run Accident
The next steps to take in the aftermath of a hit and run in Indiana can be stressful and challenging. It’s common for accident victims to struggle to find their way forwards in the coming months following the crash, and a lot of victims feel like they get forced to work with insurance companies that are all about profit instead of people. However, there are a few key things you should do, including:
Write down as many details as you can possibly remember about the vehicle that struck you, including:
- Car color
- Car make and model
- License plate number (even a partial plate number is better than nothing)
You should also look for any potential witnesses to the hit and run and get their contact information. Write down the location and time of your accident, and take pictures of the scene, including any marks you see on the grass or pavement.
Finally, take photos of any vehicle damage, focusing on areas where you can see paint transfer from the other vehicle. Make sure you take pictures of the front, both sides, and back of your vehicle. If it’s possible, try to take a video of the accident scene because it can give valuable context that can come in handy later.
Contact the Local Police
One of the very first things you should do is contact the local police department. Don’t try and follow the vehicle that struck you to get information from them. Stay at the scene of the accident until the police arrive. Once the police get to you and secure the scene, they’ll need to get information from you.
What Is the Average Settlement in a Hit and Run Claim?
Every hit and run case is different, so there are wide ranges when it comes to the damage award amounts, and this can easily go from thousands to even millions of dollars. The amount will depend on your individual circumstances. Your injury law firm will look at the factors of the case and determine what an approximate amount of compensation would be based on the following factors:
- Amount of monetary losses you had
- Defendant assets
- Insurance coverage availability
- The extent, type, effects, and permanence of your injuries
- The recklessness and conduct of the responsible party
- Whether or not the accident involved a death
- Your health, age, and physical condition before the hit and run
- Your responsibilities and family situation
- Your situation at work – whether going back to work is feasible and what your earring capacity would have been if there wasn’t an accident
If you have a successful case, you can win compensation called damages for your injuries or losses. This compensation includes:
Economic damages for monetary losses
- Future and estimated rehabilitation and medical bills
- Property damage
- Income loss from being unable to work
Noneconomic damages – damages without a specific dollar value
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Loss of quality of life, consortium, or enjoyment of life
- Permanent loss of limb or disfigurement
Responsibility and Liability in Hit-and-Run Cases
At a minimum, any driver who hits and runs looks guilty. One very common reason why motorists leave the scene of the accident is fear of facing the consequences, especially if those drivers know that they’re at fault. The panic is usually exacerbated by the fact that the drivers are already engaged in one or more unlawful or wrongful acts. These acts may include but are not limited to:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- The driver has a record of past traffic offenses, an outstanding warrant, or unpaid tickets, and they don’t want to get caught
- The driver has a revoked or suspended license but is driving anyway
- The driver has a stolen vehicle – this is very common with accidents that involve teenage drivers
- There were illegal items or drugs in the vehicle at the time of the accident
As with any car accident claim, you have to work to prove that negligence on the other driver’s part led to the hit and run accident. At the time of the crash, if the driver was operating the vehicle unlawfully or improperly or if the driver was intoxicated, this driver would be at fault.
You can bring a hit and run claim against this driver if it was hers or his wrongdoing or carelessness that caused the accident. If your losses or injuries are made worse by the driver fleeing the scene, you could be entitled to more damages.
Who is at fault for an accident is generally determined by questioning the involved parties and a thorough investigation or recreation of the accident scene. When the driver leaves the scene, this can make figuring out who is at fault much more difficult.
I’ve Been Involved in a Hit and Run in Indiana. Do I Need an Injury Lawyer?
An experienced Fishers car accident lawyer can help you seek compensation, file a claim against the other driver, and represent you in court if the case goes that far. There are several good reasons why you want to retain a lawyer for your hit and run accident.
Maybe you need to file a claim with your insurance company because you can’t find the other driver. This can be challenging with legal representation.
A lawyer can also help you negotiate with the other driver or your insurance company to make sure you get as much compensation as possible for your injuries. If they find the other driver, an attorney can help you file a claim against them by suing the at-fault party and pursuing damages in court.
Local Hit and Run Law Firm in Fishers, Indiana
Hit and run accidents can be very complicated, and it’s critical that you have an experienced legal team on your side. Contact our Indiana injury law firm by calling 317-762-4186 or filling out our secure contact form for a free case evaluation if you are involved in a hit and run in Fishers, Indiana, or Hamilton County. Our seasoned team will fight for you.
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