Reporting a car crash can be one of the most important steps to take after a wreck happens.
For one, Indiana law requires motorists who are involved in certain wrecks to file reports with the proper authorities. In addition, filing a car accident report can be crucial to documenting the details and evidence related to your crash. This documentation can be important to determining liability and the available legal remedies in your case.
At Finderson Law, our Fort Wayne car accident attorneys are ready to examine the facts of your crash and explain your options for seeking compensation and justice. Your initial consultation is free, and we don’t charge any fees unless we obtain a recovery for you. This means that you have nothing to lose and potentially much to gain by contacting us to find out more about your rights and potential claim.
When Indiana Law Requires You to Report a Car Accident
The Indiana full statute regarding car accidents and accident reporting requirements can be found in IC 9-26. This law generally says that all motorists are required to report a car accident when a crash:
- Traps someone in a vehicle and/or results in injuries or death
- Causes at least $1,000 in property damage
- Involves unoccupied or unattended property and the owner cannot be tracked down (If the crash involves a parked vehicle and the owner cannot be found, leaving a note with your name, address and registration number is legally acceptable.)
In other words:
The only exceptions to most accident reporting requirements are off-road vehicles and snowmobiles.
Reporting the Accident to Your Insurance Company
While Indiana’s accident reporting requirements do NOT extend to filing a report with insurance companies, you should be aware that your own auto insurance policy may place specific deadlines for reporting a crash. Failing to meet these insurance reporting deadlines may compromise the value or strength of your claim, or even give the insurance company cause to deny you coverage.
How to Report an Indiana Car Accident
To report the crash, you can either call local police or a county sheriff (outside of city boundaries)—or, if law enforcement was not called to the accident scene, you can file a crash report directly with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).
If you are having trouble finding or completing the report yourself, you can contact your local law enforcement or the Bureau of Motor Vehicles at 888-692-6841 for assistance.
It’s important to understand that even if another driver asks you not to file a report and offers to pay for damages out-of-pocket, you are legally obligated to file an accident report with the state if the crash resulted in injuries, death or property damage over $1,000.
A car crash can leave you confused, hurt and upset. In the aftermath, it’s easy to let your emotions get the best of you and do or say something you shouldn’t—or make a critical error of judgment. By knowing what mistakes to avoid following a wreck, you can be better prepared to take the right to protect your rights and make sure that you don’t inadvertently derail your future claim for compensation.
Here are the most common and critical mistakes we’ve seen clients make in the aftermath of an auto (or traffic) crash:
- Not reporting the accident to police
- Fleeing the crash scene
- Apologizing after the crash or admitting fault
Duties of Motorists in Indiana After a Wreck
In addition to obeying accident reporting requirements if your wreck involved injuries, death, entrapment or property damage above $1,000, Indiana law clearly lays out certain duties and responsibilities that all motorists must follow if they are involved in a crash.
These duties are to:
- Immediately stop your car at the accident scene (or as close as safely possible)
- Remain at the accident scene until you’ve given your name, address, driver’s license and vehicle registration number to anyone else involved in the wreck
- Render reasonable assistance to anyone who is injured or trapped in their vehicle
You can find the full list of motorist duties and responsibilities listed in Indiana statute 9-26.
Penalties for Failing to Report a Crash
The penalties for violating Indiana’s accident reporting requirements generally result in Class B misdemeanor charges, which may be punishable by as much as $500 in fines, up to 60 days in jail and your license being suspended or revoked.
However, certain factors can aggravate the charge and elevate the possible penalties:
- Bodily injury. It’s a Class A misdemeanor if the accident resulted in bodily injury to another person.
- Serious bodily injury. Anyone who fails to report an accident involving serious bodily injury can be charged with a Level 6 felony.
- Second offense. A second failure to report offense within 5 years can also result in a Level 6 felony charge.
- Death or catastrophic injury. It is a Level 4 felony for failing to report an accident that results in the death or catastrophic injury of another person.
- Drunk/drugged driving. If an intoxicated person intentionally or knowingly fails to stop or report an accident that results in serious bodily injury, catastrophic injury or death, they can be charged with a Level 3 felony.
Failing to report an accident is considered a hit and run offense in Indiana.
How To Request a Copy of Your Indiana Crash Report
Perhaps you already reported your crash like you were supposed to and now you want to know how to get a copy of the accident report. The easiest way to request your report online is by visiting the Indiana State Police website.
In order to obtain a copy your crash report, you’ll need to provide the following information:
- The state where the crash occurred
- The police jurisdiction where the crash occurred
- Your first and last name
- The date of the crash
- The location of the accident (street and/or address)
- The crash report number
5 Tips for Reporting a Car Accident
Whether you’re preparing to file a car accident report with law enforcement authorities and/or an insurance provider, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you make these reports:
- Only state the facts that you are sure of, like when and where the crash occurred.
- Don’t guess or approximate any details of the accident.
- Never admit fault, accept blame or apologize for the crash regardless of whether you think you may have been at fault in any way.
- Don’t make any statements or assertions about the extent or severity of your injuries. Instead, seek medical attention so a physician can properly diagnose your crash injuries.
- Contact a car accident attorney when you want to be sure that all liable parties are held accountable for hurting you in a crash and get exceptional advocacy as you move forward with your claim.
Following these tips when reporting a crash can help you protect your rights and potential claim.
A study by the Insurance Research Council found that the average insurance payout for clients who hire an attorney is 3.5 TIMES LARGER than for those who don’t hire one. Think about that – three-and-a-half times larger on average.
Get Superior Representation for Your Auto Crash Claim
If you were involved in a car wreck and need helpful, clear legal advice regarding your potential auto accident claim, we invite you to contact our Fort Wayne car accident lawyers. Experienced and dedicated, our attorneys have been effectively representing accident victims and families for more than 20 years. This has endowed us with the skills and knowledge necessary to protect our clients’ rights while helping them successfully resolve their claims.
Let us answer your questions and explain your legal options. Contact us to find out how our representation can make all the difference in your car accident claim and financial recovery.
Our history of providing the highest quality legal services – and successfully helping hundreds of clients – has earned us a 5-star rating on Facebook.
From offices in Fort Wayne, we are honored to represent accident survivors and families throughout Allen County and the state of Indiana.
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