The term “hit and run” refers to a situation where someone causes damage to another person or another person’s vehicle and flees the scene without stopping to provide their personal information.
In Indiana, hit-and-run perpetrators face criminal charges if caught.
But what happens if they’re not caught? Can the victim recover damages? Are there steps a perpetrator can take after they get home to avoid criminal charges?
Whether you’re the victim or the perpetrator of a hit-and-run accident, you probably have questions. Fortunately, we have answers.
Hit-and-run fatalities have been on the rise across the country, even though hit-and-run accidents have generally been on the decline. Experts believe this is because large vehicles (such as SUVs) have become more common.
In Indiana, hit-and-run crashes accounted for 28,617 of the 217,077 collisions in 2018 (roughly 13%) according to the Indiana University Public Policy Institute. The highest percentage of hit-and-run accidents occurred in:
The reasons people flee an accident are numerous, but generally, it’s more than just the fear of being held responsible for the accident:
“Most people, if they’re leaving the scene, there’s something wrong,” explained Marion County Lieutenant Richard Kivett. “Could be something as simple as maybe they’re driving while suspended or they have no license, or probably a lot of cases at night, they’re impaired either on alcohol or drugs.”
To avoid a hit-and-run charge, Indiana law requires that you do 3 things immediately after an accident:
But what happens if there’s no one in the vehicle that you hit?
If you crash into an unattended vehicle or cause damage to property other than a vehicle, you must:
Sometimes it’s easy to find the owner of an unoccupied vehicle. If you hit a vehicle parked outside of a building, you might wait by the car for the owner to come out or have someone make an announcement inside the building.
Other times, it’s not so easy to find the owner.
The important thing to remember in these cases is that you have to contact the local police. Be prepared to provide the following information:
A person who commits a hit and run is guilty, at minimum, of a Class B misdemeanor, which carries with it imprisonment for up to 180 days and a fine up to $1,000. However, penalties can become more severe depending on the nature of the hit-and-run accident.
|Indiana hit-and-run penalties|
|Hit and run - no injuries||Class B misdemeanor||Imprisonment for up to 180 days and a fine up to $1,000|
|Hit and run - bodily injury||Class A misdemeanor||Imprisonment for up to 1 year and fine up to $5,000|
|Hit and run - serious injury||Level 6 felony||Imprisonment from 6 months to 2.5 years and fine up to $10,000|
|Hit and run - death or catastrophic injury||Level 4 felony||Imprisonment from 2 years to 12 years and fine up to $10,000|
|Hit and run - while intoxicated and causing serious, catastrophic, or fatal injury||Level 3 felony||Imprisonment from 10 years to 30 years and fine up to $10,000|
Though it’s absolutely the wrong choice, there are lots of reasons why you may have left the scene of an accident without stopping to provide your personal information. Maybe you didn’t realize you hit someone until you got home. Or perhaps you were afraid the driver might assault you if you stopped.
Regardless of the reason, leaving the scene of an accident is serious. In such a case, we recommend you contact an Indiana criminal defense attorney to talk about your options and legal rights.
If the hit-and-run driver is found, you can make a claim against their insurance or file a personal injury lawsuit against them. Things get trickier if you never find the hit-and-run driver. However, the following insurance policy options may still provide coverage:
If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run accident, the last thing you should do is chase after the perpetrator. Chasing the perpetrator is dangerous and could result in criminal charges. Instead, take a deep breath and take the following 3 steps: