Indiana is an at-fault state for auto insurance, meaning the person who caused the accident must pay the damages of the person or persons they injured. The state of Indiana further has a comparative fault system. This system states that a person’s damages will be reduced by the percentage to which they were liable for the accident.
The comparative fault system also prevents a party from being compensated for an accident if they were 51 percent or more at fault. Damages from a hit-and-run accident may include:
- Medical bills and expenses.
- Property damage, such as repairs to the damaged vehicle.
- Lost wages resulting from the accident.
- Pain and suffering.
Penalties for Indiana Hit-and-Run Accidents
After a car accident, a driver is required to determine whether they, pedestrians or persons in other vehicles were injured. A person at fault who knowingly or intentionally fails to take such action and leaves the scene commits the offense of leaving the scene of an accident. This is a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to 180 days of jail time and a fine up to $1,000.
The offense is a Class A misdemeanor if the traffic accident results in bodily injury to another person other than the driver who is at fault. The penalty for a Class A misdemeanor in Indiana is up to one year in jail and a fine up to $5,000.
Felony Offenses for Leaving the Accident Scene
Leaving the scene of an accident is a Level 6 felony if the accident results in moderate or serious bodily injury, and the driver had a previous conviction of an offense listed in Indiana Code Section 9-30-10-4(a), such as reckless homicide resulting from the operation of a vehicle. The penalty for a Level 6 felony is between six months and three years in jail and a fine up to $10,000.
Leaving the scene is a Level 4 felony if the accident results in the death or catastrophic injury of another person. The penalty for a Level 4 felony in Indiana is between two years and 12 years' incarceration and a fine up to $10,000.
Leaving the scene is a Level 3 felony if the driver knowingly or intentionally failed to stop or provide information during or after the offense of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and causing serious bodily injury or death or catastrophic injury.
Penalties for Felony Offenses
The penalty for a Level 3 felony is between three and 16 years' incarceration and a fine up to $10,000. A driver will be charged with a separate offense for each person whose injury or death was a result of the accident. A court may order terms of imprisonment to run consecutively, not concurrently or at the same time. Consecutive terms of imprisonment are not subject to sentencing restrictions as set forth in Indiana law.
Requirements for Party at Fault
A person at fault for the accident must also take certain actions:
- Immediately stop their motor vehicle if they were driving.
- Park at the scene of the accident or as close to the accident as possible in a way that will not obstruct traffic more than necessary.
- Remain at the scene until they have provided the driver’s name, address and motor registration number of the vehicle to any person involved in the accident.
- Show the operator’s driver’s license to those involved in the accident, including passengers in other vehicles.
If the accident results in the injury or death of a person other than the party at fault, the party at fault must also:
- Provide reasonable assistance to every person injured in, or entrapped by, the accident, as directed by a law enforcement officer, medical personnel or 911 telephone operator.
- As soon as possible after the accident, immediately give notice of the accident or make sure another person gives notice of the accident by the quickest means of communication to the local police department, if the accident occurs within a city, the office of the county sheriff or nearest state police post if the accident occurs outside a city, or a 911 telephone operator.
Obligations if the Crash was to an Unoccupied Vehicle or to Property
If the accident involved a crash with an unoccupied vehicle or damage to property other than a vehicle, the driver must take reasonable steps to locate and notify the owner or person in charge of the damaged vehicle or property of the damage. If after reasonable inquiry the driver cannot find the person in charge, they must contact a law enforcement officer or agency and provide the information as required by the statute.
How to Document an Accident
A driver or passenger should take photos of the damage at the scene of the accident. This includes photos of medical injuries, vehicle damage and damage to property other than vehicles, such as trailers. It is a good idea to take photos of any obstacles or problems in the road, like rerouting signs and potholes. In some cases, it may be useful to take video footage of concerns in the area, such as a malfunctioning traffic light.
People involved in an accident should see a doctor within 24 hours of the accident. They should follow the directions of the doctor after the accident. In addition, they should retain all bills relating to medical treatment, including receipts for over-the-counter and prescription medicines.
Accident victims should also keep records of missed work or reassignment of work duties due to the accident. They should keep records of mental health treatment they sought as a result of the accident.
Evidence in Hit-and-Run Incidents
Evidence in a hit-and-run accident typically includes:
- Photos of the vehicles, people and property involved in the accident.
- Photos of the street/s where the accident took place.
- Physical evidence left at the crash scene, such as the bumper of a car.
- Police or sheriff’s reports relating to the accident.
- Bills for vehicle repairs.
- Medical bills relating to the accident.
- Video of the accident, from cell phone footage to security or red-light camera footage taken by a city.
- Testimony of witnesses, including drivers, passengers and passers-by.
- Evidence relating to the state of sobriety or impairment of the witnesses, such as a breathalyzer test for a driver.
- Information saved in a vehicle’s software that relates to the accident, such as vehicle event data recorder (EDR) information.
Indiana Vehicle Insurance Policy Limits
Minimum required liability limits for car insurance are:
- $25,000 or $50,000 for uninsured motorists, bodily injury.
- $25,000 for property damage.
- $50,000 for under-insured motorists, bodily injury.
The uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage allows a driver to collect such damages from their own insurance company.
- Findlaw for Indiana Code: Section 9-26-1-1.1
- Findlaw for Indiana Code: Section 34-51-2-6
- Findlaw for Indiana Code: Section 35-50-3-3
- Findlaw for Indiana Code: Section 35-50-3-2
- Findlaw for Indiana Code: Section 35-50-2-1
- Findlaw for Indiana Code: Section 9-30-10-4
- Findlaw for Indiana Code: Section 35-50-2-7
- Findlaw for Indiana Code: Section 35-50-2-5.5
- Findlaw for Indiana Code: Section 35-50-2-5
- IN.gov: Auto insurance
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.