The things you do in the immediate aftermath of a car crash matter. Failing to do certain things is a criminal offense. Doing (or not doing) other things could weaken your bid for compensation or leave you vulnerable to lawsuits from the other party. Laws vary slightly from state to state, even though the general concept is the same.
Here is what you need to do if in an Indiana car accident:
- Stop: It may be better to pull to the side of the road, rather than leaving your vehicle in the middle of a highway where it could become an obstacle for other drivers.
- Help: If someone is injured, you have a legal duty to help them. Remember, sometimes the best form of assistance is to ring for the emergency services straight away. While using your first aid skills can be valuable, time is of the essence where there are severe injuries.
- Avoid apologizing: The other party’s insurers could use an apology as an admission you were at fault.
- Swap information: If there has been vehicle damage, injuries or death, driving away without exchanging information could lead to criminal charges.
- Inform the police: Do this straight away if there is injury, death, or damage to property over $1000.
- Inform your insurance company: Ask them for a Proof of Insurance. You have 10 days to file this.
- Call an attorney: Even if you do not intend to claim, the other party may try to claim against you. An attorney can protect your interests and explain your legal options.
In Indiana, vehicle accident claims are decided using what is known as contributory negligence. If you were partially to blame for the crash, the amount you can claim would reduce by the percentage you are were at fault. However, if you are 51% or more at fault, you cannot claim against the other party’s insurance. Insurance companies act in their own best interests, not yours. If you try to deal with them alone, they may take advantage of your inexperience to deny their own liability.