The aftermath of an Indiana car crash can feel chaotic. Many accident victims do not know what to do after moving their vehicles to a safe spot and checking on the wellbeing of other drivers and passengers. Few give much thought to how they should go about reporting the accident. Here is a primer.
When Are You Required to Report a Car Accident in Indiana?
Indiana law stipulates that drivers must report car accidents if:
- The accident causes more than $1,000 in property damage.
- The accident traps someone in a vehicle.
- The accident results in an injury or death.
- The accident involves unattended or unoccupied property (such as a building), and the owner cannot be found.
If the crash involves an unoccupied vehicle, then the driver does not necessarily have to report the accident to the police. At a minimum, however, a driver who chooses not to report that sort of incident must leave a note on the damaged car with the driver’s contact information and own vehicle registration number.
Understanding the Process of Reporting a Car Accident in Indiana
In the case of a reportable car accident, your first step should be to call the local police and let them know where the accident happened. If you are outside of city boundaries, you may need to call the county sheriff instead.
Law enforcement officers who arrive on the scene will most likely ask you to provide a statement of events. Answer as truthfully and as accurately as you can, while making sure that you do not accept responsibility for the crash or say anything that might confuse the police into thinking the accident was your fault. In other words:
- Avoid guessing, estimating, or approximating any of the details of the accident.
- Avoid sharing thoughts and opinions. Stick to facts.
- Avoid discussions of fault or statements (such as apologies) that suggest you share the blame.
- Avoid characterizing how you feel physically; let a doctor determine whether you have sustained injuries.
- Avoid characterizing the nature or extent of damage to your vehicle; leave that to a qualified mechanic.
Following these tips will help to ensure the authorities investigate the crash without bias so that they can reach the most accurate conclusion possible about how it happened and who (potentially) is to blame.
How Having an Accident Report Can Help with a Lawsuit
Accident reports can come in handy if you decide to take legal action against the person or entity who caused your Indiana car crash. Lawyers can use reports to:
To succeed in a car accident lawsuit, your lawyer must prove that the other party’s wrongful actions caused the crash and your injuries. If the other party tries to dispute the question of who caused the accident, your attorney may be able to use at least some parts of the police report as an official record that proves the other party’s fault.
Serve as a Record of the Accident Scene
Accident reports usually contain pictures and/or descriptions of the crash scene. Lawyers (and the forensic experts who sometimes work with them) can rely on these visual and written depictions to test the accuracy of the other party’s claims about the accident and to evaluate the extent of damage and injuries.
Obtain Witness Information
Most accident reports contain names and contact information for witnesses to the crash, including other drivers and passengers, as well as bystanders. Experienced auto accident attorneys often conduct their own interviews of those witnesses to uncover details about the crash that could prove useful in a lawsuit.
Your Indianapolis Car Accident Law Firm
If an Indiana car accident left you injured and in need of financial resources to pay for unexpected expenses, the Doehrman Buba team is ready to help. Our knowledgeable attorneys have years of experience guiding clients through the Indiana legal process. Give us a call or contact us online to set up a free consultation and learn more about how we can assist you with your case.