Deciding whether or not to move your car after an accident is a critical decision. Considerations ranging from whether you are blocking traffic to preserving evidence for insurance claims to whether it is safer to stay or move may come into play. The circumstances of the accident can influence your decision.
Familiarize yourself with Indiana’s rules regarding moving your vehicle after a collision to ensure you know what to do immediately following a crash.
The Standard Rule: Move Your Car When Possible
When involved in a motor vehicle crash, the standard rule is to move your car off the road if it’s safe and possible to do so. This directive is aimed at reducing the risk of additional collisions from oncoming motorists.
Leaving your vehicle in the middle of the road or in active traffic lanes after an accident increases the chances of it being hit a second time. This could worsen your damages, cause further injuries, and create a more chaotic accident scene.
According to Indiana code 9-26-1-1.2, if you’re a driver involved in a crash that causes traffic congestion, it’s important to move your vehicle out of any active traffic lanes while staying as close to the accident scene as possible and do so promptly.
Moving your car to a safe location, such as the shoulder of the road, a nearby parking lot, or a side street, helps maintain smoother traffic flow and reduces the risk of secondary accidents. This is particularly crucial on highways and busy streets where high-speed vehicles might not have adequate time to react to a sudden obstacle such as a stopped vehicle or debris from your crash.
When to Move Your Car
You should move your car to a safe location under the following circumstances:
- If your car is obstructing traffic and can be moved safely, move it to the side of the road or a designated area.
- If there are no injuries, minimal damage and both parties agree, you can move your cars to a safer location to exchange information and wait for authorities, if necessary.
- If you’re in a hazardous location, such as on a busy highway or in the middle of a blind curve, moving your car to a more secure area is safer.
Always use your hazard lights or other indicators to signal to other drivers that you’re moving your vehicle post-accident. This step is even more critical if the accident happens at night or in poor visibility conditions. Make your actions predictable to other drivers to prevent further mishaps.
When moving your vehicle, do so slowly and cautiously. Look out for any road users, debris, or obstacles.
When You Should Not Move Your Car After a Crash
While the standard rule encourages moving your car to a safer location after a crash, there are certain scenarios where it’s best not to move your vehicle. You should leave your car where it is if the following circumstances apply:
- Serious injuries: If you or anyone else involved in the accident is seriously injured, do not move the car. Movement may cause further harm, especially in cases of neck, back, or spinal injuries. Wait for emergency medical services and let the professionals handle the situation.
- Severe damage: If your vehicle has sustained severe damage, moving it may be unsafe or even impossible. Attempting to drive a severely damaged car could lead to further mechanical issues or accidents.
- Someone is trapped inside the vehicle: If an occupant of any vehicle involved in the crash is trapped inside, do not attempt to move the car. Trying to move a vehicle could result in further injury to the trapped person. Instead, alert emergency services immediately and wait for professional help to arrive.
- Accidents resulting in the death of a passenger or driver: If a fatality has resulted from the accident, it’s critical not to move the vehicles involved. In these cases, the crash scene is a potential crime scene and requires investigation. Moving the car could disrupt evidence and interfere with the investigation process.
- The car poses a fire or explosion risk: In cases where there’s noticeable smoke, fire, or a significant fuel leak, do not attempt to move the vehicle. These are all indications of a potential fire or explosion risk. Everyone should evacuate the vehicle’s immediate vicinity and wait for the fire department or other emergency services to arrive.
Call an Attorney Today
Getting a lawyer on your side immediately after a crash protects your rights, especially if you moved your vehicle from the accident scene to a nearby location or the shoulder.
Our Indiana car crash lawyers at Wagner Reese can help gather evidence to prove who was at fault for your injuries and hold them accountable. We have the resources and know how to determine fault even after the vehicles have been moved, using intersection camera or surveillance footage, crash scene debris, dashcam footage, tire skid marks, impact zones, witness statements, and accident reconstructionists.
Contact Wagner Reese for a free case review, and let us put our decades of experience to work for you.