Getting into any kind of accident while driving a vehicle can be a scary proposition that comes with potentially life-altering circumstances. Knowing what steps to take next is absolutely crucial. You need reliable partners, like our Indianapolis car accident lawyers, to help you navigate the situation and get the justice you believe you deserve.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the time period between January and September 2021 saw 699 fatal vehicle crashes in the state of Indiana. Thousands more accidents resulted in injuries and/or property damage. Naturally, Indianapolis as the largest city in the state played a major role in these statistics, as well.
When you are in a car crash, it can be difficult to keep a clear head. Knowing what to do, including steps to take at the time of the accident and in the days following it, can make a massive difference in getting both a settlement and peace of mind. With car accident lawyers in Indianapolis by your side, you drastically increase your chances of achieving those goals.
What to Do at the Time of a Car Accident in Indianapolis
The moment you get into a car accident, in Indianapolis or elsewhere, are among the most frightening moments most people face in their lives. Still, keeping as a cool head as possible can make a big difference in avoiding potential complications down the road and maximizing your chances of both health and justice.
Indiana has three important steps anyone involved in a vehicle accident needs to follow to avoid potential liability under the state’s hit and run laws:
- Stop your car at the next possible spot where it’s safe to stop without endangering other traffic and drivers.
- Provide your name, address, registration number and license to anyone who was directly involved in the accident.
- Provide “reasonable assistance” to anyone who might have been injured and contact local authorities.
If you don’t follow these steps, you might be liable for damages even if you weren’t technically responsible for the accident. In fact, the above-mentioned Indiana Code 9-26-1-1.1 stipulates that drivers in Indianapolis and the rest of the state need to take one of three actions immediately or as soon as possible after the accident:
- Contact the local police department, if the accident occurs within a municipality.
- Contact the office of the county sheriff or the nearest state police post, if the accident occurs outside a municipality.
- Contact a 911 telephone operator.
Drivers or anyone involved in a car accident who doesn’t call 911 should also consider calling an ambulance directly if anyone involved is seriously injured.
What to Do if Someone Is Injured in a Car Accident in Indianapolis
If someone involved in the car accident clearly has injuries, calling 911 or an ambulance is the most important next step. The faster medical professionals can get on scene, the better.
Beyond those initial steps, Indiana law IC 9-26-1-1.1 states that any vehicle operator is required to
Provide reasonable assistance to each person injured in or entrapped by the accident, as directed by a law enforcement officer, medical personnel or a 911 telephone operator.
What exactly “reasonable assistance” means, of course, is open to interpretation. As a regular citizen, you don’t have to perform advanced medical procedures. But if there are any easy steps you can take, like CPR if you have been trained to do so, those steps typically fall under that definition.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident in Indianapolis
After calling 911 and potentially an ambulance, it’s time to consider your next steps. Collect the contact information from everyone involved so you or a car accident lawyer in Indianapolis working on your behalf can reach them at a later time.
Start monitoring yourself for injuries, as well. So-called “delayed onset” injuries can occur hours, days, or even weeks after the initial car accident. It’s not uncommon, for example, to develop a concussion a few days or even a week after banging your head against your car in the course of the accident.
It also makes sense to see a medical professional, even if your injuries aren’t significant enough for immediate admission to a hospital. Have them check you for any hidden injuries and ask for documentation of anything they find.
Finally, inform your insurance company as quickly as possible. Most insurance companies in Indianapolis and the rest of the state require initial notification of any car accident within 24 hours of the accident. Report all basic information, but don’t go into details yet; wait until you have a chance to talk to a car accident lawyer in Indianapolis for that step.
How Long After a Car Accident Can You File a Police Report?
In the state of Indiana, anyone involved in a car accident has 24 hours to file an initial police report. Once local authorities arrive, you can typically do so at the scene. While it’s possible to extend the 24-hour deadline, keeping within the stricter timeline is always a good idea.
How Do Insurance Companies Decide Who Is at Fault?
Indianapolis, and the state of Indiana, follow “at-fault” insurance laws in case of car accidents. That means that whoever is responsible for the car accident must either pay, or get their insurance to pay, any damages resulting from it, including any medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Of course, as we outlined in another resource, there are situations in which both parties may be found partially responsible for the accident:
In Indiana, state law dictates that, while you can recover damages against any other at-fault party, your damages will be reduced by a percentage that corresponds to your share of liability. And, you will not be able to recover anything at all if your share of fault for the accident exceeds 50%.
In some of these situations, insurance companies may determine the settlement amount to offer you. Working with an Indianapolis car accident lawyer can help you negotiate with your insurance company to ensure your portion of the compensation is fair and just.
What Should I Do In the Days Following a Car Accident?
After filing the initial police report and contacting your insurance company, continue monitoring your body for potential symptoms of injuries that the accident could cause. Follow up with a doctor for any ailments, and document the diagnosis. Follow through with any treatment plans for your injuries to show your insurance company that you’re doing everything you can to improve your health.
This is also the time to get in touch with a reputable car accident lawyer in Indianapolis. They will consult with you on the next steps, and can begin to work with both the police and the insurance company on your behalf.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?
In addition to representing you to all third parties related to the car accident, a car accident attorney can also assist you in gathering information for any potential insurance or legal case. They can help you attain a copy of the police record (typically available 1-2 days after the accident), take pictures of the damage on your car, and work with your doctor to receive the correct medical records needed.
Just as importantly, your lawyer can also help you understand what not to do. For example, you should never talk to another party’s insurance company about the accident or provide a recorded statement to the claims adjuster. They’ll also advise you to avoid posting about the accident on social media, all of which could be used against you in a potential case related to the accident.
How a Car Accident Lawyer in Indianapolis Can Protect You After the Fact
As an at-fault state with partial responsibility caveats, the state of Indiana can be difficult to navigate in terms of your entitlements to legal representation. Worse, your insurance company’s primary goal may be to minimize the possible settlement, not to help you get the compensation and justice you need.
A car accident lawyer in Indianapolis can protect you from a number of scenarios that could otherwise become problematic for anyone involved.
For example, your attorney can protect you from providing any statement that could potentially paint you as the guilty party or even as partially at fault when this hasn’t been the case. They will help you by letting you know what statements you can and shouldn’t make and even make statements on your behalf when required by the police.
Your attorney can also help you understand what your insurance company actually does and doesn’t require. If they insist on a recorded statement, your lawyer can confirm whether or not the law requires it.
Finally, your car accident lawyer can help you understand what settlement you may or may not receive based on the exact situation. This, in turn, ensures that when an insurance company or court suggests a settlement, you know whether it’s just and within your policy’s expectations, or whether you should insist on more.
When to Call a Car Accident Lawyer in Indianapolis
Especially if there is any question about liability or who is at fault at the accident, calling a car accident lawyer is imperative to protect yourself and get a trusted partner on your side. But even if the incident appears to be clear-cut, an early call to a reliable attorney can make all the difference.
The earlier you call, the more easily you avoid being on your own as police officers, insurance agents, and other parties involved in the accident all do what’s best for them. Your attorney can represent you, protect you, and make sure everything is in order to make sure you take the correct steps.
What to Do If You Have a Car Accident With an Uninsured Driver
When a car accident involves an uninsured driver, an already complex situation can get even more complicated. Any at-fault claims can no longer be settled through both insurance companies, leaving you with one of two options:
- If you have uninsured motorist insurance (UMI), you can file a claim for a settlement from your own insurance. The state of Indiana now requires all auto insurance to include UMI, unless rejected in writing. Minimum liability limits are $25,000/$50,000 for bodily injury, and $25,000 for property damage.
- If you do not have UMI coverage, you may need to take the uninsured person to court to determine who was at fault and how much that person owes in damages. This process is complex, and with the help of a car accident lawyer Indianapolis residents can get the maximum compensation they deserve..
Indiana requires vehicle insurance for all motorists in the state. In the unlikely event that you are in an accident with an uninsured driver, the right legal partner can still help you get the compensation you need.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Indianapolis Car Accident Lawyer
Car accidents can be complex, and that’s without even considering the potential physical and emotional pain you might be in. Working with a reliable, experienced law firm can go a long way toward obtaining not just peace of mind, but justice as well.
Among the many car accident lawyers in Indianapolis, Wagner Reese stands out by focusing on only a few cases at a time to keep our caseloads low and invest more time and energy into each case we work through. While past success doesn’t equal future results, we have a strong track record of helping Indianapolis motorists get justice.
When you’re in an accident, whether or not you believe yourself to be at fault, reach out for a free consultation. Let us be your partner in the fight to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
All content on this page has been reviewed by the attorneys at the Wagner Reese offices. Questions? Contact our Indianapolis office today.
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