After being involved in a motor vehicle accident in Indiana that causes an injury or traps someone in a vehicle, state law requires you to ensure the accident is reported to law enforcement authorities. A car accident report will be necessary to obtain an insurance payment for your losses.
Car accidents happen quickly and are very stressful, regardless of whether you or others have been hurt. It is good to understand your responsibilities before a crash happens. You also have legal rights after an accident if someone else caused it, which an Indiana car accident lawyer can explain and protect.
Do I Need to Report an Accident to Indianapolis Police? Is it Illegal to Not Report an Accident?
Indiana law (§ 9-26-1-1.1) spells out the responsibilities of the driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident.
First, you are to stop after an accident as close to the scene as possible without obstructing traffic. Another Indiana law explains that you should move a wrecked car out of the active traffic lanes of a highway as soon as it is safe to do so. However, you should not move a vehicle if the accident has caused injury, death or entrapment of a vehicle occupant, or the vehicle is transporting hazardous materials.
By law, you are to provide reasonable assistance to anyone injured in a car accident. You should try to determine if anyone needs emergency medical aid and, if so, request an ambulance.
Drivers involved in an accident should exchange information, including names and addresses, vehicle registration numbers, and driver’s licenses.
As soon as possible, you should report or ensure that someone else reports the accident by:
- Dialing 911.
- Contacting local police if the accident is within a municipality (city limits).
- Contacting the county sheriff or Indiana State Police if the accident occurs outside a municipality.
If an accident involves an unoccupied vehicle or causes damage to other property, you are to try to report it to the vehicle/property owner or person in charge of it by taking reasonable steps to notify that person. If a reasonable effort to find that person fails, you are to contact a local or state law enforcement agency as you would in a two-vehicle collision.
Indiana’s Legal Penalties for Leaving the Scene of a Car Accident
It is against the law to leave the scene of a car accident in Indiana without completing the duties for reporting it as outlined above.
The potential penalties increase with the severity of the accident:
- Any accident: Class B misdemeanor — up to 180 days in jail and fine of up to $1,000.
- An accident resulting in bodily injury to another person: Class A misdemeanor — up to 365 days in jail and fine of up to $5,000.
- An accident resulting in serious bodily injury to another person: Level 6 felony — 6 months to 2 1/2 years in jail, with an advisory sentence of 1 year and fine up to $10,000.
- An accident resulting in the death of another person: Level 5 felony — 1 to 6 years in jail, with an advisory sentence of 3 years and fine up to $10,000.
- An accident caused by an intoxicated driver (drunk driving) that causes injury or death: 3 to 16 years in jail, with an advisory sentence of 9 years and fine up to $10,000.
Reporting Proof of Liability Insurance after an Accident
After an accident, you will be contacted by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) and asked to provide proof of financial responsibility. Your auto insurance provider should take care of this by submitting a Certificate of Compliance (COC). The certificate should demonstrate that at the time of the accident you held an active auto insurance policy with coverage that meets the state of Indiana’s minimum liability protection requirement (25/50/10).
If the state does not receive the COC electronically and process it within 90 days of the BMV’s mailing of a request to verify financial responsibility, your driver’s license will be suspended.
You should report a car accident to your insurer as soon as possible, and request confirmation that they will file — and then that they have filed — a certificate on your behalf.
How Do I Obtain a Copy of an Accident Report?
The Indiana State Police maintains a database of all car accident reports filed in the state of Indiana. You can obtain an electronic version of a car accident report for a nominal fee (about $10) through a private vendor. To do so, you will need to provide the report number, report date and the last name of the driver or owner of one of the vehicles involved.
In Indianapolis, you can also obtain a car accident report filed with local police. This requires visiting the Citizens’ Services Desk in Suite E100 of Police Headquarters at 50 North Alabama Street, Indianapolis (enter via Market Street or Washington Street).
You’ll need to provide the date, time, and location of the accident to obtain a copy of the report. “The investigating officer’s name is optional, but helpful,” the Indianapolis police website says. An accident report costs $12.
The Citizens’ Services Desk is open Monday through Friday (excluding holidays), from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Phone (317) 327-3155.
Do You Need a Police Report to File an Insurance Claim?
You can make an insurance claim without a police accident report on file, but an official report substantiates the facts of the accident and what happened. Quite simply, if you have a significant claim, an insurer is not going to pay it on your say-so.
In fact, you should get a copy of your accident report as soon as possible after an accident, and make sure that it is correct. If it is not correct, contact the police or sheriff’s department and advise them of the errors. Then, obtain a corrected copy of the report.
A police report is the first solid, reputable evidence on your side if your insurance claim is disputed. It is the starting point for determining the cause of the accident and which party should be held responsible. This determination is necessary if victims of an accident who were not at fault are to recover compensation for their losses.
At Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC, we begin car accident investigations by reviewing the police report after a conversation with you. From there we can conduct a detailed investigate to prepare a case for you to seek the compensation you deserve.
Contact Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC
If you or a loved one has been injured in a serious car accident in Indiana that someone else caused, you should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer about your legal rights. Our firm can help you. Call us at 888-673-7275 to speak directly with an attorney or paralegal, or contact us online about a free legal consultation about your car accident claim.