Accident Hit-and-Runs

Aug 9

Hit-and-runs are a prevalent problem facing drivers. In the past decade, there were 17,531 people who died in hit-and-run accidents in the United States. 

A driver may panic and flee an accident scene if they fear that they will be found responsible for the crash, not even thinking about the consequences. 

The car accident attorneys at Blackburn Romey would like to share things you need to know regarding hit-and-run accidents.


What is Considered a Hit-and-Run Accident?

An accident is considered a “hit-and-run” when a driver leaves the accident scene without providing his or her information to the other accident victims or contacting local authorities or 911 for help. 

If the accident involves a collision with an unattended vehicle or damage to property other than a vehicle, then the motorist should make all necessary attempts to locate the owner of the vehicle or the owner whose property was affected. 

Accident Hit-and-Runs

If the vehicle operator is unable to locate the owner of the damaged vehicle or property, then they must contact law enforcement to report the accident.

A common hit-and-run scenario occurs when a driver hits an unattended vehicle. If there is no one else around, the driver may take the opportunity to bolt, not wanting to pay for the damage they caused.


Can A Motorist be Criminally Charged for a Hit-and-Run?

If a vehicle operator knowingly or intentionally flees the scene of an accident, they may be facing criminal sanctions. 

Indiana law requires any motor vehicle driver involved in an accident to remain at the scene, provide help as directed by local authorities or 911, and report the accident.

Depending on the severity of the collision, the motorist may be found guilty of a misdemeanor or felony. 

A misdemeanor is considered a minor crime. Failing to remain at the scene after a motor vehicle accident is considered a Class B misdemeanor. A Class B misdemeanor may result in a person being sentenced to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

However, if the perpetrator fails to remain at the scene and anyone was injured in the accident, it is upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor. A person charged with a Class A misdemeanor could be sentenced up to one year in jail and a potential fine of $5,000.

In the most serious offenses, a hit-and-run may be considered a Class 3 felony. A hit-and-run is considered a Class 3 felony if the offender is inebriated and fails to comply with Indiana law, resulting in any accident victims suffering serious bodily injury or death. 

An offender may be sentenced to between three to sixteen years in prison and potentially face a fine of $10,000.


Factors Contributing to Hit-and-Runs

In 2020, hit-and-runs were among the most prevalent types of accidents, accounting for 14% of the total 175,816 crashes in the state of Indiana.

There are a variety of reasons why a driver may hit another vehicle and flee the scene. 

Contributing factors:

  • The driver may be intoxicated
  • A drunk driver may flee the scene to avoid being arrested 
  • Poor lighting at the accident scene
  • Drivers are more inclined to drive away after causing an accident if the lighting is dim since witnesses will have a harder time identifying them
  • Fleeing the scene is four times more likely between the hours of midnight to 4 a.m. in comparison to 8 a.m. to noon
  • Roads with lower speed limits
  • Fatal hit-and-runs are more common on roads with lower-speed limits since pedestrians are more likely to be crossing on these types of roads
  • Since the driver will be traveling at a slower speed, his or her vehicle will not be as severely damaged, allowing the motorist to more easily drive away
  • Location
  • Fatal pedestrian crashes that involve a single-vehicle are more common in the Midwest and Western states
  • Fatal pedestrian hit-and-runs are more common in cities


Is Hitting a Parked Car Considered a Hit-and-Run?

Even if you hit a parked or stationary vehicle, it is still considered a hit-and-run. If you do hit a parked car, it is important that you leave your insurance information so that the owner of the damaged vehicle can get in touch with you.

The speed of a moving car will determine the damage to the parked vehicle. If the vehicle operator was speeding and lost control of the vehicle, then the damage may be more significant. 

Often hit-and-run drivers are not identified if they hit a stationary vehicle, since it is often in a parking lot. Other drivers are not necessarily paying attention to the other parked cars, allowing a hit-and-run offender to easily escape.


Who Pays for a Hit-and-Run Accident?

Regarding car accident claims, Indiana is an “at-fault” state. In “at-fault” states, the party responsible for the accident pays for the resulting damage and injuries to others. Things get complicated when it comes to hit-and-run accidents where the offender cannot be found.

There are a few options to pay your medical bills. To start, you may use your health insurance or car insurance to pay your medical expenses. 

Alternatively, if you purchased Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM), then you may be able to pay your medical expenses up to the amount covered by your policy. For uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, the minimum coverage for bodily injury is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. 

For underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, the minimum coverage is $50,000. UM/UIM also offers coverage for property damage starting at $25,000.

Indiana drivers are offered this coverage when buying insurance, and if you choose not to purchase it, you must submit such a request in writing. You should always maintain UM/UIM coverage to protect yourself from hit-and-run, uninsured, or underinsured drivers.


Statute of Limitations

Every state has a set amount of time in which you are able to bring a claim against another party, known as a statute of limitations. In Indiana, for personal injury accidents and hit-and-runs, you have two years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit.

Even if you have a strong case, in most circumstances you cannot receive any relief if you bring your case to court after the two years have passed. 


A Hit-and-Run Lawyer Devoted to Indiana Victims

Far too many people fall victim to hit-and-run accidents each year. If you have been injured in a hit-and-run accident or have a loved one that has been impacted, you need a dedicated legal team on your side. Contact our office today online or by phone to schedule a free consultation. 


Tom Blackburn

Blackburn Romey founding partner Tom Blackburn graduated with honors receiving a degree from Indiana University at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Initiating his legal career in 1977, he has been active in practicing law and currently serves as a member of the Indiana State Bar Association on the Ethics and Advertising Committees, the American Bar Association, the American Association for Justice, as a board member at the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, and as an appointed member of the Executive Committee for the State of Indiana for the National Trial Lawyers Association.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Tom Blackburn, who has more than 47 years of legal experience, including over 39 years specializing as a personal injury attorney.