The Risks of Leaving the Scene of an Accident When No One Else is Involved

Nov 6

It is never a good decision to leave the scene of an accident, regardless of whether it was a single-car crash or how minor it may appear. There are several factors to consider, including possible trouble with the law and the loss of compensation from liable parties. 

Never leave the scene of a crash, and always discuss your potential rights with an Indiana car accident attorney. 


Legal Consequences

Leaving the scene of an accident in Indiana, or anywhere for that matter, is not advisable, even if it does not lead to injuries. 

For instance, if you leave the accident scene and cause no injuries but the wreck led to $1,000 or more in property damage, you can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor in Indiana. Whether you hit a guard rail or you damage an unoccupied car and can’t locate the driver, you have to report the accident. If you fail to make the report, you may be charged with a misdemeanor offense. Any time you leave the scene of an accident, you might be breaking the law.

Indiana had almost 25,000 hit-and-run accidents in 2020, so it’s a serious situation in the Hoosier state. It can be hard to measure the amount of the damage without contacting the police. Also, you may need medical care later, even if you experience a minor fender bender or only receive a few minor scrapes. Whiplash can appear after a few days, so it’s best to play it safe and see a doctor the same day. This is especially important if you need to share the information with an accident attorney or your insurance company.


Why Many Drivers Flee the Scene of a Single Accident

Many drivers flee if they’ve been drinking or their BAC is above the legal limit of .08%. They don’t want to be arrested for DUI, so they choose to escape to avoid problems with the police. However, it’s still better to stop, as the problems can only get worse if you avoid your legal obligations to your insurer or to the public at large.


Possible Complications

Let’s look at some possible scenarios.


Unwanted Evidence

In most cases, your quick getaway will usually be foiled, as identifying evidence may unfold, such as the following:

  • A witness may hear your engine and see you speeding away from the scene. In turn, they may be able to provide the police with a physical description of you and your car. They may also capture your license number before you leave.
  • A street camera may record your license plate number.
  • Other cameras for homes and businesses, which are increasingly more common, may record the accident, your vehicle, you, and other information that may identify you.

If you’re identified, you’re going to face harsher consequences than if you file a police report and get medical care after the mishap. Moreover, it’s important to consider the following issues that you may face.


Issues with Insurance Claims

Your insurance company expects you to report accidents promptly. Failing to do so can violate the terms of your policy. This can result in denied claims, increased premiums, or even cancellation of your coverage.


Safety and Medical Concerns

You might feel fine after a crash; however, injuries can manifest hours later. Emergency responders are trained to assess situations, examine the parties involved for any harm or injuries, and contact medical back-up if needed. 


Fines and Punishments

If you leave the accident scene and the police catch up with you, again, they’ll charge you with a Class B misdemeanor charge. This charge alone is punishable by up to 180 days jail time and a fine of up to $1,000.

However, this charge may escalate to a Class A misdemeanor if you injure another party. If the bodily injury was moderate or serious, or you’ve had a prior conviction within the past five years, the charge can quickly jump to a Level 6 felony. 

A Level 4 felony involves an accident that results in a catastrophic injury or death, while a Level 3 felony may be charged if you’re driving under the influence and your accident leads to a serious or catastrophic injury or possibly death.


Recommended Actions After a Car Accident in Indiana

After a hit-and-run accident, you should take the following steps to document the accident and your injuries:

  • Report the accident to the police
  • Take videos and photos of the scene of the wreck
  • Get contact info from eyewitnesses at the scene
  • Obtain medical care or get checked medically after the accident
  • Inform your auto insurance company as soon as possible

Always keep copies of bills and receipts related to the accident, as well as pay stubs or income statements if the accident causes you to miss work.


What to Do If You’re Involved in a Single-Person Accident – A Step-by-Step Guide

So, let’s say you do run into a vehicle. What steps should you follow if you’re the person who caused the accident?

Don’t rush away, as it will only worsen everything. Focus on staying calm so you can handle the situation properly. If you are able, take the following steps:

  1. First, you need to stop and pull over. Turn on the hazard lights and switch on your headlights if it is dark outside.
  2. Check for injuries. If you’re in pain, contact emergency services. Even if you don’t feel any discomfort, visit a doctor, as some unexpected symptoms may appear later if you’re not careful. So, if you can’t drive your vehicle or you’ve been injured, call 911 to request emergency assistance. Report your medical conditions and location to the dispatcher.
  3. Secure the accident scene. Set up hazard triangles, road flares, or similar warning devices around your auto. Activating the hazard lights is an added measure that will direct drivers around the crash scene.
  4. Use your phone’s camera to take photos of your vehicle. Photograph the scene and damages from different angles and record the license plate number. Photograph the property damage. 
  5. Call the police and file a report. Give the officer the details and keep a copy of the report for insurance purposes.
  6. Contact your insurance company ASAP. Submit the accident details, photos, and a copy of the police report to your insurance company. Follow your insurer’s guidelines for submitting a claim for repairs.


Consider Seeking Legal Advice

If you’re involved in a single-car wreck, you may want to contact a lawyer for legal advice. They can give you recommendations about what you can do legally. Not only can they assess whether you’re entitled to in compensation, they can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf.


Contact an Indiana Car Accident Lawyer Right Away

Do you need to consult with a lawyer about a car accident claim in Indiana? If so, contact the law firm of Blackburn Romey now. Schedule a free consultation today.


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.

Personal Injury & Wrongful Death is all we do

Get In Touch With Us


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.