What does the law say about leaving an accident scene?

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2021 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

When you get into an automobile collision, it is hard to think clearly. The emotional stress of the situation may cause you to take actions that could legally hurt you later on. For instance, Indiana law states that you should not leave the scene of an accident. If you fail to comply, you could face criminal charges. 

If you have not faced this situation yet, now is a good time to learn more about what the state says about departing the scene of an accident. 

Stopping after an accident

If you become involved in an auto accident, Indiana law dictates that you must stop your vehicle either at the accident scene or as close to it as possible so that you do not block traffic more than you need to. After getting out of your vehicle, you should exchange your name, address and your vehicle registration to the other drivers involved in the accident. 

It is possible the other driver or multiple parties have suffered serious injury. According to Indiana law, you must provide reasonable assistance to injured parties. You should also call 911 to summon paramedics to the scene. 

Damaging property with no owner around

Not all accidents involve multiple moving vehicles. You might collide with a stationary vehicle or a piece of property. If the owner is not present, the law requires you to take reasonable efforts to let the owner know about the accident. If you have no success finding the owner, you must make contact with law enforcement so that a police officer may notify the owner for you. 

Penalties for violating the law

Indiana law will hand down different types of punishments depending on the circumstances. If you leave an accident scene, a prosecutor could charge you with a Class B misdemeanor, but it may go up to a Class A if one or more people suffer injuries from the accident. You may also see your license suspended. 

Fleeing an accident scene can also expose you to felony charges. If the accident causes serious bodily injury to someone, the charge could rise to a level 6 felony. Law enforcement may pursue a level 5 felony charge if someone died in the accident or a level 3 if you had committed the accident while intoxicated and the accident resulted in serious bodily injury or death.