What a beautiful day for a bike ride at Marquette Trail. You and your new boyfriend load your new Cannondale bikes into the back of your new Jeep Wrangler and hit the open road. Life is good. You sit in the passenger seat and drop the top, feeling the warm breeze brush against your face. As you bask in the sun like a cat, you realize your new beau has a lead foot. He is speeding like a demon down East Dunes Highway. You ask him to slow down, but he just laughs. Well, things stopped being so funny when he swerved to avoid a fluffy, white-tailed deer and hit the car next to you.
What's next? Do you have to stop? Should you call the Gary Police? Should you break up with your new paramour? Love advice aside, we can give some information to help guide you through the process should you be in a car accident in the Gary.
Stay at the Scene
S-T-O-P. It's the law. If you leave the scene of an accident you could be charged with hit-and-run and face severe criminal penalties. You can read the law for yourself, if you like.
Also, render "reasonable assistance" to those in need. This doesn't mean you have to personally lift up a burning car with your newfound super-human strength, but you need to call 911 for help if it's needed.
Call for Help
It's not a bad idea to call the Gary Police Department or 911 no matter how minor the accident may be. The police will be able to control the accident site and make an official report which will save you from getting into an argument later about what occurred and who caused the accident.
What Information Do I Have to Exchange With the Other Driver?
Be prepared to exchange information with the other driver -- your name and driver's license number, the vehicle identification number of the car you are driving, the name and address of the car's owner, the name and address of your insurance company and your insurance policy number.
Also, write down the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident.
Should I Take Pictures?
Absolutely. As the phrase goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Pull out your phone and snap pictures of the scene and accident from as many angles as possible. Consider making note of traffic and weather conditions.
Get Medical Treatment
If you are injured, don't hesitate to seek medical assistance. Sometimes you won't notice any pain until the next day. Don't gamble with your health. See your doctor and explain to her any symptoms you might have and that you've been in a car accident.
Try not to volunteer any information about who you think was to blame for the accident. Generally, you should not agree to pay for damages or sign any documents except a traffic ticket. Most important tip: cooperate with the police officer investigating the case.
Remember, car accidents can be caused by a variety of factors, including driver negligence, defective vehicle components, poorly maintained roads, or badly installed parts.
What Do I Do After the Accident?
The next step is to report the crash to your insurance company and file an accident report with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) within 10 days after the accident. A driver involved in a Gary traffic accident must file a crash report if the accident caused a death, bodily injury, or more than $1,000 in property damage.
If you don't contact the BMV you could you could be charged with a misdemeanor and your license could be suspended.
Your insurance carrier will open an investigation and a claims adjuster will contact you and do any or all of the following:
- Request a copy of the police report;
- Take photographs of your car;
- Contact the other driver(s);
- Talk to any witnesses;
- Ask you to sign a medical release form to review your records;
- Contact your medical provider;
- Request for you to get estimates on vehicle damage.
To win your Gary car accident case in court, you will need to prove the other driver was negligent. Indiana uses a 51 percent modified comparative negligence standard. Basically, the amount of money you can recover from an at-fault driver is affected by whether or not you were also partially at fault for the accident.
If the judge or jury determines you were more than 51 percent at fault for the accident, you will not be able to recover anything. Harsh, but true.
Should I Settle My Case?
Ultimately, that decision is yours to make. After an investigation, the insurance company will most likely attempt to reach a settlement agreement with you depending on the type of damages you are claiming such as personal injury or property. You are not required to accept any settlements from an insurance carrier.
If you can't reach an agreement with the adjuster, you may have other options, such as appealing or initiating a lawsuit.
If you have to go to court and fight your case, you may want to first consult an experienced car accident attorney. Many attorneys take auto accident cases on a contingency fee basis. Basically, in this arrangement you typically do not pay the lawyer his or her attorney fees if you lose the case. If you win, you pay the lawyer a percentage of the money you get. A settlement is considered a "win" and you'll have to pay attorney's fees out of that amount.