What Evidence Is Needed to Convict a Hit-and-Run Driver?

Samuel R. Robinson

Author: Samuel R. Robinson

POST DATE: 4.13.22
Ccha  Personal Injury

No one expects to be hit by a car when they are out for a walk, but unfortunately, it happens. Indiana law requires anyone involved in an accident to stop, check everyone involved for injuries, contact the police, and exchange information. Sadly, this doesn’t always occur. Sometimes the driver takes off in what we call a hit and run.

If this has happened to you, our personal injury attorneys can help you figure out what to do.

CCHA What Evidence Is Needed to Convict a Hit and Run Driver

What Should You Do If You Are Involved in a Hit-and-Run Accident?

When you have just been hit by a car, it’s hard to think of anything else besides your injuries and fear. But if you (or a companion) are able, you need to start collecting evidence immediately. Indiana Motor Vehicle law requires a driver involved in an accident, at a minimum, to stop and provide the driver’s name, address, driver’s license, and car registration information.

However, when the driver flees the scene, you must resort to other options such as:

  • Taking photos of the fleeing car that hit you (especially the license plate);
  • Photographing the scene of the accident;
  • Asking any witnesses for their names, contact information, and recollections;
  • Looking for traffic cameras that might have recorded the accident; and
  • Calling the police.

The police will also collect evidence, and you can get a copy of their report later.

Of course, you should call 911 and get medical attention if you are injured. Once you receive the care you need, your medical records will also be important evidence.

What Happens Next?

When a car hits a pedestrian and flees the scene, the police will try to track down the driver. If they succeed, they will turn the case over to a government prosecutor who will decide whether to bring criminal charges. Separately, the victim may file a civil lawsuit against the driver.

Criminal Investigation and Prosecution

Fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime in Indiana. The charges depend upon the circumstances. Simply leaving the scene is a Class B misdemeanor. A hit-and-run accident rises to a Class A misdemeanor if someone was injured.

The government will charge the crime as a felony if:

  • The accident resulted in serious bodily injury;
  • The driver had a previous judgment within the last five years involving a vehicle-related death;
  • The accident caused a death; or
  • The driver was intoxicated and caused serious bodily injury or death.

The criminal prosecutor knows what evidence is needed to convict a hit-and-run driver and will determine what charges to bring.

It is important to understand the differences between a criminal prosecution and a civil lawsuit. If the driver has broken a law, a government prosecutor will charge the driver with a crime. The prosecutor will have to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the charges are true. The victim may need to provide evidence to help the prosecutor convict the hit-and-run driver. If the jury agrees with the government’s explanation of the facts and convicts the driver, the driver will be sentenced to criminal punishment.

Civil Litigation

A civil lawsuit in the hit-and-run accident context would involve the victim suing the driver for damages. That means the victim would accuse the driver of violating a civil law (such as driving negligently). If a civil jury agrees that the preponderance of the evidence shows that the accident was the driver’s fault, the victim might receive money from the driver to cover things like medical expenses and lost wages. The jury might also award damages to compensate the victim for having had to endure pain and suffering.

It is vital to note that Indiana is a comparative fault state. This means that the jury will look at whether the pedestrian was also somewhat at fault (an example being if the pedestrian crossed the street outside of a marked crosswalk). To recover damages, the pedestrian must be 50% or less at fault. However, the pedestrian’s amount of fault will decrease the award. For example, if the jury finds the driver 70% at fault and the pedestrian 30% at fault, the pedestrian will receive only 70% of the total damages.

What If You Can’t Find the Hit-and-Run Driver?

If the police are unsuccessful in tracking down the driver who hit you, don’t lose hope. You may be able to file a claim with your own insurance company if you have an uninsured motorist policy. An attorney can help you assess your options and pursue all available compensation.

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?

If a hit-and-run driver injured you, a Church Church Hittle + Antrim attorney can help you in several ways. First, an attorney will help you and the police try to find the driver who hit you. An attorney can also negotiate with your automotive and medical insurance companies on your behalf to make sure they cover all appropriate expenses and work with you in pursuing litigation. Finally, an attorney will help you collect evidence to support a civil lawsuit against the driver.

Church Church Hittle + Antrim has been representing injured Indiana residents for over 140 years. Let our experienced personal injury attorneys guide you through this difficult time and help you recover compensation for your losses.