Car Insurance and Negligence Claims: Police Procedures After an Accident, Wrong-Way Drivers, and Driverless Cars

Bumper to bumper traffic on one side of the roadWhen a car accident in Indiana occurs, there can be a lot of factors weighing on your mind. Insurance companies, police reports, medical care, and long-lasting injuries all need your utmost attention. At Christie Farrell Lee & Bell, we want to provide you with service and guidance through the troubled times following a car accident in Indiana. Before getting started, it may be helpful to review the basics of car insurance negligence claims, and some common car accident scenarios.

Have you been injured in a motor vehicle accident? Christie Farrell Lee & Bell has an experienced team of car accident attorneys who can help you explore your options.

Indiana Car Accident Police Procedures

The most important thing to do after a car accident, outside of making sure you and your loved ones are safe, is call the police. Officers will play a vital role in making sure the area is secure and everyone is safe. They also do their best to gather evidence to get to the bottom of what happened and determine who is at fault. So, if you have been injured, a police officer’s role at the scene of an accident is crucial to any future litigation. It’s important to know what the job of the police is at the scene of an accident.

  1. Statements of Those Involved in Car Accident

On arriving at the scene, police will take statements from everyone involved in the accident. It’s important to know that these statements and the subsequent police report are not admissible as evidence in Indiana court. Still, the statement you give police needs to be wholly accurate and truthful to the best of your knowledge. If you remember facts later, you should follow up with the police to amend your statement. The police report is not automatically sent to insurance companies, and the insurer may even have to pay for the report.

  1. Car Crash Witness Statements

If others witnessed the accident, but have no involvement with it, the police officers will be interested in speaking to them. A witness is not required to stay at the scene of an accident, but if they want to leave before police arrive, you should get their contact information in case their statement is needed later.

  1. Pictures of Vehicle Damage and Accident

Police officers may take pictures of a car accident. However, the police are not required to take photos, so it’s still a good idea to take some of your own. This is especially true because the photos taken by police will not be released to insurers without a request, so having your own photos is valuable. A diagram of the accident and the trajectory of each car is also often included in the police report, though again, not admissible as evidence.

  1. Sobriety Tests in Indiana Car Accident

If somebody seems like they are under the influence of any substances after a car accident, field sobriety tests may be administered. If an officer further suspects drug or alcohol use after these tests, a follow-up blood test may be given.

  1. Accident Reconstruction by Police

In addition to taking photos and statements from those involved, police are trained in accident reconstruction. Officers may take measurements at the scene, spray paint lines where objects or car pieces came to rest, and measure things like gouges in the median or tread marks. This process allows them to determine with more objectivity what action was taken by which driver. Information from internal computers like black boxes or airbag controls may be part of this reconstruction as well. In some cases of multi-car or severe accidents, police even later claim the totaled cars to recreate the incident.

Wrong-Way Drivers and Head-On Collisions

Because wrong way driving accidents typically create head-collisions, they are one of the most dangerous types of traffic accident. Over 6,000 of these accidents occur a year in Indiana alone and in 2016, 112 of these accidents were fatal. If you’ve encountered this type of accident, you know they’re often devastating, both financially and physically. While knowing who’s at fault in a wrong-way driving situation or head on collision might seem evident, there are some details worth knowing in order to determine your next steps.

Causes of Head-On Collisions in Indiana

Head-on collisions happen for a number of reasons including infrastructure, weather visibility, and lack of proper signage.

  • Alcohol: Alcohol is a major factor in wrong-way driving accidents. Roughly 60% of head-on collisions caused by wrong-way drivers are due to intoxication. In many instances, when alcohol is involved, the case becomes a criminal offense and not a civil case. However, some car accidents involving alcohol do have both civil and criminal aspect.
  • Errors of Judgement: Sometimes accidents are caused when we misjudge a situation and take unnecessary risks, like when a driver decides to pass on a double yellow line, in a no pass zone, or ignores posted signage.
  • Distracted Driving: Distracted driving is also a cause of wrong-way drivers and head-on collisions. Statistics for Indiana show that driving with more passengers in the car can cause distracted driving.
  • Time of Day: Time of day also tends to come into play. 80% of head on collisions caused by wrong-way driving occur between the hours of 6 PM and 6 AM.
  • Infrastructure: IMPD collects data about where the most traffic accidents occur in Indianapolis. Although this information doesn’t cover where head-on collisions happen specifically, intersections where accidents occur frequently increase the likelihood of more dangerous crashes like head-on collisions.

Liability in a Head-On Collision

Knowing what causes wrong-way driving and head-on collisions also helps open up more understanding about liability. In the case of head-on collisions, it’s usually obvious that the driver going the wrong way was responsible. But, in the case of infrastructure, liability is a bit more tricky. An expert attorney who confidently understands the responsibility of both the city and the driver in head-on collisions can be a great ally for a person injured in an accident.

Indiana Driverless Car Accidents

With new driverless technologies making their way into the auto industry and onto our roads, concerned parties like lawmakers, insurance companies, and future vehicle owners are starting to ask who will take responsibility when an accident occurs.

Where Does Responsibility for Driverless Cars Lie?

This is an interesting situation in which a “driver”, the car owner, is relying on a service that a manufacturer has included as an effective part of the vehicle to do the driving. When the car causes a crash and the “driver” wasn’t actually in control of the car, who is to blame?

As it stands now, most manufacturers are leaving the responsibility on the car owners themselves, especially since technology is still early in development and using it means a bit of a risk. In cases like General Motors’ Super Cruise, the manufacturer maintains the caveat that drivers must stay alert and maintain a sense of control if the situation calls for them to take over. Some manufacturers, like Volvo, are even keeping drivers engaged with the act of driving itself by implementing touch sensors on the steering wheel that require the driver be alert.

The Future of Driverless Cars

UBER has already started to test a fleet of self-driving taxis in Pittsburgh: driverless cars are becoming more common. Current carmakers are looking to keep drivers responsible for any crashes while using an auto-pilot system. But Scientific American recently noted a shift in the way we assess damage and liability, taking a close look at the root cause of the damage itself.

When a computer is in control of the car, experts are predicting at least some liability will inevitably fall onto the companies who are responsible for the malfunctioning software and/or hardware.  Following a fatal car crash involving a Tesla Model S using its autopilot feature, Tesla has emphasized that the feature itself is not perfect and that drivers must always stay alert and ready to take control of the vehicle in any serious situations. This is a sentiment that is shared among all the technology’s developers as the industry is still a little unclear about liability and, of course, efficacy of the auto-pilot systems themselves.

Have you been injured in a motor vehicle accident? Christie Farrell Lee & Bellhas an experienced team of car accident attorneys who can help you explore your options.