Are You Legally Allowed to Move Your Car After a Crash?

by Staff | January 18th, 2021

There are many pervasive myths surrounding car accidents. One common myth is that moving your vehicle off the street after a crash is illegal, as changing the position of the cars involved makes it more difficult for police to determine who was at fault.

In reality, it’s not just recommended that you move your vehicle after a crash, it’s required by Indiana law! Indiana Code 9-26-1-1.2 says that the duties of a driver of a vehicle involved in an accident that results in a traffic obstruction must move their vehicle off the traveled portion of the highway and to a location as close to the accident as possible, as quickly as possible.

Why Should You Move Your Vehicle?

Indiana requires drivers to move their vehicles out of the path of traffic for two important reasons:

  • It reduces the risk of secondary crashes—When damaged vehicles are in the middle of a roadway, they can be struck additional times by passing vehicles. That can put the accident victims, other drivers, and first responders at serious risk of further injury. When victims move their vehicles to a shoulder or side street, they can wait for police and emergency responders to arrive much more safely.
  • It clears a path for traffic—Auto accident-related traffic jams aren’t just annoying timewasters—they can be life-threatening for people who are in dire need of medical assistance or who are already being transported to a hospital. Moving vehicles out of the road clears a path for all vehicles, including ambulances, fire trucks, and rescue vehicles.

There Are Two Exemptions You Should Be Aware Of

Although many accidents make it possible for drivers to move their vehicles out of the path of traffic after crashes, it’s not always feasible or even legal. Two circumstances when drivers shouldn’t move their vehicles include:

  • The crash resulted in serious injury, death, or entrapment—Moving vehicles or victims after serious crashes isn’t recommended. That’s because emergency responders often need access to victims as they are immediately after crashes, and any attempts to move them or the vehicles they’re in can cause further injuries.
  • A vehicle was hauling hazardous materials—When vehicles hauling hazardous materials are involved in a crash, everyone near the crash scene may be at risk. Emergency responders are best able to contain or nullify those risks when vehicles remain as-is after crashes. Attempting to move these vehicles in a damaged state can increase the risk of a fire, explosion, or spill.

Won’t Moving Your Vehicle Make It More Difficult to Determine Fault?

The myth that you’re not allowed to move your vehicle after a crash was initially propagated by insurance companies under the premise that it would make it more difficult to determine fault. But ultimately, determining fault can still be accomplished using all the evidence available at the scene, including dashcam footage, surveillance or intersection camera footage, witness statements, impact zones, crash scene debris, tire skid marks, and more.

Although we know how important it is for victims like you to get compensation after crashes, we also believe that your safety is even more important. The law agrees, and that’s why moving your vehicle, even if it might slightly hinder the post-crash-investigation, is still required by law, especially if no one was seriously injured, killed, or trapped as a result of the crash.

We’ll Handle the Crash Investigation and Protect Your Rights to Compensation

Getting a lawyer on your side right away after a crash is just another way to protect yourself, especially if you moved your vehicle from the accident scene to the shoulder or another nearby and safe location.

Our Indiana car accident lawyers will collect evidence to prove who was at fault and hold them accountable, and we know how to analyze vehicle damage even after they’ve been moved from their original locations. Contact Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin today for a free consultation. We’re ready to put our decades of experience to work for your family.

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