(Accident) Reports and Hit & Run Investigation
The 'investigation' of most traffic crashes is limited to the documentation of the crash by the reporting officer. The crash report filled out is generally done for you to document and record with your insurance company. In cases of crashes invollving serious bodily injury or fatalities, or instances where a driver had fled the scene (Hit & Run), then an investigator is assigned to the case where a simple crash has now become a criminal investigation.
Generally speaking, standard crashes are recorded one of two ways:
Long Form Crash Investigation
The South Bend Police Department will respond to, investigate and document on the "Long Form" State Crash Report all traffic crashes brought to their attention which involve:
- Bodily injury or the death of any person.
- Leaving the scene of a traffic crash or that involves driving under the influence.
- Hazardous material incidents, involving the actual/suspected release of toxic substances into the environment, or other unusual conditions that pose a significant threat to public safety.
- Vehicle crashes involving city/municipally owned vehicles.
- Damage to vehicles/property owned by components of government. Such investigations will only be undertaken at the direction of command or supervisory personnel.
- Crashes that result from the commission of a criminal offense (robbery, auto theft, etc.) or from any pursuit.
Short Form Crash Investigation
The South Bend Police Department will respond to, investigate and document on a "Short Form" City Name Exchange Crash Report traffic crashes which do not include any of the criteria specified under the "Long Form" section but which do involve:
- Damage to any vehicle or other property in an apparent amount of under $1000.
- Removal of a vehicle from traffic by towing.
- Serious, potentially violent arguments, disturbances or confrontations involving principals or other persons present at the scene. (If such altercations involve the commission of a criminal offense, enforcement action/preparation of "Offense/Incident/Arrest" reports may also be required.)
- Major traffic congestion brought about by the crash, if one or more of the conditions specified in the Long Form Section or the Short Form Section applies.
- During times of severe inclement weather, if vehicles involved are both drivable from scene and no injuries are reported.
Hit and Run Crash ("Leaving The Scene") Investigation
The 'investigation' of most traffic crashes is limited to the documentation of the crash by the reporting officer. In cases where one involved driver left the scene of the crash, SBPD officers will follow up/investigate this type of crash if the following circumstances apply:
- Crash was witnessed by involved driver/Driver actually present in/around car (rather than an unattended parking lot style crash)
- Reasonable model description information- (example- a Blue Ford Explorer, rather than 'a dark SUV')
- Full license plate of fleeing vehicle is obtained
- Reasonable identification of the driver/description can be obtained to identify the driver by involved party
- Crash is reported at the scene where crash occurred (rather than driver going home and calling police)
- Evidence at scene left behind can help identify vehicle which fled
Driver's Report Obligation of a Traffic Crash
By Indiana Law, if you are involved in a minor traffic crash in where:
- There are no deaths or injuries,
- All parties remained at the scene of the crash
- Alcohol/drugs are not involved
- Damage is less than $1000 per vehicle and
- Involved vehicles can be driven from the scene, then:
- Drivers should exchange license, registration and insurance information
- Then obtain a copy of a "Driver's Report of Traffic Crash" form from any law enforcement agency (known as state form SR21). Click to Download free of charge.
Instructions for completing the report are on the back of the form. One copy of the completed report should be given to your insurance company. Another copy must be mailed to the State Police within 10 days of the date of the crash, or your license can be suspended as pursuant to state law.