If you are injured in an Indiana auto accident, you might be able to recover damages from the person or entity who caused the accident. You must show that the defendant was at fault or negligent to win financial compensation. The party responsible for causing your car accident is typically the driver of another vehicle.
The other driver may have been speeding, driving under the influence, distracted by cell phone use, or not paying attention. In some cases, the property owner where the accident occurred or the owner of the commercial vehicle that struck you may also be held liable.
Contact our Indiana personal injury lawyers for a free consultation today if you were injured in an automobile accident.
Is Indiana a No-Fault State?
Indiana is not a no-fault state. It is a fault state where you can file a claim against the negligent driver’s insurance policy. So, if you were the one who caused the accident, the other driver would file a claim with your insurance company.
No-fault laws do not apply in Indiana. It is a fault state where you can file a claim against an at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. Conversely, if you were the cause of the collision, your insurance adjuster might get a claim from the other motorist.
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Proving Fault in A Car Crash
When investigating a car accident, the police usually find out who caused the crash and assign responsibility accordingly. But comparative fault is where the amount awarded is reduced based on how blameworthy you are for causing the accident. This is called “reducing the award.”
In some cases, the driver whose vehicle hit another may be partially at fault because they failed to yield the right-of-way. Or, the driver could have been speeding or driving under the influence. In those situations, the person who caused the collision may be held liable for the entirety of the damage.
The Judge Can Decide on Fault Based on Evidence
If the parties cannot agree about who was at fault, the court will decide based on the evidence presented. For example, if one party claims that the other driver ran a red light while the other says that the light was green, the judge will weigh the testimony and decide who is telling the truth.
Evaluating liability in a car crash requires collecting information from witnesses, examining physical evidence, reviewing medical records, and interviewing people involved in the incident.
The key to proving fault in a car accident is gathering enough evidence to show who was at fault. Without proper documentation, the opposing side may argue that you did something wrong and reduce the amount of money you receive.
Modified Comparative Negligence or the 51% Rule
The modified comparative negligence legal doctrine is utilized in Indiana. The plaintiff must have been less than 51% at blame for the incident to make an injury claim, also known as the “51% fault” method.
Courts reduce recovery in proportion to each party’s contribution to negligence. You cannot collect from the other driver if you are responsible for more than half of the damages.
The 50/50 rule applies to both parties involved in an automobile accident. If one person is negligent and causes injury to another, it does not matter how much blame falls on either party. Both people are equally liable for the injuries caused by their actions.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence involves failing to act reasonably under the circumstances. In most cases, the plaintiff must show that the defendant breached a duty of care owed to them. A breach of duty occurs when the defendant fails to conform to the standard of conduct required by law.
To prove fault, you must demonstrate that the defendant failed to comply with certain duties of care. You must show that the defendant violated a legal obligation to protect others from unreasonable risks of harm. If you fail to do this, you cannot collect damages from the defendant.
Applying the Four Elements of Negligence
The four elements of negligence are duty, breach, causation, and damages. Duty is the legal obligation owed to another person or entity. A breach is doing what one is supposed to do but failing to do it properly. Causation is the connection between the breach and the injury. Damages is the harm suffered by the victim.
In a civil lawsuit, you must prove each element of negligence beyond a reasonable doubt. In criminal cases, the burden of proof is much lower. To convict someone of negligent homicide, for example, the prosecution must show that the defendant acted recklessly. A reckless act is “a conscious disregard of a substantial risk.”
Duty of Care
Drivers must exercise care while driving. They must do everything possible to avoid causing harm to others. This includes obeying traffic laws, giving way to emergency vehicles, paying attention to what is happening around them, and being aware of hazards.
Breach of Duty of Care
Negligence occurs when there is a failure to act reasonably to avoid foreseeable harm to another person. This is known as a breach of duty of care. Breach of duty of care can take many forms, including speeding, drunk driving, improper use of mobile phones, texting, and so forth.
A driver commits negligence if they fail to exercise care in their actions while operating a motor vehicle. In some cases, a driver may be found liable for negligence even though they did what they could to prevent an accident.
For example, a driver who swerves into traffic lanes to avoid hitting a deer may still be held responsible if they cause an accident.
There are different factors involved when it comes to accidents. Human error is one of the main causes. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 94% of fatal motor vehicle crashes involve driver error. Other major causes include weather conditions, road hazards, and mechanical failures.
Drunk driving and distracted driving are some ways drivers fail to pay attention behind the wheel. Distracted driving includes texting while driving, eating food, talking on the phone, adjusting the radio, changing CDs, etc.
If you’re injured because someone else hurt you, damages could help pay for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and even punitive damages. But what exactly does “damages” mean? What types of damages are there? How much do I need to prove?
The term “damages” refers to compensation for harm caused by the at-fault party’s wrongful conduct. If you’ve been harmed, you may be able to seek recovery for those damages. You might also be able to sue for emotional distress, such as anxiety or depression. In some cases, you may be able to file a claim against the negligent party’s insurance provider.
In addition to monetary awards, courts can award legal fees and costs, including expert witness fees. Legal fees can range from tens of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. Costs can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You don’t always need to hire an attorney to pursue a case against someone who damaged you. Sometimes it’s enough to submit evidence of the harm done to a court. However, filing an accident claim requires certain steps, including serving process on the defendant and proving liability. An accident attorney can advise you whether pursuing a personal injury lawsuit is worth your time and effort.
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Calculating Damages in an Indiana Car Accident
As we’ve stated, when you have been injured in an auto accident due to the negligence of another, you may be eligible to recover damages. Damages include compensation for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and any other losses you incurred due to the accident.
To show that the other driver was at fault, you will likely need to present evidence that proves the following:
- The other driver failed to obey traffic laws
- The other driver violated a duty owed to you
- The other driver’s failure to act was a cause of your injuries
- Your injuries were foreseeable
If you believe that the other driver was negligent, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Our attorneys can help you determine whether you have a valid claim and what damages you may be entitled to.
Our firm has helped many clients obtain fair settlements after they suffered severe injuries in accidents involving drunk driving, defective products, unsafe equipment, and other types of motor vehicle crashes.
Insurance Companies and the Comparative Fault Rule
An insurance company will often settle cases out of court before the matter goes to trial. This way, there are no witnesses to testify against them, and the company avoids having to assign blame for the accident to the insurer. In addition, the insurance company doesn’t want to be blamed for causing the accident.
To avoid that risk, they try to negotiate a settlement with you. However, if they don’t reach a deal, they may want to go to trial.
If you agree to let the insurance company take the case to trial, what happens next depends on whether the parties can come to terms.
If they do, the judge will decide how much fault must be attributed to each party. The judge will hold a bench trial if they cannot come to terms. At the trial, the judge will hear testimony about the facts surrounding the accident. Then they will make a decision based on those facts.
The judge’s findings might include one or more of the following:
- How much money did each party cause the accident?
- What percentage of fault does each party bear for the accident?
- Whether either party acted negligently.
- Whether either party violated the law.
Auto Insurance Companies Pay Less Money
When paying out insurance settlements, auto insurance carriers don’t like to see people who are found liable for crashes. Why? Because they know that most drivers are financially responsible for their own accidents. So, insurers will likely reduce your payout if you are found partly responsible for a wreck.
For instance, let’s say that you are driving home one night when you hit another vehicle. Your insurer knows that you are at least partially responsible for the collision. Your policy limits will probably be lowered to reflect the lower risk level associated with your claim.
Reach Out to Our Indiana Car Crash Lawyers Today
At the law offices of Isaacs & Isaacs, we represent individuals who have been injured in car accidents throughout Indiana. Contact us today if you or someone close to you has been seriously hurt in an accident caused by another driver.
We are committed to providing our clients with aggressive representation and personalized attention during every step of their case. Call us today or contact us by completing our online form for a free consultation.