Whoever is at fault in a car accident depends on each party’s role in the incident. You can determine fault by applying these elements of negligence:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
Since Indiana is a fault state, you can pursue damages from the other party’s insurance company.
Applying the Four Elements of Negligence
The central aspect of the majority of car accident cases is negligence. This standard comprises four different elements, which are:
Duty of Care
All drivers must exercise a duty of care, act with prudence on the road, and follow all road rules.
If road conditions change, they are to adjust their behavior accordingly. For example, if it’s raining, they should slow their speed.
Breach of Duty of Care
Negligence occurs during this stage. The other driver may have committed these driving behaviors:
- Drunk driving
- Improper lane change
- Improper turn
- Driving drowsy
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Distracted driving
- Failure to yield to the right of way
- Running stop signs or signals
- Other forms of reckless driving
One of the behaviors listed above caused them to crash into you and hurt you as a result. You may have been involved in a:
- Rear-end collision
- Side-impact collision
- Rollover accident
- Head-over collision
Your injuries have led you to suffer financial, mental, and physical harm. You can prove these damages using your medical bills, income statements, car repair receipts, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
Evidence of Fault in a Car Accident in Indiana
If you decide to file a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver, you must use evidence to build your case.
Common forms of evidence in car accident cases include:
- The crash report
- Photos of the vehicle damage, accident scene, and your visible injuries
- Traffic video footage
- Traffic citations
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Relevant medical records
Your personal testimony of the car accident can also validate your claims. Write down everything you recall before, during, and after the event. You can also include details about your physical restrictions, levels of pain, and mental health to give a deeper look into how the accident has impacted your overall quality of life.
Car Accident Fault FAQs
What if I hit the other vehicle?
It is rare, but there are some situations when a motorist collides with another vehicle, but they are not at fault. If you hit a car but need to prove the other driver or a third party actually caused the accident, you will want to enlist the help of an attorney who handles car accident cases regularly.
What if I was forced off the road or struck by a hit-and-run driver?
In this situation, you may still be able to make an insurance claim if you have uninsured (UM) motorist coverage of your own.
Insurance companies are famously reluctant to pay these claims, however, and may blame you for your own personal injuries – even though, believe it or not, they are your own insurance company!
Some policies may also have a “physical contact” requirement but there could be ways around that. If you have any trouble enforcing your legal rights, you should contact a car accident lawyer you trust as soon as possible.
What if I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt at the time of my accident?
The good news is the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in 2015 that civil defense attorneys can’t introduce a plaintiff’s failure to wear a seat belt as proof of comparable or contributory negligence in personal injury cases.
Does right-of-way determine fault?
Right-of-way determines fault in many car accidents. Insurance companies, lawyers, and juries will consider which motorist had the legal right-of-way when determining the cause of a crash.
However, right-of-way isn’t the only factor that establishes fault. Speeding, intoxication, and distracted driving may also determine who’s at fault for an accident.
Who is liable for a car accident in a construction zone?
In a car accident in a construction zone, liability could rest on the following:
- Another motorist’s insurance company
- A construction company
- A government department
If you were involved in such a crash, liability will ultimately depend on your situation. You could even hold multiple parties accountable for your losses.
Who determines fault in a car accident?
The other driver doesn’t determine fault for the accident. Neither do you. Instead, the insurance company, your lawyer, or the judge and jury will consider your case’s facts to establish liability.
How do I hold other parties accountable for causing a crash?
We might dispatch investigators to gather all relevant evidence. These investigators know what to seek at your accident scene. They may photograph your accident scene, conduct interviews, and speak with the responding police officer.
We may also hire experts for your case who provide important testimony about fault or reconstruct your accident to prove it wasn’t your fault. Experts and investigators come at no additional cost to you. They are simply one of the many benefits of hiring our firm for your case.
Damages You May Recover for Your Indiana Car Accident
A common question car accident victims ask is, “How much money can I get for my car accident?” The simple answer: No one can say. If you retain legal assistance, a lawyer can review the facts of your case and consider certain aspects, like:
- The type and severity of your injuries
- The expected duration and intensity of your medical care
- Your ability to work
- Your physical capabilities
- Your emotional well-being
After they get a sense of these factors, they may find that you are entitled to recover damages such as:
- Pain and suffering: The pain and discomfort from your injuries may impede your quality of life.
- Past and future medical care costs: Depending on your injuries, you may have accumulated bills for surgery, follow-up doctor’s visits, pain medications, hospital stays, assistive medical equipment, and lab work.
- Property damage bills: Your car may need to be replaced, or you may need to buy a new one if it was totaled.
- Lost income: You could have had to take a few days or weeks off work, which forced you to miss out on earning a salary, hourly wages, bonuses, commissions, tips, promotions, and other opportunities.
- Future lost earning potential: If your injuries are serious enough, you may need to take off work for the foreseeable future.
- Mental anguish: The trauma of the car accident may have triggered you to suffer mental health issues, like insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, and anxiety.
There are tragic instances in which victims lose their lives from the car accident. If you decide to take a wrongful death action for a lost loved one, you may qualify to recover damages for memorial, funeral, and/or burial fees, end-of-life medical care costs, and loss of household services, consortium, and/or parental guidance.
Indiana Follows Comparative Negligence Laws
Due to Indiana’s comparative fault laws, your damages may be reduced by your percentage of fault. Consider the example below:
The other driver was required to yield to you. Instead, they ignored the sign and hit you. When the insurance companies and attorneys investigate your case, they may find that you were driving too fast for conditions. As a result, they could assign you 20% of the fault, while the other party gets 80%. If you were entitled to $100,000, then you would end up receiving $80,000.
In most cases, whoever ends up with more than 51% of fault is barred from recovering damages. An attorney can fight any misplaced fault against you.
Make Sure You Comply with State-Imposed Deadlines
If you want to file a lawsuit against the responsible party, you only have a certain amount of time. Under IC § 34-11-2-4, Indiana enforces a two-year deadline for most personal injury lawsuits. Meeting this statute is crucial. The state may bar you from holding the other party liable if you try to file after the statute runs out.
Get in Touch with Sevenish Law Firm, P.C. for a Free Case Review
Figuring out Indiana’s car accident law, especially ones concerning fault, can be tricky. Instead of going through that process on your own, have Sevenish Law Firm, P.C. handle all the legalities for you.