Indiana Auto Accidents: How Are They Handled?

Indiana auto accident cases are handled a bit differently than in other states. Indiana uses something called 'comparative fault' – a legal term that compares the fault of each person involved in the accident. We asked Marc S. Sedwick, an experienced personal injury attorney licensed in Indiana and Kentucky who also worked in the insurance industry for many years, to explain the term and provide information on how auto accident cases are handled in Indiana. According to Sedwick, "Automobile cases in Indiana are handled pursuant to the Indiana Comparative Fault Act. This means that fault is apportioned to the plaintiff, defendant and possibly an entity called a 'non-party'."

"A 'non-party' would be a person or entity that the plaintiff did not sue but could have apportioned fault to it. An example of a 'non-party' would be the plaintiff's employer, which under Indiana law, a plaintiff can sue his or her employer, or a party that the plaintiff's attorney has voluntarily chosen not to sue based on strategy reasons. Once all the parties are known, a jury will be asked to apportion fault among the plaintiff, defendant and the 'non-party' (if any). As long as the plaintiff's fault is at or below 50%, the plaintiff recovers that specific percentage of their damages."

An example of comparative fault

Comparative fault can be complicated, so Sedwick provided us with the following example:

If the jury awards the plaintiff $100,000 and it is determined the plaintiff was 35% at fault, the plaintiff recovers $65,000. On the other hand, if the jury determines that the plaintiff is over 50% at fault for the collision, the plaintiff does not recover anything. It is imperative to get the plaintiff's fault at or below 50% to recover damages for the injured motorist in Indiana.

Indiana is a 'fault' state

Unlike some other states that use a "no-fault" system of law, Indiana is a "fault" state. But, what exactly does that mean? Sedwick explained, "Many states have 'no-fault' automobile laws which means that an injured driver has to use their own automobile insurance, up to a certain limit, before the at-fault driver's insurance company is responsible to pay for any property damage or medical bills. Indiana is not this way. Once a driver sustains injuries due to an automobile collision, an injured driver may first use the at-fault driver's insurance coverage to pay for his or her property damage, medical bills and other damages."

If you've been in an auto accident and click here to speak with an experienced Indiana auto accident attorney whose practice focuses in this area of the law.