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Indiana Car Accident Laws: Which Party Is At Fault?

After a car crash, justice demands that the individual or business that caused the accident compensates the accident victims for their losses. A legal claim following a car accident may seek money for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering, typically from the at-fault driver’s auto liability insurance.

The car accident attorneys of Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC in Indianapolis can work with you to establish who is at fault in a car accident in Indiana and to obtain compensation for your losses. We have extensive experience and can answer your questions regarding any issues particular to your case.

A question we often get from prospective car accident clients is whether Indiana is a no-fault state, which would mean drivers turn to their own auto insurance after an accident. In fact, Indiana is not a no-fault state and instead observes a doctrine of “comparative fault.” This puts a different wrinkle in car accident claims, which can cut into the amount of compensation you receive if your case is not handled correctly.

Here’s what you need to know about car accidents in Indiana:

First Steps to Follow After A Car Accident in Indiana

Immediately after a car accident, you should determine whether you or others in your vehicle or other vehicles are injured. By law (§ 9-26-1-1.1), you are to provide reasonable assistance if you are able to those who are injured. This includes calling for an ambulance if needed.

You also need to report the accident to law enforcement authorities and exchange information with the other drivers, including names and addresses, vehicle registration numbers, and driver’s licenses.

Next, you or a companion should document the accident with photos if you can, including pictures of vehicle damage, your injuries and the overall accident scene. You want to capture anything that helps show what happened. These photos may be useful if you need to file a claim.

You also need to see a doctor. Either call for an ambulance and go directly to the hospital from the accident scene or visit a doctor’s office within 24 hours of the accident. In addition to diagnosing and treating your injuries, a doctor will establish a record of your injuries and treatment, which will be primary evidence in a claim for compensation.

Then you should contact a car accident attorney. An Indianapolis injury attorney at Craig, Kelley & Faultless can launch an investigation to determine who is at fault for the accident and ensure that the at-fault driver is held accountable for your losses. You need to consult with a lawyer to ensure your right to compensation is protected.

Proving Fault in A Car Crash

When we investigate a car accident, we collect and examine a variety of evidence, including:

  • Police report
  • Your statement as well as any witness statements
  • Photos you took at the crash scene
  • Physical evidence at the crash scene
  • Vehicle damage
  • Vehicle event data recorder (EDR) contents
  • Security or red-light camera footage.

Usually, we can establish fairly quickly who is responsible for a car accident. A case becomes more complex when there is evidence to argue that each driver has some responsibility for the crash. This is when Indiana’s reliance on comparative fault becomes an issue.

Under the legal doctrine of comparative fault, the amount of compensation the injured party may receive is determined by his or her role in the accident. In short, the amount you can obtain may be cut by the amount of blame you shoulder for the accident. For example, if you are determined to be 20% responsible for an accident, maybe because you were speeding, a $100,000 award would be cut to $80,000.

If the evidence indicates that your fault, or liability, in the accident was 51% or more when quantified and compared to the other driver’s, the other driver would not be required to compensate you.

The next obvious question is “Who determines liability in a car accident?

How is Comparative Fault Determined in Indiana?

A car accident claim goes to the auto insurance provider.

When we are handling a car accident case, we send a demand letter to the insurer, which explains the evidence we have of the policyholder’s fault. The demand letter includes an accounting of your injuries, medical expenses and other losses to justify the amount of compensation you are claiming.

Insurance companies typically respond with a settlement offer that is less than what we demand. If the insurance adjuster has found evidence of your liability, or contributory fault, he or she will cite it as justification for a lower settlement offer or for denying the claim.

At this stage, your attorney and the insurer negotiate how fault for the accident should be assigned and how that affects compensation to you. If the insurer does not offer a settlement that you find acceptable, we can file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf while continuing to try to negotiate a fair resolution. If the personal injury lawsuit goes to trial, an Indiana jury would decide how liability for the accident should be apportioned, and what compensation you deserve.

As your attorneys, Craig Kelley & Faultless will negotiate aggressively with insurers on your behalf. If your lawsuit goes to trial, we will present a strong and persuasive case to judge and jury. Most claims are settled outside of court and a lawsuit may be settled at any point prior to the delivery of a jury verdict.

Fault in Rear-End Accidents and Left-Turn Collisions

Most car accidents are caused by driver error. Rear-end accidents and left-turn collisions are the most common types of car accidents. In most cases of a rear-end or left-turn accident, the at-fault driver has run into the other vehicle.

However, it is a myth that the driver who hits another vehicle in the rear is always found to be at fault, especially in a comparative fault state such as Indiana. If you are stopped in the road illegally or your rear brake lights don’t work and you are hit in the rear, you will bear some liability for the accident. Similarly, if you run a red light and are hit by someone making a left turn in the intersection, this will adversely affect your claim.

As your attorneys, we make sure you understand your prospects for a successful car accident claim and work to diminish the impact of any liability that could be assigned to you. If we believe your liability is less than the other driver’s, we will fight for every cent you deserve to receive.

How Can A Car Accident Lawyer Help Me in Indianapolis, IN?

If you have been injured in a car accident in Indiana, Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC in Indianapolis can conduct an independent investigation of the accident and your injuries and advise you of your prospects for obtaining insurance compensation. We are experienced car accident attorneys with the resources and knowledge required to stop insurance companies from short-changing you or denying your valid claim altogether.

We’ll provide an initial consultation and case review for free. If we handle your case, our Indiana car accident lawyers will work on a contingency fee basis. This means we will not ask for payment until we recover compensation for you through a settlement or a jury verdict. Contact us today about protecting your rights in an Indiana car accident case.