A legal claim seeking compensation for injuries suffered in a car accident hinges on who is found to be at fault for the accident. In some car accidents or other accidents, more than one person may share the fault. The state of Indiana uses the legal doctrine of modified comparative fault to assign blame after an accident. You may still be eligible to seek compensation even if you were partly at fault.
Our three partner attorneys have been fighting as a team to recover maximum compensation for injury victims in Indiana since establishing Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC in 1999. Our dedicated injury attorneys and hard-working, highly trained paralegals and support staff work to gather the facts after accidents and pursue full and just compensation for clients through our civil justice system.
Talk to a knowledgeable Indianapolis injury attorney about how comparative fault affects your claim. Contact Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC online or call us at 888-253-5198. We level the playing field against insurance companies and will fight to get you fair compensation. Don’t settle for less. Along with our decades of experience, our attorneys offer genuine compassion for what you and your family are going through. We serve clients throughout Indiana and will gladly set up an appointment in your home or at a location convenient for you.
Modified Comparative Fault in Indiana
Under Indiana’s modified comparative fault system, you may be entitled to compensation for injuries caused by others, so long as you are found to be 50 percent or less at fault for causing your injuries.
The assignment of exact percentages of fault by insurance adjusters or by an Indiana jury is a judgment call. In a legal system that applies “modified comparative fault,” the ability of your attorney to determine exactly what happened in a car accident and to resist insurance companies attempts to shift more of the blame on you are critical to the outcome of the case.
Under U.S. civil law, each state employs one of the basic systems for allocating fault and compensation, also known as damages, in personal injury cases:
- Pure Contributory Negligence – An injured party cannot recover any damages if he or she is found to be even 1% at fault for their injury in a pure contributory negligence system.
- Pure Comparative Fault – In a “comparative fault” or “comparative negligence” system, damages are divided between negligent parties according to their proportionate shares of fault. An injured party may recover compensation even if he or she is primarily at fault, although the recovery would be reduced by the injured party’s degree of fault (the percentage assigned).
- Modified Comparative Fault – In states such as Indiana that use a modified comparative fault system, the damages are divided between negligent parties based on their proportionate shares of fault. Any party that is 51% or more at fault cannot recover damages. This is also known as the “51% bar rule.” To be eligible to recover damages through a personal injury claim in Indiana, you need to be less than 51 percent at fault for the injury.
Thirty-three states, including Indiana, follow a modified comparative fault system. In claims against the State of Indiana or one of its political subdivisions or government agencies, the stricter contributory negligence doctrine is used.
In an Indiana car accident claim, if you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault, you cannot recover compensation from the other party in the accident.
If you are found to share the blame equally with another party (50%), you can recover compensation, but whatever the jury awards will be reduced by 50%.
If you are found to be 50% at fault, a $100,000 award would be reduced to $50,000. If you are found to be 30% responsible for a car accident and injury, a $100,000 award would be reduced to $70,000.
If there are three or more parties to an accident, fault is apportioned to everyone, and the 51% bar applies if that amount of blame is assigned to the plaintiff.
To set an award, the jury is to disregard fault and determine the total amount of damages that the plaintiff is entitled to recover. They then apply the percentage of fault to reduce the award. In a trial without a jury, the judge follows the same process.
Examples of Car Accidents Where Fault Could be Questioned
In some car accidents, it is obvious what happened and who is at fault. Often, there are conflicting stories and facts in dispute. Insurance adjusters are motivated by their employers to settle claims for the smallest amount possible and to deny claims.
When there are questions about fault in a car accident, having an experienced car accident attorney on your side can make a bit difference in the outcome.
Consider these car accident scenarios:
- You are driving down a state road through a shopping district at 8 or 9 miles over the speed limit. A driver pulls out of a parking lot and attempts a left-hand turn ahead of you. Your cars collide. The other driver violated your right or way and is guilty of an unsafe maneuver. However, the defendant argues that if you had not been speeding in a busy, high-traffic area your cars would not have collided.
- You are pulling out of your neighborhood onto a two-lane secondary highway, where cleared lots on either side of the road give you a full view of the road for 100 yards in either direction. Only one car is approaching in the far lane, so you slow down and roll through the stop sign as you turn right. But the other driver drifts across the yellow line and slams into you. The police charge the other driver with operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI). But the insurance company has found a neighbor who was walking her dog and has submitted a deposition that says she saw you run the stop sign. If you had come to a full stop, the crash would not have happened.At some level, you contributed to each of these accidents. But by how much is the question. Under either scenario, you may expect the amount of compensation you receive – either through negotiated insurance settlement or a court trial – to be reduced. When we represent car accident victims, we present evidence to insurance companies to show where fault properly should be assigned. We push back aggressively when insurance adjusters attempt to shift the blame to our client to avoid payment of a claim.
Without an attorney advocating for you, the insurance company would almost certainly dispute your claim and try to minimize any payment to you.
How an Indiana Car Accident Attorney Can Help
Craig, Kelley & Faultless has committed attorneys, skilled investigators, and the resources to work on your behalf to obtain justice after a car accident in Indiana. We gather evidence to determine how the car accident that injured you happened and who was truly at fault. If you contributed to the accident, we work to mitigate how your involvement impacts your claim. Because we conduct a thorough investigation and have a firm command of the facts of the case, we are in a strong position to rebut attempts to assign more fault to you.
We negotiate settlements when possible. We do not allow an insurance company to pressure an accident victim to settle for a fraction of the fair value of a claim. We deal with insurance companies on a daily basis and know which ones put a greater priority on making a profit than dealing fairly with people their policies are meant to assist.
If your case must go to court to seek justice, we will develop a solid and persuasive case. Our law firm includes accomplished trial attorneys. We will work to ensure that you know what to expect in a trial. If your testimony will help your case, we will prepare you for what to expect and advise you of the types of questions to expect from opposing attorneys.
Contact Our Indiana Car Accident Lawyers
The car accident lawyers at Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC handle Indiana accident claims for drivers and pedestrians injured as a result of the carelessness or negligence of others. We are here to help if you or your loved one has been injured. We never work for insurance companies.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, our firm will work to recover the maximum amount of compensation available to you. Contact Craig, Kelley & Faultless for a free case consultation. We serve clients throughout Indiana and have several satellite offices and meeting locations where we can meet with you. If your injuries limit your mobility and you are unable to come to our office, we can arrange to meet with you in your home or medical facility during your recovery. Contact us today.