If you are injured by a negligent driver in a traffic accident in Indiana, you are entitled to compensation by law, but what if you are injured in a traffic accident and part of the fault for the accident was your own?
Every driver in Indiana needs to know how liability and “comparative fault” are determined after a vehicle accident happens on an Indiana street or highway.
None of us are perfect drivers. Almost everyone occasionally speeds, rolls slowly through a stop sign, or gets distracted behind the wheel. Usually, that’s not a big deal or the cause of an accident or injury.
HOW COMMON ARE TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS AND FATALITIES IN INDIANA?
Still, according to data compiled by the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, 821 lives were lost in Indiana traffic accidents in 2016, and 52,591 serious traffic injuries were reported,
According to the numbers, it’s not difficult to get into a serious accident in our state. Many of those accidents happen because two motorists make a mistake at the same time.
When simultaneous driving mistakes result in accidents and injuries, the answer to “who pays for what?” will be determined by the “comparative fault” principle that governs traffic accident cases in Indiana.
This is a brief and general introduction to comparative fault in Indiana, but every case is unique, so if you have been injured by a negligent driver, discuss the specific details with an experienced personal injury attorney, and get the personalized legal advice that you’re going to need.
EXACTLY WHAT IS COMPARATIVE FAULT?
How does comparative fault work? Under the “comparative fault” principle in this state, each party in a traffic accident is assigned a percentage of the fault.
Here is an example: Let’s say that Driver A makes a sudden and reckless lane change and crashes into Driver B, who was traveling at ten miles per hour over the posted speed limit.
An insurance company in Indiana – or a trial judge or jury, if the case goes to court – might determine that Driver A was ninety percent responsible for the accident because of the reckless driving and that Driver B was ten percent responsible for the accident because of the speeding.
If Driver B is injured and his or her damages amount to $50,000, under the comparative fault principle, Driver B’s compensation will be reduced by ten percent and Driver B will receive $45,000.
WHAT HAPPENS IF A TRAFFIC ACCIDENT CASE GOES TO COURT?
If this case went to court, the jurors would hear testimony from both sides. They would view photos of the accident site and the damaged vehicles, and they would be asked to decide which driver was at fault – or if both drivers were at fault, by how much.
Under the law in Indiana, no driver who is deemed to be more than 50 percent at-fault for an Indiana traffic accident is allowed to receive damages after that accident.
The good news for the injured is that determining a percentage of fault is far from an exact science, and that inexactness gives your personal injury lawyer some space for negotiating with the insurance company.
If you are injured by a negligent driver in southwestern Indiana, you will need to obtain medical attention at once – and then you’ll need to speak promptly to an experienced Evansville personal injury attorney about negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf.
HOW CAN A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER HELP YOU?
Personal injury attorneys routinely negotiate with insurance companies. They know what negotiating tactics insurance companies are likely to use, and they know how to win the compensation that an injured victim of negligence needs and deserves.
Of course, your attorney will need to review the evidence in your case and question any eyewitnesses as soon as possible.
This is critical. If you do not contact an attorney right away after being injured by a negligent driver, the evidence deteriorates and the memories fade. It becomes harder to prove your case and win your compensation.
Your attorney will explain how Indiana’s complicated negligence and comparative fault laws will apply in your own case. Your attorney will also negotiate – and if necessary, go to court – for the compensation and justice you deserve.
DO YOU NEED A LAWYER’S HELP TO DEAL WITH AN INSURANCE COMPANY?
Negotiating on your own with an insurance company is fine – but only if the only damage you sustain in an accident is vehicle damage. Cars and trucks can be replaced. You can’t.
If you have been injured by negligence, your health and future may be on the line, and you can’t take any more risks. You must have an experienced injury lawyer negotiate for the compensation that is rightfully yours.
An added benefit is that having a trained and experienced negotiator handling your insurance settlement will let you concentrate on healing and recovering your health.
Do not be victimized twice. Too many injury victims accept an insurance company’s first settlement offer without an attorney’s advice – and end up needing more compensation later.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN IF YOU SETTLE AN INJURY CLAIM TOO EARLY?
But when an injury victim agrees to accept an insufficient settlement amount from an insurance company, that victim also waives the right to any further compensation and the right to take any additional legal action.
An experienced Evansville personal injury attorney will work diligently to ensure that an injury victim receives full compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and all related damages after being injured by a negligent driver in this state.
Comparative fault applies to most personal injury cases in Indiana, including traffic accident cases, but comparative fault does not apply in cases of medical malpractice or in cases where a private individual is suing the state government, a local government, or a governmental agency.
AFTER YOU’VE BEEN INJURED, HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE TO ACT?
Indiana’s statute of limitations restricts the amount of time that an injury victim in this state has to initiate a personal injury claim. In most cases, victims have to act within two years of the date of the injury.
Do not wait two years. In fact, if you’ve been injured by a negligent driver, don’t even wait two weeks to arrange a consultation with a personal injury lawyer.
Don’t worry. It will not cost you anything to learn more about your case and your rights.
Personal injury attorneys offer free first consultations, and when an attorney takes your case, you’ll pay nothing until – and unless – your attorney recovers a settlement or verdict on your behalf.
If you are injured by a negligent driver, with your health and your future at stake, you must get the legal help you need – immediately.