Indiana drivers travel roughly 82 million miles every year. Though many of those miles are incident-free, accidents are inevitable.
Getting into an auto accident in Indiana isn't the same as being in a crash in California or any other state. If you're involved in a car accident in the Hoosier State, it's important to be familiar with the applicable state laws and regulations.
When it comes to fatal car accidents, Indiana is actually one of the safest states to travel by car. In 2018, there were 1.05 fatalities for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled. The national average was 1.13 fatalities. South Carolina, which led the nation, saw 1.83 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
Of course, catastrophic accidents still do happen in Indiana:
|Indiana car accidents by severity (2014-2018)|
The vast majority of car accidents in Indiana in 2018 (66%) were the result of an unsafe action taken by a driver (such as running a red light). Surprisingly, vehicle defects were the 2nd leading cause of car accidents (11%), followed by driver loss of control (10%), miscellaneous or unknown factors (8%), and physical impairment (1%).
Most laws governing motor vehicles in Indiana can be found in Title 9 of the Indiana Code. These laws cover everything from vehicle registration to accident report requirements. Let's take a look at some of the highlights:
To avoid a hit-and-run charge, Indiana law requires that you do 3 things following an accident:
If you crash into an unattended vehicle or cause damage to property other than a vehicle, you must:
Insurance in Indiana is fault-based, meaning the person responsible for causing a car accident is responsible for paying the damages that stem from the accident.
Because Indiana follows a fault-based system, all motorists are required to maintain the following minimum amount of liability insurance coverage:
Keep in mind that liability insurance covers bodily injuries and property damage caused by the insured and sustained by someone other than the insured. What's more, the liability coverage listed above is the minimum amount required, you always have the option to purchase more.
The term "distracted driving" refers to any non-driving activity a driver engages in that has the potential to distract them from the primary task of driving. Examples include:
All distracting activities pose a risk while driving, but not all distracting activities are prohibited by law.
In 2020, Indiana became the 22nd state to pass a law prohibiting drivers from holding a smartphone or similar device. People who violate the law can be fined up to $500 and potentially lose their driver's license.
In Indiana, you're guilty of operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVWI) if you're operating a vehicle and any of the following are true:
To receive compensation after a car accident, you have to prove that someone else was at fault for the accident. In most cases, this means proving that some other driver was negligent.
To prove negligence in Indiana, a plaintiff must establish that:
Not all car accidents are caused by drivers. Other responsible parties may include:
Sometimes the plaintiff is partially at fault for the car accident. What happens then?
Indiana is a modified comparative fault state, which means that the plaintiff's damages are reduced by their percentage of fault. What's more, if the plaintiff is considered more than 50% at fault for the accident, the plaintiff is barred from recovering any damages.
Consider the following example:
John is driving south on Auburn Road in Indianapolis, approaching a 4-way stop. Paul is driving east on Madison Road, approaching the same 4-way stop.
John doesn't have his headlights on and Paul doesn't see him coming. Paul decides to run the stop sign and the two collide. John suffers a whiplash injury and sues Paul for $100,000.
The court determines that Paul was 70% at fault for running a stop sign. The court also determines that John was 30% at fault for the accident because he was driving without his headlights. Under Indiana's modified comparative fault rule, John would only be able to recover $70,000.
Indiana Code 9-26-1-1.1 requires that any driver involved in an accident notify the police as soon as possible if the accident:
In addition to complying with the law, it's a good idea to contact the police following a car accident. The police can conduct a brief investigation and draft a police report that may help support your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Compensatory damages represent the money awarded to a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit. In Indiana, there are 2 types of compensatory damages that an injured plaintiff can receive:
Additionally, a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit may be able to receive punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior. As a consequence, punitive damages are only available in cases where the defendant's actions were intentional or particularly reckless.
Every state has a statute of limitations that sets the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit. In Indiana, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is 2 years.
With that being said, there are some exceptions. For example, plaintiffs have significantly less time (180 days) when suing a government entity.
A personal injury lawyer helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages and provide compensation for injuries suffered. Sometimes a case that seems simple at first may become more complicated. In these cases, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Read more