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Indiana Auto Accident Laws

The Hoosier State is among the most beautiful in the country. Each year more than 5 million drivers explore thousands of miles of roadways. Unfortunately, Indiana’s roadways are also dangerous. 

According to research, there were 47,428 injuries in Indiana car accidents in 2018. And 873 people lost their lives.  

If you live in or plan on visiting Indiana, it is a good idea to be familiar with Indiana auto accident laws. Indiana auto accident laws give car accident victims important rights. Yet Indiana auto accident laws are complex. Those that do not have a lawyer often do not know what their options are. 

This guide will cover some important Indiana auto accident laws. The guide provides a brief overview of laws that will likely be important to your case. For more information, discuss your case with an experienced Indiana car accident lawyer.

Indiana is a Fault-Based State

Like most states, Indiana auto accident laws operate on a fault-based system. This means that the party that was at-fault for causing the accident is liable for paying for damages. In most cases the at-fault driver’s insurance company will pay for damages. Indiana’s comparative negligence rule may impact the victim’s damage award.

Comparative Negligence in Indiana Auto Accident Cases 

The state of Indiana follows a comparative negligence rule in car accident cases. Indiana Code Sections 34-51-2-5 and 34-51-2-6 states that any damage award that you receive reduces by your percentage of liability for the car accident. For example, suppose you suffer an injury in a car accident in Indiana. You file a lawsuit against the other driver and his insurance company. Ultimately, the jury determines that your damages are $100,000. But the jury also finds that you were 20% responsible for the car accident. The court will subtract your share of liability ($20,000) from the award leaving you with $80,000. 

Indiana’s comparative negligence rule is different from the law in many other states. The state of Indiana has a “modified comparative negligence” standard. This means that if your share of fault exceeds 50% you will not recover any damages. Returning to the example, suppose the jury determines that you were 60% at-fault for the accident. Under Indiana auto accident laws you would not receive damages.  

Indiana Auto Accident Laws Statute of Limitations 

The statute of limitations sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit. Indiana Code Section 34-11-2-4 gives a car accident victim 2 years to file a lawsuit. On the day of the accident, the clock starts running. The 2-year period applies to damages for injuries and personal property. 

If the accident victim does not file a lawsuit by the deadline, she will be unable to. However, there are some minor exceptions to this rule. But it is a good idea to leave yourself plenty of time to file. Missing the deadline set by the statute of limitations can have devastating consequences. An experienced Indiana car accident lawyer can ensure that you do not miss the deadline. 

The Indiana statute of limitations does not apply to an insurance claim.  Your insurance policy will list the procedures for filing a claim. 

Indiana’s Minimum Insurance Liability Coverage Amounts 

Indiana auto accident laws require drivers to buy liability insurance coverage. The minimum amounts of coverage are: 

  • $25,000 for property damage caused by the driver of the insured vehicle.
  • $25,000 for bodily injury or death caused by the driver of the insured vehicle. 
  • $50,000 for total bodily injury or death liability caused by the driver of the insured vehicle. 

Liability coverage covers medical expenses, property damage, and other damages to third parties. The insurance company will pay damages up to the coverage limits. Many drivers buy policies with higher coverage limits. This shields them from personal liability for serious car accidents. 

Liability coverage does not apply to any damages that you incur. If you are at-fault you will have to rely on different coverage. For example, you can buy collision coverage that will pay for damage to your vehicle. 

Drivers in Indiana must also buy uninsured motorist coverage (UIM).  UIM coverage allows you to recover damages from your insurance company. This is for when the other driver does not have adequate coverage. The minimum UIM coverage amounts are: 

  • $25,000 for each person for bodily injury. 
  • $50,000 for each accident. 
  • $10,000 for property damage. 

Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in Indiana 

Drivers that fail to buy adequate insurance can receive harsh penalties. For a first offense drivers usually lose their driving privileges. They may also need to buy SR-22 insurance. SR-22 is a form that goes to the state to show you are meeting minimum insurance requirements. 

Drivers without adequate car insurance also risk significant civil liability. If they cause an accident, they will be on the hook for other parties’ damages.

Reporting a Car Accident in Indiana 

Indiana auto accident laws require drivers to report car accidents. The Indiana Code Section 9-26-1.1 applies if an accident causes injury or death. Alternatively, it also applies if there is damage to an unattended vehicle. The driver involved must notify the local police department if the accident occurs within a municipality. If outside of a municipality the driver must notify the county sheriff or state police. Or the driver may contact a 911 operator. 

Recovering Damages in an Indiana Car Accident Case 

There are several different ways injured drivers can recover damages. First,  contact your insurance company to report the accident. Your insurance company will work with the other driver’s insurance company to determine fault. 

If the other driver is at-fault his insurance company will pay for your damages. If you are at-fault, then you must turn to your own insurance company for compensation. 

When the other driver is at-fault his insurance company will often try to settle. This usually involves the insurance company mailing your written offer. The initial offer is often low. Insurance companies attempt to limit their liability by settling cases fast. 

You also have the option of sending the insurance company a formal demand letter. A demand letter lists your damages and requests a specific amount to settle your case. Unrepresented parties often undervalue their claims. An experienced Indiana auto accident lawyer can help you value your claim. 

Another option to recover damages is to file a lawsuit. A lawsuit usually lists the other driver and her insurance company as defendants. Some cases may also involve third-party defendants. Car accident victims often file a lawsuit for two reasons. First, the insurance company may be unwilling to budge on their offer. In this case, you can go to trial to attempt to get more compensation from a jury. 

Second, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations has expired. Even if you are confident of settling, filing preserves your right to go to trial. 

To recover damages at trial, you must prove that the other driver was negligent. This means that the other driver failed to exercise a reasonable standard of care. And his failure must have caused the accident. If you contributed to the accident the comparative negligence rule will come into play. 

Indiana Auto Accident Law Resources

The following resources may come in handy as you prepare to take the next step in your Indiana auto accident case.

  • You can report a car accident by completing the Operator’s Proof of Insurance and Crash Report Form. This is not necessary if the police responded to the accident.
  • After an Indiana car accident, you probably will need a copy of the police report if you are filing a claim against the other driver. You can get a copy of the police report from the local law enforcement office that investigated the crash. Or you can buy a copy of the report at buycrash.com.
  • If you are unsure whether you should file a claim or not, it may be helpful to determine what your case is worth. Visit Lawsuit Info Center to get a quick determination and further assistance.

Indiana Car Accident Settlement Calculator 

Did you or someone that you know suffer an injury in a car accident in Indiana? Use our free online Injury Settlement Calculator to see what your case might be worth.