Whether you are in Gary, Terre Haute or Indianapolis, there are thousands of miles of roads to see and explore in the Hoosier State. You can travel from the Brickyard in the big city and to the sand dunes and wine trail in the rural parts of the state. Indiana’s roads are used by more than five million drivers, who travel an average of 12,000 miles per year. As in all states, there are thousands of car accidents every year. If you are going to live in or visit Indiana, it is a good idea to be familiar with the accident laws and resources in case you are ever in an accident.
Statistics and Notable Accidents
National and state government data shows there were 205,532 car accidents in Indiana in 2014 with injury or property damage, and there were 821 fatal car accidents in the state in 2015, with 178 DUI deaths.
State data also shows the following are the most common reasons for car accidents in Indiana:
- Unsafe driving: Most Indiana car accidents happen because of general unsafe driving. These accidents occur because of unsafe actions such as following too closely or not yielding right of way. A recent investigation by an Indianapolis TV station found that rear end crashes due to following too closely were the most common accident on state roads.
- Distracted driving: With the ubiquity of cell phones and other small electronic devices, more people are not paying attention to their driving. This is very common with younger drivers, with 71% saying they have texted and drove. Most distracted driving accidents in this state have been blamed on an unspecified distraction, and 400 were blamed in recent years on a cell phone.
- Driver impairment: There are still far too many drunk driving crashes in the state. Also, accidents happen in Indiana because of a lack of sleep. Drowsy driving was cited as the major factor in 1400 crashes in Indiana in 2014. Five of them were fatal.
- Commercial truck accidents: 8% of the 205,532 crashes in the state in 2014 involved large commercial vehicles such as trucks or buses. There were 147 people killed in commercial vehicle accidents in 2014.
- Other factors: According to the 2014 Indiana Crash Facts report, the major factor in 24,485 crashes were bad weather and slick roadways.
Some of the recent bad winter weather in Indiana has spurred many serious and sometimes fatal car accidents. A Jan. 24, 2018 news report stated that a man from Mishawaka was killed in a two vehicle crash on US 6 in Indiana. This was the one fatality among dozens of car accidents in Elkhart County after there was a new round of snow and ice this week. The 25-year-old driver in the crash slid on the road and collided head on with a big rig at US 6 and CR 25 near New Paris.
The state police cautioned that icy weather in Indiana leads to many car accidents because drivers tend to not slow down when they should.
Indiana Negligence Laws
Indiana has a modified comparative negligence standard – 51% fault system. Below are the critical things to know if you are in a car accident here:
- You can obtain financial compensation even if the car accident was partially your fault.
- You only may receive damages if you are less than 51% responsible for the car accident.
- Your financial damages will be awarded based upon your percentage of fault. If the accident is found to be 50% your fault, you will receive 50% less in compensation, whatever the settlement or verdict amount is.
- If several parties are at fault for the accident, they are held liable proportionate to their degree of fault for the crash.
- If you are found to be 51% or more at fault for the accident, you could have to pay for the damages of the other parties.
Indiana is a fault state. This means if you are injured in a car accident, you may file a claim with the other driver’s insurance policy to pay for your medical bills, pain and suffering and property damages. Other states have a no-fault system that means the injured driver must use their own policy to pay for their damages up to a certain limit.
Indiana Statute of Limitations
If you are in a car accident in Indiana, you have two years to file a lawsuit for personal injury. It is important to act quickly if you are in an accident due to the negligence of another party in this state, or your case could be thrown out.
Auto Insurance Requirements in Indiana
The state requires you to have a minimum of auto insurance if you are in an accident. The current requirements are:
- $25,000 bodily injury for each person
- $50,000 bodily injury for all people in an accident
- $10,000 in property damage liability
- $25,000 and $50,000 uninsured bodily injury liability
- $10,000 uninsured motorist property damage
- $50,000 underinsured motorist bodily injury
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can be declined in writing.
If you do not carry insurance in Indiana, you can have your driver’s license suspended, and a $10,000 fine can be imposed. You cannot register your vehicle in the state unless you have auto insurance.
Other Indiana Driving Laws
- Indiana has a ban on texting for all drivers, as well as a ban on cell phone use for beginning drivers.
- As of 2013, state law requires the courts recommend a 90-day suspension at minimum and up to a one-year suspension of your driver’s license for not providing proof of financial responsibility.
- As of 2013, any seller or dealer who knows that methamphetamine was manufactured in a motor vehicle in the last two years must disclose this information to a potential buyer.
Indiana Car Accident Resources
If you are in a car accident in Indiana, you will be stressed and unsure what to do. Use the following resources to get you on the right track after an Indiana car accident:
- If the car accident resulted in injury, death or more than $1000 in damages, you must report the accident to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. You must submit an Operator’s Proof of Insurance and Crash Report Form within 10 days. This is unnecessary if the police investigated the accident and took a police report.
- 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, you probably need to learn a rough estimate of what your case could be worth. Visit Lawsuit Info Center to learn what your car accident case could be worth.