3 Things to Know About Indiana’s Car Accident Laws
Every state in the country has unique laws when it comes to car accident liability. It’s important for you to stay informed on the laws in your state so you know how to protect your rights after a crash. We discuss what Hoosiers should know.
Check out the answers to three common questions about Indiana car accidents below.
Every state in the country follows either “at-fault” or “no-fault” insurance laws. In an “at-fault” state, the driver who caused a car accident (and that driver’s insurance company) must pay for any damages resulting from the accident. These damages may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
In a “no-fault” state, on the other hand, every driver will receive compensation from their own insurance company after an accident—even if their actions caused the accident.
Indiana is an at-fault state. This means that, if you are involved in a car accident, you will pay the other driver damages resulting from the incident (if you caused the crash), or you will receive damages from the other driver (if they caused the crash).
There are certain situations, however, where both parties may be found partially responsible for the accident. This is where “comparative fault” comes into play. In Indiana, state law dictates that, while you can recover damages against any other at-fault party, your damages will be reduced by a percentage that corresponds to your share of liability. And, you will not be able to recover anything at all if your share of fault for the accident exceeds 50%.
For example, let’s say you were driving above the speed limit and another driver cuts you off. In this situation, you would be partially at-fault because your excessive speed made it impossible for you to avoid the accident. The other driver would also be partially at-fault because they cut you off. In this hypothetical scenario, a jury may determine that you were 25% liable for the accident. So, if you would otherwise have secured a $10,000 settlement, this would be reduced to $7,500.
This may also be the situation when an insurance company determines the settlement amount to offer you, which is why it’s important for you to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can negotiate with insurers on your behalf.
Like car accident laws, car insurance requirements vary from state to state. In Indiana, every motorist must carry the following:
- Bodily injury liability: Minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Property damage liability: Minimum of $25,000 per accident
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury: Minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Uninsured motorist property damage: Minimum of $25,000 per accident
- Underinsured motorist bodily injury: Minimum of $50,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
*It should be noted that you may decline uninsured and/or underinsured motorist coverages in writing.
But, what exactly do each of these policies cover? We explain below:
- Liability: Liability coverage pays for the damages you cause to another party in an accident including medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and more.
- Uninsured and/or underinsured motorist: Uninsured motorist coverage pays for damages caused by a driver who does not have car insurance while underinsured motorist coverage pays for damages caused by a driver who does not have sufficient coverage to pay for the full cost.
There are also optional coverages that you may decide to purchase for additional protection. These include the following:
- Collision: Collision coverage pays for physical damage to your vehicle resulting from contact with another vehicle or object.
- Comprehensive: Comprehensive coverage pays for physical damage to your vehicle resulting from external factors, such as vandalism or weather events.
The steps you take immediately following a car accident can greatly affect the settlement you receive down the line. Failing to collect the other driver’s information or accidentally issuing an apology to them at the accident scene may jeopardize your claim altogether.
To that end, taking the following steps after a car accident can help protect your rights and increase your chances of recovering maximum possible compensation:
- Pull to the side of the road, if possible. This will make it safer for all parties involved.
- Check to see if anyone requires medical attention. If so, contact emergency services.
- Seek medical treatment. Make sure to get medical attention for all injuries, even those that seem minor. Failure to do so may later be used as evidence against you that you were not seriously injured in the crash and do not need compensation.
- Exchange contact information. Get the other driver’s contact, insurance, and vehicle information. If the other party is a commercial driver, collect their employer’s name and business contact as well.
- Obtain a copy of the police report. This can be used as supporting evidence for your claim down the line.
- Check for nearby cameras. The footage from traffic or security cameras can also be used as supporting evidence for your claim.
- Contact an experienced personal injury attorney. Those who file a claim with experienced legal representation tend to receive significantly higher settlements than those who go through the process on their own.
After your car accident, you may receive a phone call from an insurance agent that represents the other driver’s insurance company. While this person may seem friendly, it’s important to remember that their main objective is to protect their company’s bottom line and pay you as little money as possible after an accident.
To that end, be wary of common lies told by insurance agents, including the following:
“Our first settlement offer is the highest amount you can possibly get.”
“You must give us a recorded statement.”
“You must speak with us alone, without your attorney on the line.”
“You don’t need to hire an attorney to obtain a fair settlement.”
Insurance agents commonly tell these lies in an effort to make claimants believe that they do not need or cannot have legal representation throughout this process. This is because insurance agents know that they will likely have to pay claimants significantly more money if they have an experienced attorney on their side.
So, if an insurance agent calls you after an accident, simply tell them that you will not speak to them without an attorney on the line and hang up. You are not required to do anything more, no matter what the insurance agent tells you.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, our Indianapolis attorneys can protect your rights against large insurance companies and help you recover maximum possible compensation. At Wagner Reese, we have a strong track record of success in protecting plaintiffs’ rights and we have secured millions of dollars on behalf of our clients.
We’re here to help you through this. Contact Wagner Reese at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a free consultation.