Originally published December 1, 2020.
Auto accident liability is determined by state law rather than federal law. Which means, 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.
Read on to learn the answers to three questions Hoosiers should know in case they’re involved in a wreck.
#1. Is Indiana a “Fault” or a “No-Fault” State?
Every state generally falls into either the “fault” or “no-fault” categories for their auto insurance laws. In a “fault” state, the driver who caused a car accident (and that driver’s insurance company) must pay for all damages resulting from the accident. These damages may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Medical bills for anyone injured in the accident, regardless of which vehicle they were in (or if they were a pedestrian)
- Property damage sustained in the collision, including to vehicles, personal items in those vehicles, and to structures like buildings or fences
- Lost wages for anyone who received disabling injuries in the accident
- Pain and suffering compensation for anyone injured
In a “no-fault” state, on the other hand, every driver will receive compensation for their own medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses from their own insurance company after an accident, regardless of who was at fault.
Indiana is a “fault” state. This means that if you are found at-fault for a crash, you will pay the other driver’s resulting damages. If the other driver is found at-fault, you will receive damages from them instead.
Related Reading: 3 Ways to Prove Fault in a Car Crash
More Than One Person Can Be At-Fault
There are certain situations where both parties may be found partially responsible for the accident. 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 equals your share of liability.
You will not be able to recover any compensation if your share of fault for the accident exceeds 50%.
If Driver A was speeding when Driver B cut them off, a jury may determine that Driver A was 30% liable for the accident, and award them $10,000 for their injuries. Driver A’s compensation would be reduced by 30%, and they would receive $7,000 from Driver B’s insurance. Driver B was 70% at fault, and not eligible for compensation from Driver A.
This is why it’s important for you to work with an experienced auto accident attorney after a crash. An attorney can help reduce your degree of fault so you get the full compensation you deserve.
#2. What Are Indiana’s Car Insurance Requirements?
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. It does NOT pay for any of your own injuries or property damage.
- Uninsured and/or underinsured motorist: Uninsured motorist coverage pays for damages caused to you by a driver who does not have car insurance while underinsured motorist coverage pays for damages caused to you 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.
#3. How Can I Protect My Rights After a Car Accident?
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 and implying fault 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.
- Seek medical treatment for any injuries, even those that seem minor.
- Exchange contact information with the other driver.
- Obtain a copy of the police report.
- Check for nearby security cameras that may have captured the crash.
- 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.
Related Reading: When is the Safest Time to Drive?
Don’t Trust Everything the Insurance Company Says
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.”
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.
Injured in a Car Accident? We’re Here to Help.
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 866-440-1305 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.