Comparative Negligence in Indiana

Under Indiana’s comparative negligence law, you can be compensated for damages from a car accident if you are less than 51% at fault.
Written by Mary Cahill
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Indiana is a modified comparative negligence state, which means the involved parties in an accident are assigned a certain percentage of fault. According to comparative negligence law in Indiana, you are eligible for compensation for an accident as long as you are less than 51% at fault.  
You’re never really prepared for a car accident. Once the initial shock subsides, the process of determining fault begins. Comparative law is used to designate portions of fault for the accident to the drivers involved so that the victims of the accident can receive compensation for damages.   
The conditions of comparative negligence differ from state to state, so you’ll need to know how the law works where you live. Luckily,
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What is comparative negligence?

In legal terms, comparative negligence gives individuals who have been in a car accident the right to be reimbursed for damaged incurred depending on their designated amount of responsibility for the crash. 
Let’s look at an example. If you’re in a collision and are given 30% of the blame, you are obligated to pay 30% of the resulting damage. The other party must then cover the other 70% of the damages. 
Comparative negligence pertains to personal injury lawsuits and third-party insurance claims (such as one driver filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance). When there’s a lawsuit, the judicial system is tasked with portioning out the blame to each driver. When an insurance claim is filed, it’s up to the insurance companies to use comparative negligence to assess how much they’ll pay as a result of a collision. 

Comparative negligence vs. contributory negligence 

Each state exercises one of three types of comparative negligence law: pure comparative negligence, partial or modified comparative negligence, or contributory negligence. Here’s a breakdown of how each one works. 
  • Pure comparative negligence: Those who have suffered injuries from an accident are entitled to compensation for damages based on their percentage of fault. 
  • Partial or modified negligence: The injured party will be reimbursed for incurred damages so long as they are determined to be no more than 51% at fault (depending on the state). 
  • Contributory negligence: The injured party is not permitted to receive compensation for damages if any percentage of fault is designated to them.
Most states utilize partial or modified comparative negligence. 12 states recognize pure comparative negligence and just 5 states employ contributory negligence. 

What is Indiana’s comparative negligence law?

Indiana uses modified comparative negligence law, but their interpretation of it is slightly different than other comparative negligence states
Instead of going by the partial or modified principle that allows an injured party to be compensated if they are no more than 49% at fault—Indiana’s law states that the injured party is entitled to compensation as long as they are less than 51% at fault for the accident.  

What happens if there are more than two responsible parties?

When an accident involves more than two vehicles, you’ll have the opportunity to file a claim with either or both of the other parties’ insurance companies. The portions of blame will then be divided between all the drivers involved. 

How is fault decided in a comparative negligence case? 

The way insurance companies decide whose to blame in a car accident is by examining all the data. This includes insurance claims, police reports, and evidence submitted by one or more of the involved parties. If you collide with another vehicle, you’ll want to document the following evidence to strengthen your case:
  • The make and models of the cars
  • The date of the incident as well as the time of day
  • What the weather was like at the time of the accident
  • Statements from anyone who witnessed the crash 
  • Photographs of any damage to your vehicle and others
  • Depending on how serious an accident, call the police and obtain a copy of the police report

How does car insurance work with comparative negligence?

In regard to Indiana’s rule of modified comparative negligence, you’ll be allowed to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance if you are deemed less than 51% at fault. 
Here’s an example. You’ve been stuck behind a slow-moving tractor-trailer for miles on a one-lane road. The moment the roadway opens up to two lanes you vigorously move to the right to pass the trailer. Just as you swing into the open lane, a vehicle rushes through a traffic light as it turns red and T-bones you. 
After the collision, you file a claim with the insurance company of the other driver. When the insurance claim is analyzed, the other driver is determined to be at fault due to
running the red light
. The insurance company affixes 70% of the fault to him. You are found to be 30% at fault for attempting to pass on the right
Indiana’s modified comparative negligence law permits you to collect 70% of damages from the other driver’s insurance. If the repairs to your vehicle cost $1,200, the other driver’s policy will pay for $840. Since the other driver was found to be 70% at fault for the crash, comparative negligence prevents him from submitting a claim with your insurance provider.  

How to find affordable car insurance

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FAQs

Yes. You should anticipate an increase in your insurance premium if you were found to be at fault for an accident. In Indiana, the average annual increase for an at-fault accident is $518.
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