In many cases, one driver isn’t 100% at fault for a car crash. However, that shouldn’t prevent a person who may have just a small amount of responsibility for a crash from being denied the compensation they need for medical bills and other expenses and damages.
In some states, that can happen. Fortunately, that’s not how Indiana law works.
Modified comparative fault
Indiana has what’s called a “modified comparative fault” rule in its negligence laws. That means, for example, that if you’re determined to bear 5% of the responsibility for a crash, the amount of compensation you’re due from the at-fault driver’s insurance (or the driver) is reduced by 5%.
Maybe a car ran a light just as it turned red at an intersection and struck you as you were entering the intersection when the light turned green. The driver who ran the red light would likely be found predominantly at fault, but a court may determine that you bore a bit of responsibility since you didn’t look to make sure no one was entering the intersection before you did. No one should assume that because they have the right of way that they have no responsibility to check for others. We all have a duty of care to others on the road.
Compensation for economic, non-economic and punitive damages
If you’re injured by another driver, you could have significant expenses and financial losses. These can include things like:
- Medical bills
- Vehicle repair costs
- Unpaid time off work
In Indiana, you can also seek non-economic damages. These typically include things like mental distress and disfigurement.
There are no caps (limits) placed by the state on the amount of compensation a person can receive if warranted on economic or non-economic damages unless a government entity is the defendant. For example, maybe the lights at that intersection where the crash occurred were malfunctioning.
There is a limit on compensation for punitive damages of triple the amount of compensatory damages or $50,000 – whichever is greater. Those are typically awarded if someone’s behavior was malicious or extremely reckless.
Note that Indiana has a two-year statute of limitations for bringing a civil legal action against a defendant. However, if the defendant is a government entity, that statute of limitations is even shorter. Therefore, it’s wise to seek legal guidance as soon as possible to help ensure that you get the compensation to which you’re entitled.