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Comparative Negligence and Your Indiana Personal Injury Case


If you or someone you love is injured in one of thousands of annual Indianapolis traffic accidents, you have questions about how to handle the aftermath – how to pay your medical bills or get time away from work and how your life will be affected by the injuries you’ve suffered. Speaking with a car accident attorney can often help you to make sense of the turmoil after a crash.

If your accident was the result of someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you may have the opportunity to pursue an Indiana personal injury claim to recover damages for your expenses and suffering.

Understanding how personal injury claims system works in Indiana is an integral part of protecting the success of a claim and increasing the odds that you are properly compensated for the damages and injuries you’ve endured as a result of the accident.

Indiana Personal Injury and Negligence Laws

When you file a claim for damages that resulted from an accident, the person whose actions are found to have caused the accident is usually the one responsible for paying the resulting financial damages.

Under Indiana personal injury law, in the event that more than one party contributed to the accident, the financial obligation is split based on the percentage that either party contributed to the accident. That concept is further explained when you come to understand the various systems of negligence law observed in the United States.

Comparative vs. Contributory Negligence

There are two main types of negligence systems in the United States that govern claims for damages caused by accidents. They are contributory negligence and comparative negligence.

Under contributory negligence laws, an injured person can only receive compensation for injuries and damages if he or she in no way contributed to the accident that caused them. Thankfully, this is not the system in use in Indiana, as it would severely hamper the rights of victims of Indianapolis traffic accidents.

Comparative Negligence and Indiana Personal Injury Law

Indiana employs a modified comparative negligence 51% structure. Under this system, you may be compensated for damages and injuries even if you are partially responsible for the accident, as long as you are less than 51% responsible for the accident. However, your financial recovery will be reduced by the percentage you are determined to be at fault, as decided by a judge or jury.

For instance, if you have a $100,000 claim for medical expenses and damages, and you are found to be 25% responsible for the cause of the accident and the other party is found to be accountable for the remaining 75% of the blame, the judgment will be that the other party owes you $75,000 for their portion of your damages. If you’re 50% responsible, you could recover half the amount of your damages, or $50,000.

However, if it’s determined that you are 51% responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, you will not be rewarded any damages, and may be held liable for the legal expenses of other parties involved.