Proving Negligence in an Indiana Car Accident

Car accidents in the middle of highway with caution sign

If you were injured in a car accident at little to no fault of your own, the best thing to do after seeking medical attention is to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Your lawyer will make sure you know your legal rights and options. They will also conduct an independent investigation of the accident to determine fault. Normally, this involves proving that someone’s negligence caused your injuries.

The legal team at Truitt Law Offices is ready to answer any questions you may have and get you started on the road toward compensation. We have decades of experience helping injury victims throughout Indiana secure the full and fair compensation they deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a skilled Indiana injury attorney.

How Common Are Car Accidents in Indiana?

Car accidents are a common occurrence throughout the state and country. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there were 35,766 fatal auto accidents nationwide in one recent year, resulting in 38,824 deaths. Further, according to a study published by the Indiana Public Policy Institute, 896 people were killed in traffic accidents in Indiana in that same year. Another 38,913 were injured.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents?

Most car accidents are entirely preventable. The Indiana Public Policy Institute further reports that some sort of driver-related factor was the primary cause underlying 85 percent of all collisions and 96 percent of fatal collisions in the state. Specifically, driver error or negligence accounted for 63 percent of all collisions. The top causes of auto accidents in the state broke down as follows:

Top Causes Number of Accidents
Failure to yield right of way 27,418
Following too closely 25,771
Ran off road 15,784
Unsafe backing 15,196
Unsafe lane movement 9,588
Disregard signal/regulatory sign 7,045
Improper turning 6,394
Distracted driving 5,614
Speed too fast for weather conditions 4,858
Improper lane usage 4,464
Unsafe speed 4,346
Left of center 3,023
Overcorrecting/oversteering 2,503
Improper passing 1,832
Fatigued driving 1,266
Wrong way on one way 229

What Is Negligence?

To secure compensation for injuries and losses sustained in a car accident, you must first prove fault. In most cases, this is done by showing that someone was negligent. We all have a legal duty to take reasonable precautions to avoid harming others through our actions. Negligence is simply the failure to uphold this duty. When this the failure results in an accident, the at-fault party will be responsible for compensating injured victims.

What Is Negligence Per Se?

Injured parties may also secure compensation by proving negligence per se, which arises when someone violates a law or regulation put in place to keep others safe. Because this doctrine reflects the implicit duty we all have to obey the law, plaintiffs injured in an accident can recover compensation simply by showing that the accident was caused by a violation.

Negligence per se is a powerful legal doctrine in the hands of plaintiffs injured in car accidents. This is because there are numerous laws in place meant to keep roads safe. Easy examples include laws against running red lights, driving while intoxicated, and not using your signals when switching lanes. A violation of any one of these laws may result in negligence per se when it causes an injurious accident.

What Evidence Can Be Used to Prove Fault in a Car Accident?

No matter which legal theory your case rests on, you will need enough evidence to prove the at-fault party’s liability by a preponderance of the evidence. This simply means proving that the defendant was more likely than not responsible for the accident and your injuries. Your attorney will draw on all sorts of evidence to satisfy this standard, including things like:

  • Police accident reports
  • Photos and videos of the crash site
  • Footage from traffic and surveillance cameras
  • Testimony from eyewitnesses
  • Testimony from accident reconstruction specialists, traffic engineers, doctors, and other experts
  • Cellphone, GPS, and traffic signal logs
  • Medical treatment records

What If I Am Partially at Fault for the Car Accident?

If you are partly responsible for the cause of an accident in which you were injured, courts will evaluate your comparative negligence. That is, it will weigh your contribution to the cause of the accident against that of other involved parties. If you contributed less than 50 percent, you would still be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries and losses from other parties.

Importantly, the compensation you receive will be reduced proportionately to your degree of fault beneath 50 percent. For example, if you suffered $100,000 in damages but contributed 30 percent to the cause of the accident, your compensation will be reduced to $70,000. Further, if you contributed more than 50 percent, you will be barred from recovering any compensation.

This may all seem straightforward. However, reducing fault in an accident to a percentage can be tricky and requires a close look at the evidence. Of course, to avoid paying you compensation, other drivers involved will strive to show that you were more culpable than them. Therefore, it is important to have an experienced attorney who can push back against any foul play.

Multiple car collision in the highway

What Is the Deadline for Filing an Indiana Car Accident Lawsuit?

Personal injury cases are governed by a law known as the statute of limitations, which sets a deadline after which you may no longer file your case. The deadline spares potential defendants from living under an endless threat of litigation, courts from being inundated by years-old cases, and juries from making difficult decisions after evidence has deteriorated or disappeared with the passage of time.

In Indiana, the deadline for filing a lawsuit is normally set at two years after the date of the accident. This deadline is strictly enforced by courts. Though there are a few very limited exceptions to the rule, it is best to consult with an attorney before relying on them.

Remember that missing the two-year deadline will have a devastating effect on your right to seek compensation from the at-fault party. Not only will this destroy your right to seek compensation in court, but you will also give the at-fault party and their insurers the upper hand during out-of-court settlement talks. When they realize that you no longer wield the threat of a lawsuit to pressure them for a higher settlement, they will have no incentive to negotiate fairly.

Contact an Indiana Car Accident Lawyer

Depending on the case, proving negligence in a car accident case can be straightforward or quite tricky. Either way, you should consult with an experienced attorney to make sure you know your rights and that no stones are left unturned. Truitt Law Offices is ready to help. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Indiana injury lawyer.

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About the Author

As an attorney who has practiced law in Northeast Indiana for nearly four decades, Richard Truitt has seen many changes in the way personal injury and wrongful death cases are handled. However, at least one aspect of his work has remained the same. “You always have to listen to your clients, and you have…