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car accident

In Indiana, fault is a crucial consideration following a car accident because it directly impacts the compensation you may receive for injuries and property damage. So how is fault determined in a car accident? Fault is determined using evidence such as police reports, witness statements, and physical evidence. Fault may belong entirely to one party, or it may be allocated among two or more parties. Understanding how fault is determined can help you navigate the aftermath of your accident and protect your legal rights.

Factors Considered in Fault Determination  

Fault is determined by evaluating evidence, such as:

  • Police reports. Law enforcement officers who respond to the accident scene create official reports. These reports often include their assessment of fault based on evidence and witness statements.
  • Witness testimonies. Statements from witnesses who saw the accident can provide valuable insight into what happened. Their observations may help establish who was at fault.
  • Evidence from the scene. Physical evidence, such as skid marks, vehicle damage, and road conditions, can help reconstruct the accident and determine fault. 
  • Driver statements. Statements made by the drivers involved in the accident can also be taken into account. However, these statements may not always be deemed reliable, especially if they conflict with other evidence. 

Each of these pieces of information can play a crucial role in establishing liability for your accident. From the initial police report to witness statements, every detail contributes to determining who bears responsibility for the collision. But what happens if it’s unclear who is entirely responsible for causing the accident?

Indiana’s Legal Framework for Assigning Fault

Indiana follows a modified comparative negligence law. Under this law, your damages will be reduced based on your percentage of fault. For example, if you suffered $100,000 in damages but you were 30% at fault, you will receive only $70,000 in damages. However, if you are more than 50% at fault for the accident, you will not be able to recover any damages at all.

How to Dispute Car Accident Fault

When you file an insurance claim after a car accident, the insurance company will make an initial determination of fault. Insurance companies use their fault determination to formulate an offer covering medical expenses, vehicle repairs, and other losses. If it is unclear who is responsible for the accident or if more than one party made a mistake, insurance companies may assign a percentage of fault to both parties. They assess the circumstances of the accident and allocate responsibility based on their evaluation of each party’s actions leading up to the collision. This percentage of fault directly impacts the compensation each party receives for their damages. 

If you get an unfair settlement offer from an insurance company, your attorney can use the evidence to dispute the insurance company’s fault assessment and negotiate with them for a better offer. If you cannot reach a fair agreement, you can seek resolution through legal action. If your case goes to court, a judge or jury will decide who is at fault. They will evaluate the evidence as discussed above, as well as expert opinions and documented damages. If both drivers are partially responsible for causing the accident, Indiana’s modified comparative negligence law will come into play. Under this law, your damages will be reduced based on your percentage of fault. However, if you are more than 50% at fault for the accident, you will not be able to recover any damages at all. It is essential to consider seeking legal representation to ensure your case is presented effectively and fairly. Remember, the trial’s outcome can greatly affect your rights and compensation.

If you are unsatisfied with your settlement offer but do not wish to file a lawsuit, you have other options. Alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or arbitration, can provide a less formal, more collaborative way to resolve the issue outside court. Both options offer quicker resolutions and can be less costly than going to court. However, it’s important to carefully consider each method’s potential benefits and drawbacks and consult with a legal professional to determine the best course of action for your situation. 

How to Prove You Are Not at Fault in a Car Accident

If you believe you are not at fault in a car accident, there are steps you can take to support your claim. These include:

  • Gathering evidence. Gather evidence from the scene of the accident. This includes photos of the vehicles, the area around them, and any visible injuries. 
  • Obtaining witness statements. If there were witnesses to the accident, ask for their contact information and statements. These statements can provide valuable corroborative evidence for your claim.
  • Reviewing traffic laws. Familiarize yourself with relevant traffic laws to demonstrate that you were obeying the rules of the road at the time of the accident.
  • Consulting with an attorney. Seek legal advice from a personal injury attorney experienced in handling car accident cases.

Taking these steps early on can significantly strengthen your case and help you navigate the complexities of the legal process confidently. If you feel unsure or uncertain, seek guidance from a personal injury attorney. Their experience in car accident cases can provide clarity and peace of mind. 

Take Action with Gerling Law After a Car Accident in Indiana 

Knowing how fault is determined in a car accident is crucial for protecting your rights. Gerling Law understands the complexities of determining fault in car accidents and can provide the guidance you need to navigate the legal process. 

Our attorneys, in collaboration with co-counsel, have represented thousands of individuals and recovered over $500 million in compensation for clients. With over five decades of experience, we have firmly established Gerling Law as a trusted advocate for those injured in car accidents. Testimonials from satisfied clients attest to the firm’s dedication to achieving favorable outcomes and providing exceptional legal representation. When you choose Gerling Law to handle your car accident case, you can trust that you are in capable hands. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Author Photo

Gayle Gerling Pettinga

Born and raised in Evansville, Gayle is a respected, experienced lawyer and a valued community leader. She graduated near the top of her class at Indiana University’s prestigious Maurer School of Law. She’s practiced law with one of the largest firms in Indianapolis as well as one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. And that means she knows how big law firms and big companies think and how they operate – and she will put that knowledge to work for you.

Gayle has received numerous awards and honors including Martindale-Hubbell — Peer Review Rated: AV®, American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 10 Best Attorneys in Indiana for Exceptional and Outstanding Client Service, and YWCA Evansville 100 Years, 100 Women Honoree, 2011.

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