Indiana has the nickname the “crossroads of America.” But for the 6.8+ million people living in the Hoosier state, knowing Indiana car accident laws is also important.
People travel more than 78,640 million miles through the state annually, and with that kind of highway traffic, car accidents in Indiana are bound to happen.
Since automobile laws vary, it’s important for Indiana residents to preemptively prepare for the possibility of a wreck. To help simplify the process, check out this complete Indiana Car Accident guide we’ve put together for you.
Because the more you know, the better your outcome in the unfortunate case of a collision.
Steps to Take After an Indiana Car Accident
Your first priority in any car accident situation should be to make sure that everyone is okay. If there are injuries that require medical attention, call 911 before doing anything else. Make sure everyone has moved to safety, and clear the area as much as possible to reduce obstruction on the road resulting from the accident.
Next step is to call the police. Indiana Code (IC) §9-26-1-1.1 requires drivers to contact 911 or the local and state police. But even beyond the law, having a police report will also be valuable in determining fault in any future settlements.
Indiana law requires drivers to remain at the scene and provide reasonable assistance to others involved in the accident. If the crash involves an unattended vehicle or property, the responsible driver must also attempt to locate the owner. Failure to comply could lead to misdemeanor or even felony charges.
Info to Gather at the Scene of the Crash
Though not required under Indiana law, anyone involved in an auto accident should exchange the following information on site:
- Full name, address, and contact info (phone number/email).
- Car registration and insurance ID card/policy number.
- Driver’s license and license plate number.
- Make, model, and color of vehicle.
Take several pictures of the crash and talk to witnesses involved while exchanging contact information.
Indiana Accident Reporting Requirements
Anyone involved in a crash should gather as much information as they can at the scene. In Indiana, however, the legal responsibility for reporting an accident falls to the police.
Indiana code §9-26-2 requires law enforcement to investigate accidents resulting in injury, death, or property damage of $2500+. The officer at the scene must submit a report summarizing the investigation within 24-hours of completion to the state police.
This report isn’t confidential and will be available as a public record for inspection or copying should you need it later.
If the accident does not meet the aforementioned requirements, the officer must ensure participants comply with IC §9-26-1-1.1. These outline the duties of the driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident.
Indiana Car Accident Law Insurance Requirements
Indiana car accident law states that a driver may not operate a motor vehicle unless “financial responsibility” is in effect. What this means is that driving without a car insurance policy is against the law in Indiana.
Indiana’s current liability insurance state minimum is 25/50/25. A driver’s minimum insurance policy must cover the following amounts:
- $25,000 for bodily injury/death of one individual.
- $50,000 for bodily injury/death of two or more people in any one accident.
- $25,000 for property damages in any one accident.
Additionally, all new insurance policies in Indiana must include uninsured or underinsured motorist’s coverage. This will be part of the policy unless you explicitly reject it in writing.
There are dire consequences for violating Indiana insurance laws. State law requires the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) to levy driving suspensions and financial penalties against uninsured motorists.
If the BMV discovers a driver is operating a vehicle sans insurance, they lose their license. The suspension is anywhere from 90 days to a year and will likely also include reinstatement fines.
Proof of Financial Responsibility in Indiana Car Accident Law
You may receive a notification from the BMV if you encounter a crash due to Indiana’s insurance laws. This request to provide proof of financial responsibility (i.e. insurance) is something you should address right away.
Contact your auto insurance provider immediately and ask them to electronically send a Certificate of Compliance (COC) to the BMV. This document will prove you were driving with insurance at the time of the accident.
Your insurance must send the COC within 90 days of the BMV’s request for this information. Failure to comply will once again result in a loss of driving privileges.
Were you driving a company or rental car at the time of the accident? Then your employer or the rental company must submit State Form 55434 on your behalf. This “Affidavit – Proof of Financial Responsibility for Employer or Rental Vehicle” relieves the driver from personally having to show proof.
Anyone whose driving privileges are on suspension will also need their insurance company to submit an SR22 form before reinstatement. This SR22 form shows that the driver now has a policy that is in line with Indiana auto insurance minimums.
Is Indiana a No-Fault State?
The short answer here is no. Indiana is not a no-fault state when it comes to automobile accidents. However, it’s also not a clear cut at-fault state. That’s because Indiana bases its assessments (and therefore blame) on a comparative negligence system.
Both parties may have some responsibility for the crash. However, if one driver hopes to get compensation from the other driver, there must be a smaller percentage at fault.
We know this may sound quite confusing, but it can be put more simply. Basically, to be eligible for damages in Indiana a driver must be less than 50% responsible for the accident. And whatever part they had in the accident will lessen what they can receive in a settlement by that percent.
However, for any driver that is more than 51% responsible, they cannot receive any damages since they’re mostly at fault. Some call this the “51% bar rule.”
Liability Laws After an Indiana Car Crash
Indiana is one of 33 states that use a modified comparative fault system.
This system also comes into play for multi-car crashes where it may assign a percentage of fault to several people. It can get very difficult to determine and receive appropriate damages in this situation. For that reason, it would behoove any Hoosier involved in a car accident to consult with an attorney.
A skilled lawyer can help you understand how much you and the other party (or parties) are liable. This will also factor into calculations for what damages you can recover.
Comparative fault assessments usually come into play during civil suits (if you get that far). But before that, a car insurance claim’s adjuster will also try negotiating a settlement while considering Indiana’s comparative negligence rules.
Keep in mind that insurance companies will always try to award you as little as possible to retain their profits. So, having an attorney in your corner will help ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
Available Damages for Indiana Auto Accidents
Economic damages are the measurable monetary damages a person experiences as a result of a car accident. These may include:
- Medical bills
- Vehicle repair costs
- Lost income/wages or job opportunities
- Loss of use of property
Often called “general damages” — non-economic damages are an attempt to compensate a victim for the non-monetary effects of the accident. Non-economic damages are harder to prove, so keeping detailed records can help. Examples of these “injuries” according to IC §34-30-29.2-2 might be:
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Physical impairment
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of companionship, services, and consortium
These two codes together make it such that an uninsured motorist in an accident cannot receive any non-economic damages. This is true even if the other party is completely at-fault.
Statute of Limitations in Indiana
However, there are exceptions to the rule. For example, if someone died as a result of the accident and a family member of the estate wants to file a wrongful death suit.
Even if you think your case will settle through your car insurance, it’s important to keep an eye on these deadlines. Especially if things don’t go your way and you need to consult with an attorney. You want to make sure you have enough time to file a case if necessary.
How LegalASAP Can Connect You With Your Local Auto Accident Lawyer
Indiana’s insurance requirements and modified comparative fault laws can make dealing with a car accident by yourself feel overwhelming. Various myths about tort law have also made approaching a lawyer more daunting.
As a result, LegalASAP would be happy to connect you with a qualified auto accident lawyer in your area. Not only can an attorney help clear up confusion, but the whole process is free until you get your settlement.
So, you literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain —especially since lawyers usually secure higher settlements. Let us help you get started on your claim today.
Kimberly Dawn Neumann
Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a multi-published NYC-based magazine and book writer whose work has appeared in a wide variety of publications ranging from Forbes to Cosmopolitan. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland, College of Journalism. For more, visit: www.KDNeumann.com, Instagram @dancerscribe, and Twitter @KimberlyNeumann