An important element of getting property damage fixed and medical bills paid is determining who is liable for a car accident. Sometimes the case is clear. For example, if a car was going the wrong way on the road, the driver operating their vehicle in the wrong direction is most likely at fault.
But some accidents are not as clear. For example, when a driver rear-ends another motorist. In some cases, both parties could be at fault. The front driver might be guilty of erratic behavior and slamming on their brakes, while the rear driver might be guilty of following too closely.
Proving fault after a car accident in Indiana can be complex. You’ll find it’s much easier when you have an experienced professional working for you than it is if you try to prove your case alone. Here’s what you need to know about proving car accidents.
Common Car Accident Causes
Some car accident scenarios are more common than others. Here’s a look at the most common car accident causes.
- Distracted driving: In July 2020, Indiana enacted the hands-free law, which prohibits drivers from holding a mobile device while driving. The goal is to reduce distracted driving. However, distracted driving is about more than just handheld devices. Eating, grooming, interacting with passengers, or a variety of other distractions could lead to distracted driving.
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol: A DUI is more than just a traffic offense. It’s also a felony, punishable with serious fines and jail time. In these cases, it’s generally pretty clear who was at fault for the accident.
- Failing to yield: Some drivers just keep on going when they come to intersections or merge. That can be extremely dangerous and lead to a car accident.
- Speeding: Operating a vehicle at an unsafe speed can lead to accidents because you won’t be able to respond to changing road conditions when you’re exceeding the speed limit. It also adds to the severity of a crash.
- Running a stop sign or red light: This is another dangerous one and can cause serious injuries.
What Is the Indiana Comparative Negligence Rule?
Indiana operates under a comparative negligence rule. The law outlines that you cannot pursue damages if you are 51% or more at fault for the accident (which is why it is sometimes called the 51% law).
Additionally, the law outlines that your settlement amount will be decreased by the percent you’re found at fault for the accident. This means that if you’re found 33% at fault for an accident with a settlement amount of $75,000, you’ll only get $50,000 of the settlement.
It’s important to note this law because even in the case of someone running a red light or stop sign, you might be found partially at fault for failing to yield and adapt to the changing road conditions.
On the surface, it might seem “unfair,” but it’s how the courts determine financial responsibility in the case of complicated accidents where multiple drivers bear some burden for the accident. It’s a major reason why you should find a high-quality attorney to work with to protect yourself from being assigned a large part of the fault for an accident.
Evidence That Proves Car Accident Fault
Evidence in car accidents often comes in the form of evaluating the accident scene and related property damage. Experts can recreate the scene based on this information. But other ways of proving who was at fault include:
- Police report
- Obvious traffic law violations
- Witness accounts
- Expert testimony
- Property damage
- Roadway marks, such as skid marks
- Video camera footage
If you’re wondering how to prove fault in a car accident you were involved in, contact Stewart & Stewart. We offer a free consultation to review your case and learn more about your situation.