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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

Determining and Proving Fault in Personal Injury Accidents in Indiana

When accidents happen due to another's negligence, injured victims can either file claims or pursue a lawsuit to recover the damages. Although most personal injury claims may seem straightforward, it is crucial for the plaintiff to prove fault, which can be challenging.


Whether it is a car accident claim or a slip and fall lawsuit, Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have extensive experience protecting the rights of injured victims in Indianapolis, Indiana. They can discuss the injured victim's case and guide them on their legal options including questions like how do you fix an incorrect police accident report?


Determining Legal Liability in Indiana

Determining Legal Liability in Indiana


There are certain rules that govern personal injury cases, and they are essential in determining legal liability. Some of these include the following:


Trespassing


Under Indiana's laws, there are two different types of trespass, and these are as follows:

  • Criminal trespass: Criminal trespassing is when an individual trespasses another's premises with the intent to cause property damage or bodily injury. In Indiana, this is a misdemeanor that is punishable by a one-year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000.

  • Civil trespass: Civil trespassing refers to an individual entering someone else's property without their consent and with no intention to commit theft, assault, or any other crime.

When an individual is trespassing on another's property without any intention to commit a crime and suffers an injury, the property owner may not be liable for the damages caused. This is because the element of "duty" is not present.


Assumption of Risk


Assumption of risk is a legal doctrine that may prevent an injured party from recovering compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. It refers to a situation where the plaintiff is aware of the risks of an activity or injury, and they knowingly expose themselves to it.


There are two types of assumption of risk, and these include the following:

  1. Express assumption: An express assumption of risk refers to when the plaintiff acknowledges the risk of an injury through a written contract. Signing a waiver liability before skydiving is an example of this.

  2. Implied assumption: An implied assumption of risk refers to when the plaintiff is aware of the risk of an injury, but there is no written agreement. Playing sports and suffering injuries is an example of an implied assumption, and the injured parties cannot pursue a personal injury case against the other players (unless they intentionally cause harm).


Modified Comparative Negligence


Indiana follows the modified comparative negligence rule that reduces the injured victim's compensation by their degree of fault if they were partially responsible for their own injuries.


However, if the affected party is more than 50% liable (51% responsible or more), the law prevents them from recovering any compensatory damages.


Respondeat Superior


A Latin phrase for "let the master answer," respondeat superior is a legal doctrine that applies to cases involving employee negligence. It introduces the concept of "vicarious liability, under which the employers are responsible for the actions of their employees.


Premises Liability


The premises liability law requires all property owners to ensure that their premises are safe for their guests. Lack of maintenance or inspection could lead to dangerous conditions that could harm visitors.


Depending on the status of the guest, the injured party may be able to bring a personal injury claim against the property owner to recover compensation.


Strict Liability


The personal injury law covers the following three different torts:

  • Negligence

  • Intentional misconduct

  • Strict liability

When an individual suffers injuries due to another's negligence or intentional misconduct, they must establish the critical elements of the case by providing evidence of negligent or intentional acts.


In a strict liability case, the defendant is responsible for committing an action, regardless of their intent or mental state.


Possession of dangerous animals, abnormally dangerous activities, or defective products all fall under strict liability.


In some states, for example, injured victims can pursue a personal injury lawsuit against a dog's owner, regardless of whether they were aware of their pet's violent tendencies or similar past behaviors.


Proving Fault in Personal Injury Accidents in Indiana

Proving Fault in Personal Injury Accidents in Indiana


Whether it is a negligence claim or a strict liability case, the injured victim must prove the elements of a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensatory damages.


The following are the elements of a negligence claim that the injured party must demonstrate by submitting relevant evidence:

  • The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care.

  • The defendant (at-fault party) breached the duty of care.

  • The defendant's breach resulted in the plaintiff's injuries.

  • The plaintiff suffered damages due to their injuries.

Proving fault in a personal injury case can be challenging. The injured party must investigate the accident to determine liability and gather the necessary evidence to establish fault.


Photographs of the incident, witness statements, medical records, police reports, and payslips are some examples of evidence that can prove that the at-fault party was negligent, which resulted in the plaintiff's injuries.


Gathering evidence can be stressful, and it can take a toll on the injured victim. It's also important to note that a piece of evidence can make or break a personal injury case.


Sometimes, submitting a photograph or video of the incident could show negligence on the part of the injured victim, which can be detrimental to their claim or lawsuit.


Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have extensive experience helping injured victims in Indianapolis, Indiana. They can advise on questions like Is a personal injury presettlement loan a good idea? They understand the type of evidence required to improve the chances of winning the claims or lawsuits.


If there is a need to hire an accident reconstruction specialist, an injury lawyer in Indianapolis at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has the resources to bring in knowledgeable professionals to establish liability, prove negligence, and negotiate with the at-fault party's insurance company to recover the damages.


What Should the Injured Person Do If Multiple Parties Are Responsible for Their Injuries?


An accident involving multiple parties can complicate the personal injury case. In such situations, there are two methods that most states follow, and these are as follows:

  • Joint and several liability: Under this method, the plaintiff can recover the damages from one of the defendants after they prove fault. Any defendant who ends up paying the share of the other defendants can then pursue compensation from them.

  • Several liability: Unlike the joint and several liability, which is a plaintiff-friendly rule, the several liability is a method where the court splits liability among the defendants according to their degree of fault.

Indiana follows the several liability method. Below is an example to illustrate how it works:


Sarah suffers injuries in a multiple-vehicle pile-up in Indiana due to Ben's and Jessica's fault. The total damages incurred by her is around $100,000. The court determined that Ben is 30% responsible and Jessica is 70% liable for the incident. Under the several liability method, Ben must pay $30,000 of the damages, while Jessica needs to cover the rest to make Sarah whole again.


Since multiple defendants in a single case can complicate the legal process, it is essential for the injured victim to reach out to a personal injury attorney for assistance.


Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Can Help the Injured Victims Prove Fault!


Whether the injured victim needs an experienced car accident attorney or a premises liability lawyer, Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has an excellent legal team that is ready to go to war to recover the victim's damages.


Those who have suffered injuries due to another's negligence in Indianapolis, Indiana, should call to schedule a free consultation to discuss their injury claim.

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