Indiana Motor Vehicle Accident Laws and Safety Requirements

Indiana suffers nearly 200,000 auto accidents a year, several hundred of which involve at least one fatality. Alcohol-related crashes resulted in average economic damages of nearly $50,000, a figure that exceeds the minimum legally required auto liability insurance in cases where more than half this amount goes to compensate one injured victim. Lawsuits and out-of-court settlement are governed by the following legal principles and rules:  

Statute of Limitations: In Indiana, you have two years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit seeking damages for personal injury or property damage. The only major exception applies in the unlikely event that your claim is for damages to real estate, in which case you have six years to file a lawsuit.

If the Victim is Partially at Fault: If you were partially at fault for the accident, Indiana will deduct a pro-rata amount from your damages – 15 percent, for example, if you were 15 percent at fault (the court will determine your percentage of fault after a contested hearing). If you were more than 50 percent at fault, however, you will receive nothing.

Fault/No Fault Rule: Since Indiana is a “fault” auto insurance state, you are not barred from seeking compensation from the other driver, either by filing a claim with his auto liability insurer or by filing a lawsuit.

Minimum Insurance Coverage: Indiana requires all drivers to carry auto liability insurance with policy limits of $25,000 in injury coverage per person, $50,000 in injury coverage per accident, and $10,000 in property damage coverage per accident.

Uninsured/Underinsured Drivers Coverage: Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is not required in Indiana, although it is available.

Types of Damages Available: Economic and non-economic compensatory damages are available. Punitive damages (when they are available at all) are capped at three times the amount of compensatory damages or $50,000, whichever is greater.

Product Liability for Defective Vehicles: Strict liability, negligence and express/implied warranty claims are available. Strict liability claims do not require the plaintiff to show fault on the part of the defendant – only that the product was defective and unreasonably dangerous.

Motorcycle Helmet Laws: All riders under 18 must wear a helmet. No restrictions apply to adults, although failure to wear a helmet might be relevant in a comparative fault determination in the event of a lawsuit.

Seat Belt Laws: All occupants 16 and older are required to buckle up. The maximum fine for a first offense is $25.

Dram Shop Laws: Both vendors and social hosts may be liable for providing alcohol to underage drinkers or obviously intoxicated adults who proceed to injure a third party while intoxicated.

DUI/DWI Penalties: For a first offense, jail time of 60 days to one year is possible, along with a fine of $500 to $5,000. The offender’s driver’s license can be suspended for up to two years.

Distracted Driving (texting while driving, etc.): Indiana bans texting while driving for all drivers, and bans the use of hand-held electronic devices and cell phones while driving for drivers under 21.