Comparative Fault Laws in Indiana Personal Injury Cases

When someone is injured in an Indiana accident, typically the first question asked is, “who’s fault was it?”Although sometimes there is clearly a responsible party, other accidents may be the result of the negligence of multiple people, including the individual who was injured. While, under Indiana law, an injured party is allowed to bring a negligence lawsuit against the person or persons who harmed them, plaintiffs should be aware that the defendants may try to pin some or most of the blame on them under Indiana’s Comparative Fault laws.

Under Indiana Comparative Fault law, if the defendant can convince the court that the plaintiff was partially responsible for some of their own injuries, the plaintiff’s award will be reduced by the amount he or she was at fault. However, if the defendant can convince the court that the plaintiff was 51% responsible or more, the plaintiff’s claim will actually be barred, and they might end up owing the defendant money.

For an example of the role of comparative fault in Indiana personal injury cases, take a recent 7th circuit medical malpractice case. According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff went to see the defendant, a nurse practitioner, after he failed a pre-employment physical exam due to high blood pressure. The defendant diagnosed the plaintiff with obesity and hypertension. She also gave him medication, but she did not explain to him his condition or the importance of taking the medicine and keeping regular appointments. Over the next five years, the plaintiff visited the defendant several times for care but would routinely go long periods without returning or taking his medicine.

At one visit, new lab tests were ordered, but the defendant never reviewed the results. If she had, she likely would have noticed the signs of kidney disease. However, the plaintiff did not learn for another year and a half that his hypertension severely damaged his kidneys. By the time he learned about it, he had end-stage renal disease. The plaintiff subsequently began hemodialysis treatment and received a kidney transplant. It’s likely he will need to continue hemodialysis and receive another transplant in the future as a result, and his past and future medical treatments come with significant costs.

The plaintiff sued his nurse practitioner for failing to educate him about his condition and check his lab results. The defendant claimed, however, that the plaintiff was himself partially responsible because he regularly missed appointments, once not returning for two years, and did not take his medicine. Under Indiana law, the plaintiff could potentially have his claim reduced, or even have it barred altogether, if the defendant successfully proved that he was responsible. While this case is a medical malpractice case, issues of comparative fault are not limited to medical malpractice and are likely to come up in other personal injury claims, such as car and truck accidents, slip and falls, and defective products.

Are You Looking for an Indiana Personal Injury Attorney?

Indiana injury law is complex, and injured plaintiffs often just want to focus on healing and moving forward but struggle to cover expensive medical bills. If you have recently been injured because of someone else’s negligence, contact Burton A. Padove today. Attorney Padove is an experienced, dedicated, and compassionate Indiana personal injury attorney who has years of experience representing Indiana medical malpractice victims in a wide variety of cases. His goal is the same as yours: to get you the compensation you deserve and to zealously defend your rights. To learn more, contact Padove Law at 877-446-5924 today.