By: Moncerrat Alvarez, Law Clerk.
Getting into an accident is not only inconvenient, but also expensive. The costs can add up very quickly when you start taking into consideration the cost of fixing your car, your medical bills, and how long you will be out of work because of this accident. You then have to ask yourself, was the accident my fault? If so the expenses only grow when you add in the other party’s damages.
Indiana is one of the many states in which the person who causes the accident is the person who will have to pay for the expenses of the accident. This makes sense policy-wise. Indiana government does not believe that a person who did not have any fault in a car accident should be held liable. For those who do cause the accident, however, the best way to protect yourself is to have insurance.
In Indiana, to be on the road legally you need to have car insurance covering the statutory minimums. This is most insurance company’s basic insurance plan: Bodily Injury Liability $25,000/person or $50,000/accident; Property Damage Liability $25,000/accident (recently amended from $10,000 minimum). The stress that comes with car accidents may be minimized if everyone complied to these statutes requiring insurance. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
But what if the party at fault does not have insurance?
If the party at fault does not have insurance, the accident could go to trial to have a judgment entered against them. This would ensure that payment is made, typically directly from the at-fault party’s pocket. There are instances in which the court has to go to more extreme measures to retrieve monetary compensation for the victim, such as garnishing wages from the at-fault party.
Before 2015, if you did not have insurance, but were not at fault you could still recover damages just as someone with insurance could. However, on July 1, 2015, a new law was enacted limiting what you can recover as a driver without insurance. The statutes enacted in 2015 state that drivers need to be financially responsible.
Generally, if you are the victim in a car accident you can you recover what it costs to fix your vehicle and medical expenses. You can also recover for noneconomic damages. This includes physical and emotional pain and suffering, physical impairment, emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment—and several others.
Now, if you are not the at-fault driver, but still do not have insurance, the state’s “No Pay, No Play” law limits what you can recover. If this is the case, you will not be able to recover non-economic damages. This law was created to ensure Indiana drivers are demonstrating financial responsibility in the case of an accident. Further, if you do not have insurance, you could have your license suspended and a second or third offense of this statute could have further repercussions.
What should you do if you are involved in an accident?
If you are involved in an accident, make sure you move to a safe area (if you are not seriously injured). Make sure to check on the others involved, if you are able, and call the police to write up a report. Make sure to exchange insurance and contact information with the other party. If you are able, take pictures of the scene as this can later be used as evidence.
Although insurance is the best way to protect yourself from being personally liable for all expenses, not everyone is insured. If you are involved in an automobile accident, contact an attorney at Cate, Terry & Gookins LLC to have your questions answered. You may contact us at 317-564-0016 or by filling out a contact form located at www.ctglaw.com.