Indiana Personal Injury Law

This page looks at settlement amounts and jury payouts in personal injury cases in Indiana. Our lawyers also provide an analysis of Indiana personal injury law.

If you are a personal injury victim bringing a compensation claim in Indiana is only natural to want to know how much your case might be worth. Monetary compensation is what a personal injury or wrongful death case is ultimately about.

This page is designed to look at how personal injury cases have been resolved in Indiana and to give you the ability to match your claim with Indiana personal injury settlement statistics and example settlements and jury payouts.

Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

In Indiana, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years from the date of the accident or incident. This applies to most personal injury claims, including auto accidents, slip and falls, and product liability claims. Failing to file a lawsuit within this timeframe generally results in the court refusing to hear the case although the statute is extended beyond two years for minors.

A lawsuit seeking compensation for personal harm arising from child sexual abuse must be initiated within one of the following periods, whichever is later:

(1) within seven years from the date when the legal basis for the lawsuit (the cause of action) arises, or

(2) within four years after the individual no longer relies on the alleged perpetrator for their basic needs and support.

Indiana Verdicts & Settlements

$25,000 Verdict (2023 Lake County): The plaintiff allegedly suffered a herniation at C6-C7, an acute cervical strain and low back pain that radiated into his hips, when was rear-ended by the defendant while stopped at a red light for an intersection.

$270,790 Settlement (2023 Marion County): Wrongful death from pulmonary embolism allegedly resulted from negligent care by two doctors and a health center group. The settlement was with the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund for excess damages following a settlement with the negligent healthcare providers.

$25,000 Verdict (2022 Lake County): The plaintiff, 55-year-old police officer, claimed that he suffered disc damage in his lower back, resulting in radiating pain into his leg, left shoulder impingement, left hip pain and right knee sprain when his vehicle was struck by an underinsured driver. He settled for policy limits with the at-fault driver then pursued UIM damages from his owner insurer.

$2,100,000 Verdict (Lake County): Infant suffered loss of oxygen from failure to diagnose and timely respond to nucal cord being wrapped tight around his neck. As a result, the infant suffered a major brain injury resulting in permanent loss of cognitive and physical abilities.

$14,000 Settlement (Marion County): A 5-year-old boy claimed that he was a guest on the premises of the defendant, a public elementary school when he slipped and fell on a wet bathroom floor and sustained various injuries.

$750,000 Verdict (Cass County): A 74-year-old man was undergoing elbow surgery when the defendant, a nurse, attempted to intubate him and provide anesthesia for the surgery. During the intubation, the defendant allegedly damaged the plaintiff’s airway resulting in a myocardial infarction.


Malpractice Statute of Limitations

Medical malpractice cases have the same two-year statute of limitations. However, there can be exceptions, especially involving minors or when the injury isn’t immediately discoverable. When the injury is discovered within this two-year window, the victim has a further two years to file a claim.

According to the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act’s (IMMA) statute of limitations, minors who have been victims of malpractice are required to lodge their claims either (1) within two years from the date of the injury, or (2) by their eighth birthday if the injury took place before they turned six years old.

Discovery Rule

The discovery rule stipulates that the statute of limitations commences not at the time of the offending act, but when the plaintiff becomes aware or could have become aware through reasonable diligence, that they have suffered harm due to tortious conduct. The cause of action doesn’t require full knowledge or determination of the entire extent of the damage, but merely that some discernible harm has taken place. The expected level of diligence equates to an expectation that an injured party will act promptly when the circumstances of an injury would alert an individual of average knowledge and experience that their rights have been violated or that a potential claim against another party might exist.

Statute of Repose

The statute of repose in Indiana is a legal provision that sets an absolute limit on the time period within which a plaintiff can bring a lawsuit, regardless of when the cause of action accrued. This means that after the specified period, no legal action can be initiated. It’s essentially a cut-off rule that aims to provide certainty and predictability in the law, protecting defendants from the threat of litigation after a reasonable period of time.

So, unlike the statute of limitations, the statute of repose puts an absolute limit on the potential liability of a defendant. Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act includes a statute of repose, which states that no claim can be brought against a healthcare provider more than four years after the date of the alleged act or omission.

The Indiana Products Liability Act includes a ten-year statute of repose. This statute necessitates that a plaintiff initiates legal action within ten years from the date the product was delivered to the first user or consumer. The only deviation from this rule is for a legal claim that arises at least eight years but less than ten years after the product was initially delivered. In such cases, a plaintiff retains the right to file a lawsuit within two years from the date the claim accrued, even if this extends beyond the ten-year period since the product’s delivery. The statute does not provide for any other exceptions, meaning that the ten-year limitation period cannot be extended under any other circumstances, including post-sale actions taken by the manufacturer such as repair, refurbishment, or reconstruction of a product.

Indiana Comparative Fault Rule

The Indiana comparative fault rule, often referred to as the modified comparative fault rule, reduces the amount of compensation a plaintiff can recover in a personal injury lawsuit if they are found to be partially at fault for their injuries. Moreover, if they are found to be more than 50% at fault, they can be barred from recovering any damages at all (Indiana Code § 34-51-2-6).

The Indiana Comparative Fault Act (IC 34-51-2) stipulates the conditions under which this rule is applied. According to this Act, in cases where the plaintiff’s fault is greater than the fault of all persons whose fault proximately contributed to the claimant’s damages, the claimant is not entitled to recover any compensatory damages. However, if the plaintiff’s fault is less than or equal to the combined fault of all other persons involved, the total amount of damages they are entitled to recover is reduced in proportion to the plaintiff’s fault.

Indiana Collateral Source Rule

The collateral source rule is a legal principle that addresses the compensation received by an injured party from sources other than the defendant in a personal injury case. The collateral source rule allows the injured party to retain the full amount of compensation received from these “collateral sources” without offsetting or reducing the damages awarded by the defendant.

Under the collateral source rule, payments or benefits received by the injured party from sources such as insurance policies, health insurance, disability benefits, or other forms of compensation are generally not taken into consideration when determining the damages owed by the defendant. This means that the defendant cannot reduce their liability or damages owed based on the compensation the injured party has received from other sources.

Unfortunately, Indiana’s collateral source law is unfavorable to victims. The purpose of this statute is to prevent the plaintiff from recovering damages for which they have already received compensation from a third party instead of protecting victims who had the good sense to carry insurance. Indiana Code § 34-44-1-2 outlines the admission of evidence related to collateral source payments in personal injury or wrongful death actions. According to the statute:

  • Collateral source payments, except for certain types, may be admitted as evidence in court. So Indiana makes the admission of collateral sources the rule instead of the exception. The exceptions include life insurance or death benefits, insurance benefits directly paid by the plaintiff or their family, and payments made by the state, the United States, or their agencies or subdivisions as compensation for the loss or injury in question.
  • The amount of money that the plaintiff is required to repay, such as worker’s compensation benefits, due to the collateral benefits received may be presented as evidence.
  • The cost incurred by the plaintiff or their family for the collateral benefits received may also be presented as evidence.

The statute does not apply to payments made by an insurer under a policy purchased by the plaintiff or reimbursements by healthcare agencies administered through government programs

How to File an Indiana Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

To file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Indiana as required by Indiana Code section 34-18-8-4, a preliminary complaint for medical malpractice must be lodged with the Department of Insurance before any legal action is initiated in court. Plaintiffs cannot file an initial complaint to the Department of Insurance, and later claim that the Act and its associated statute of limitations are not applicable. It’s important to note that the act of filing an initial complaint with the Department of Insurance doesn’t equate to the commencement of a lawsuit.  This preliminary complaint to the Department of Insurance serves as a necessary precondition before taking any legal action in court, rather than being considered as the commencement of a legal action in itself.

The purpose of this law is to establish a structured process for handling medical malpractice claims, ensuring fairness and providing an opportunity for resolution before proceeding to court. The chapter includes provisions related to the formation of medical review panels, the filing of complaints, and the review and evaluation of medical malpractice claims. There is no question that Indiana law makes it onerous for medical malpractice victims to file a lawsuit.  Here are the key points if you are looking to file an Indiana medical malpractice lawsuit:

  • Medical Review Panels: Before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in court, the plaintiff must first submit their claim to a medical review panel. The panel consists of healthcare professionals with expertise in the relevant field of medicine. They review the claim and provide an opinion on whether the healthcare provider’s actions met the applicable standard of care.
  • Panel Opinion: The panel’s opinion is not binding but is admissible as evidence in any subsequent legal proceedings which can have a real impact on a jury. It serves to inform the parties involved about the strengths and weaknesses of their respective positions.
  • Statute of Limitations: Chapter 8 specifies the time limits within which a medical malpractice claim must be filed. In Indiana, the general statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is two years from the date of the alleged malpractice or when the malpractice should have been discovered with reasonable diligence.
  • Affidavit of Merit: The plaintiff is required to file an affidavit with the complaint, stating that they have consulted with a qualified healthcare professional who provided a written opinion that there is a reasonable basis to believe malpractice occurred. This affidavit helps establish the merit of the claim.
  • Procedural Requirements: The chapter outlines various procedural requirements, including the content of the complaint, service of process, and other aspects of initiating a medical malpractice action.

Expert Required in Malpractice Lawsuit

In a malpractice lawsuit in Indiana, expert witness testimony is generally required to establish the appropriate standard of care, demonstrate that it was breached, and prove causation. The expert is usually a healthcare provider practicing or teaching in the same area of health care as the defendant. Indiana Code Title 34, Section 23-9-3-6, states that in a medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff must file an affidavit with the complaint, declaring that the plaintiff consulted with at least one healthcare provider who is knowledgeable in the relevant field of medicine and who has determined in a written opinion that there is a reasonable basis to believe that malpractice has occurred. This opinion must be attached to the affidavit.

Indiana Malpractice Cap

We have been talking about how Indiana makes protecting doctors from their own negligence a priority.  For wrongful death and catastrophic injury victims with a malpractice claim, the Indiana medical malpractice cap might be the single biggest obstacle to justice.   Indiana Code § 34-18-14-3 limits non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases to $1.8 million. So even a birth injury lawsuit where the damages can be in the tens of millions. For claims that arise after June 30, 2019, the cap is set at $1,800,000.

Indiana makes it ever easier on doctors and hospitals.  Any excess amount beyond the total liability of all liable healthcare providers is paid from a state-run patient’s compensation fund.

Indiana Informed Consent Law

Under Indiana law, physicians have a duty to disclose all significant medical information that a reasonable person would want to know to make an informed decision about their treatment. According to Indiana Code § 34-18-7-1, healthcare providers have a duty to disclose relevant information to patients, including the nature of the proposed treatment, potential risks and benefits, alternative treatments, and the likely outcome of each option. The information disclosed must be presented in a manner that the patient can understand, allowing them to make an informed decision about their healthcare.

Informed consent in Indiana requires more than mere verbal or written consent; it necessitates a meaningful dialogue between the healthcare provider and the patient. Healthcare providers should encourage patients to ask questions, address their concerns, and provide additional information as needed. This process fosters a collaborative relationship between the patient and healthcare provider, ensuring that the patient’s values, preferences, and individual circumstances are taken into account.

In some cases, obtaining informed consent requires written documentation. Indiana Code § 34-18-7-2 stipulates that certain medical procedures, such as surgical interventions or experimental treatments, must be documented in writing. This written consent serves as evidence that the patient was adequately informed and voluntarily consented to the procedure.

Indiana Dog Bite Law

Indiana’s dog bite law holds owners liable if their dog bites someone unprovoked, and the person bitten was acting peaceably and was in a location they were legally allowed to be. Indiana Code § 15-20-1-3 expresses this strict liability standard that holds dog owners responsible for injuries caused by their dogs, regardless of the dog’s previous behavior or the owner’s knowledge of such behavior. Here is a summary of the key points of Indiana’s dog bite law:

  • Strict Liability: dog owners are strictly liable for injuries caused by their dogs. This means that the owner is responsible for damages resulting from a dog bite or attack, regardless of any fault or negligence on their part.
  • Trespassing Exception: The strict liability standard does not apply if the injured person was trespassing, committing a crime, or provoking the dog at the time of the incident.
  • Injury Compensation: If a person is bitten or attacked by a dog in Indiana, they may seek settlement compensation or a jury payout for their injuries. This can include, of course, medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages resulting from the incident.
  • Statute of Limitations: Indiana imposes the same two-year statute of limitations for dog bite lawsuits.
  • Negligence Claims: While Indiana’s dog bite law follows strict liability, it is still possible to pursue a negligence claim against the dog owner in certain circumstances. This may be applicable if the owner’s negligence, such as failing to properly restrain or control the dog, contributed to the injury.

Sex Abuse Law

In Indiana, victims of child sexual abuse have until the age of 31 to file a civil lawsuit. For sexual abuse discovered in adulthood, victims have seven years from the date of discovery to file a claim.  Here are the specific rules for civil sex abuse lawsuits in Indiana:

  • Statute of Limitations: Indiana imposes a time limit, known as the statute of limitations, within which a victim can file a lawsuit for civil sex abuse cases. A 2019 law extended the statute of limitations, allowing victims of child sex abuse to file a lawsuit until the age of 31 or until July 1, 2024, for victims over the age of 31.
  • Revival Window: Indiana established a “revival window” as part of the extended statute of limitations. This window provides a one-time opportunity for victims of any age to file a civil lawsuit for sex abuse that occurred before July 1, 2024. The revival window allows victims to file their claims until July 1, 2026.
  • Civil Liability: Perpetrators of sex abuse can be held personally liable for their actions. Institutions or organizations, such as schools or churches, may also be held responsible if they failed to protect the victim or were negligent in preventing or responding to the abuse.
  • Confidentiality Agreements: Confidentiality agreements, which would require victims to remain silent about the abuse, are prohibited in settlement agreements related to child sexual abuse claims in Indiana. This ensures that victims cannot be forced to keep the abuse confidential.

Indiana Wrongful Death Law

In Indiana, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The statute of limitations for these claims is two years from the date of death. Damages in wrongful death cases may cover loss of love and companionship, loss of earnings, funeral and burial expenses, and medical and hospital expenses.

Indiana Code § 34-23-1 establishes the legal framework for seeking compensation when a person’s death is caused by the wrongful or negligent act of another party. This law allows for a civil lawsuit to be filed in such cases. Only the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate has the authority to initiate a wrongful death claim in Indiana on behalf of the wrongful death beneficiaries.  The personal representative is typically appointed through the probate court process. The Indiana wrongful death statute of limitation is two years.

Like many states, Indiana law also allows for a separate cause of action called a survival action. This allows the personal representative to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased person’s estate for any personal injury, pain, and suffering the deceased experienced before their death.

Indiana Premises Liability Law

Premises liability law governs incidents where a person is injured on another person’s property. In Indiana, property owners have a duty of care to maintain safe premises for visitors. If the owner fails to uphold this duty and an injury occurs, they may be held liable.

Indiana Car Accident Law

Indiana is a “fault” state in car accident cases. This means the person responsible for causing the car accident is also responsible for any resulting harm and damage. The comparative fault rule also applies to car accident cases, meaning damage recovery will be reduced in proportion to the injured party’s degree of fault.

Minimum insurance coverage is not great in Indiana for victims: $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 for bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 for property damage.

Indiana Product Liability and Mass Tort Cases

Under Indiana law, a manufacturer or seller of a product can be held responsible if that product is defective and that defect causes harm.

There are a number of national mass torts or “class actions” that involve Indiana plaintiffs, including claims our law firm is handling across the country:

  • Hair relaxer lawsuit: chemical hair relaxer products, which are predominantly used by African American women, have been linked to the development of uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine fibroids, and other medical conditions based on recent evidence.
  • Camp Lejeune lawsuit: A new law passed in 2022 allows for an end run around the statute of limitations for individuals exposed to the toxic water at the Camp Lejeune marine corps base in North Carolina
  • Tylenol autism lawsuit:  Tylenol (acetaminophen) during pregnancy has been show in some stuides to cause autism or ADHD.

Hiring an Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer

Our firm handles serious injury and wrongful death lawsuits in Ohio, working with trusted colleagues in Indiana.  We compensate your Indiana lawyers out of our attorneys’ fees.  You pay no additional contingency fees for having two law firms instead of one.  And you only owe a fee if you get settlement compensation or a jury payout for you.

If you were hurt and believe you have a potential civil tort claim, click here for a free no-obligation consultation or call us today at 800-553-8082.

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