In an Indiana negligence action, a plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant owed a duty to commit an act or refrain from committing an act; the defendant breached their duty; the breach of duty was the proximate cause of injury to the plaintiff and plaintiff suffered damages as a result.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Indiana Code § 34-51-2-1 et. seq. institutes the Comparative Fault Act, which allows a plaintiff to recover damages, even where the plaintiff is partially responsible, as long as the percentage of fault attributed to the plaintiff is less than 51%. If the plaintiff’s fault is found to have been larger than 50%, the plaintiff will again be barred from recovery. If the plaintiff’s fault is found to have been less than 51%, his damages will be reduced by his proportion of fault.
For example, if the plaintiff suffered damages in the amount of $1,000,000 and court or jury finds the defendant to be 90% at fault, the plaintiff would be entitled to recover since their portion of fault was only 10% (less than 51%) and would receive a damage award of $900,000.
Modified Joint & Several Liability
Joint and several liability applies in Indiana where two or more tortfeasors are jointly bound to perform a duty and they are negligent in performing that duty which causes harm to the plaintiff. Additionally, in the factual scenario where separate, independent acts of two or more tortfeasors combine to cause a single injury to the plaintiff and it is impossible to apportion fault among the tortfeasors, joint and several liability is also applied.
Pursuant to the Comparative Fault Act enacted in Indiana, however, fault is generally allocated and apportioned between multiple tortfeasors and separate verdicts are entered for each defendant in an amount that correlates with their share of the total damages claim for which they are financially responsible.
Compensatory damages are intended to compensate the plaintiff for injuries suffered as a result of the negligence of the defendant(s). This is is meant to restore the plaintiff to the condition they were in prior to the injury. Compensatory damages includes both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include medical treatment, hospital bills, physical therapy, loss of income, and physical therapy. Noneconomic damages include loss of opportunity, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium.
Punitive damages in Indiana must be proved by “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant acted with malice, fraud, gross negligence or oppressiveness that was not the result of a mistake or other human failing.
Indiana Code § 34-51-3-4 places a statutory cap on punitive damages. Punitive damage awards are limited to the greater of three times the compensatory damages award in the action or $50,000.00.
The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.
By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Indiana. Should you have a question/concern specific to Indiana law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Indiana.