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Indiana Negligence Laws

Maybe your neighbor never shovels his sidewalk and you finally slipped on the ice. Or maybe someone rear-ended you on I-465. Either way, if you've been injured because of another person's lack of care, you may be asking yourself if you have a valid negligence claim. But how do these claims work, and are there state laws regarding how much you can recover for your injuries?

This article is a brief overview of negligence laws in Indiana.

General Negligence Law: Background

Legal negligence refers to a situation where one person owes a duty to another and fails in that duty, becoming liable for any resulting injuries reasonably related to a person's breach of their duty of care. A person speeding on the interstate, for example, who collides with another car, might be held liable for negligence. The elements of a negligence case are:

  • The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff;
  • The defendant breached this duty;
  • But for the defendant's action (or failure to act), the plaintiff wouldn't have suffered the injury;
  • The defendant's action (or failure to act) was the proximate cause of the injury, and the defendant could have foreseen this; and
  • The plaintiff suffered damages.

Indiana's negligence laws recognize what is called “contributory" negligence, in which the plaintiff is partially at fault for their own injuries. In the above example, if the person whose car was hit failed to signal before changing into the speeder's lane, they might be found partially responsible for the accident, limiting the amount they could recover.

Indiana Negligence Laws: An Overview

Protecting your rights shouldn't involve a difficult exercise in deciphering legalese. While it's always a good idea to consult with an attorney, we believe it's best to understand the law for yourself. A plain-English summary of Indiana negligence law is highlighted in the table below.


Title 34, Section 51-2-5 et seq. of the Indiana Code

Modified Comparative Negligence

Indiana applies the legal theory of modified comparative negligence. Also known as the "51% fault" system, the plaintiff must be less than 51% at fault for the incident to file an injury claim. Otherwise, the plaintiff is barred from recovering for their damages/injuries

Courts reduce recovery in proportion to each party's contribution to negligence. So long as the plaintiff is 50% or less at fault, then the court or jury will reduce the plaintiff's recovery in proportion to the plaintiff's contributory negligence

Contribution Among Tortfeasors

The state's Comparative Fault Act and common law both prohibit contribution among tortfeasors

Uniform Act?


Time Limit for Filing Claim

2 years (Indiana Civil Statute of Limitations) for personal injury and injury to personal property claims

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

  • Indiana Code — FindLaw's hosted version of the Indiana Code and Constitution.
  • Indiana Laws -- FindLaw's summaries of select Indiana laws, including criminal, injury, employment, family, and small business laws.

Indiana Negligence Laws: Related Resources

Need to File an Indiana Negligence Claim? An Attorney Can Help

Accidents happen. But when it's someone else's fault and you're suffering injuries -- and those injuries result in lost wages, hospital bills, or intangible pain and suffering -- you have the right to seek compensation. Learn more about your rights under Indiana negligence laws and get help with your claim by contacting an experienced Indiana injury attorney near you today.

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