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Breaking down Indiana's 51 percent rule

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Indiana is just one of twenty-one states that use the 51 percent comparative fault rule. This legal doctrine is used by insurance companies to determine the percentage of negligence, or fault, each party is responsible for in a personal injury claim.

When does the 51 percent rule apply?

The 51 percent comparative fault rule applies in situations where an accident has lead to an injury. Majority of cases are related to injuries that result from a traffic accident, but the rule also applies to animal attacks, slip and fall accidents, defective products and other accident-injury claims.

How does it work?

The 51 percent rule causes a bit of confusion but it's actually quite simple. Each party involved with the accident will give the insurance company their own detailed account of how the accident occurred, what injuries were sustained and any other important details pertaining to the accident. The insurance company will then determine the percentage of fault that each party is responsible for based on the information provided.

For your claim to be valid, you must be found 50 percent or less at fault for the accident. If the insurance company concludes that you're 51 percent or more at fault, your claim will be denied.

However, having your claim approved does not mean you will receive 100 percent compensation. The amount of compensation awarded is based on your percentage of fault in the accident. For example, say you were in an accident. You have $1000 worth of damage and were found 35 percent at fault; the other party was found 65 percent at fault. Your total compensation would equal $650 (65 percent of the damage), the other $350 will be your responsibility (35 percent of the damage).

Whose insurance company should you submit a claim to?

Since Indiana is a "fault" state, if you're in an accident and believe the other driver is more than 50 percent at fault, you then have the option to file a claim with your insurance company or with the insurance company of the at fault party.

What if your claim is denied?

If you believe your claim was wrongfully denied or the settlement they offered was unfair, you may consider appealing it or filing a complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance.

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