How Does Indiana Define Negligence in an Injury Case?

Gene Warhurst

May 2, 2023

When someone is injured in an accident caused by another person’s negligence, the victim may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, the law requires that the victim prove that the defendant was negligent to win their case. In Indiana, four elements must be proven to establish negligence in an injury case. These elements are the duty of care, a departure from the standard of care, causation, and damages.

Duty of Care

If you are considering pursuing a personal injury claim, you need to understand what is a duty of care. It is one of the most important legal concepts in tort law, but it can confuse people new to it.

Duty of care refers to the societal expectation that everyone behaves with reasonable caution in situations that could put others at risk for harm. It is a legal responsibility that all individuals and organizations must uphold.

Duty of care laws vary state by state, but most states use a multi-factor analysis to determine if a person acted negligently and breached their duty. These factors include foreseeability tests, and a jury will compare the defendant’s conduct to what a reasonable person would have done in the same situation. If a jury finds that the defendant acted negligently, they may be liable for damages. These damages can range from economic losses, such as lost wages and medical bills to non-economic losses, like pain and suffering.

Departure from the Standard of Care

If someone or a business breaches the standard of care, they can be liable for harm. This can occur in many situations, including medical malpractice and personal injury.

The definition of the standard of care varies, but it generally means that people or businesses must act with reasonable care when they are performing or providing services or goods. The law considers that a person or company can foreseeably cause harm, so they must act cautiously.

In a medical malpractice case, a doctor or surgeon who departs from the standard of accepted care could face liability for their actions if they can prove that their departure was a proximate cause of the victim’s injuries. Often, this is done with the help of a medical expert.


Causation is a critical legal element in most personal injury cases. You can’t win your case unless you prove that the defendant caused your injuries and damages.

Proving causation is a difficult task and can involve numerous factors. It is especially difficult to prove causation when many events occur simultaneously.

A common example of this is a car accident that involves multiple cars. Each driver may have contributed to the accident somehow, but what is the actual cause?

In most states, a “but for” test determines the answer to this question. This simple test asks, “For the defendant’s conduct, would there have been an injury?”


If you have been injured due to another person’s negligence, you have a claim against the wrongdoer. You can recover damages for your losses, which include medical expenses, pain and suffering, property damage, lost wages, and more.

Indiana law lays out four elements you must prove to establish negligence. These are duty, a departure from the standard of care, causation, and damages.

The most common type of damage in injury cases is economic damages, which represent measurable losses associated with your accident or injuries. These may include medical bills, lost income, and other out-of-pocket expenses.

Some damages are less measurable and are often considered non-economic or general damages. These are less tangible than economic damages and can include pain and suffering, emotional distress, or loss of companionship. They can also include future losses if your injury causes you to lose income or require ongoing medical care in the future. These damages are difficult to quantify and can have a high dollar value.