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Indiana Guest Statute Can Bar Recovery in Car Accident Cases

Guy DiMartino Oct. 31, 2014

Indiana car accident lawyer explains the Indiana Guest Statute and how it bars recovery for family members in car accident claims.

A potential client calls the office and wants to retain us because he was injured in a car accident. Upon further inquiry, we learn that he was hitching and picked up by a vehicle. The driver of the vehicle ran a red light and he was hurt in the accident. He wanted to bring a case against the driver for blowing the red light. We had to inform him that he does not have a case against the driver because the Indiana Guest Statute bars recovery in these situations. The Guest Statute States:

The owner, operator, or person responsible for the operation of a motor vehicle is not lia­ble for loss or damage arising from injuries to or the death of:

  1. the person's parent;

  2. the person's spouse;

  3. the person's child or stepchild;

  4. the person's brother;

  5. the person's sister; or

  6. a hitchhiker;

resulting from the operation of the motor vehicle while the parent, spouse, child or step­child, brother, sister, or hitchhiker was being transported without payment in or upon the motor vehicle unless the injuries or death are caused by the wanton or willful misconduct of the operator, owner, or person responsible for the operation of the motor vehicle.

In essence the guest statute doesn't want people suing their immediate family members and doesn't allow hitchhikers to sue a person who gratuitously decides to pick them up and give them a ride for no compensation if the accident is caused by typical negligence. If the driver of the car or truck acts willfully, wantonly or without regard for the safety of his passenger this will be a different story.

So, I had to tell the potential new client that I couldn't help him seek recovery for his injuries from the driver that picked him up. Indiana car accident law is complex. If you have any questions about a car accident claim, call our Indiana car accident lawyers or fill out the internet consultation form on the right.