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17 Ind. L. Rev. 881 (1984)
Indiana's Comparative Fault Law: A Legislator's View

handle is hein.journals/indilr17 and id is 903 raw text is: Indiana's Comparative Fault Law:
A Legislator's View
NELSON J. BECKER*
The Indiana General Assembly passed a comparative fault act during
the 1983 session. Senate Enrolled Act 287 passed the House 78-12 and
passed the Senate 41-6. The Act will become effective January 1, 1985.
In the past several sessions of the Indiana General Assembly, some
form of comparative fault legislation has been considered. Some proposed
the pure comparative fault concept, which met with little or no success,
while others attempted modified forms. The trial bar and defense bar
were generally the proponents and opponents of the legislation with con-
siderable interest being exhibited by the insurance industry. The General
Assembly listened to the debate each year, but not until the 1983 session
did it decide it was time to make a fundamental change in the law with
respect to determining fault.
There are a number of factors that made it possible for a comparative
fault act to pass. First of all, the Act is a modified form of comparative
fault, not the pure form of comparative fault. Under the modified form
adopted by Indiana, a plaintiff who is more than fifty percent at fault
is barred from recovery. It is highly unlikely that a pure form of com-
parative fault, which allows recovery for a ninety-nine percent-fault plain-
tiff, would have been regarded as fair by the members of the Indiana
General Assembly.
Secondly, comparative fault was regarded by legislators as more
equitable to the slightly-at-fault plaintiff than the contributory negligence
rule. Comparative fault avoids the inequity under the contributory
negligence rule of totally barring recovery to a plaintiff who is slightly
at fault. Many legislators felt that juries ignored the contributory negligence
rule or used devices such as the doctrine of last clear chance to avoid
its harsh effects. By abolishing contributory negligence, legislators felt that
juries would no longer be forced to contrive ways to circumvent the harsh
treatment of the slightly-at-fault plaintiff. Furthermore, legislators felt that
under comparative fault, judgments would be more predictable, equitable,
and less likely to breed disrespect for the law.
*Representative Becker, from Logansport, was one of the sponsors of the comparative
fault bill in the Indiana General Assembly. The following Article has been reproduced with
only slight modifications from the manuscript that Representative Becker submitted to the
Indiana Law Review. It was felt that an Article from one of the sponsors of this historic
legislation would be an asset to this Symposium and would provide a helpful insight into
the passage of the Act.

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