When it comes to motor vehicle accidents, our neighboring state of Kentucky is a no-fault state, but Indiana is not. In Indiana, we have a modified comparative negligence fault law. This means that you cannot receive compensation in a lawsuit if you are found to have been 51% at fault or higher.
This also means that the amount of compensation you receive will depend on the percentage of fault you are found to have. Generally, the less you are at fault, the more compensation you will receive.
For example, if you were speeding when another driver T-boned you by flying through a red light, you may be found at least partially to blame for the accident. Each case is unique, and the jury will consider a variety of factors in order to determine your own level of fault and the corresponding right to compensation.
Because the other driver’s insurance company’s lawyers will be experts in mitigating their client’s amount of responsibility and suggesting that you are at least partially responsible, you need your own attorney to advise you and help you fight for what’s fair.
You also need to remember several dos and don’ts for immediately following an accident:
- Do check on the other driver if you are able to safely do so after an accident.
- Don’t admit blame or even apologize. It is human nature to want to express regret, even if you are not at fault, but resist this urge, as your words may be used against you at a later date.
- Do give details when explaining what happened to the police officer who comes to the scene and makes an accident report.
- Don’t offer opinions or give extraneous information.
- Do tell a doctor exactly how you are feeling.
- Don’t try to be brave or downplay your level of pain or discomfort. Not only could this affect the outcome of any future lawsuit, but it could also jeopardize your health. Often after a major or minor accident, adrenaline prevents people from feeling pain. Injuries such as whiplash may not be evident for several hours or even days. Also, any blow to the head or possibility of internal bleeding should be taken extremely seriously at the time.
- Do have compassion for the other driver; this is a human being who has also just been involved in an accident.
- Don’t allow your empathy to prevent you from contacting a car accident attorney as soon as possible. Your conflict will likely be with an insurance company that is unwilling to offer a fair settlement, not with the other driver. It’s not personal, and this is what insurance is for.
- Do lean on your family for comfort and help. You will likely be emotionally distraught as well as physically injured; let your friend or spouse drive you to medical appointments or bring you meals while you recover.
- Don’t post about your accident on social media. In fact, don’t post any pictures or updates on social media. You may be in terrible pain and having trouble doing things for yourself, but if you post a picture of you smiling or laughing with a friend (even if it was the only smile you mustered that entire day), it could be used against you.
A personal injury lawyer can help guide you through all of the steps to take after an accident.
A personal injury lawyer can also:
- Act for you in interactions with insurance companies to make sure that you get the appropriate settlement.
- Help determine if you have a viable lawsuit if you cannot reach a satisfactory settlement.
- Hire expert witnesses or accident reconstructionists to prove the other driver’s fault.
- Investigate whether there is any video surveillance evidence that can be obtained from area businesses or red light cameras that could help your case.
- Examine the police report, your statement, and any witness statements.
- Assess vehicle event data recorder (EDR) contents.
- Advocate for you to get the treatment that you are undergoing paid for expeditiously.
- Deal with court dates, deadlines, and required paperwork.
- There are myriad other services that your personal injury lawyer can help you with as you both work together to win enough money to pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and future recovery costs, not to mention pain and suffering.
Determining fault can be complex and necessitate thorough investigation and analysis. Fault is primarily determined by inspecting the scene and conditions during an accident, inspecting the damage and physical evidence, interviewing witnesses, and reviewing police reports. A car accident attorney who is used to investigating such processes and material will be invaluable to protecting your claim and securing proper compensation.