Being injured in an accident can be a stressful and traumatizing incident. Not only do you have injuries to recover from and damages and bills to pay for, but you also have to deal with filing a personal injury claim and negotiating with insurance companies, all of which can easily become overwhelming. On top of all that, you might also have numerous questions about your case and how it will be handled. Luckily, the Crossen Law Firm has years of experience handling a wide range of cases. Below, we will answer some of the most common questions about Indiana personal injury claims.
If you have further questions or need legal assistance regarding your case, don’t hesitate to reach out. Call 317-401-8626 now for a free consultation with Crossen Law Firm or contact our firm online to get started. You pay nothing unless you win a settlement.
Although many people use the terms “personal injury” and “bodily injury” interchangeably when speaking of car accidents and personal injury cases, the two are technically not the same. And it’s important to understand the difference to help you better navigate your claim.
Bodily injury is used specifically for criminal court cases and also for insurance context. For example, someone who is the victim of a violent assault or crime would be referred to as having suffered a bodily injury. Also, for insurance purposes, bodily injury is a term used to designate whether a victim has been injured in an accident and thus requires compensation through the at-fault party’s insurance coverage.
In contrast, personal injury is a broad term used to cover a wide range of injuries that can occur as a result of various kinds of civil cases, such as car accidents, slip and fall accidents, dog attacks, medical malpractice cases, and pedestrian accidents, etc. Generally, in a personal injury case, one party is seeking compensation from another party due to negligence.
As mentioned above, when you are injured in an accident, you would typically file a personal injury claim to recover compensation due to another party’s negligence. But what is negligence exactly, and how does it work in Indiana?
In general, negligence refers to what happens when someone owes another person a duty of care and fails to uphold that duty. As a result, the person who acted negligently by causing another person harm becomes legally liable for any injuries that occurred as a result of the accident.
Specifically, the rules or terms of negligence are as follows:
- The defendant (guilty, negligent party) owed a duty of care to the plaintiff (injured victim)
- The duty of care was breached when the defendant failed to uphold their duty
- If the defendant hadn’t failed, the plaintiff wouldn’t have been injured
- Thus, the defendant’s failure is the primary or direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries
- As a result, the plaintiff suffered injuries and has a right to compensation
It’s important to note, however, that negligence laws are not all the same in every state. Indiana, for example, has what is known as comparative negligence or a 51% fault system. This means that both parties can be liable for the accident, and recovering compensation will depend on the percentage of fault.
In Indiana, if a person is more than 51% at fault for causing an accident, they cannot file a claim and recover compensation. In contrast, other states might follow a pure contributory negligence law, which means if they are more than just 1% at fault, they cannot file a claim and recover damages.
Knowing whether or not you have the right to file a personal injury claim can be determined by using the information provided in the previous two sections. In other words, if you are injured in an accident that is considered a civil case, and it is the result of another person’s carelessness or negligence, then you likely have the right to file a claim.
So, if you can prove the terms of negligence—that someone owed you a duty of care and they breached that duty—you should have a sound case to file a claim against them and recover compensation for your injuries and other damages.
Again, this can include injuries that occur due to someone’s negligence from a car accident, medical malpractice, slip and fall on a property, a dog attack, or a pedestrian accident. However, these are just some examples of civil cases and do not cover the expanse of everything that could technically be considered negligence in a civil case.
So if you aren’t sure whether or not you have a case, you can always reach out to your local personal injury law firm for guidance and answers.
After being involved in an accident, you may feel overwhelmed and confused, in addition to being in pain from any injuries you sustained. It’s important in these situations to stay calm and follow the these steps after an indiana accident below to ensure your case goes as smoothly as possible:
- Get yourself to safety: Your safety should be your number one priority after an accident. So stay calm, assess your situation, and get yourself to safety. If you cannot move your car, but there is somewhere safe nearby where you can wait, exit your vehicle carefully and move to the safe location out of the way of oncoming traffic.
- Call the police and seek immediate medical attention: Once you are safe, call the police and request emergency medical responders if needed. You will want to make sure an official police report is filed, as this will help support your case and prove what happened. You should also get checked out by emergency medical responders or get yourself to a hospital or your doctor as soon as possible following the accident. Never put off seeking medical attention as it could make your injuries worse.
- Avoid admitting fault: When speaking to police or anyone else at the scene, it’s important that you avoid saying anything that can be used against you. You can describe the events and what happened but never say “It’s my fault” or anything along those lines. The accident might not have been entirely your fault. But if you admit to fault, this could be used to deny your claim and any compensation you are owed.
- Exchange information with others involved: After an accident such as a car accident, you need to exchange information with the others involved, such as the other drivers. You should get their name, contact info, driver’s license number, license plate number, and insurance information. All of this will help your insurance company when you file a claim and it ensures the other party involved does not try to get away without taking responsibility for what happened.
- Gather evidence: Though the police that arrive at the scene will collect their own evidence, it’s important for you to gather as much information as you can as well. Photograph anything you can relating to the accident, including your injuries, car damage, and pictures of the scene as a whole. You should also write down as much information as you can remember about what happened and what you think caused the accident, such as speeding, faulty traffic lights or signage, rain or snow, etc.
- Contact your insurance company: Following the accident, you will want to contact your own insurance company to get a claim started as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult your case will be to prove. You want to file when the evidence is still viable, and the memory of the accident is fresh. It’s also important at this stage to avoid speaking to the other party’s insurance company as they could try to trick you into saying something that could be used against you. Always speak to an attorney first.
- Do not post about your accident on social media: Since we are living in a digital age where social media is incredibly popular, it’s important to note that you should also avoid posting about your accident. Even if you believe you are innocent and don’t think you are saying anything bad, you never know how your post and what you say could be used against you.
- Contact an attorney: Most importantly, after an accident you should always speak to an attorney as soon as possible. They can offer you guidance on how to speak to police and insurance companies to avoid saying something that can be used against you, and they can fight for your rights to ensure you are fully and fairly compensated for your damages.
Not only is it important to contact your insurance company and an attorney as soon as possible to get the claims process rolling, but it’s also important because every state has a statute of limitations on personal injury cases. If you wait too long to file a claim, you could surpass the deadline and become ineligible to recover compensation.
In Indiana, victims of an accident have two years to file a claim and any necessary court documentation. However, there are exceptions. In certain circumstances, you could have more or less time if you intend to file a lawsuit, but this can vary depending on the situation. So when in doubt, file as soon as possible, and if you have any questions, reach out to your local personal injury attorney.
When we are talking about a personal injury claim, we generally use the term damages to refer to the various things you can recover compensation for. And there are two different categories of damage:
- Economic damages. These kinds of damages, also referred to as special damages, compensate you for your monetary losses. This includes:
- Medical expenses (present and future)
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Damage repair (i.e., car, house, other personal property)
- Cost of hiring assistance services for help with household duties
- Loss of irreplaceable items
- Non-economic damages. These damages, also known as general damages, compensate you for nonmonetary losses or consequences relating to the accident and your injuries. This includes:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress or mental anguish
- Physical impairment and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
- Reduced quality of life
There is also technically a third type of damage that an injured victim can recover compensation for, but it is not as common as the first two—punitive damages. Punitive damages are a kind of compensation that is awarded to the victim as a sort of punishment for the guilty party if they had malicious or purposeful intent to harm.
It is not uncommon after an accident for insurance companies to offer a quick settlement to the victim. However, while this offer might seem ideal as it can result in a quick turnaround time and you having to put minimal effort into your case, it is generally not a good idea to accept the offer.
The reason? The initial settlement offer is likely well below what you deserve and may not cover all of your expenses related to the accident and your injuries.
Insurance companies often offer this quick settlement in the hopes of having to pay as little money as possible because they know that if you hire an attorney and provide substantial evidence to support your claim, you will be owed much more. So they will use certain tactics and wording to entice you to take this offer, but in most cases, it is not a good idea to accept.
When you file your claim, you should always talk to an attorney first before discussing anything with the other insurance company. Your attorney can let you know if any settlement offers are fair or if it’s worth it to pursue a higher settlement amount.
No matter how you feel after an accident, you should ALWAYS seek medical attention as soon as possible. Many injuries do not show up right away, and waiting too long can have tragic results. For example, some head injuries or internal injuries might not be visible on the outside, and you might not even feel the pain right away due to shock. But if you wait too long, the internal damage could result in permanent damage or even death.
Even minor injuries that you can detect can grow worse with time if they are not treated right away. So no matter what injuries you see or don’t see, it’s important that you go to the ER, an urgent care, or schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as you can.
Aside from the physical injuries that you seek medical attention for, it is also possible for accident victims to suffer from what is called “pain and suffering” after an accident. Pain and suffering damages are non-economical because they cannot easily be calculated by simply adding up your medical bills. Pain and suffering is often viewed as something that is more mental and can vary from one person to the next; thus, there is no easy way to put a dollar amount on it. However, these types of damages can affect you both physically and mentally, and you do have a right to be compensated for them.
Examples of pain and suffering that you can be compensated for include:
- Level of perceived physical pain and how it affects your ability to live
- Loss of enjoyment of life and activities
- Being inconvenienced
- Loss of companionship
If a structured settlement is agreed upon, it means the plaintiff will withdraw their lawsuit, and an amount will be determined without getting the court involved. Furthermore, a structured settlement is paid out in a series of payments over the course of several years (or the rest of the plaintiff’s life) instead of being given as a lump sum all at once. This structured settlement is drawn up in an annuity contract and can be complex, but it can have some advantages and disadvantages.
Some advantages include tax benefits, the assurance of money continually coming in over a period of time (keeping the plaintiff from spending the money all at once), and tailoring the annuity to cover specific needs and future demands or contingencies. The cons of agreeing to a structured settlement can include fear of not getting all of the money you deserve if things change in the future economically, insurance companies being reluctant to disclose how much they would pay to buy out an annuity, and tax disadvantages.
Overall, if you are unsure which route to choose with your settlement, it’s best to speak with an attorney who can offer you guidance and help you make the best decision.
If you are injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, whether it’s another individual, a company, or a government entity, you have a right to file a personal injury claim to recover compensation. You are not guaranteed a set amount, however, which is why it’s essential to work with an attorney.
Just because you have the right to take legal action and file a claim or even a lawsuit does not mean you will get the money you deserve. Numerous factors can play a role in how a personal injury case plays out, such as who is at fault, percentage of fault (if more than one person/party is involved, including the person filing the claim), the evidence provided as support, and the damages sustained.
This is why you should always consult with a personal injury attorney. You have a right to recover compensation, but that right does not guarantee how much you will walk away with. But if you have an attorney on your side, you are more likely to get a higher settlement amount that fully compensates you for all that you have lost and suffered.
Again, hiring a personal injury attorney means you are more likely to win your case and get a more desirable result. You do not have to work with an attorney. It is your right to work alone or to have legal representation, but having professional representation is often advised.
There are so many things that can go wrong in a personal injury case, as there are so many details that you need to stay on top of to win your case. If you are not familiar with the law or local regulations, you can easily become overwhelmed. Navigating a personal injury claim is not easy, but it can go a lot smoother with the help of an attorney.
When you work with a personal injury lawyer, insurance companies are encouraged to pay full and fair settlements, gathering evidence is easier as you have someone telling you exactly what you need and how to provide it, and you will not make any mistakes on paperwork or miss any deadlines that could result in a denial or reduced compensation.
They can walk you through the entire process, offer you support and guidance, and give you the comfort of knowing that your case will be handled with care to ensure you get the money you need and deserve.
Explore Your Legal Options With an Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorney
At Crossen Law Firm, we have a team of dedicated legal experts who offer compassionate support and are ready to fight with you and for you to help you and your loved ones get full and fair compensation.
Make the right call. Call Crossen Law Firm at (317) 401-8626 or contact our firm online.