When the negligence of others causes injuries in motor vehicle accidents, Indiana law entitles victims to compensation for the damages they sustain. While in many instances these cases resolve without a lawsuit, anyone hurt in an accident should retain an attorney as soon as they can. To schedule a free case evaluation with Indianapolis attorney Merry Fountain, call our office today or send us an email through our online contact form.
What Causes Indianapolis Car Accidents?
Although drunk driving remains a leading cause of fatal collisions, according to recent distracted driving statistics shared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,450 individuals were killed by a preoccupied motorist in 2016. More and more people are texting and driving and multi-tasking in other ways, sometimes with fatal consequences. Drivers can exhibit many forms of negligence behind the wheel, and many common traffic violations cause serious accidents that leave victims with injuries that can damage them for weeks, months, or even the rest of their lives. Common causes of car crashes, in addition to drunk and distracted driving, include:
- Following too closely
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Running stop signs or stoplights
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
- Aggressive driving
- Failing to use headlights when required
- Ignoring unsafe weather conditions
- Driving while impaired by drugs
Furthermore, other drivers do not cause all preventable accidents. For example, in some cases, poor vehicle design, manufacture, or a failure on the part of the manufacturer to warn consumers about an easily mitigated risk result in accidents. In these instances, victims may recover compensation from the vehicle manufacturer.
Similarly, failure on the part of a private party or government agency to design safe roads or adequately maintain them can cause accidents. Hazardous road conditions that may result in negligence on the party of the person or entity responsible for the road include potholes, inadequate drainage, missing or inadequate signs, overgrown vegetation, and inadequate lighting. When these hazards result in accidents, however, the law typically gives victims much shorter time periods in which to file claims. Consequently, anyone hurt in an accident caused by a hazardous road condition should speak to a lawyer immediately.
Accidents resulting from unreasonably dangerous roads or vehicle defects often involve single vehicles, but people hurt in single-vehicle accidents often do not even think that someone else could have caused their crashes. For this reason, talk to a lawyer after an accident, because failing to recognize the cause of an accident within a certain amount of time could result in the inability to recover compensation for your losses. Keep in mind that because we offer free consultations, you risk nothing by reviewing the facts of your case with an attorney—but doing so could result in you obtaining significant compensation.
Who can be Held Liable in an Indianapolis Car Accident?
Other drivers – Negligent drivers can cause accidents in a variety of ways. Examples include speeding, failure to take adequate care in poor weather conditions, distracted driving, or failure to observe traffic signals.
Car accidents affect millions of Americans each year, sometimes resulting in serious injuries that can significantly affect the lives of those involved. In fact, according to statistics published by the United States Census Bureau, there are generally over 10 million motor vehicle accidents each year. These accidents can occur for a number of different reasons and likewise can vary in severity from minor fender benders to serious multi-car accidents. In order to determine who is liable for the injuries that result from an accident, it is necessary to determine the cause of the accident. An experienced Indianapolis personal injury lawyer will know where to look to find evidence of fault, and can help victims obtain the maximum possible settlement or award for their injuries. Below are some of the more common sources of legal liability in car accidents
Car manufacturers – If a car is defectively manufactured or designed and that defect causes or contributes to an accident, the manufacturer of the vehicle may be liable for any injuries that result. For example, issues such as faulty brakes or pedals that are too close together may be issues that could give rise to car manufacturer liability.
Trucking companies or other common carriers – Companies that are in the business of transporting goods or people may be liable for the negligent acts of their employees. Examples include trucking companies, bus lines, taxi companies, or delivery companies.
Car equipment manufacturers – If equipment such as tires, brakes, windshield wipers, or replacement parts fail and cause an accident, the manufacturer of the faulty equipment could potentially be held liable for any damages.
Mechanics or automotive repair shops – Inevitably, cars will need to be repaired and equipment will need to be replaced. If a mechanic or a mechanic’s shop make mistakes when repairing a vehicle, they may be held liable if that error results in or contributes to an accident.
Common Myths About Indianapolis Car Accidents
In 2017, there were 219,112 traffic collisions in the state of Indiana, 911 of them were fatalities. While there may be just as many myths about accidents as accidents themselves, the most common myths include:
MYTH: You don’t need to pull over, exchange information or file a police report if you are involved in a minor accident.
The truth is that failing to pull over could get you into a considerable amount of legal trouble. Under Indiana law, you are required to pull over your vehicle at the scene of an accident, even if the accident does not result in any injuries and even if the damage appears to be minimal.
If you are involved in an auto accident in Indianapolis, follow these tips:
- Pull over immediately and check for injuries.
- Call the police if there are any injuries or extensive damage, one of the other drivers attempts to leave the scene or you suspect other drivers involved are intoxicated.
- Take note of the time, date, and location of the accident and any circumstances that may have caused or contributed to the accident.
- Get the contact information for any witnesses at the scene.
- Exchange your vehicle and insurance information with other drivers at the scene.
- Get the medical care you need and notify your own insurance company within 24 hours of the accident occurring. This is required under your policy.
- Do not give a statement to the other person’s insurance company without first consulting with an attorney.
MYTH: Minor accidents don’t cause serious injuries.
Medical care should always be sought after an auto accident. This is because seemingly minor injuries such as soreness, bruising or swelling could be indicative of a more serious condition that threatens your overall health and possibly could result in serious financial costs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, medical costs associated with car accident injuries can run into tens of thousands of dollars.
MYTH: Claiming whiplash or back injuries is simply a way of trying to get money from the insurance company.
According to the Mayo Clinic, whiplash is a neck injury that occurs as the result of sudden, forceful back-and-forth movement of the neck. Whiplash is common in car accidents and is nothing to take lightly as it could result in neck sprains as well as potentially serious head injuries. Back pain is also common in the aftermath of car crashes. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, back pain may be indicative of strained muscles or problems with the disks that make up the spine. These injuries require proper medical care, may take months to recover from and can result in lingering and even permanent disability.
MYTH: The settlement offer that your insurance company makes is the maximum amount your claim is worth.
While many people think the insurance company is on their side when it comes to settling car accident claims, this is not entirely true. Insurance companies are in the business to make money. One of the easiest ways to do this is by undervaluing or denying car accident claims. For instance, an insurance company claims representative may diminish the true value of replacing your vehicle as well as the ongoing costs that may be associated with your injuries.
Protecting Your Rights After an Indianapolis Car Accident People who car accidents hurt may experience significant losses, both economic and noneconomic. These tend to include medical expenses, vehicle repairs, pain and suffering, lost income, and lost quality of life, just to name a few. In many instances, these losses can continue accruing for years, particularly in cases in which victims cannot return to the work they did before their accidents or if they require ongoing medical care. In accident cases involving catastrophic injuries like traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries, the compensation victims obtain can rise well into the millions of dollars.
Because of these potentially significant losses, car accident victims must do everything they can to protect their legal rights. Accident victims can protect their legal rights in the days and weeks after an accident by:
- Obtaining information – If you are in an accident and do not require emergency medical attention, gather as much information as you can. Exchange information with other drivers and try and collect contact information from witnesses. Take pictures of the aftermath of the accident from various angles, making sure to highlight vehicle damage and any road conditions that you believe may have contributed to the accident.
- Seeking medical attention – Every car accident victim should undergo a thorough medical evaluation as soon as possible—even if you think that you didn’t suffer serious injuries or that they will heal on their own. Insurance companies (and courts) want to see documentation of victim losses, and a medical record describing the severity and extent of your injuries can help establish damages.
- Keeping notes about how your injuries hurt you – Medical records are important, but so are records you keep about the way that your injuries hurt you on a daily basis. Keep notes about any pain you experience, difficulties you have performing everyday tasks, sleeplessness, or events your injuries force you to miss.
- Calling a lawyer as soon as possible – As an accident victim, you can say and do things that can hurt your chances of recovering compensation. For example, insurance company adjusters can ask questions designed to get you to accidentally admit fault, and they can use what you post on social media as evidence that you are not as hurt as you claim. An attorney, however, will advise you as to how to conduct yourself to maximize your chances of recovering compensation (including, potentially, referring you to medical specialists) and will communicate with the insurance company on your behalf. In addition, should an insurance company accuse you of fault, your attorney will begin investigating your accident and gathering evidence that supports your position that someone else’s negligence caused the wreck.
What You Can Expect From Indianapolis Auto Accidents Attorney Merry Fountain
I will personally provide you with a free legal consultation based on your police report. I will not delegate our consultation to someone else.
If I represent you, I will:
- Personally meet with you at a time and place of your convenience
- Make you and your personal injury settlement a priority
- Help you obtain the maximum amount of compensation under Indiana law for your separate settlement for damage to your vehicle and any other property free of charge
- Promptly return all of your phone calls
- Answer your questions
- Keep your information confidential
- Aggressively represent you
If an auto accident injured you, there is nothing routine about it to you. I still remember every detail of the auto accident I was in years ago—where it happened, who talked to me, what they said, the ambulance ride, and how everything seemed to move in slow motion.
The most important things to do immediately after your auto accident are to call 911, obtain medical treatment, talk to no one except the police about what happened, and notify your own insurance company. Take photographs of the vehicles, the scene, and your injuries if you can.
If an auto accident injured you in Indiana, do not give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company under any circumstances without first consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Why You Should Not Give the Insurance Company a Statement After an Accident
After a car accident that someone else caused, chances are that you will deal with the other driver’s insurance company to cover any losses you sustained. Initially, you may feel pressured to talk to the other company because of the situation with a vehicle and to obtain transportation. If you are calling about medical bills, they aren’t going to pay anything anyway until you sign a full and final release for your injuries. An attorney can help you review your options with your medical bills until you are ready to settle.
As an accident victim, keep in mind that the other driver’s insurance company is doing everything it can to minimize the amount it will pay you, and will even completely deny your claim if it can find any justification to do so.
A favorite tactic of many auto insurers is to pressure accident victims into giving a recorded statement about the way the accident occurred. Insurance companies will often suggest that they have a “right” to obtain a statement from the victim before they pay out or that giving a statement will somehow expedite the claims process so that you get your money sooner.
As an accident victim, you are under no obligation to give the insurance company a recorded statement. In fact, you should avoid saying anything about your accident until you have had a chance to talk to a lawyer—and then, let your lawyer do the talking.
The main reason that insurance companies ask victims to provide statements is that they hope victims will say something that indicates that they were partially or completely at fault for the accident and justify reducing the amount they have to pay—or denying the claim completely. There are several other ways they can reduce the amount they pay by asking you to answer seemingly harmless personal questions before they help you.
Because insurance company representatives often engage in tactics that are intended to get victims to inadvertently admit liability, retain a lawyer as soon as you can after you are involved in an accident. Your attorney will communicate with the insurance company on your behalf and protect your rights during the entire settlement process. In the event that the insurance company refuses to make a reasonable offer, your lawyer will likely file a civil lawsuit against the driver who caused your accident to ensure that you receive compensation for your losses.
Don’t make the mistake of talking to the insurance company before you learn your rights, protect yourself by retaining an attorney. I’ve had many people call me seeking help after it is too late. Sadly, these people all thought they had a clear cut situation and trusted the insurance company to help them.
If you want to test this out, go ahead and call the other person’s insurance company and ask them to help you without giving a statement.
How to work with a claims adjuster
When it comes to settling a car accident case, the facts of your individual case will determine how long it will take to settle.
If you decide to settle your car accident case, it is important to remember that how you interact with a claims adjuster can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. Below are some important tips to facilitate the settlement process:
1. Be organized: Make sure to take thorough notes, if you have a conversation with the claims adjuster. Be sure to keep a copy of everything you submit. Lastly, if you have agreed to provide the adjuster with certain information, do it promptly.
2. Be patient: While the waiting period can be frustrating, try not to be in too great a hurry to settle your claim. Perhaps even more importantly, do not jump at a first offer. Holding off for a little while probably will increase your settlement amount.
3. Be persistent: Don’t let the adjuster sit on your claim. However, it is important not to confuse persistence with pestering. This means that you shouldn’t call the adjuster every day, but make sure the adjuster knows that you will be regularly and thoroughly following up on your claim.
4. Be calm: Avoid high emotions. If you show the adjuster you are making a good-faith claim, you will likely get a good-faith settlement offer in return. Your job is simply to show the adjuster that you know how the process works and that your claim is an honest one.
Should I Accept an Auto Insurance Offer?
Some auto accidents may simply result in scratches or dents on your car and you may not have suffered any noticeable injuries. While such accidents may be an inconvenience, they can often be handled through an insurance claim, especially if it is clear who was at fault in the accident. However, when a collision results in injuries to you or your children, you should be careful when dealing with another driver’s insurance company. Specifically, you should be hesitant to automatically accept a settlement offer presented by the insurer.
Insurance companies are constantly trying to limit liability1 since they are concerned about their profits like any other type of business. This means that they will find ways to limit an offer whenever possible. The following are only some ways an insurance adjuster can limit the value of your offer:
- Claim that you were partially at fault in the collision
- Claim your injuries are not as serious as you stated
- Claim you did not require all of the medical treatment you received
- Claim you did not need to miss work and lose income because of your injuries
If an insurance company is trying to make any of the above assertions or has offered less than you need, you should never accept an offer. Once you accept any settlement from an insurer, you are giving up your rights to ever seek compensation for those injuries again. Therefore, if you later realize that your settlement does not cover future medical treatments or other losses, you will be responsible for covering those costs yourself.
Be sure to discuss your case with a lawyer before filing your claim. There are several reasons why you should call an auto accident attorney before you file an insurance claim. First, it can be difficult to know the full value of your damages2 if you are unfamiliar with car accident cases. An attorney can look at all of your past and potential future losses to determine how much you truly deserve. Additionally, insurance companies often will not cover losses such as pain and suffering or emotional distress. If you sustained a serious injury that resulted in severe pain and trauma, an insurance claim may never be enough to cover your losses. A skilled lawyer can advise when filing a legal claim is a better course of action to protect your rights as an accident victim.
Injured in an Auto Accident in Indianapolis? Get a Free, Immediate Consultation
You can call my office 24/7—my consultations are always free, in-depth, and given by me personally. I will meet with you in your home if that is more convenient than my office. And I never charge a fee until you win your personal injury settlement.
Call (888) 242-HURT (4878) for a free, immediate consultation.