Most of us depend on cars as a main form of transportation. When out on the road, we all have a responsibility to drive as safely as possible and follow all traffic laws. But even responsible drivers are vulnerable to car accidents and injuries, as negligent drivers, dangerous road conditions, and other hazards cause countless preventable accidents each year.
If you have recently been injured in a car accident in Indiana, it is important to be aware of your legal rights and potential options for financial compensation. You can learn more about what to do after an Indiana car accident by contacting the Indiana car accident attorneys at the Fountain Law Firm in Indianapolis.
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It can be overwhelming to be involved in a car accident. You may be suffering from serious injuries caused by someone else’s negligence and not know where to turn for help. You’re struggling to go to different medical appointments while seeing medical bills pile up. The insurance company might be calling you, and you might still be waiting to hear back on the status of your car repairs or replacement. You may also be dealing with a tremendous amount of stress due to this situation you never expected and did nothing to deserve.
At Fountain Law Firm, P.C., our dedicated car accident lawyer knows how frustrating motor vehicle accidents can be. We work closely with accident victims and want to protect their legal interests in the event they need to make a car accident claim. Here are important steps to follow to protect your safety and your legal claim following a car accident in Indiana:
It may not be possible to stop your car exactly where the accident occurred because it could pose a danger to others. However, you should pull over to the nearest safe place out of the way of traffic. Put flares or traffic cones around your vehicle to alert other motorists to the accident.
Safety is the priority, so be sure you check yourself and your passengers for any injuries. If there are any injuries, let the 911 operator know this when you call to report the accident.
It is in your best interest and the law in Indiana to report a motor vehicle accident immediately after the accident. If a law enforcement officer responds to the scene, provide factual statements and avoid speculating about how the accident occurred. Ask the law enforcement officer how to get a copy of the report.
Exchange information with the other driver. Specifically, ask for the following information:
Collect other information at the scene, if possible, by doing the following:
Do not admit fault during your exchange of information with the law enforcement agency and the driver. Avoid statements such as “I’m sorry” and “I didn’t see you.” Even if you think you might be partially at fault, don’t say this. You may not know all of the details involved that contributed to the accident, such as the other driver being drunk or distracted at the time of the accident.
If you were not immediately taken by ambulance to receive medical treatment, seek medical treatment promptly. It’s not unusual for adrenaline to block symptoms of an injury following a traumatic event like a car accident. Follow your doctor’s orders and limit your activities as recommended. Keep all of your original medical records and bills.
Shortly after the accident, write down everything you remember about it: how it happened, what you were doing just before the collision, the date, the time, the location, what you were looking at when the crash occurred, road and weather conditions, and any other pertinent details. These details may help your claim, and it’s best to record them while your memory is fresh.
Depending on the facts of the case, you may have claims against other parties who may have contributed to your accident, such as an employer if the defendant was working at the time of the accident or a manufacturer who made a defective product that contributed to the accident.
You should immediately contact a car accident attorney for a free consultation if you are injured in a collision. Many people make the mistake of trying to handle the case themself initially and end up either receiving too low a settlement or having their claim denied.
You might wonder when you should contact an accident lawyer. You might be worried about whether you can afford a lawyer and if you should just try to take care of your claim yourself. At the Fountain Law Firm we never charge anything until you receive your settlement. Car accident claims can be very complex, and an experienced Indiana car accident claim can handle all aspects of them, including:
Learn more about how we can help when you call for our free case review.
You can decide which lawyer you want to hire to represent your interests in a car accident. Some of the qualities you might want your car accident lawyer to have include:
There is simply no substitute for relevant experience. In addition to having experience with car accident claims, you will want to ensure that the lawyer you hire has litigation experience, too. While your case might not have to go to trial, it is important that your lawyer be able to take your case all the way, if necessary. This can also provide an incentive for the insurance company to resolve the case through an out-of-court settlement. Merry Fountain has more than twenty years of experience in only handling personal injury claims.
As the plaintiff in a car accident case, you will be responsible for establishing the other driver was at fault. This may require additional resources, such as investigators or accident reconstruction experts who can put the pieces together. They may also refer you to reputable medical providers to ensure you receive proper care.
You may be working with your lawyer for some time, so you want to be sure you can personally connect with them. Merry Fountain is an empathetic car accident lawyer because she personally went through the ordeal of being involved in a car accident before she went to law school. She knows exactly what you are going through and will work hard to protect you.
One way to learn about what it would be like to work with a car accident lawyer is to read the reviews from other clients. Client testimonials can give you an insider’s perspective and what your experience might be like.
Each state has its own laws regarding assigning fault after a car accident. Indiana is an “at-fault” state. This means that the other person’s insurance carrier is liable to you when they were at fault. It is liable for your property damage, lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages related to the injuries suffered in the crash.
The state of Indiana evaluates negligence using a system called comparative fault. Under this system, each party involved in the claim is evaluated to determine how much blame they deserve for the accident. Each party is assigned a percentage of fault, and this percentage must be less than 51% to file a personal injury lawsuit.
You are free to seek financial compensation even if you were partially responsible for the accident, but the amount you receive will be reduced based on your percentage of fault. For example, if you were deemed 20% responsible and the insurance company values your case at $50,000 in damages, you would receive 80%, or $40,000.
Individuals who are found more than 50% at fault for the crash are barred from recovering financial compensation. In addition, other injured people involved in the crash may be able to recover damages.
A lawsuit is never the first step in the process of seeking financial compensation. First, the insurance company should be negotiated with in an attempt to receive a fair settlement that covers all damages.
However, car accident victims should still consider hiring a personal injury lawyer soon after their accident and before speaking with the insurance company. These companies have teams of insurance adjusters and lawyers who specialize in limiting payouts and denying claims, as this increases the insurance company’s profits.
An experienced personal injury lawyer who understands the insurance claims process can negotiate with the insurance company on their client’s behalf. While the goal is to obtain a fair settlement without litigation, a personal injury lawsuit can be filed if the insurance company is not willing to offer a fair amount.
In Indiana, people injured in car accidents are allowed to recover financial compensation for both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include all out-of-pocket expenses and losses related to injuries suffered in the crash, including medical bills, lost wages from missing work, and the cost of having the car repaired.
Non-economic damages are losses that do not have an exact dollar figure, such as pain and suffering, mental distress, disfigurement, and loss of consortium for family members of those injured or killed in the accident.
Many car accidents are preventable and only occur due to the negligence of one of the drivers involved. Here is a look at some of the most common forms of driver negligence in car accidents.
Speeding is a factor in many of the most serious car accidents and contributes to many traffic injuries and deaths. According to the National Safety Council, speeding was a factor in 29% of all traffic fatalities in 2020.
Speeding is dangerous for several reasons. It reduces driver reaction time, increases vehicle stopping distance, and makes it more difficult for road safety structures to protect drivers and passengers when a crash does happen.
If speed was a factor in a crash, those injured by the speeding driver may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs significantly impairs your ability to drive safely. Most of us know this, but some drivers still choose to drive while intoxicated. When an intoxicated driver causes an accident and others are injured or killed, those victims and their families may pursue financial compensation from that driver and their insurance provider.
Traffic laws are designed to keep our roadways safe and minimize the risk of accidents. Violations of these laws can easily lead to crashes. If you were injured in a crash involving a driver who broke a traffic law, such as running a red light or speeding, that other driver may be considered negligent and held liable for damages.
Paying full attention to the road is one of the most basic tenets of safe driving. But sadly, distracted driving is one of the most common forms of negligence behind the wheel. It comes in obvious forms like texting and driving, but anything that diverts your attention away from the road counts as distracted driving. Other examples include eating or drinking, talking with passengers, or changing radio stations.
Some drivers allow their emotions to get the best of them behind the wheel, which can lead to aggressive driving. Also known as “road rage”, aggressive drivers often engage in dangerous behaviors like following other vehicles too closely, speeding, cutting other drivers off, and illegally passing other vehicles. All of these aggressive behaviors significantly increase the risk of getting into an accident.
No driver is capable of driving safely if they are not awake and alert behind the wheel. Fatigued drivers have shorter reaction times and are at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2017, 91,000 police-reported crashes involved drowsy drivers.
If there is evidence that a crash was caused by a drowsy driver, that driver may be held liable for injuries.
Each car accident case is unique, but filing a personal injury lawsuit for a car accident generally follows a similar process in all cases.
If you hire a personal injury lawyer to help you file a lawsuit, the process will begin with an evaluation of your accident. You should provide your attorney with all of the details that you remember from the accident. During the case evaluation, the attorney will determine who was at fault for the crash and develop a strategy for securing the financial compensation you deserve.
Filing a successful car accident lawsuit requires thorough documentation of the crash and all related damages. Your personal injury lawyer will review your medical records and property damage estimates and determine whether you suffered any non-economic damages. This stage of the process helps the attorney determine how much financial compensation to seek.
Your attorney will thoroughly investigate the crash, including an overview of police reports, crash scene photos and videos, witness interviews, and any other evidence. This evidence will be used to prove fault in the crash and provides a basis for seeking financial compensation from the other driver’s insurance company.
This is the final step of the pre-litigation stage of seeking financial compensation. Your personal injury lawyer will attempt to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company’s lawyers. If your lawyer believes that the insurance company’s settlement does not accurately reflect the damages you suffered, he or she may recommend filing a personal injury lawsuit.
If you and your lawyer decide to seek additional financial compensation through litigation, the next step will be filing an official written complaint in court. A notice of the lawsuit will also be provided to the other driver and their insurance provider.
During discovery, both parties share all evidence and documents they have. These documents and evidence may be used to prove your case, and the other side may use what they receive in discovery as part of their defense strategy.
In a deposition, you and any witnesses to the crash will be asked to testify under oath about what happened during the accident. Witnesses called upon during depositions include the person filing the lawsuit, investigating police officers, and any experts with relevant testimony to the case.
Your personal injury lawyer may attempt to resolve the matter through mediation and settlement negotiations. If both sides reach a settlement agreement, you may receive financial compensation without needing to go to trial. Mediation involves using a neutral third party to arrive at an agreement, while settlement negotiations are between your personal injury lawyer and the insurance company’s lawyers.
Most personal injury lawsuits for car accidents are resolved in pre-trial settlements, but some do go to trial. During the trial, both sides will present evidence, examine witnesses, and argue their case before the judge or jury. The court will decide whether or not the other driver was negligent, and if so, will award damages based on the circumstances of the case.
If you disagree with the court’s verdict, you have the right to request an appeal from a higher court. However, an appeal may only be filed if there is reason to believe that the court made a major error in its decision.
While you are free to deal with the insurance claims and personal injury lawsuit process on your own, most people who have been injured in a car accident should consider hiring a personal injury lawyer. Choosing the right lawyer is important, as you want someone you can work with easily and who has the skills and experience to help you secure financial compensation.
Some traits to look for when hiring a car accident lawyer include:
If you have recently been injured in a car accident in Indiana, you are likely struggling with both personal and financial difficulties. Remember that if you were less than 51% at fault for the crash, you are entitled to financial compensation from the other driver and their insurance provider. You can learn more about filing a car accident lawsuit by speaking with the experienced Indianapolis car accident lawyers at the Fountain Law Firm.
You can seek compensation for economic damages you incur in an Indiana car accident, which is any tangible loss you suffer that can be quantified, such as:
Additionally, you can seek compensation for non-economic damages, which are losses you incur that cannot be as easily quantified, such as pain, suffering, and loss of quality of life. An experienced car accident lawyer can review the circumstances of your case and explain what compensation you may be eligible to receive.
Indiana’s statute of limitations gives two years for car accident victims to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. If this deadline passes and you have not filed a lawsuit, you can lose your right to recover compensation through the courts. Even with a two-year statute of limitations, you do not want to delay in reaching out to a lawyer as they will have time to build your claim.
Many insurance companies will contact accident victims after an accident and try to get them to give a recorded statement. However, this is almost always a trap to try to get the victim to admit something the insurance company can use against them. Usually you do not need to give a recorded statement if you are represented by a lawyer. If you do need to give one, your lawyer will prepare you for it and be on the phone line with you.
Because Indiana is a tort-based state for car accident claims, recovering compensation is tied directly to your ability to prove the other driver was at fault. You may be able to use evidence to prove the other driver was at fault, such as: