How to Sue After an Accident in Indiana

If you were injured in an auto accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may wonder how to sue. While most personal injury cases end in settlement, it may be necessary to sue the at-fault party to show you are serious about the matter and to reserve your right to compensation caused by the defendant’s negligence. 

Below, we discuss the steps necessary to sue and answer your questions about this process. You do not have to go through this alone. Indiana accident lawyer, Merry Fountain from Fountain Law Firm, P.C. can assist you every step of the way and provide valuable support during this difficult time in your life. Contact us today for a free case review. 

Go Through the Claims Process 

You should never give a statement to the at-fault driver’s insurance company without first consulting with an attorney.  The insurance adjuster has had extensive training in taking statements and finding a way to assign some fault to you.  You may think from the police report that they will only ask a few questions and then help you.  However, you will quickly find if they talk to you that they are asking many more questions than you anticipated, some that aren’t even about how the collision happened.

  • If you are represented by an attorney, they will be:
  • Investigating the cause of the accident
  • Gathering evidence to establish fault, such as photos or videos of the accident, witness statements, and property damage
  • Compiling information and documentation about how the accident affected you 
  • Preparing a demand letter stating how much money you will accept to resolve your legal claim so you don’t sue the at-fault party 
  • Negotiating for compensation with the insurance company 

If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair car accident settlement, your attorney will discuss the pros and cons if filing a lawsuit through Court.  Even if you go through the process of suing, you will usually be able to settle your case during litigation rather than having to go to court. 

Prepare a Complaint and Summons

The lawsuit process officially begins when you have your lawyer file a complaint and summons. A complaint is a document that states why you are taking legal action, the legal action you are taking, how the court has jurisdiction, and the damages that you are seeking. 

These documents must be prepared in accordance with the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure. These rules set out specific requirements, such as:

  • How the caption of the case must be formatted
  • The information you must include in your legal filings
  • How you must format the statements in your complaint as separate paragraphs
  • How you can include documents as exhibits to your pleading
  • The requirement of a short statement of relief that shows you are entitled to relief
  • A demand for the relief you are seeking

A summons is a document that explains a lawsuit has been filed against someone and informs them of their need to respond within a certain amount of time. 

If the documents do not comply with the relevant rules or you do not follow the rules during the litigation process, you can potentially harm your case beyond repair. The court can dismiss your case, impose sanctions against you, and refuse to hear your case. It’s critical to work with a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with these rules and can safeguard your rights by properly following them. 

Once your documents are prepared, your attorney will need to file them in the appropriate court. The court will open a file for your case where all subsequent documents related to the case will be kept. Your attorney will then need to receive file-stamped copies of the documents to serve the defendant with them. 

Serving the Defendant 

Your attorney will have to provide the defendant with notice that you have filed a case against them by legally serving them with the complaint and summons. In personal injury cases, this is usually completed by doing one of the following:

  • Leaving a copy of the documents at the defendant’s home 
  • Sending a copy of the documents via registered or certified mail to the defendant’s residence, place of business, or place of employment with a return receipt requested

Your lawyer is then responsible for showing that you complied with these rules and must provide the court with proof of service. 

Wait for an Answer

The defendant generally has 30 days to provide an answer to your complaint. If they do not provide an answer in time, you can ask the court for a default judgment against them. If they do file an answer, the case will proceed with litigation. 

Request Evidence

The next phase of the case is discovery. During this stage of the case, the parties gather, request, and share information with each other that they need to prepare their case. Discovery may include various forms of obtaining information, such as:

  • Requests for admissions – Requests for admissions are a set of statements your lawyer sends to the other side, asking them to plainly admit or deny the claims. The other party must respond.
  • Interrogatories – Interrogatories are a series of questions your attorney asks the other party about the case, such as which witnesses they plan to call, what the witnesses will say, the legal arguments the other party is expected to raise, and similar matters.
  • Requests for production of documents – Requests for production of documents ask the other party to produce documents in their possession that may provide evidence, such as photos, property records, or medical records.
  • Subpoenas – A subpoena is a document sent to a third party, rather than the opposing party, to appear for a deposition or trial or to provide requested information. For example, your attorney may send a subpoena to a bank or a witness who has information related to the case. 

An experienced car accident lawyer will know the types of discovery requests to make and can also help you respond to requests. 

Conduct Depositions

Depositions are another important part of the discovery process. They can provide useful information and a preview of the testimony that may arise if the case proceeds to trial. 

During a deposition, a lawyer asks a witness questions, and the deponent answers under oath. A court reporter records the information. Your attorney can conduct depositions on the defendant, as well as other parties who may have relevant testimony about the accident, such as the responding police officer or witnesses. 

Participate in Mediation

Either party or the court may request mediation to try to resolve the matter before trial. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party tries to get the parties to settle their case. Mediators do not impose any decisions on the parties, but they can provide useful insight into how continued litigation could be problematic for the parties because judges and juries can be unpredictable. 

If the parties do settle, the mediator puts their agreement in writing. The parties present it to the court and ask to dismiss the case. 

Settle Your Case

At any point during the process, your attorney can settle your case with the at-fault party. Your lawyer can also try to negotiate a favorable settlement. 

It is common after discovery and depositions are conducted for the opposing party to try to settle the case. This is because, at this stage in litigation, they will have a better idea about what a trial would entail and the evidence that would be presented. If your case settles, your attorney will ask the court to dismiss the case. 

The court will encourage you and your attorney to settle your case to decrease the cases on the docket. Your attorney may be required to attend various pre-trial conferences and settlements to try to resolve the case.

FAQs About How to Sue After a Car Accident in Indiana 

How Do I Prove the Other Driver Was at Fault?

In personal injury cases, the accident victim bears the burden of proof showing the other party was at fault.. 

However, in many car accident cases, it becomes a he-said/she-said situation. Having objective evidence can help establish fault, such as:

  • Accident reports
  • Statements from witnesses
  • Photos or videos of the accident scene
  • Medical records
  • Physical evidence, such as skid marks or damage to the vehicles

An experienced car accident lawyer will know what evidence to collect and how to preserve it.

What Is My Case Worth?

Determining the potential compensation after an Indianapolis accident can be difficult because every case is different. The potential value of your case can depend on many factors, such as the following:

  • The damages you suffered, such as medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering
  • The nature and severity of your injuries
  • Your age, health, and earning capacity
  • The defendant’s conduct
  • The amount of insurance coverage available 

When Should I Settle My Case? 

There are times when you might consider settling your case. You may be seeing medical bills pile up, missing time from work, and wanting to end the situation. However, settling your case quickly or at all is not necessarily in your best interest. 

There are some general guidelines for when you should settle your case, such as when you meet all of the following conditions:

  • You have reached maximum medical improvement so your lawyer can more accurately estimate the value of your claim.
  • The insurance company has offered you a fair settlement.
  • A lawyer has reviewed the offer and advised you to accept it.

When Should I Sue? 

There are also indications when you may need to consider suing the at-fault party after an Indiana accident, such as:

  • They are trying to blame you for the accident.
  • The insurance company has denied your claim.
  • The insurance company refuses to offer you a fair settlement. 
  • The statute of limitations is approaching.

An experienced Indianapolis car accident lawyer can review the circumstances surrounding your case and recommend whether to sue or settle.

What Is the Deadline to Sue?

In Indiana, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit after a personal injury is generally two years from the date of the accident. However, if a child was injured in a car accident, the time limit can be different. There are other exceptions when the deadline may be longer or shorter to file a lawsuit, so it’s crucial to talk to an experienced Indiana lawyer to determine the deadline that applies to your case to ensure your rights are protected. 

Contact an Experienced Indianapolis Car Accident Lawyer for Help

As you can see, filing a lawsuit involves many steps and can be complicated. You do not have to go through this process alone. Fountain Law Firm, P.C. can guide you through this process so you can focus on your recovery. 

Fountain Law Firm has been in business since 1999, founded by Merry M. Fountain who was injured in a car accident of her own and wanted to protect the rights of other accident victims. With over 20 years of legal experience, Attorney Fountain knows what it takes to obtain maximum client compensation. Call us today for your free case review. We can discuss how we can help in a confidential setting.

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