Indianapolis Car Accident Attorney

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 Indianapolis car accident attorneys at the Fountain Law Firm.

What Should You Do After a Car Accident in Indiana?

All motorists should be aware of the steps they need to take if they happen to be involved in a car accident. Your actions in the aftermath of the crash could impact your injury recovery, as well as the recovery of financial compensation for damages related to the crash.

Calling for help should always be the first step following a car accident. At least one person at the scene should call 911 to report the accident and request emergency medical services. If there were any witnesses it is important to obtain their names and phone numbers. Do not assume that they will be included on the police report, because sometimes witnesses leave or don’t talk to the police officer. If you are physically able to do so, take photographs of the vehicles, their damage, and the scene.

Medical treatment needs to be sought immediately after an accident, as delays could cause injuries to worsen. You should seek medical treatment even if you do not believe you have serious injuries because sometimes symptoms are delayed. 

Records of post-accident medical treatment will be important when filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Before giving a statement to the other driver’s insurance company you should contact a personal injury attorney who will provide you with a free consultation.

Determining Fault in an Indiana Car Accident

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. 

Comparative Negligence in Indiana

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.

When Can You File a Car Accident Lawsuit?

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.

What Damages Are Available in Car Accident Lawsuits?

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. 

Common Types of Driver Negligence in Car Accidents

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

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.

Drunk Driving

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.

Breaking Traffic Laws

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.

Distracted Driving

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. 

Aggressive Driving

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.

Drowsy Driving

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.

The Process of Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit

Each car accident case is unique, but filing a personal injury lawsuit for a car accident generally follows a similar process in all cases. 

Case Evaluation

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.

Documentation and Calculating Damages

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.

Accident Investigation

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.

Negotiating With the 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.

Filing a Car Accident 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.

Discovery

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. 

Deposition

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.

Settlement Negotiations

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.

Trial Court

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.

What to Look For When Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer

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:

  • Experience in other car accident injury claims
  • A track record of results for previous clients
  • Trial experience
  • Sufficient time to dedicate to your case

Contact Our Indianapolis Car Accident Lawyers to Learn More

If you have recently been injured in a car accident, 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.