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.
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 the insurance company refuses to offer a fair 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.
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:
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.
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:
Your lawyer is then responsible for showing that you complied with these rules and must provide the court with proof of service.
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.
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:
An experienced car accident lawyer will know the types of discovery requests to make and can also help you respond to requests.
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.
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.
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.
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:
An experienced car accident lawyer will know what evidence to collect and how to preserve it.
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:
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:
There are also indications when you may need to consider suing the at-fault party after an Indiana accident, such as:
An experienced Indianapolis car accident lawyer can review the circumstances surrounding your case and recommend whether to sue or settle.
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.
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.