Your life can change in an instant. One minute, you are stopped at a red light, and the next you’re in the hospital after a careless driver rear-ends you. You may now be facing months of recovery and an uncertain financial future. One way you can reclaim power in this situation is to pursue compensation against the wrongdoer through the car accident settlement process in Indiana.
The legal team at Fountain Law Firm, P.C. is here to help you seek compensation for the damages you suffered because of the careless actions of another driver. Contact us today for your free, no-obligation consultation.
Getting into a vehicle accident can be a chaotic experience, particularly in the days and weeks that follow the incident. As you are working to secure compensation for your injuries and property damage expenses, the process can seem daunting. Here, we want to discuss how most car accident settlement cases proceed forward, from the initial filing of the claim through to when a settlement check is received by the victim.
Very soon after a vehicle accident occurs, it is crucial to file a claim with your insurance carrier and the insurance carrier of the other driver. When you report the accident to your insurance carrier, your insurance carrier is responsible for initiating contact with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier.
We do want to caution you about speaking too freely with the insurance carriers involved. You will undoubtedly be contacted by the other driver’s insurance carrier. They will seem nice, but the reality is that they are looking for ways to limit how much money they pay you in a settlement. We encourage you to refer all questions to your Indianapolis personal injury attorney if you have one. Stick to the details of the case if you do have to speak to any insurance claims adjuster.
After a claim has been started, the insurance carriers involved will investigate the incident. They will examine all of the evidence gathered from the scene of the incident and work to determine fault. If the other driver in your crash was at fault, and this is fairly clearly demonstrated, then their insurance carrier will likely send you an initial settlement offer. Please know that the initial settlement offer is likely far below what you should actually receive.
You should use this initial offer as a starting point in negotiations. There may need to be substantial back and forth between you and your attorney and the other party’s insurance carrier. It is crucial that you receive enough coverage to pay for your medical bills, property damage expenses, lost wages, and any pain and suffering you endure.
If the fault is fairly clear in the incident, and if a fair amount of compensation is offered, a car accident claim could be resolved within a few weeks or a few months. However, that is not always the case.
If the other driver’s insurance carrier refuses to offer a fair settlement, or if they deny the claim altogether, you and your attorney may have to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. Once the claim enters the civil court system, it will likely take longer to recover compensation. However, this may be the only way for you to recover the compensation you are entitled to.
That said, it is still unlikely that your case will go all the way to a personal injury jury after a lawsuit is filed. During the discovery phase, where both sides exchange evidence, attorneys will continue negotiations. Going to trial is costly, and it can take quite a while. If both sides can reach a fair settlement agreement before this point, the case will conclude. Personal injury lawsuits surrounding car accidents can take anywhere from multiple months to a year or more to reach a conclusion.
The steps you take after a car accident can have a significant impact on your health and your car accident settlement. Here are some must-dos following a car accident in Indiana:
Also, reach out to an Indiana car accident lawyer for help as soon as possible. A lawyer can give you advice on the next steps you can take and can handle communication with the insurance company so you can focus on your recovery.
Indiana is an at-fault state for car accidents, so the driver whose negligence caused the accident is responsible for the financial damages stemming from it. This makes determining liability in a car accident in Indiana crucial to recovering compensation.
An experienced car accident lawyer can investigate your case and review evidence to help determine liability. Depending on the circumstances, this evidence might include:
An experienced car accident attorney can determine the evidence that may help establish your claim and how to obtain it.
In addition to the driver who actually caused the accident, there may be other parties responsible for the accident, including:
An Indianapolis car accident lawyer can identify all the parties who may have contributed to the accident to maximize your potential recovery.
Some people may (mistakenly) believe that they cannot recover compensation if they may have had a hand in the accident. However, comparative fault rule allows accident victims to still recover compensation for accidents in which their negligence contributed to the accident as long as they are not more at fault for the accident than the defendant. However, your compensation is reduced by your degree of fault. For example, if you are found 20% at fault for an accident in which you suffered $100,000 in damages, your award would be reduced by 20% or $20,000.
If you are found to be 51% at fault, you do not have an actionable claim.
The car accident settlement process typically involves these steps:
A Indiana car accident lawyer can evaluate your case to determine if you have a viable claim. During this evaluation, your lawyer can review the information you have available, consider who may be at fault for the accident, and develop a strategy to recover compensation on your behalf.
The insurance adjuster assigned to the case and your lawyer may investigate the accident. They will have competing interests because your lawyer will want to recover as much compensation as possible for you while the insurance adjuster will try to minimize your recovery. The investigation can help establish fault in the accident and the insurance coverage that is available.
Your lawyer will continue to gather relevant evidence in your case to establish the full extent of the damages you suffered, such as:
Your lawyer can use this information and prepare a demand letter to the insurance company. Your lawyer will also add a reasonable amount for your pain, suffering, and other non-economic damages.
The insurance company responds to the demand, often making a counteroffer for less compensation. Your lawyer and the insurance company may go back and forth several times before reaching a final settlement agreement. Most car accident claims are resolved through settlement negotiations.
Next, your lawyer will provide you with the paperwork to sign in exchange for receiving your settlement check.
If you are not able to reach a settlement, you may proceed to litigation, which involves the following cases:
Your lawyer can prepare the legal complaint that sets out the basis of your claim, the court’s jurisdiction, and the amount of money you want the court to award you. Your lawyer files the paperwork and arranges for legal services.
The next step in the process is discovery, which is the formal process where the parties exchange information with each other to help prepare for their cases. The parties can request a preview of all of the evidence that will be presented at trial.
Depositions are one tool that may be used during the discovery process. These are recorded interviews in which lawyers ask the deponent questions about the accident to get a better sense of how they would appear in court and what they would say.
After your deposition is taken, a mediation will be scheduled. In Indiana, most car accident cases are resolved at mediation and do not go to trial. Included at the mediation are the injured party, their attorney, the lawyer for the defendant and the claims adjuster for the insurance company. The mediator attempts to resolve your case by negotiating with the insurance company for the defendant(s). The mediation usually lasts half a day to one day, depending on the complexity of the case.
Most car accidents are caused by negligence, which is careless action that results in injury to another. Some of the most common examples of driver negligence in car accidents in Indiana include:
The National Safety Council reports that speeding contributed to 29% of all motor vehicle accident fatalities in 2020. Speeding is particularly dangerous because, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports, speeding makes it more likely:
When a driver chooses to speed and puts others’ health and safety in jeopardy, you deserve the right to seek full compensation against the at-fault driver for the harm you suffer.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 3,522 people were killed by distracted driving in 2021. Texting is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving because it takes motorists’ attention away from the task of driving, their hands off the steering wheel, and their eyes off the road.
Indiana is a hands-free state, so texting and driving is outlawed. If the at-fault party broke this law, they might be responsible for an accident that happened because they were distracted.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that consuming any amount of alcohol can affect your ability to operate a vehicle safely. Consuming drugs or alcohol can have the following negative effects:
If an impaired driver causes an accident that injures or kills others, the victims and their families can seek financial compensation from the reckless driver.
The Sleep Foundation reports that people who have been awake for 20 or more hours are impaired similar to people with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%, which is the amount considered legally intoxicated. Certain types of drivers are more likely to be drowsy, including:
If a drowsy driver hit you, an experienced car accident lawyer can work to secure evidence of their negligence.
Traffic laws exist to protect all motorists. When a driver violates a traffic rule, such as by failing to yield, running a stop sign, or ignoring the speed limit, they put others at risk. If you were harmed because of their carelessness, learn more about your right to pursue compensation.
If you were hurt in a car accident, you have more important things to worry about than dealing with insurance adjusters and legal claims. The Fountain Law Firm, P.C. legal team can handle all the legal matters so you can focus on your recovery. You have a limited amount of time to pursue compensation for your case, so it is important you act promptly. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can begin fighting for the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (317) 917-7873 for your free case evaluation and to advised of your legal rights.