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Indiana Auto Accidents
Indiana auto accident victims often presume wrongly that there is nothing they can do to improve their situation or better their claims post-accident. This is simply wrong. Knowledgeable Indiana car collision lawyers recommend several crucial steps victims should take to bolster their claims and protect their rights immediately after an accident occurs:
- Do not speak to an insurance claims agent or adjuster. It is best to allow an auto accident attorney to handle discussions and negotiations with insurance professionals in your stead. Adjusters ask leading questions and distribute waivers, releases, and confusing documentation that reduce or eliminate your right to receive compensation. Do not make a recorded or taped statement or sign any document until you have had a consultation with counsel.
- Do talk to witnesses at the accident scene and take pictures of the scene and damage, if you can avoid it. Photographs are hard to ignore and dispute, especially on a mediation table or as a demonstrative aide for the jury at trial. Write down names, addresses, and contact information for witnesses for future reference purposes, especially in the event of litigation. Pay attention to statements made about speed, signals, swerving, right-of-way, stop signs, traffic lights, blind spots, aggressive and/or defensive driving, etc.
- Get prompt medical treatment. You have the right post-accident to see a doctor of your choosing. Do not allow an insurance adjuster to choose the doctor you must see. Follow your doctor's recommended treatment regimen and keep detailed records of all medical treatment, prescriptions, and services received while under a doctor's care. It is best to keep a timeline of appointments, medications, treatments, hospitalizations, and visits.
- Consult with an Indiana auto collision lawyer promptly. It is prudent to request an initial consultation with one or more car accident attorneys as soon after your accident as possible. You should, of course, do this only after medical treatment is completed. These attorneys can help you understand rights, options, and how to best protect legal interests.
Monetary Compensation for Multiple Types of Damages, Losses, and Injuries
If you suffer injuries in Indiana because of a car crash that was caused by another party’s fault, you may be able to receive monetary compensation for multiple types of damages, losses, and/or injuries:
- The repair or replacement of your vehicle and any property that was damaged or destroyed in the accident, including personal property that was stored in your vehicle
- Lost wages for time missed from employment (including time spent going to doctors' appointments, physical therapy, and court appearances)
- Any lost future earning capacity because of the automobile accident injuries
- Any other costs or out-of-pocket expenses that you've incurred because of the automobile accident, such as towing and storage fees
- The cost of hiring help to do household chores (cleaning, lawn care, cooking, shopping, childcare, etc.) that you are no longer able to perform due to your personal injury
- Past, present, and future bills for medical treatment related to your auto accident injuries
- Emotional distress damages stemming from the automobile accident
- Permanent disability and disfigurement damages stemming from the automobile accident
Indiana Is a "Fault State" for Auto Accidents
It is important to note that Indiana car crashes are treated differently than those in most other states. Indiana is not a "no fault" state for insurance law purposes. Instead, Indiana has adopted the comparative fault doctrine in its Comparative Fault Act, which compares the fault of each party in an auto accident. As such, fault is apportioned between the plaintiff, defendant, and even non-parties, in some instances. Non-parties might be people or entities the plaintiff elected not to sue but could have because there was a degree of fault involved. In some cases, a non-party might be the plaintiff's employer if the accident happened during working hours on the job. However, it may be that plaintiff opts not to sue his or her employer for strategic reasons or based upon advice of counsel. After all of the parties in the accident are known entities, a jury is charged with the task of apportioning fault between the plaintiff, defendant, and any non-party. If the plaintiff's degree of fault overall is below or at the point of 50 percent, then the plaintiff is eligible to recover from her damages, the specific percentage for which she is not at fault.
For example, if a jury awards $100,000 in damages to a personal injury plaintiff and then determines he or she is 35 percent at fault for the accident, the plaintiff recovers $65,000 of the original damage award. However, if the jury determines the plaintiff is more than 50 percent responsible for the accident, his or her recovery is reduced to nothing.
Indiana's auto insurance laws operate distinctly from other states, as well. After a driver is injured in a crash, he or she may immediately use the "at-fault" driver's insurance coverage in the first instance (instead of his own, as "no-fault" jurisdictions require) to pay for medical expenses, property damage, and other damages. There is no requirement that the driver's own "no-fault" insurance be used for the first threshold damage payments.
Locate a Local Indiana Auto Accident Lawyer Today
An Indiana auto accident attorney can represent you in court and can examine and evaluate your case to assess possible bases for recovery and probable damages stemming from the car collision. He or she can highlight strengths and weaknesses of your particular case and outline the likely timeline for negotiating and/or litigating your claim. An Indiana-based car collision lawyer can help you navigate the state court system there and best position you for maximum favorable recovery. Call now to speak with an auto accident lawyer in Indiana at 877-913-7222.