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Expertise - Best Car Accident Lawyers in Indianapolis
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Expertise - Best Personal Injury Lawyers in Indianapolis 2022
Expertise - Best Personal Injury Lawyers in Fishers 2022
Expertise - Best Personal Injury Lawyers in Evansville 2022

Frequently Asked Questions About Indiana Car Accidents

How do I prove fault in a car accident in Indiana? 


Indiana is a fault state (as opposed to a no-fault state), which means that you have to prove fault to recover damages and the driver who caused the accident is responsible for paying the damages. To prove fault in a car accident case in Indiana, a plaintiff, or claimant, must prove (1) a duty to the plaintiff owed by the defendant, (2) a breach of that duty by the defendant, and (3) injury to the plaintiff caused by the defendant’s breach of duty. Lindke v. Combs, 212 N.E.3d 1246, 1250 (Ind. Ct. App. 2023). To prove fault and your injuries and damages, you need to collect evidence such as police reports, witness statements, photos, videos, and medical records. In cases in court, testimony from the parties may be required. You may also need to hire an expert witness, such as an accident reconstructionist, to testify about the cause of the crash, and in terms of your injuries, expert medical testimony is generally required. See id


What if I am partially at fault for the accident? 


Indiana follows a “modified comparative fault” rule, which means that a claimant cannot recover damages if the claimant’s fault is “greater than the fault of all persons whose fault proximately contributed to the claimant’s damages.” Ind. Code § 34-51-2-6. However, as long as you are not greater than fifty percent (50%) at fault, you can recover. Ind. Code §§ 34-51-2-7, 34-51-2-8. However, if you have some fault, your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault. Id. For example, if you are 30% at fault and your damages are $10,000, you will receive $7,000.


What are the minimum car insurance requirements in Indiana? 


Indiana law requires all drivers to have insurance (or other proof of financial responsibility) of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) for bodily injury to or death of one individual (that is, $25,000 per person bodily injury liability coverage) and fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) for bodily injury to or the death of two or more individuals in any one accident (that is, $50,000 per accident bodily injury liability coverage). Ind. Code § 9-25-4-5. Indiana law also requires twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) for property damage in one accident. Id


How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit after an Indiana car accident?


The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Indiana is two (2) years from the date of the accident. Ind. Code § 34-11-2-4. However, if a governmental entity is involved in causing a car crash, you will also need to file a “tort claim notice” with the appropriate parties within as few as one hundred eighty (180) days after the loss. Ind. Code §§ 34-13-3-6, 3-8, 3-10. If you do not timely and appropriately file your lawsuit, and in the case of claims against the government, your tort claim notice, within the applicable time limits, you will lose your right to sue.


How do I file a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident in Indiana? 


You have two (2) years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver in court. Ind. Code § 34-11-2-4. Under Indiana’s Rules of Trial Procedure, “[a] civil action is commenced by filing with the court a complaint… by payment of the prescribed filing fee… [and by filing as many] summons as are necessary.” Ind. R. Tr. P. 3. The proper parties must be named in the lawsuit. You cannot directly sue the insurance company for the at-fault driver, other than to obtain a declaration from a court as to the applicability of the driver’s insurance coverage. You will need to prove that the other driver was negligent and that their negligence caused your injuries and damages. It is not recommended that persons resort to self-help when filing a lawsuit, as failure to follow the proper procedures and make the proper claims could lead to the dismissal of the lawsuit or the denial of certain claims.


How much compensation can I get for my Indiana car accident claim? 


The amount of compensation you can get depends on the severity of your injuries, the extent of your property damage, the impact of the accident on your life, and many other factors. You can recover both economic and non-economic damages, such as medical expenses, lost income, vehicle repair costs, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Medical bills are often used as a measure of other damages, such as pain and suffering. See Gladstone v. W. Bend Mut. Ins. Co., 166 N.E.3d 362 (Ind. Ct. App.), trans. denied, 171 N.E.3d 609 (Ind. 2021). Unlike some states, like Kentucky, in Indiana a defendant driver can put into evidence the amount actually paid and accepted for your medical bills, as opposed to only the actual amount charged or billed by your medical provider, which is typically much higher. This is on account of the Indiana Supreme Court’s ruling in Stanley v. Walker, 906 N.E.2d 852 (Ind. 2009). Insurance companies and defendants often ask personal injury attorneys, “What is the Stanley number?”, as they try to use the lower paid amount of medical bills, as opposed to the higher billed amount, to argue you are entitled to less of a recovery in your case for, not only your medical bills, but also your non-economic damages such as your physical injuries and pain and suffering. 


What if the other driver does not have insurance or enough insurance? 


Indiana law requires Indiana car insurance policies to include uninsured motorist coverages of at least twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) per person and fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) per accident and underinsured motorist coverages of at least fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) per person and fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) per accident. Ind. Code § 27-7-5-2. However, an insured can reject either or both uninsured and underinsured coverages in writing. Id. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages can help compensate you if the at-fault driver does not have insurance or enough insurance. Although the recovery of damages in any lawsuit against the at-fault driver is not limited to the amount of insurance they have, recovery of excess amounts can be very difficult when the at-fault driver has limited assets to satisfy any judgment and can declare bankruptcy to potentially get out of having to pay any judgment.  Of course, to settle any lawsuit against an at-fault driver, their insurance company will require the injured party execute a release of all their claims against the at-fault driver, and any uninsured or underinsured recovery will be limited to the amount of coverage purchased by the injured party. 


What if I was hit by a drunk driver or a hit-and-run driver? 


If you were hit by a drunk driver or a hit-and-run driver, you may be able to seek punitive damages in addition to your compensatory damages. Ind. Code §§ 34-51-3-0.2 to 34-51-3-6. Punitive damages are meant to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in similar conduct, as opposed to compensatory damages which are meant to compensate a claimant for the claimant’s injuries. Cheatham v. Pohle, 789 N.E.2d 467, 471 (Ind. 2003). To obtain punitive damages in Indiana, claimants must show by clear and convincing evidence that a defendant acted with malice, fraud, gross negligence (better termed willful and wanton misconduct), or oppressiveness, which was not the result of a mistake of fact or law, mere negligence, or other human failing. Wohlwend v. Edwards, 796 N.E.2d 781, 784 (Ind. Ct. App. 2003). Importantly, in Indiana, punitive damages are capped at the greater of (1) three times the amount of compensatory damages or (2) fifty thousand dollars ($50,000). Ind. Code § 34-51-3-4. The person receiving the punitive damages award only gets twenty-five percent (25%) of the award, while seventy-five percent (75%) goes to the State of Indiana. Ind. Code § 34-51-3-6. And under Indiana law punitive damages are not available in some cases, like wrongful death claims and claims against governmental entities. See, e.g., Durham ex rel. Estate of Wade v. U-Haul Int’l, 745 N.E.2d 755, 757 (Ind. 2001); Ind. Code § 34-23-1-2; Ind. Code § 34-13-3-4. The strict proof requirements and limitations on recovery make pursuing punitive damages in many cases difficult, and sometimes not advantageous to clients even when potentially available. 


How do I deal with the insurance company after a car accident? 


You will likely be speaking with the at-fault driver’s insurance company and a representative from your own insurance company after an accident. The at-fault driver’s insurance company may try to contact you after a car accident to obtain a recorded statement, and in some cases, offer you a settlement. You should be careful in giving any recorded statement and accepting any offer without consulting a personal injury lawyer first. The insurance company may try to lowball you or get you to admit fault. You should also be careful in dealing with your own insurance company, as you may have a claim against your own insurance company for medical payments coverage and/or uninsured or underinsured coverage. A personal injury lawyer can help you deal with the insurance companies and protect your interests.


Do I have to reimburse my health insurance for any medical bills it paid that were related to my car accident?


If you have been injured in an accident and received medical treatment and a third party, like an insurance company or Medicaid or Medicare, paid for your medical bills, the third party may have a subrogation claim or lien on your personal injury settlement. A subrogation claim, or lien, is a legal claim that allows the insurance company, and in some cases hospitals, to recover some or all of the costs of your treatment from your settlement. In Indiana, there are different types of subrogation claims and liens that may apply to your case, such as hospital liens, health insurance liens, Medicare liens, Medicaid liens, ERISA liens, and worker’s compensation liens. The amount and priority of these liens vary depending on the circumstances and the laws that govern them. Typically, medical providers do not have a right to assert a subrogation claim or lien on your settlement, which is a legal right of recovery under the law, either by statute or contact, though they still have a claim for payment. Attorneys often expend substantial effort sorting through the bills incurred by their clients to determine who paid what and whether any amounts must be paid out of any settlement or judgment. For instance, under Indiana law, many subrogation claims or liens have to be reduced for comparative fault, limited liability insurance, and attorney’s fees and expenses. Ind. Code §§ 34-51-2-19, 34-53-1-2. Therefore, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you negotiate and reduce the subrogation claims or liens and maximize your recovery. Unfortunately, many accident victims find out too late that they are or were required to pay back a health insurer or other party. And, to make matters more troubling, some insurers are entitled to recover penalties and attorney’s fees if they have to pursue a legal action to recover what they were owed by law.


Do I need a lawyer for my car accident case? 


It is highly recommended that you hire a lawyer for your car accident case, especially if you have serious injuries, high medical bills, or complex liability issues. A lawyer can help you gather evidence, prove fault, calculate your damages, argue and negotiate your case, and represent you in court if necessary. A lawyer can also help you avoid common mistakes that could hurt your case, thus protecting your rights and interests. If you hire a lawyer early enough after the crash, the lawyer can attempt to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company.


How much does it cost to hire a car accident lawyer? 


Most car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means that they only get paid if they win your case in court or achieve a settlement for you out of court. The attorney’s fee in personal injury cases is usually a percentage of your recovery, typically between one-third (1/3) and 40% of the total recovery. You typically do not have to pay anything upfront or out of pocket, though the lawyer will be reimbursed for their law firm’s expenses incurred in investigating and pursuing the case out of any recovery obtained in the case. 

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