Frequently Asked Questions
After the initial shock of suffering an injury or learning of a loved one's death, questions often arise regarding whether any one may be responsible, or at fault, for the injuries or death. Reaching out to an experienced personal injury attorney, wrongful death, or medical malpractice attorney is often the quickest way in which to get answers.
Attorneys Todd Barsumian and Jonathan Armiger of Barsumian Law LLC have over thirty years of combined experience in the fields of personal injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice law. They know the challenges the injured and those left behind by a wrongful death face when seeking a legal remedy for the harm that has been caused to them and their loved ones. We offer a free consultation for injury, wrongful death and medical practice cases, so contact us any time to see if we may be able to help.The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions of attorneys who practice in these areas of law.Can I receive compensation for my injury or loved one's death?
To have a right to receive compensation as a result of an injury or death means that the law recognizes, through either court precedent (known as the common law) or laws passed by the legislature (known as statutory law) or both, that an individual or, in the case of the deceased, their estate, may seek a legal remedy. However, compensation is generally a decision left to the judge or jury through the court's judgment or jury's verdict. Technically speaking, absent the injured person or estate of the deceased taking legal action and succeeding in achieving a verdict, there is no "right" to recovery, there is only a possibility. The insurance industry markets and sells liability insurance to help cover this possibility of a verdict or judgment being rendered against its insured, as well as to provide a defense to their insured. In many States there is no obligation on the insurer to make payment to the injured party or the estate of a victim of wrongful death. In some States there are laws requiring that insurance companies engage in fair claims settlement practices, meaning that when an injury party or an estate threatens legal action, the insurance company must deal with them in good faith, even though they are not the policyholder. Whether or not you or a loved one's estate may ultimately have a right (or more accurately stated, an opportunity or possibility) to receive compensation for an injury or death is quite fact dependent and can often be difficult to answer without an attorney conducting a thorough investigation into the matter. An experienced personal injury attorney is often able to provide a quick overview of the probability of recovery and the likelihood that a case may settle before being filed with court or tried to a judge or jury.How long do I have to file a personal injury claim in Indiana?
Let's be clear. You should never rely upon getting accurate answers from the Internet to determine how long you may have to file a personal injury claim in Indiana. Statutes of limitations prevent persons or estates who have waited beyond the time period provided by law from seeking a legal remedy due to their failure to take formal legal action within that time period. If you have waited a while since the incident and you are wondering how much longer you may have, then you should not delay any longer. Why? Because the length of time you may have can be fact sensitive and depend on the nature of the claim and who it is against. For example, to being a lawsuit against a governmental entity in Indiana, you must perfect the right to bring a lawsuit by filing a tort claim notice. The time for filing a tort claim notice against a county or municipality is generally only 180 days. The time for filing a tort claim notice against the State is generally only 270 days. If the tort claim notice requirement is not substantially complied with a a lawsuit is later filed, the case will likely be dismissed, no matter how much legal merit there may be to the claim otherwise. Assuming there is no governmental entity involved, an injury person or an estate generally has two years in the State of Indiana to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, there can be limited exceptions in the case of minors, incapacitated persons, or those who have been unable to discovery that they were injured through no fault of their own. For example, a patient who has surgery and has a foreign object left in their body may have more than two years if they don't know or should not have known about the medical error within the two years. However, if they discover the foreign object with the two years, then they may still need to bring the lawsuit within the statute of limitations. Furthermore, in Indiana, the majority of medical malpractice cases must be filed first with the Indiana Department of Insurance when the medical provider has qualified for protections by Indiana's Medical Malpractice Act. However, sometimes providers are not qualified under the Act, so must be sued in Court first. Such cases can be quite complex and sometimes must be dual-filed with both the Department of Insurance and the appropriate court when there are both qualified and unqualified providers.If I have an open claim with the insurance company is it ok if I do not file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations passes?
Probably not. Filing a claim with an insurance company or governmental entity is not the same as filing a lawsuit. Filing a claim may put the insurer or governmental entity on notice of your intent to file a lawsuit, but it is not the same as filing a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit, or filing a proposed complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance in the case of a medical malpractice case, is the formal legal action required to perfect that claim as timely filed, which should be sufficient to prevent a challenge under the statute of limitations against the persons or entities properly sued.I've just been in a car accident, what should I do?
You should first and foremost get the medical treatment you need, then worry about hiring an attorney. However, if there is any question as to who may have been at fault for the accident, then you should be extremely careful about speaking with the other driver's insurance company.
Although your own insurance company may have your best interests in mind and you do have a duty to cooperate with their investigation, the other driver's insurance company may be quick to try to take a statement from you and frame questions suggesting you were at fault. More importantly, you are under no obligation to speak with the other driver's insurance company. Insurance companies know the excuses they can make for their insured's own fault and will often frame their questions in such a manner as to diminish their insured's fault and place fault on you.
For example, they might ask, "You knew this was a busy intersection this time of day, but you didn't bother to hesitate for the traffic to clear before proceeding?" Or, "I understand you had your cell phone in your hand after the accident, so you must have been texting or making a call I assume?" Answering "yes" to either of these compound questions might be partially accurate, but the second part of the answer may very well be, "no." However, once the insurance company gets a "Yes, but..." you may not get another chance to clarify your answer. It would be wise to get the treatment you need and then consider whether it may be a good idea to seek legal representation.
Many people do not believe they need to involve their own insurance company when they have been in an accident. However, it is generally a good idea for several reasons. First, regardless of what the police report says about fault, the report is not binding on the insurance companies, the judge, or jury. It may in fact be accurate, but there have been many cases where the police report has been overcome in a later legal action or where an insurance company has conducted its own investigation and found differently. Second, the other driver's insurance company does not work for you. They may be friendly and ask how you are doing and suggest they will help you with your bills, but in all likelihood, they will not pay a single one of your medical bills until you agree to sign a release of your claim against their insured. When you may have a long course of treatment ahead and your injuries may not be fully known, the last thing you should do is release your claim against their insured. Third, you may very well have "no fault" medical payment insurance through your own policy that may help pay some of your medical bills or help with your out-of-pocket. If your bills will greatly exceed your medical payment insurance, then it may be a good idea to involve an attorney who can help ensure the insurance is utilized on your behalf in the most cost-effective manner.
The bottom line is that if your car accident injuries are severe enough, you should seek a no-obligation, free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney.
- Do I still have a claim if I am partially at fault for my accident?
- What should I expect after I hire a personal injury attorney?
- How much can I expect to recovery for my injury?
- What is a wrongful death case worth in Indiana?
- When can I expect to get a settlement for my injuries?
- Can my attorney resolve my case without my permission?