South Bend Car Accident Lawyers
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a South Bend car accident, you do not have to deal with the aftermath alone. A South Bend car accident lawyer can help defend your rights and pursue fair compensation for all of the damages you have experienced.
However, you need to find an experienced, knowledgeable attorney with a successful record of recovering just compensation for car accident victims. That is why you should contact the South Bend auto accident attorneys at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak. Our car accident attorneys have more than 100 years of combined legal experience and have secured several settlements of more than one million dollars. Founding partner Daniel H. Pfeifer is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a distinction held by less than one percent of lawyers in the nation. He is also a fellow of the Indiana Bar Foundation. At Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak, all of our initial consultations are 100 percent free, and once we take your case, we do not charge any fees unless you collect the compensation you deserve.
Types of Car Accident Compensation
Your South Bend car accident lawyer may be able to help you recover various forms of compensation to help you deal with the physical, emotional and financial damages you have experienced, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Doctors’ visits
- Medical and laboratory tests
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Emergency services
- Property damage
- Attorney's fees
If you lost a loved one in a South Bend car crash, our South Bend wrongful death attorneys might be able to obtain wrongful death compensation, which could include:
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of emotional support
- Medical expenses prior to your loved one's death
- Funeral expenses
- Mental anguish
- Lost retirement or insurance benefits
Contact an auto accident lawyer at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak today. We will put your best interests first throughout the legal process.
Call our auto accident attorneys at (844) 678-1800.
Types of Auto Accidents
There are many types of car accidents that can cause severe injuries for which victims may be able to pursue compensation, such as:
- Head-on collisions
- Sideswipe accidents
- Rear-end collisions
- Rollover crashes
- Side-impact accidents
- Left-turn accidents
- Multiple vehicle pileups
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Crashes into fixed objects, like street lights or guardrails
No matter what kind of accident you were involved in, our South Bend car accident lawyers are fully prepared to represent you if you have a valid claim.
Contact an auto accident lawyer today. (844) 678-1800
Common Causes of Car Wrecks
Driving under the influence causes approximately 200 deaths each year in Indiana, according to data from the Indiana State Police and the national Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
There are almost as many fatalities from crashes involving speeding each year, according to the State of Indiana 2015 Traffic Safety Annual Report. There were 185 speeding-related fatalities in 2012, 217 in 2013 and 204 in 2014.
Car accidents can also be caused by:
- Reckless driving
- Failing to obey traffic signs or signals
- Drowsy driving
- Distracted driving
- Inclement weather
- Violating the right of way
- Running a red light
- Vehicles with bad brakes or broken lights
- Failing to yield
While most accidents are the result of reckless or careless actions by drivers, some are caused by dangerous road conditions. In these situations, the government or private entity responsible for the road could be held liable for the damages you suffered.
The South Bend car accident lawyers at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak can determine all of the liable parties after an accident.
Live Chat with a representative today.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Fault for a car accident is rarely black and white, usually both parties share some level of blame for what happened. That is why Indiana follows a system of modified comparative negligence to determine liability for car accidents.
Modified comparative negligence (Indiana Code 34-51-2-5) is sometimes known as the 51 percent rule, meaning that if a driver is 51 percent or more responsible for the accident, he cannot recover money from the other party who is at fault for the accident. If a person is 50 percent or less at fault, he can recover from the other party involved in the accident.
However, the amount of compensation you recover will be reduced by your percentage of fault for the accident. That means that if you are 40 percent at fault, your compensation award will be reduced by 40 percent.
If you are barred from recovering compensation from the other party, your other option is to obtain compensation from your own insurance. However, you will be limited by the types of coverage you have. For example, if you do not have collision coverage or personal injury protection, you cannot obtain compensation for property damage or medical bills.
If you file a personal injury lawsuit, courts will also use the 51 percent rule to determine fault for the accident and reduce compensation by your percentage of fault.
Contact our South Bend car accident lawyers today.
How to Determine Fault for a Car Accident
With some Indiana car accidents, it is relatively easy to determine who has the highest percentage of fault. For example, rear-end accidents are almost always the fault of the driver who hit you. In left-turn accidents, the driver who made the left turn is almost always at fault, unless the car that was hit was running a red light or violating another traffic law.
However, in many other types of accidents, it is not as easy to determine who has the highest percentage of fault. You will need strong evidence to support your claim, including:
Police reports – In many cases, police will show up at the scene and file a report about the accident. The report will contain the officer's thoughts about the accident. For instance, an officer could note that one car was speeding based on the length of the skid marks on the road. The report will also indicate if any traffic tickets were issued at the scene. These could be invaluable pieces of evidence for establishing the other party's percentage of fault for the crash.
Ask the officer how to obtain a physical copy of the report after it is filed. You can also obtain an electronic copy for a small fee at BuyCrash.com.
If police do not show up to the scene of your accident, contact the nearest police station to file a report. Once it is filed, investigators may conduct their own inquiry into the accident.
Indiana traffic laws – Review Indiana traffic laws to find out if the other driver violated any of them in the accident. Make sure to note the number of the code and use the exact wording when telling the insurance company about it.
Obtaining these pieces of information could be a lot to handle, particularly when you are dealing with severe injuries. Our South Bend car accident lawyers are well-versed on Indiana traffic laws and we know how to obtain a police report. Contact us to find out how we can guide you through the legal process.
What do I do after a Car Accident?
Even if you have been involved in a car accident before, it can be difficult to know what to do afterward, particularly if you suffered severe injuries.
While it is important to take pictures and collect evidence as soon as possible after a crash, you need to focus on your injuries. You need to make sure you are examined by qualified medical professionals who can stabilize your injuries and provide the treatment you need.
After you receive treatment, the doctor should instruct you on how to manage your injury on a day-to-day basis to ensure a smooth recovery. It is important to follow the doctor's instructions, including taking prescription medications, showing up for follow-up appointments and avoiding activities that could aggravate your injuries.
Failing to follow the doctor's orders could increase the length of your recovery and possibly prevent a full recovery, if a full recovery is possible. You could also hurt your chances of recovering compensation from an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Once your injuries have been stabilized, you should file an insurance claim. Indiana follows a fault-system for claims related to a car accident. This means that if another driver was at fault, you can file a claim with the other driver's insurer or your own insurance company.
You must also file an Operator's Proof of Insurance Crash Report Form with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the accident, even if the other driver offers to pay for damages. Otherwise, your license could be revoked or your car registration could be suspended.
After that, collect as much evidence about the crash as possible, including photographs, witness statements and police reports.
Your next step is to contact a South Bend car accident lawyer for a free, no obligation legal consultation. The lawyers at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak have decades of combined experience representing those injured by another party's negligence.
Our South Bend car accident lawyers can help manage every aspect of your claim, from working with insurance companies to investigating the crash and negotiating fair compensation.
Live chat with a representative or call (844) 678-1800.
Car Insurance Requirements in Indiana
Drivers in Indiana are required to demonstrate financial responsibility in the event they are involved in an accident. Most drivers demonstrate financial responsibility by purchasing car insurance.
In Indiana, car insurance must provide the following coverage amounts, at minimum:
- $25,000 per person for injury or death
- $50,000 per accident if multiple people are injured or killed
- $10,000 per accident for damage to another's property
- $50,000 for an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim
The first three coverages provide compensation to the other driver if he or she is injured or killed or suffers property damage. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage provides compensation if you are involved in a collision with a driver who has no insurance or does not have enough to cover your medical expenses.
Drivers are not required to purchase collision or comprehensive coverage to pay for damage to their own cars in accidents.
Indiana also does not require drivers to purchase personal injury protection coverage, which covers reasonable medical expenses, which could include transportation in an ambulance, doctors’ appointments, medical tests and surgeries. Depending on your policy, you may also be able to obtain compensation for lost wages, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and funeral expenses.
The South Bend car accident lawyers at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak can review your situation to help determine if you should file a claim with your own insurance company or the other driver's. Our goal is to make sure you receive fair compensation for all of the damages you suffered in the accident.
Fill out our Free Case Evaluation form right now.
Negotiating with Insurance Companies
Even if you file a claim with your own insurance company, you have to be careful what you tell them about the accident and your injuries. Their first priority is to avoid spending more money than they have to, which means they will do whatever they can to minimize your claim or assign fault for the crash to you.
Follow these tips to improve your chances of receiving all of the insurance compensation you deserve:
- Stick to the facts – Avoid giving your opinions about what happened. Explain the basic facts about the accident, including when and where it happened, your contact information and the location of your car.
- Do not mention preexisting injuries or medical conditions – Adjusters are trained to use whatever rationale possible to minimize or deny your claim. If you mention injuries you were dealing with before the crash, you are only making it easier for the adjuster to say your medical issues are a result of your preexisting illness and not injuries from the accident.
- Avoid recorded statements unless you have an attorney – At some point, you will probably have to sign a statement or have your statements recorded. But you should not agree to that unless you are receiving counsel from a skilled South Bend car accident lawyer. Once you agree to provide a recorded or written statement, your claim will be limited by what is included in the statement.
- Decline to answer questions if you do not know the answer – You have the right to say that you do not know or cannot remember. It is better to say you do not know or decline to answer than to provide incomplete information or say something that is not true.
You are within your rights to handle insurance negotiations on your own. However, it can be an intimidating process if you have never been through it and you do not know what to expect.
Our South Bend car accident lawyers can manage negotiations for you. We have a successful track record of recovering fair compensation for victims of accidents.
Call our South Bend car accident lawyers now at (844) 678-1800.
Contact Our South Bend Car Accident Lawyers
If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a crash, contact our South Bend car accident lawyers today. We have decades of experience negotiating with insurance companies and handling personal injury lawsuits. Our car accident attorneys can help you obtain the compensation you deserve so you can get your life back on track.
However, you should contact us as soon as possible because Indiana's statute of limitations (Indiana Code Title 34-11-2-4) for car accident claims is only two years. That means you cannot file a car accident lawsuit more than two years after the date of the accident. This applies regardless of whether or not you file an insurance claim.
Our personal injury attorneys can help you through the insurance claims process and if we are unsuccessful, we can make sure to file a personal injury claim before the statute of limitations runs out.
Our main office is located in South Bend, Indiana, and we offer legal services to injury victims and their families from South Bend to Fort Wayne and Indianapolis.
Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak - Ph: (844) 678-1800