Answers to Commonly Asked Questions on Personal Injury Lawsuits in Indiana
Posted On behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak on May 30, 2017 in Personal Injury
If you are thinking about filing a personal injury lawsuit, you probably have many questions about these types of claims.
Below, Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak provides detailed answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about these types of lawsuits. Our South Bend personal injury attorneys have decades of combined experience with many types of personal injury cases and have in-depth knowledge of many aspects of these claims.
Reviewing our list of commonly asked questions can help debunk some common misconceptions about personal injury cases. These misconceptions often prevent people from filing claims, causing them to miss their only chance to obtain fair compensation for the damages they have suffered.
Do I Have a Viable Personal Injury Case?
Some people assume they have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit simply because they suffered an injury in some type of accident. However, this is true only if your injury was caused by another party's negligence.
This means you do not have grounds to file a personal injury claim unless you can prove the four elements of negligence, including:
Duty of Care
This is a legal duty to exercise the appropriate level of care for the situation. For instance, drivers have a duty of care to avoid reckless driving or any other activities that create an unreasonable risk of harm for others on the road, such as distracted driving or driving under the influence of alcohol.
Product manufacturers have a duty of care to create safe products that do not create an unreasonable risk of harm for consumers. This could include producing drugs that do not have life-threatening side effects or providing adequate warnings to consumers about these risks.
Breached Duty of Care
A duty of care is considered breached when a person fails to act the way a reasonable person would if he or she was in the same situation. For instance, there is a reasonable expectation that property owners will take prompt action to remove hazards they know about or should know about because these hazards could cause injury to those who visit the property.
Your Injuries Were Caused by the Breached Duty of Care
Your claim is not viable unless you can show a direct link between your injuries and the breach of duty of care. This means you need to be prepared to counter claims from the defense that your injuries were caused by something other than the defendant's actions, such as your preexisting medical issues or something out of the defendant's control.
You Suffered Damages
You need to provide evidence of the damages created by your injuries, such as lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
What Evidence is Needed for a Personal Injury Claim?
You need many different pieces of evidence to build a strong personal injury claim, such as:
- Pictures from the scene of the accident
- Pictures of your injuries
- Eyewitness accounts of the accident
- Police report, especially if you were injured in a car accident
- Accident report, if you were injured on someone else's property
How Much is My Personal Injury Claim Worth?
The main factor that sets the value of a personal injury claim is the cost of the damages you suffered because of your injuries. As the cost of damages goes up, so does the value of a personal injury claim.
There are many different types of personal injury damages, such as:
This includes damages that have a defined monetary value connected to them, such as:
- Hospital bills
- Bills for tests, like MRIs and CT scans
- Transportation in an ambulance
- Lost wages from missed time at work
- Prescription drugs
- Car rental if the accident damaged your car
- Damage to personal property
These types of damages include:
- Physical pain
- Mental and emotional suffering
- Loss of life's enjoyment due to your injuries
- Loss of companionship if your injuries have a negative impact on your relationship with your spouse
Can I Still Recover Compensation if I was Partially at Fault?
There are certain situations where the injured party bears some level of responsibility for his or her injuries. For instance, if you changed lanes without signaling and were rear-ended by a speeding car, you bear some responsibility for the crash because you did not use your turn signal.
However, being partially responsible for an accident does not necessarily bar you from recovering personal injury compensation. This is because of Indiana's comparative fault law.
There are two things you need to know about Indiana's comparative fault law:
- You cannot recover any compensation if you are 51 percent or more responsible for your injury.
- If you are less than 51 percent responsible, your compensation award will be reduced by your percentage of fault. This means that a $100,000 award will be reduced to $70,000 if you are 30 percent responsible.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
You are under no obligation to hire a personal injury attorney to represent you. However, managing a personal injury claim on your own can be overwhelming, particularly when you are dealing with a severe injury.
If you hire an attorney, you can focus on your recovery while your attorney manages every aspect of your claim, including:
- Negotiating with the insurance company
- Collecting vital evidence to build a robust case
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit if you are entitled to more compensation than the insurance policy provides
Our attorneys understand how to value your injuries and what evidence is needed to support your claim to improve your chances of obtaining fair compensation.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
The personal injury attorneys of Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak work on a contingency fee basis. This means there is no charge for your initial consultation with our attorneys, and if we take your case, we will not charge legal fees unless we obtain compensation through a settlement or jury verdict. This means that we do not get paid unless you do.
How Long Does a Personal Injury Claim Take?
It can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year to reach a resolution in your personal injury claim. The amount of time your claim will take depends on a few factors:
How Long It Takes to Recover
It could take a few weeks, several months or even longer to recover from your injuries. In most cases, you should not settle your claim until you reach the point of maximum medical improvement. This is because it is difficult to accurately value your claim if you are still undergoing treatment.
However, there are certain situations where it makes sense to settle prior to the end of treatment. An attorney can advise you if you should wait to settle or do so while still undergoing treatment.
How Long It Takes to Settle Your Claim
If your personal injury attorney is able to reach a settlement out of court with the insurance company, your case could be resolved much faster than it would be if you go to trial. However, depending on the cooperativeness of insurers and the complexity of your case, it could still take years to negotiate a fair settlement.
Whether Your Case Goes to Trial
If the insurance company contests elements of your claim or is unwilling to negotiate and offer a fair settlement, it may be necessary to take your case to trial. Preparing for trial and the trial itself could take years.
Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?
Some people do not contact a personal injury attorney or file a lawsuit because they are afraid they will have to go through a stressful trial. However, most personal injury claims are resolved out of court.
Still, there are some situations where a trial is necessary to obtain fair compensation. For example, a trial would be necessary if the defendants are unwilling to negotiate, fault for the accident is in question or the insurance company is disputing the existence of your injuries.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in Indiana?
The statute of limitations for Indiana personal injury claims is stated in Indiana Code (IC) 34-11-2-4(3), you have two years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you do not file a lawsuit within that time, you lose the right to do so.
However, there are some situations where a person suffered an injury but did not immediately realize he or she had grounds to file a lawsuit. In these situations, the statute would begin running at the time the victim discovered or should have discovered there were grounds for a lawsuit.
Contact Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak Today
Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak's personal injury attorneys know how to determine the statute of limitations for your claim. We can also work quickly to ensure your case is filed before the statute expires.
We charge no upfront fees and provide our legal services on a contingency fee basis. This means there is no fee unless we recover compensation.
Schedule your free, legal consultation today by completing a Free Case Evaluation form.