After a car or truck accident, police officers, firefighters, EMTs/paramedics, tow truck operators, and other first responders arrive on the scene to investigate and aid those involved.
Unfortunately, while responding to such accidents, these heroes often become victims themselves. In fact, traffic-related incidents are the leading cause of death for on-duty law enforcement officers, and the second leading cause of death for fire rescue personnel, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.
Injured first responders or the families of first responders who were killed while responding to a car or truck crash may be eligible for compensation, regardless of whether the accident occurred on the way to an accident or at the scene. An Indianapolis first responder car accident injury lawyer can help.
If you’re a first responder injured in a secondary car or truck accident or a close family member of a first responder who lost his or her life in an on-duty accident, here’s what you should know.
Options for First Responders Injured in Indianapolis Accidents
Because it happened on the job, some assume first responder accident injuries are a workers’ compensation issue. However, while workers’ compensation can certainly play a role, it isn’t the only option.
Injured first responders who work for state/county agencies or private businesses may be able to collect benefits, such as compensation for medical expenses or lost wages, through the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Act.
This law doesn’t apply to members of municipal police or fire departments or members of a police or firefighters’ pension fund—who are potentially covered under IC § 36-8-4-5. Providing benefits similar to those offered by workers’ compensation, IC § 36-8-4-5 makes it possible for eligible injured first responders to receive the following, which is paid for from the municipality’s general fund:
- Hospital bills for the treatment of your wounds.
- Medical procedures, including but not limited to surgery.
- Laboratory tests.
- Diagnostic procedures.
- Treatments to cure your injuries.
- Medical intervention to make you more comfortable.
- Physical therapy and other therapeutic services.
- If a doctor deems it essential to your recovery, you can get special nursing care.
First Responders Can Seek Compensation for Pain and Suffering and Other Non-Monetary Losses After an Accident
Obtaining medical or lost wage benefits from workers’ compensation or under IC § 36-8-4-5 doesn’t prevent injured first responders from filing a personal injury lawsuit to pursue compensation from a liable third party. Such circumstances might include a negligent motorist who injures (or kills) an on-duty police officer or firefighter who’s in the process of responding to a separate car or truck accident.
In addition to economic losses such as lost income and past and future medical expenses, injured first responders who are plaintiffs in personal injury cases can seek compensation for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, mental and emotional anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.
For a free legal consultation with a first responder car accidents lawyer serving Indianapolis, call 317-636-7777
Who Can Be Held Liable in an Indianapolis First Responder Accident?
As our attorney investigates the accident and collects evidence, they will also identify who should be held responsible for the crash and the injuries that first responders suffered. In these accidents, liable parties include those present at the crash scene, but they can include others that may not immediately come to mind. They are:
- Another motorist, including a motorcyclist, bicyclist, or a pedestrian
- Manufacturers of emergency vehicles
- Manufacturers of sirens, flashing lights, and other emergency signals
- Contractors responsible for the designs and construction of the roadways
- The municipality responsible for the upkeep of the road where the accident occurred, including traffic signage, landscaping, etc.
We will list all potentially liable parties in your accident and determine the role they played in the collision. We can then seek compensation from each that can help you recover from the collision.
Proving Negligence Is Important in Indianapolis Injury Cases
We also must show how each party responsible for the first responder accident was negligent and how their carelessness or recklessness caused you harm. When we review your case, we will look for these four elements that establish injury cases:
- Duty of care. The at-fault party was legally obliged to act reasonably and keep all road users safe.
- Breach of duty. The at-fault party’s actions or inactions violated their duty of care.
- Causation. This breached duty of care caused the accident that injured you.
- Damages. As a result of the accident and subsequent injuries, you have compensatory damages, such as your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering, among others.
If we can prove the defendant’s negligence, we can work toward settling with the liable party’s insurer or seeking your financial awards at trial if a settlement isn’t possible.
Indianapolis First Responder Car Accident Lawyer Near Me 317-636-7777
First Responder Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Indianapolis
When first responders are killed in a car or truck accident in the line of duty, their close family members or select others who financially relied on the deceased may be eligible to collect wrongful death benefits through workers’ compensation or a wrongful death lawsuit.
Potential damages include:
- Funeral service costs
- Burial or cremation fees
- The pain and suffering the family member experienced before their death
- Loss of income
- Loss of care and guidance
- Loss of consortium (for spouses)
Click to contact our Indianapolis First Responder Car Accident Injury Lawyer today
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Move Over, Slow Down
Indiana is one of many states that passed Move Over, Slow Down laws to protect first responders. Indiana’s version of the law requires motorists to change lanes to give more room to police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, incident-response vehicles, highway maintenance vehicles, utility service vehicles, and tow trucks.
Motorists who cannot safely change lanes must reduce their speed to 10 mph below the posted speed limit. Those who don’t comply with Indiana’s Move Over, Slow Down law risk penalties such as fines and suspension of their driver’s licenses for up to two years.
Three Things to Do After Getting Hurt in a Car Accident as a First Responder in Indianapolis
The actions you take after suffering an injury in a car crash can affect how much you could receive in monetary damages for your injuries.
- Your medical bills will provide valuable information, including a link between the collision and your wounds. Be sure to get a medical evaluation right away and complete all the procedures your doctor prescribes. You can heal better with prompt and thorough treatment.
- Preserve evidence that could bolster your claim for compensation. For example, handwritten notes with the names of witnesses who can support your case with their testimony can be essential. It can be hard to remember names and other details with time.
- Talk to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. We can do the heavy lifting on your claim, like investigating the accident and dealing with the insurance company on your behalf, while you get to rest and recuperate.
Also, we can guide you on additional steps to take in your case.
Pitfalls to Avoid After a Car Accident Injury in Indianapolis
Just as there are things you will want to do that can help your claim, there are mistakes that could harm your right to damages. You will want to sidestep these common errors:
- You do not want to wait too long to take legal action. Your witnesses’ memories can fade, and the filing deadline can pass. Getting your claim in the hands of an injury lawyer right away can help prevent these problems.
- Avoid talking with people about the incident. Your words can get taken out of context and used against you, including conversations at the scene of the accident, talking with colleagues, or posting on social media.
- The claims adjuster will likely ask you to give a recorded statement. They might say that a recorded statement gives you the opportunity to tell your side of the story. In reality, insurance companies use these statements to justify paying you less money than you deserve. They might even blame you for the accident. The insurer cannot “cherry pick” a statement if you do not give one.
It is not necessary to provide extensive information to the insurance company because they can get all the information they need from your lawyer.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Who Understands the Challenges First Responders in Indianapolis Face
As a decorated former police captain, Randy Sevenish of Sevenish Law Firm, P.C., knows what it’s like to be a first responder who puts his life on the line day in and day out. At Sevenish Law Firm, P.C., injured first responders will receive the respect and the aggressive yet honorable representation they deserve.
If you’re a first responder injured in the line of duty, contact us today to arrange a free initial case consultation.