Even if you are the safest driver, you can still be hurt in a car accident while driving through Indianapolis or elsewhere in Indiana. While you can’t stop careless drivers from making poor decisions that put others at risk, you can still control your fate after a crash. Taking immediate steps to protect your right to obtain funds can play a key role in your recovery.
Under Indiana Statute of Limitations law, you typically must settle an auto accident claim or file a lawsuit within two years from the date of a crash. So, it is vital to avoid any delay in taking action.
Sevenish Law Firm presents the following information to get you started and to help you understand more about your legal rights and options after a car crash.
What to Do After a Car Crash
At the accident scene, you should have notified the police and given the officer information about your crash. You also should have exchanged information with the other driver. Hopefully, you also took photos of the crash scene and got the names of witnesses. Here are the next steps you should take:
- See a doctor. If you or a loved one was not immediately taken to the hospital, go right away for the sake of your health. You need a medical professional to examine you and determine the extent of your injuries. Keep a journal that documents your treatment and retain all medical bills.
- Inform your insurance company. Indiana law requires you to report your accident to your insurer within 24 hours. Provide honest, basic information. However, don’t feel obligated to go into any extra details.
- Don't speak to the other driver’s insurance company. You should never give a recorded or even a non-recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company. That company is focused on its profits, not your legal rights. The company is likely seeking information to minimize its payout or trying to get you to accept a settlement offer. Politely decline to speak with the insurer and refer future communications to your attorney. Never accept a settlement offer before your case has been reviewed by a lawyer.
- Get a copy of the police report. Typically, within one to two days after a crash, the police accident report will be available. Request a copy. This report can serve as the foundation for the investigation into your case.
- Contact an attorney. Get in touch with an Indiana car accident attorney without delay and schedule a consultation. Bring all documents, photos, insurance policies and information you can to your first meeting.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for Your Auto Accident?
When you meet with Sevenish Law Firm, we can use the information you provide us about your crash to launch an immediate investigation. Our goal will be to determine why your crash occurred and who should be held responsible.
We may discover that the cause of your crash was:
- Speeding or aggressive driving. Excessive speed is a leading cause of crashes in Indiana and across the country. Drivers may also cause collisions if they make dangerous passes, tailgate or engage in other aggressive behavior.
- Drunk Driving. An impaired driver can lack control of his or her vehicle and drive dangerously. Drunk drivers may speed, brake without warning, cross a centerline or fall asleep at the wheel.
- Distracted Driving. Drivers who text or talk on cell phones when they should be focused on the road have become a major problem in Indiana and elsewhere, especially among teens. A distracted driver may swerve, drift across lanes or go through a stoplight.
- Automotive defect. Millions of vehicles and auto parts are recalled each year in the U.S. due to defective parts that pose safety risks, including everything from flawed tires to faulty ignition switches.
- Poor road conditions. A poorly maintained road can trigger an accident. For example, a pothole or deteriorating road can cause a driver to lose control of a vehicle.
An investigation may reveal that one or more parties can be held legally responsible for the harm you have suffered. These parties may include:
- The at-fault driver for driving negligently or recklessly
- The at-fault driver’s employer if the driver was working at the time
- A bar or social host who served a drunk or underage driver
- The manufacturer of a defective part
- A government entity or one of its contractors
Indiana is a modified comparative fault state. If you are 50 percent or more at fault for the crash, you may be barred from a recovery. If you are 50 percent or less at fault, you can still recover damages. However, your recovery will be reduced in proportion to your degree of responsibility.
What Can You Recover in a Car Accident Claim?
Many different factors will determine the amount recovered after a car crash. Typically, the damages sought are:
- Medical expenses, past and future
- Lost wages, including past, future, and as impaired earning capacity
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering (physical and emotional)
- Mental anguish
- Punitive damages if the at-fault party’s conduct was malicious
Different damages are sought in a wrongful death claim. Please see our wrongful death page to learn more about these damages and whether you may be eligible to pursue a claim.
A major factor in the amount of a car wreck recovery is available insurance coverage. Different policies may be involved in your case, including:
- Medical pay (med-pay) coverage you have purchased, which typically covers a small portion of one’s medical expenses.
- The at-fault driver’s liability coverage, which could include both the insured vehicle driven and the driver’s insurer if the driver did not own the vehicle.
- Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage that you add to your policy to compensate you if the other driver doesn't have insurance.
- Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage that you add to your policy to pay the difference between the at-fault driver’s policy limit and the amount of your losses up to your UIM limits. This is when the at-fault driver is insured but just doesn’t have enough coverage.
An attorney’s role is to assess the amount of harm you have suffered, determine available insurance coverages and submit a demand to the at-fault party’s insurance company or to your own insurer. If negotiations fail to produce a just settlement offer, the attorney can take your case to court. However, even at a time when a lawsuit may become necessary, roughly 98 percent of cases are settled out of court.
Contact an Indianapolis Car Accident Lawyer
Don't try to handle a car accident claim on your own. If you do, insurance companies may take advantage of you or get away with acting in bad faith, even your own insurer. Instead, speak to an Indiana personal injury attorney at Sevenish Law Firm for a true and honest evaluation. We will be upfront and talk straight with you whether or not your particular claim requires an attorney to be involved or not. Although most people benefit by having an experienced accident attorney, there are some cases when they do not. Sevenish Law Firm will help you through that maze.
Sevenish Law Firm agrees to represent you only if we believe, because of our involvement, you are better off financially, even with attorney fees. If we do not believe this, we won't agree to represent you. After handling thousands of claims for more than 30 years, we have found that most clients do, indeed, recover more in money damages with an attorney than they would likely have recovered handling the claim alone, thinking they were “saving money” in legal fees. In those scenarios, many people have made fatal errors and without any doubt, left money on the table with an adjuster who took advantage of them.
We consider each scenario with common sense. The focus for the client is to dedicate time for getting well and improving his or her health as opposed to taking on the inevitable stress that is associated with handling your own claim. An injury lawyer is trained in what to do, and you are not. The adjuster will know he cannot pull anything over on the client as he might try to do if you were unrepresented.
Finally, we will know what is necessary to do when the time comes in order to:
- Maximize the legal value of your claim
- Minimize your payback obligation required by law to health insurers and to many others
- Do it all as fast as possible
Understand that, for many reasons, some claims based upon the evidence can be resolved very quickly. For some others, it makes sense to wait until you have been released from medical treatment. This is on a case-by-case basis. We are happy to entertain specific questions.
Attorney Randall “Randy” Sevenish has been fighting for car accident victims and their families in Indianapolis and throughout Indiana for more than three decades. He will represent you with honesty, fairness and integrity and seek the compensation you deserve.
Call us today at 800.278.9200 to schedule a free initial consultation about your case.
If you're seeking more information request your free copy of what you need to know after a car wreck "The Indiana Crash Book: An Insider's Guide For Indiana Drivers And Passengers".