If you’ve been in an Indiana auto accident, you are bound to have a lot of questions. Many of these questions will relevant to the specific details of your auto accident and the subsequent claim. These questions should be directed to our auto accident lawyers at Rowe & Hamilton You will also have a lot of more general questions that we can address right here.
How Much Time Do I Have to File My Auto Accident Claim in Indiana?
Auto accident claims involve personal injuries and property damage. For a personal injury or property damage claim, you have a statute of limitations of two years. This means that two years from the date of your auto accident is the deadline for filing a claim. If you fail to meet this deadline, then you will not be allowed to pursue a claim at all.
If the case involves a driver who is an employee of a local, state or federal government entity, then a tort claims notice must be filed within 270 days of the accident or claim is barred. The tort claims notice is required to contain certain information according to Indiana law and that is why it is so important to have an attorney. If the tort claims notice is not filed or the notice is defective as to its contents, then an auto accident claim for damages cannot be made. Once the tort claims notice is made, you still must file suit within the two year statute of limitations or your claim will be barred.
It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that all steps are taken with the appropriate speed and diligence to avoid running out the statute of limitations for your Indiana auto accident claim.
How Do I Pay for My Medical Bills While Waiting to Finalize My Auto Accident Claim?
If you were in an auto accident where someone else’s auto insurance policy is expected to pay your medical bills, then you are likely wondering what you’re supposed to do until the claim is finalized. At first, it is important to try to use other available sources to pay these expenses. You can turn to your healthcare insurance in some cases. In other cases, your own auto insurance policy might cover you if you have medical payments coverage which is highly recommended to carry on your policy. If neither of these are an option, then it is recommended to make a payment arrangement with the medical provider of small payments until the case is settled. Or you can see if the medical provider will take a letter of protection or lien against any settlement and wait to be paid until the case settles. If insurance coverages are used, the insurance company is likely to claim a subrogation lien on the settlement, but usually under Indiana State law they must bear a pro rata share of attorney fees and expenses which reduces the lien substantially and puts more money in your pocket when the case settles.
If you do not have healthcare coverage, however, then you may be eligible for Medicaid or a low cost medical insurance plan. Medicaid or Medicare will also have subrogation liens on your settlement, but certain reductions may apply which will reduce the lien. All liens may be negotiated also. Rowe & Hamilton will help guide you through the subrogation process so it maximizes the amount of your recovery.
Can I Recover Compensation if I was Partly Responsible for My Auto Accident?
The answer to this question depends on how much responsibility you carry for the auto accident. If you are 50% at fault or less, then you can typically get up to 50% of your damages covered. The actual amount of compensation that you can receive will be directly related to your percentage of liability. This is known as modified comparative negligence. Not all states handle these situations the same way, but in Indiana you can rely on the rule of modified comparative negligence to assign a percentage of negligence to each driver, between 0% and 100%. If the other driver is 100% at fault, then that driver is liable for 100% of your damages. If the other driver is 50% at fault or more, then that driver is liable for 50% or more of your damages. For example, if the other driver is 70% at fault, and you are 30% at fault, then you can get 70% of your damages compensated. However, under Indiana comparative fault, if you are 51% at fault, you get nothing, even though the other driver is 49% at fault.
The exception to this comparative fault law is if the driver is an employee of a local, state or federal government entity and is operating the vehicle within the scope of his or her employment, then the law of contributory negligence applies. No fault can be assessed to you or you cannot recovery any damages from the other driver. The other driver must be 100% at fault to recover any damages.
What Factors Will Impact the Value of My Auto Accident Claim?
There is a good chance that you actually have a more specific question about this, pertaining to the actual value of your claim. You will want to seek a free consultation with Rowe & Hamilton to get an idea of what your claim might be worth. However, when it comes to which factors are going to impact the value of your auto accident claim in Indiana, we can give you a general idea. Following is a list of some of the variables that are going to determine the value of your claim:
- Severity of Accident
- Severity of Injuries
- Value of Medical Expenses
- Value of Lost Wages from Time Off Work
- Expected Future Medical Expenses
- Severity of Pain and Suffering
- How the Injuries have Affected your Quality of Life
Does Hiring an Attorney Mean that the Case is Going to Trial?
Hiring an auto accident attorney does not mean that your case is going to trial. An attorney can actually help you avoid going to trial by negotiating for a fair settlement agreement and ensuring that the insurance company takes you seriously. The only time an auto accident claim will go to trial is if there is a dispute about liability or the value of the claim that cannot be resolved outside of the courtroom.
Should I Accept a Settlement Offer From the Auto Insurance Company?
In some cases, you may be okay with settling your auto accident claim with the insurance company quickly. It is important to know, however, that the auto insurance claims adjuster who offers the settlement is interested in saving money for the company more than he or she is interested in fairly compensating your damages. If you have very little damage, then settling early may not be such a terrible idea. Yet, if your injuries required medical treatment, they are probably more costly than you think. Further, if you had to take time off of work or experienced pain and suffering, the value of your claim could be a lot greater than you would imagine. It is almost certainly worth more than what the auto insurance company claims adjuster initially offers you. This is why you want an Indiana attorney to evaluate your claim and negotiate for a fair settlement.
What If the Driver Who Caused the Auto Accident Was Uninsured?
If another driver caused your Indiana auto accident did not have auto insurance, then you are going to want to turn to your own auto insurance policy if you have UM/UIM coverage (uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage). This will also help you if the at fault driver only carries the minimum required liability coverage, and if that is not enough to compensate all of your damages. Unfortunately, if you don’t have UIM coverage, then you are limited to the liability limits of the other driver, which is Indiana could be as low as $25,000 per person which is the minimum amount required by State law.
So many drivers on Indiana roads have no or little insurance coverage. One day in the hospital can cost thousands of dollars, and this is why it is so important to not only have uninsured/underinsured coverages on your automobile, but to have the highest coverages you can afford. You will be surprised that it does not cost as much as you think per year to significantly raise your coverages. Also have medical expense coverage that covers your medical expenses if you are injured in an accident. Maximize this coverage also.
Can I Seek Compensation for All of My Lost Wages Related to My Injuries?
In many cases, an auto accident will result in injuries that require long term treatment and recovery. In some cases, it may simply take a few days away from work. In others, you may be disabled and unable to work again or to make your former income. If this happens, you can seek compensation for all of your lost wages that are related to the auto accident. Often, you can get compensation for lost earning potential as well. It is important to understand that you must have a valid medical reason for missing work, and you cannot get compensation for taking time off of work that was unnecessary.
Can I Afford to Hire an Attorney to Represent Me After an Auto Accident?
Because the skilled Indiana auto accident lawyers at Rowe & Hamilton offer a free consultation and work on a contingency fee basis, you can absolutely afford to hire a lawyer. We only get paid if we succeed in recovering compensation for you. Rowe and Hamilton is for you.