Wrongful Death vs. Personal Injury in Auto Accidents

On US 31 in Jackson County, near County Road 500 South, a three-year-old girl was tragically killed in a car crash around 12:40 p.m. The Indiana State Police trooper who checked out the scene of the car accident said that Brent Sawyer, 21, was driving his Jeep Liberty southbound on US 31. It is not clear how Sawyer lost control of his Jeep Liberty and crossed into the northbound lane which Devin Bevers, 30, was driving his 2003 Ford Windstar in.


The Jeep Liberty and Ford Windstar collided head-on. Although Tavaya Bevers, age three, was properly restrained in a child seat in the back seat of the Bevers’ van at the time of the collision, she sustained fatal injuries and was transported to a nearby hospital. Tragically, little three-year-old Tavaya Bevers died from her injuries at the hospital.


Amish Buggy Accident


Recently, 21-year-old Michael Lapp of Modoc was driving an Amish buggy northbound on US 35, near Newman Road, around 9:30 p.m. with no lights on. Driving behind the Amish buggy in a vehicle was 44-year-old Martin Lawson. Investigators at the scene say that Lawson knocked the buggy into the southbound lane of US 35 when he was unable to stop his vehicle.


What happened next did most of the damage to the buggy and killed the passenger of the buggy, Jonas Beiler, of Economy. The Amish buggy was sideswiped by the car Norman Zile, 51, of Middletown, was driving, hurling Beiler onto the road. Then, another car, driven by Bailey Wilkison of Mooreland, struck Beiler, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Everyone else involved survived, including the horse that was pulling the buggy.


Who Is to Blame?


When a tragic car accident occurs, it is often surrounded with emotions that most of us cannot imagine. It truly does not matter whether the person is a young child, a teenager, or an elderly person – the feelings of loss are one and the same. One question is often in the forefront of these situations: Who is to blame? In both of these tragic accidents, the news did not report who was found to be at fault.


No Fault vs. Fault


In car accidents, when there is injury or death involved, someone has to be held accountable. Some states are considered “fault,” while others are considered “no fault” insurance states. Indiana falls into the “fault” category, which gives drivers more leeway in pursuing compensation for damages when a car accident happens. In Indiana, if you are in a car accident, and you are injured, you can pursue a claim against the other insurance company, or if they are not insured, under your own policy under the uninsured coverage. You also can utilize medical payments coverage under your policy to help with medical bills. If you are more than 50% at fault in Indiana, you are barred from any recovery other than your medical payments coverage.   


In a “no-fault” state, drivers who have been injured, or are seeking compensation for damages to their vehicle, are expected to file insurance claims with their own insurance companies. This means that there is generally no blaming or finger pointing in car accidents that occur in Indiana. This also means that suing another driver in a “no-fault” state is much more difficult.  


Most people do not realize the many ways their life will change after being in a serious car accident until after it happens. If you are injured and have to go to the hospital, and thereafter attend doctors’ appointments, as well as take time off from work, the costs can start cutting into your ability to pay the bills. Serious injuries could require weeks or even months of lost wages.


Dealing with the insurance agency can become tedious and frustrating, especially if your medical bills amount to higher than your insurance company will pay out. Many people elect to carry the minimum requirements for Indiana insurance, which allows $25,000 for person injury. Medical costs can add up and absorb that $25,000 quickly, especially if any specialist office visits are necessary, such as a chiropractor. It is important to have both uninsured and sufficient underinsured coverage to cover the contingency of no insurance or low limits of the other driver.


Personal Injury vs. Wrongful Death


The definition of personal injury is “physical injury inflicted on a person’s body, as opposed to property or reputation.” When you are in a car accident and suffer personal injury, whether a neck injury or broken ribs or a concussion, your injuries are normally covered by the auto insurance agency. Damages can include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and how the injuries effect your ability to function as a whole person.


Wrongful death claims can be pursued against an auto or trucking insurance company, however there are some legal loopholes and requirements that emphasize the need for an experienced attorney. You must prove that the other person or company was negligent and caused the death of someone.


Get an Attorney Quickly


Although the shock of losing a loved one can take time to heal, wrongful death lawsuits need to be pursued in a timely manner. Indiana’s statute of limitations requires that wrongful death lawsuits are filed within two years of the death. If the lawsuit is not filed within two years of the death, survivors of the deceased loved one may lose the chance to pursue compensation for funeral and burial expenses, medical and hospital expenses, loss of love and affection, lost wages and any benefits the deceased loved one would have earned had they survived the accident, and the court costs incurred for the lawsuit.


In order to win a wrongful death lawsuit, you will need to be prepared to bring a substantial amount of evidence to the courtroom. Unlike whiplash or even broken rib claims that you can deal with on your own with the insurance agency, wrongful death claims necessitate an accomplished Indiana wrongful death attorney who has a significant amount of experience in fatal car accident cases. The sooner you contact the law offices of Rowe & Hamilton, the better for your case. We handle wrongful death lawsuits as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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