If you or someone you love has been injured in an auto accident, here are three things you should know before filing a claim.
There is a Difference Between an Insurance Claim and a Personal Injury Claim
When it comes to personal injury lawsuits and insurance claims, the terminology surrounding the word “claim” can be confusing. After an accident, it is important that you get your insurance company involved as soon as possible. It is their job to help you seek compensation for damage to your vehicle and any medical bills.
However, if your injuries (and the injuries of your passengers) exceed claims limits, you may be liable for those costs. Depending upon the severity of damage and injuries, these costs could end up being tens of thousands of dollars beyond claim limits.
Insurance Claims Limits
In Indiana, insurance liability minimums are on the low side at $25,000 per person (up to $50,000 total). If your injuries end up costing you $60,000, then, after insurance pays for $25,000 of your medical bills, you will still be left with another $35,000 to pay on your own.
Indiana requires drivers to carry uninsured/underinsured (UI/UDI) coverage to deal with situations where the other driver doesn’t have insurance. However, there are also claims limits for UI/UDI coverage as well.
That’s why it may be in your best interest to file a personal injury claim after a car accident. If the other driver is at fault for the accident (and hence, your injuries), then you will be able to seek compensation for damages. These damages include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Personal Injury Claim Process
Many people injured in an auto accident reach their insurance claims limits and seek additional compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. Much of the evidence you will need has already been supplied to your insurance company. Additionally, the responding police officer will have drafted an accident report naming the other driver as the at-fault party.
You will need to demonstrate the costs of your injuries, which would include medical bills, transportation costs, lost wages from missing work, and even emotional trauma you suffered as a result of the accident. If you are considering a personal injury lawsuit, it is important that you seek assistance from an experienced personal injury attorney to help you file your claim.
A filed claim signals your intent to sue the at-fault party. The other person has an opportunity to respond before the discovery process takes place. If the at-fault party belongs to a commercial truck company, the employing company usually offers you a settlement to prevent the claim from going to trial. Your personal injury attorney will be able to advise you on whether or not it is in your best interest to accept a settlement.
There is an Indiana Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Claims After a Car Accident
As with any personal injury claim, you must file your claim within two years of the accident and subsequent injuries. While there are exceptions to this statute of limitations, they are rare and unlikely. It is vital that you seek medical attention immediately following an accident and leave yourself time to file a personal injury claim should it be necessary.
Indiana is a Comparative Negligence State
Comparative negligence means that both (or all) parties were at fault for the accident. Driver 1 may have been going too fast while Driver 2 merged without signaling. In this kind of scenario, each driver will be faulted for a certain percentage of the accident. This approach of comparative negligence is usually considered in some insurance claims as well as in personal injury claims.
If you were assigned fault of 50% or more for the accident, then you are not eligible to receive compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. If you were less than 50% at fault, but more than 0%, then whatever damages would have been awarded to you are simply decreased by the percentage for which you were at fault. For example, if you were at fault for 20% of the accident and total damages amounted to $50,000, then you would be awarded $50,000 minus 20%, which is $40,000.
For more information about how an Indiana attorney can help you with your car accident case, contact Stewart & Stewart Attorneys at 800-333-3529 or visit our website.