An auto accident can cause severe physical, mental, and financial harm to the victim. According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, approximately 4.4 million people suffer serious injuries that require medical attention due to accidents on the United States roadways.
One question that arises frequently in the minds of auto accident victims is regarding the timeline of their personal injury claim. The truth is that there is no defined time in which an auto accident claim may be settled.
The process may take several months or even a year to settle. However, if the victim approaches the legal process properly and at the earliest time possible, the risk of facing unnecessary hurdles may be avoided. In Indiana, the injured victim has two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim.
Timeline of an Indiana Auto Accident Case
While it is difficult to predict the exact time that will be taken to settle an auto accident case, it may help to understand how a typical Indiana auto accident case is settled. The general stages involved in an auto accident settlement include the following:
The persons involved in the accident must first assess their physical condition and seek immediate medical attention. If a person has not suffered any injuries, he or she must help anyone else who requires medical attention.
The next step is to gather information and evidence related to the accident. Indiana follows a modified comparative fault system to determine the fault of the parties involved in a personal injury claim. This means that the damages awarded to a person will vary according to the percentage of fault attributed to him or her. Evidence including photographs, witness statements, police reports, and medical records can help in the determination of liability.
Contacting an Auto Accident Attorney
The next step is to get in touch with an auto accident attorney who can evaluate the victim’s claim and suggest further steps that should be taken.
Demand Letter and Negotiation
Chances are that the attorney will suggest sending a demand letter to the party at fault or his or her insurance company. A demand letter generally requests the other party to pay compensation for the damage caused to the victim due to the accident. It will specify the details of the accident and the expenditure incurred by the victim.
This, then, initiates the negotiation process between the parties. The insurance company may try to lower the settlement offer. With the help of an attorney, the victim may be able to negotiate a fair deal and get the rightful compensation.
Once a settlement is reached, the parties will sign a settlement agreement which will include the terms of the settlement and this will absolve the at-fault party from any future liability related to the accident.
If the Negotiation Process Is Unsuccessful
If the parties are unable to agree upon a settlement, a personal injury lawsuit may be filed by the victim against the at-fault party.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
A personal injury lawsuit may be decided through a court-ordered alternative dispute resolution process or by a jury trial. In case of a jury trial, a jury will decide the liability of the parties based upon the evidence available and the court will award damages according to the jury’s decision.
In the majority of the cases, injury claims are settled via out-of-court negotiations. It is time and cost-efficient for all the parties involved. While the timeline of a settlement may depend upon several factors including the recovery time, cooperation between the parties, and the evidence available, generally, a settlement takes anywhere between one to three months.
Our Indiana Auto Accident Attorneys Can Help You
Given the devastating physical and financial impact an auto accident may have, it is understandable that a quick and fast outcome is preferred by the injured. At Stewart & Stewart, we provide a free, no-obligation case review to the victims of auto accidents. Our attorneys will help you with your case from its initial stage to ensure that it proceeds in the right direction and gets resolved in the quickest time possible. Contact us for a free consultation.