An auto accident is one of the most frightening experiences that can occur in a person’s life, and the trauma often does not end with the accident itself. Many victims suffer serious injuries that permanently affect their quality of life, leaving them with expensive medical and rehabilitative care and an increased dependence on family and friends. Fatal car accidents can destroy the lives of the deceased victim’s family and friends, both emotionally and financially.
Are you wondering what to do after a car accident? If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident caused by the negligence of another motorist, you have a right to injury compensation. At Doehrman Buba, we will protect your rights and fight for justice on your behalf. Our Indianapolis car accident lawyers have helped countless individuals obtain the financial compensation they need and deserve, and we will fight for you.
What To Do After an Accident
First, check to make sure no one is injured. If you or anyone else involved in the accident has sustained injuries, or if there is property damage of at least $1,000, call the police immediately.
When you get in a car accident in Indiana, you’re legally required to share your name, your address, and your registration number with the other people involved in the accident. If you damage a vehicle that is unoccupied, such as a parked car, you must try and find the vehicle owner. If the owner is nowhere in sight, you are required to leave a note with your name, address, and registration number in an obvious location on the damaged vehicle. Similarly, if you cause an accident that damages someone’s property (not a vehicle), you must try and find the property owner. Failing that, you must call law enforcement officials and give them your name, your address, and your registration number, as well as your driver’s license number if requested.
There is additional information which you are not required to give or obtain, but which can help your case move more smoothly. It’s a good idea to write down the contact information of all the involved parties in the accident, as well as the contact information of any witnesses. Specifically, you should record everyone’s phone numbers, license plates numbers, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information. It’s also a good idea to record descriptions of all vehicles involved, along with the make and model.
You should also write down the names and badge numbers of any police who show up at the accident scene. Ask the police officer at the scene for a copy of the police report.
As soon as possible after the accident, call your insurance provider to file a Certificate of Compliance (COC), which should cover the accident date and all the involved vehicles. If you fail to do this after an accident, you may have your driving privileges suspended.
Statute of Limitations
After a car accident, you have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit, starting on the date of the accident, (Indiana Code section 34-11-2-4). However, if you’re suing for property damage alone (because a car hit your house, for example), you usually have six years from the time of the accident. On the other hand, if you were involved in an accident with a government entity (such as an accident with a city bus or an accident that occurred on government property), you may have less than two years to file a claim.
The statue of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is slightly different. This claim must be filed within two years of the deceased person’s death, which may have occurred after the date of the accident, (Indiana Code section 34-23-1-1).
In Indiana, car accident cases are decided based on comparative fault, as outlined in the Indiana Comparative Fault Act. Under the comparative fault system, the fault is assigned to three different parties: the plaintiff (the person bringing the case), the defendant (the person the plaintiff is bringing the case against) and a non-party. A non-party refers to a third party who may be partly at fault in the case but who is not involved in the lawsuit because the plaintiff has declined to sue them. In some cases, there may not be a third party involved in the case, so the fault will be divided only between the plaintiff and the defendant.
The jury in a car accident case decides who was at fault in the accident and to what extent. For example, the jury may decide the plaintiff was 30% at fault and the defendant was 70% at fault. Or the jury may decide the plaintiff was 30% at fault, the defendant 50% at fault, and the non-party 20% at fault.
As long as the plaintiff’s share of the fault is 50% or below, the plaintiff can recover money for damages from the defendant’s insurance. But if the jury finds the plaintiff 51% or more at fault, the plaintiff cannot recover any damages. (This is sometimes called the 51% Rule.) The plaintiff recovers damages based on his or her percentage of the fault. So a plaintiff may be awarded $100,000 in damages, but if the plaintiff is 30% at fault, he or she will recover only $70,000.
Fault is usually determined based on witness statements, police reports, medical records, photos of the accident scene, and photos of damage to the vehicles or property. In other cases, fault may be presumed because a driver has hit a parked car or rear-ended someone.
Common Car Crash Causes
Unfortunately, it takes only a moment of inattention, distraction, or poor judgment on the part of another driver to cause an injury that can change lives forever. In many cases, motor vehicle accidents (MVA) are the result of:
- Distracted drivers, including cell phone use and texting while driving
- Reckless driving
- Drunk driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs
- Defective auto products
- Poor vehicle crashworthiness
Among the most devastating, yet tragically common, injuries caused by car accidents are traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. Too often, the tragic end to a car accident is the wrongful death of the victim. Our experienced Indianapolis car accident attorneys review car accident reports for you and are prepared to stand up for victims and their families and hold accountable those whose negligent disregard for the safety of others has created pain and hardship. You can also view our TBI Resource Guide for advice on dealing with the pain of living with a brain injury.
The Pain of Wrongful Death
The death of a beloved family member in a fatal car accident not only causes grief and financial loss; it also raises a two painful questions: Why did this accident happen? Who is at fault? We will do everything we can to get the facts about the accident, including the car accident reports, so you can hopefully get answers as well as financial relief.
Our national board certified civil trial lawyers work with accident reconstructionists and other experts who help investigate car accident scenes and build compelling cases for our clients.
We will work diligently to determine the full extent of the financial hardship your family is facing due to your loss. We may be able to secure compensation for lost earnings, emotional pain and suffering, lost companionship, and other damages. We will handle all of the legal details.
Do You Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
In some instances, car accident claims can be resolved without the assistance of a lawyer. When an accident causes serious injury or extensive property damage, however, an attorney’s assistance can be crucial to obtaining just compensation from car accident settlements.
Often, insurance companies attempt to under-represent the value of car accident claims and offer smaller settlements than victims may be rightfully entitled to. Many times, victims who try to handle their own legal affairs after a car wreck are left bearing the majority of the expenses from an accident that was not their fault. Further, if the at-fault driver is underinsured or has no insurance, you could end up fighting against your own insurance company.
Our experienced Indianapolis car accident lawyers can determine the true value of your traffic accident claim and the amount of compensation to which you are entitled. Throughout our firm’s history, we have obtained multiple million-dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients.
Contact Our Indianapolis Auto Accident Attorneys Now
If you or someone close to you has been injured in a car crash, contact our Indianapolis car accident lawyers today online or by telephone at (888) 494-3765 for a free consultation.