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How to Navigate Your Personal Injury Lawsuit in Indiana
If you have been injured in the State of Indiana and believe that your injury was caused by circumstances beyond your control, you may have legitimate grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Pursuing and winning a personal injury lawsuit are arduous processes that are best navigated with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney who knows the law and the landscape for your claim.
The attorneys of Klezmer Maudlin, PC have years of experience and a depth of knowledge that has helped hundreds of injured people get the help they need. We understand what our clients are going through and how to help them receive just compensation for their personal injury to mitigate the burdens of unexpected expenses.
Do you want to know how to initiate and win your personal injury lawsuit?
Use this guide to learn about the process for filing a personal injury claim and being awarded fair compensation from the person or party responsible for your injury.
Find answers to these questions and more:
- What does “fault” mean in the state of Indiana?
- What’s the difference between a workers compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit?
- How much money can I expect to recoup through a personal injury lawsuit?
- What are some examples of personal injury cases?
- Why should I hire an attorney to help me with my personal injury lawsuit?
- What are the statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Indiana?
- What are my personal roles and responsibilities in my case?
- What are the steps involved in filing and winning a personal injury lawsuit?
- What are the different types of compensation for personal injury claims in Indiana?
- What do all these legal terms and expressions mean? (Personal injury terminology)
I. Who is “at fault” for an injury?
If you have been injured as a result of another party’s negligence or deliberate act, you may have viable grounds for a claim to help mitigate the financial burdens that accompany personal injury. The first step in determining the viability of your case is to figure out “fault”. In the state of Indiana, there’s a “Modified Comparative Negligence” rule which is used as the guide in determining fault for an injury. Basically, this means that each party is assigned a percentage of blame for an accident. As long as the injured person is less than 50% at fault, he or she can has the right to make claims to have the other parties cover their percentage of the costs of the damage incurred.
Consider this example:
If you are in an automobile accident that happened when you were speeding, you have some degree of responsibility for the accident, even if the other driver was mostly at fault. If you file a suit against the other driver to collect damages, your award will be reduced by the percentage the court considers you at fault.
Sometimes injured workers who file Workers Compensation claims also have viable lawsuits against third parties that share some degree of responsibility for the accident. Consider the case of the nurse who slipped on freshly waxed floors after the maintenance company failed to provide adequate warning about the danger.
II. Workers Compensation claim or Personal Injury lawsuit?
Worksite injuries happen all the time, but for each individual the experience is not routine. An injured worker typically doesn’t know how to navigate the steps involved in healing and seeking compensation to cover the costs associated with his or her injury. Because workers don’t have as much experience with injuries and claims, they rely upon employers to tell them what to do. While this is usually fine, there can be times when an employee should consider a personal injury claim as a way to hold the right party responsible for their injury.
How do you know which route to pursue?
In the state of Indiana, employers and workers are protected by obligatory workers compensation insurance. These policies are designed to limit the risks for the employers and cover the costs for the employees. Indiana law also precludes employees from suing their employers. Use this concise “How-to” guide to learn how to file a Workers Compensation claim in Indiana.
If you think there may be another party (other than your employer) that holds some responsibility for your accident and subsequent injuries, you may want to pursue a personal injury claim. Some examples of cases that warrant third party personal injury claims include vehicle accidents, subcontractor negligence, and defective products.
Construction sites are potentially very dangerous places for the employees who work there. While OSHA provides standards for keeping the equipment, environment and employees safe while on the job, accidents can still happen that could be avoided.
III. Personal injury awards in Indiana
A personal injury claim against another party is designed to be straightforward in holding the right person financially responsible for the costs associated with an injury-causing accident. These lawsuits are not intended to punish the at-fault party, but rather to justly compensate the injured person.
In the state of Indiana, a person can sue another party for their responsibility for an injury. How much money they receive from this lawsuit is dependent upon the following:
- The costs of their medical care
- The costs of future treatment for their injury
- Lost income (both past and potential future)
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of consortium
If a person dies from an accident, the surviving family also has the right to sue responsible parties. There are some guidelines (caps) for the amount of money that can be collected from a third party for someone’s accidental death.
- Unmarried adult (23 years of age or older) with no dependents is killed: $300,000 cap (attorney fees included)
- Adult or child younger than 20 years old: no cap
Adults between the ages of 20 and 23 who are enrolled in school: no cap
When judges consider personal injury lawsuits, they take into consideration the existing expenses, as well as the future quality of life of the injured person. Read this case study about an injured construction worker who was awarded $750,000 to help mitigate his burdensome expenses.
IV. Personal Injury Case Studies
Even with safe operating standards and procedures in place, construction site accidents are commonplace. However, they are not common for the one who has been injured. Whenever a person is injured, their first priority is to get healthy and resume work. The reality is that injuries can take time and medical intervention to heal. They can even result in death. When either extended illness, disability or death occur as a result of a construction site accident, the injured person and their family likely do not know how to manage getting well and dealing with their expenses. Reading about how others have navigated construction site personal injury cases can help you understand the process and expectations.
Here are some example cases and how they were resolved:
- Clothing Mishap Causes Fall: a jewelry store employee trips and falls after her boots become entangled as she walks to greet a customer
- Trench Worker Sustains a Crushed Pelvis: when trench walls collapse on a trench worker, the general contractor is held responsible because they failed to provide a safe working environment
- State Trooper’s Children Get Death Benefit After Father’s Suicide: shooting incident is ruled proximate cause of trooper’s suicide years after original event
- Worker Paralyzed in Car Accident Between Calls Significant settlement won for paralyzed worker after originally denied by employer
Read more personal injury case studies on our website.
Some of the most common types of accidents that we encounter that are best handled through personal injury claims include:
V. Benefits of hiring a personal injury attorney
It’s common to be overwhelmed when you’ve been injured and are contemplating a personal injury lawsuit. There are many options for people to hire, and there are lots of people with experiences they are willing to share. Navigating the legal system can be daunting and confusing.
If you’ve sustained injuries as a result of an accident, and believe that someone other than your employer is (at least partially) responsible for the accident, you may wish to consider a third party claim as a way to secure the full coverage of your expenses. There’s no harm in consulting with an attorney to help you make the decision about whether or not you have a viable lawsuit. The first consultation with any personal injury attorney is always free of charge.
While you are legally allowed to represent your own case, here are some benefits of hiring an experienced, knowledgeable personal injury attorney to help you win your case:
- Experience and expertise in navigating the legal system and the specific type of case that you have
- Communications capabilities in dealing with insurance companies, other attorneys, court officials, and witnesses
- Knowledge about what constitutes fair compensation
- Stress reduction so that you can focus on healing
- Tracking the immense quantity of paperwork
Read more about the benefits of hiring the right personal injury lawyer for your case here.
VI. Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Indiana
If you’ve been injured and are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit against a third party, you should know that there are limitations on how long you can legally wait to make your claim. In Indiana, you have two years to file a lawsuit after an injury. Typically, this time starts at the date of the accident. If you fail to file within the two-year limit, you will likely forgo your right to have a court determine the settlement of your claim.
Statute of limitations for filing claims against government agencies:
- If your claim is against a city or county government in Indiana, you only have 180 days to file a formal claim.
- If your claim is against an Indiana state agency, you have 270 days to file your claim.
If your claim is against the federal government, you have two years to file your claim.
VII. Claimant responsibility in a personal injury lawsuit
As the injured person, you have ultimate responsibility for your personal injury claim. Even if you’ve hired an attorney to help you with your lawsuit, you are the one person who knows the details of the incident and subsequent injuries. You also know the environment and the people involved. Consider yourself the captain of the ship and your attorney your chief navigation officer.
As the captain of the case, you have certain responsibilities. Here are some of the most important jobs for you, the claimant:
- Seek medical care to attend to your injuries
- Document the details of the incident as thoroughly as you can
- Keep all records of your medical treatments
- Don’t admit your fault in the accident until you’ve spoken to an attorney
- Keep all receipts for any travel you had to do to get treatment
- Maintain records of all your insurance claims, police reports, photos etc. to give to your attorney to help them make your case
- Keep track of the pay you receive from your employer, insurance company, or any other agency during your recovery
- Be patient. Even if claims are settled, the process can take time. Focus on your own health and let your attorney focus on moving the case along.
Trust your attorney. As long as you’ve hired an experienced personal injury attorney who especially knows your specific type of case, you should trust that he or she knows what’s fair compensation and how to secure that for you.
Third-party lawsuits are one way of recovering the costs associated with an injury that were the result of someone else’s negligence. Read more about how to navigate these personal injury claims here.
VIII. Steps involved in a personal injury lawsuit
If you decide that you would like to file a personal injury claim against another person with the help of an attorney, here are the steps you will likely take:
- Identify the best attorney for your case. Seek recommendations from people you know and trust. Also review the types of cases that attorneys typically handle and find an attorney who is most experienced (and successful) in winning cases that resemble yours.
- Help your attorney build your case by providing all the required documentation they need.
- Study and consider a settlement. Lawsuits take time. If the insurance company makes you an offer, work closely with your attorney to consider the benefits of accepting the offer and not going to court.
- File the suit. If you get a low-ball offer from the insurance company that you decide not to take, your attorney will then help you file a lawsuit to get more favorable compensation for your claim.
- Discovery: After the lawsuit is filed, both sides of the lawsuit share documents and evidence to better understand all aspects of the case.
- Trial: If your case can’t be settled outside of court, it will go to trial before a judge or jury. This is when your attorney will build and present your case. Having an experienced trial attorney is very important if you are to go to trial for a personal injury lawsuit.
IX. Personal Injury Glossary of Terms
When filing a personal injury claim against another party, you will likely encounter terminology that you are not familiar with. Here are some of the terms used in personal injury law and lawsuits and their definitions:
- Consortium: the right of association and companionship with one’s husband or wife.
- Comparative Fault: a doctrine of law which permits a plaintiff to compare their liability for the accident to other parties, and, therefore, proportionately recover funds from other responsible parties who contributed to the cause of an injury. (read about how forklift manufacturers and maintenance providers can be at fault in construction site accidents)
- Culpability: responsibility for a fault or wrong; blame. (read about the culpability of a third party in this case study about a nurse who slipped on a recently waxed floor)
- Evidence: Something legally submitted to prove the truth of a matter (read about the importance of gathering evidence for your Workers Compensation case in this Ultimate Guide to Workers Compensation in Indiana)
- Low-ball offer: when an insurance company offers a claimant well below a reasonable fair settlement for their claim. (read about how insurance companies may make low-ball offers to claims, which you, then can appeal)
- Mediation: a way to resolve a legal case without having a full court trial or formal hearing
- Negligence: a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. (Third-party lawsuits are one way to hold another party accountable if their negligence contributed to your injury.)
- Pain and suffering: the physical pain and emotional distress a person experiences after an injury
- Personal liability: when an individual is held responsible for an accident that results in the bodily injury or property damage of another person.
- Tort: a wrongful act or an infringement of a right (other than under contract) leading to civil legal liability.