Merrillville Car Accident Attorneys Serving Northwest Indiana
Car accidents are, unfortunately, a normal part of life. About 6 million auto accidents occur across the U.S. each year, and about 2.5 million people are injured in these collisions. Well over 30,000 lose their lives. Our car accident lawyers in Merrillville, Indiana, are here to help after a serious accident. We offer a free initial consultation and welcome you to give us a call at 219-733-8633 to find out more about your particular accident and rights.
How Long Do I Have To File A Claim?
Every state places its own time limit on how long an injury victim has to file a claim to pursue compensation for their injuries, this rule is called the statute of limitations. In Indiana, the statute of limitations is two years. If a claimant tries to file outside of this time limit their case will most likely not be heard and they may lose their right to compensation.
Were you injured in a car accident in northwest Indiana? Let our lawyers represent you and fight for your full compensation! Call 219-733-8633 today or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation.
Indiana Is A Fault State
Indiana is a “fault” state when it comes to car accidents which means that after an accident occurs the party who was “at-fault” is the one who pays damages. Additionally, more than one party can be found at fault for an accident, this is referred to as a modified comparative negligence rule. As long as you are less than 50% at fault for an accident you are still eligible to pursue compensation. Any compensation recovered, however, will be reduced by your determined percentage of fault.
What To Do After A Car Accident
It is important to understand what to do after a car accident to ensure you are in compliance with the law, protect your health, and preserve your right to compensation. We can offer the following insight regarding the steps to take immediately after a crash:
- Remain at the scene. It is against the law to leave the scene of a car accident that has caused injury or property damage. Remain at the scene and exchange information with the other party or parties involved. (The only exception could be if you are in need of emergency medical care and are taken from the scene in an ambulance).
- Seek medical attention. Even if you feel you are not seriously injured, it is important to see your doctor. Tell your doctor that you were in a car accident so he or she knows what type of injuries to look for. In some cases, head injuries or whiplash may not present immediately after a collision. Medical intervention could prevent further injury and will also support your claim.
Keep track of your medical treatment. Note any doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, or other medical professionals that you receive treatment from, and each medical provider that referred you to other caregivers. Keep a detailed account of the treatments or medications you receive. Medical expenses are relatively easy to document, but pain and suffering is trickier to prove. Keep a record of how your injuries have impacted your daily life. Include any missed workdays, list any routine activities you can’t undertake, and describe how the injuries have affected your family life.
- Gather as much evidence and information at the scene as possible. Take pictures, even from your cell phone, of the scene, the damage to your car, the damage to the other person’s car, the area around the accident, your injuries, and any other relevant details. Get the information of any witnesses who saw what occurred. Take notes so you do not forget important details.
- Don’t apologize for anything at the scene. Immediately after an accident, it might not be clear who was at fault or more at fault. Moreover, in many states, fault isn’t determinative of which insurer will pay for any loss. Therefore, try not to admit guilt unintentionally or unnecessarily.
- Inform your insurance company. Promptly tell your insurance company you’ve been in an accident. Cooperate with them and tell them the truth about what happened and the extent of your injuries. Explain the facts clearly. If the insurance company finds out that you’ve lied to them about anything, you can get into serious trouble, including possible denial of coverage for the accident. Obtain and review any police report filed, so you can point out who broke what traffic laws or who was at fault.
- Use caution in discussing the incident. Don’t talk to anyone about the accident other than your lawyer, your insurance company, and the police. Don’t talk to a representative of another insurance company, without the knowledge of your attorney or insurer. If called by the other insurance company, be polite, but ask them to call your attorney or insurer to arrange an interview. Also, tell your lawyer or insurer about the call.
- Get a property damage valuation. Obtain your insurance company’s damage valuation. If you aren’t satisfied with how your insurance company has valued your vehicle, don’t give up. Get two independent repair estimates or replacement quotes. Assertively inform the adjuster of your concerns. If you can’t agree on your car’s value, consider mediation or consult an attorney.
- Contact an attorney. If you were seriously injured, you need to be sure that your auto insurance claim is paid fully and in a timely manner. Unrepresented, you could become the victim of unethical or outright illegal practices by insurance providers to undervalue or deny your claim. Involve a car accident attorney in Merrillville and make sure your rights are protected.
How To Prove Negligence After A Car Accident
While most car accidents are the result of negligence, proving negligence is not always as straightforward as it may seem. Is one person to blame, or more than one person? How do you show the other party (or parties) acted negligently? What makes someone negligent? To establish negligence, lawyers look at factors such as:
- Duty – That the driver owed a duty of care to behave in a safe and responsible manner
- Breach – That the driver breached this duty by behaving in a manner that put others in danger (speeding, drinking, etc.)
- Injury – Plaintiffs should seek medical attention as soon as possible after their accident so they have proof from a doctor that their injury was indeed caused by the accident.
- Cause – Cause in fact and proximate cause
All four of these elements must be present in order for an attorney to argue a party was acting negligently when they caused another person harm. The absence of even one element may make it impossible to file a personal injury lawsuit, even if you were harmed by a negligent party.
What If More Than One Party Was Negligent?
Indiana’s modified comparative fault system allows plaintiffs to seek compensation even if they were partially at fault for an accident as long as they are not more than 50 percent at fault. This makes being able to establish negligence even more important to a case, since plaintiffs are barred from recovery if they exceed this threshold.
When Should You Contact An Attorney After A Car Accident?
While it’s true that a minor fender bender may not always merit a lawyer, sometimes accident victims have a hard time realizing when hiring a lawyer may be the best option for their case. Insurance companies tend to shy away from paying more than the absolute minimum, and will often offer low-ball settlements in the hopes that the victim will accept without asking any questions. If you have experienced any of the following as a result of your accident, you should seriously consider hiring a lawyer to represent your best interests:
- You suffered serious injuries and have required medical treatment
- You believe your injuries will have long-term effects including disability or missed work
- You feel that the insurance company is not offering enough money to cover your expenses
- The insurance company is attempting to place some or all of the blame for the accident on you
Don’t take a chance on securing a fair settlement! A professional car accident lawyer can help ensure you get the compensation you deserve.