Personal injury cases cover a wide spectrum. While many result from vehicular accidents, they can also be filed in response to a dog attack, slip and fall, or another incident. The circumstances surrounding each case will be different and no two accidents are alike. That being said, there are some factors that affect most personal injury claims in Indiana. No matter how you’ve been injured, it will be helpful to have this information. Your Indianapolis car accident attorney will explain more about how each of these elements affects your case.
The Statute of Limitations Governing Personal Injury Cases
If you suffered injuries in an accident, you have a limited time within which to file a lawsuit. This time limit is called the statute of limitations. For most personal injury cases in Indiana, you have two years from the date of the accident that caused your injuries. However, there are certain circumstances in which you may have either a longer period or a shorter period.
For example, if your injury resulted from medical malpractice, the clock may begin running on the date you discovered your injury and not the date you saw the medical professional. You may also have more time if you suffered an injury, but you didn’t know until sometime later that it was due to someone’s negligence.
However, if your claim is being filed against a government entity, you may have a much shorter period within which to act. It’s important that you contact an Indianapolis personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after you get injured. They will review your case, identify the correct defendant, and advise you on the timelines that apply to your situation. If you wait too long to file your lawsuit, the court won’t hear the matter.
The Principle of Comparative Fault
If you’re filing a personal injury claim, it’s because you were injured because of someone else’s negligence or recklessness. Different states take different approaches to negligence cases. In Indiana, you can file a claim even if you were partly responsible for the incident that caused your injuries.
However, you must be less than 50 percent at-fault and your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault. This is because this state follows a comparative fault system. If you suffered $20,000 in damages but the court determines that you were 25 percent at fault, your damages would be reduced by 25 percent. This means you would only get $15,000.
As you can imagine, the party you’re suing will try to shift most of the blame onto you, so they don’t have to compensate you. If you were injured in a car accident, the other driver may accuse you of speeding. If you slipped and fell, the property owner may say you ignored a sign that warned visitors of dangerous conditions. If you were bitten by a dog, the owner may accuse you of provoking their pet. Your attorney will have to gather evidence to prove that you were not the person most at fault for the incident.
The Availability of Punitive Damages
You may have heard of personal injury matters in which the court ordered the at-fault party to pay a large sum in punitive damages. Unlike economic and non-economic damages, these are not intended to compensate the victim for the losses they suffered. Rather, they are meant to punish the perpetrator and deter them and others from acting similarly in the future.
Punitive damages are not guaranteed. In fact, they are reserved for situations in which the perpetrator was grossly negligent or they acted deliberately. In Indiana, punitive damages can’t surpass three times the amount of your compensatory damages or $50,000, whichever is more. As your attorney will explain, you won’t get to keep the full sum. You retain 25 percent while the remainder goes to the Violent Crime Victim Compensation Fund.
The Need for An Attorney
If you only suffered a few cuts and bruises, you probably won’t need a lawyer to help you with a personal injury claim. It should be sufficient to file an insurance claim and handle it on your own. However, if your injuries were serious and the incident that caused them was complex, you’ll need an attorney to help you get fair compensation. Insurance companies do everything possible to limit the amount they have to pay out, so you’ll need someone to negotiate on your behalf.
Contact the Attorneys at Stewart|Phelps|Wood for Assistance
If you were injured because of someone else’s negligence, contact our Indianapolis car accident lawyers for advice. We offer a free consultation and we don’t charge any fees unless we secure compensation on your behalf. Call us today!