Indiana Personal Injury Law: An Overview
If you have been injured and your injury was caused or partially caused by the negligent or deliberate actions of another person, business, or organization, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. Under Indiana personal injury law, victims may be entitled to various types of compensation, including economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Several parties can be involved in a personal injury lawsuit: insurance companies, witnesses, opposing parties, and more. If you have been injured because of someone else’s actions, the best thing to do is contact Indiana personal injury attorneys like Indianapolis Injury Lawyers right away to preserve your right to compensation.
Indiana Personal Injury Law: What Is a Personal Injury Claim?
If you have not previously been involved in a personal injury dispute, you may be wondering: what is a personal injury claim? Indiana personal injury law allows victims of deliberate or negligent actions that result in injury to recover damages. These laws embody the policy reasoning that a victim not at fault for their injuries or economic fallout should not have to bear the responsibility for their losses. However, personal injury lawsuits are rarely straightforward. Insurance companies and the party at fault will try to refute your claims and minimize your compensation.
The Indiana personal injury attorneys at Indianapolis Injury Lawyers can assess your case and develop a strategy that gives you the best chance of getting the full damages you need to fully recover.
The Elements of an Indiana Personal Injury Lawsuit
Most personal injury lawsuits do not involve deliberate actions that cause harm, but rather careless—or negligent—actions that cause harm. If someone’s actions are deemed negligent then that person or organization is liable for injuries that result from the negligent behavior. In Indiana, there are four elements for proving negligence.
First, you must prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to them. Duty of care can take many forms. Drivers owe a duty of care to other drivers on the road. Businesses owe customers a duty of care to ensure that their business environment and premises are safe. Doctors are subject to a heightened duty of care that they owe to their patients.
Next, you must prove that the defendant breached the duty of care. Proving a breach involves demonstrating that the defendant did not meet the standard of care that was required in the specific situation.
Third, you must prove causation. Causation means that the injury was caused by the defendant’s actions.
Finally, you must prove that you sustained damages or losses as a result of the defendant’s action or inaction. Damages can be many types of harm, including physical, mental, and economic harm.
The Indiana personal injury lawyers at Indianapolis Injury Lawyers collect evidence and formulate a strategy to prove all elements of your case, including the various aspects of fault. Our attorneys will conduct an investigation, collect evidence, talk to witnesses, negotiate with opposing parties, and present your case in court.
Comparative Fault in Indiana Personal Injury Law
In Indiana personal injury cases, sometimes both parties bear some fault for the accident. Indiana law applies the comparative fault rule set out in Indiana Code article 34-51-2. This rule is used to determine who is responsible for an injury. Each party is essentially assigned a percentage of fault for the incident. If the injured person is determined to be less than 50 percent at fault, he or she has the right to a personal injury claim.
On the other hand, an injured person who is deemed to be more than 50 percent at fault may not be entitled to full damages. The percentage of fault is significant because, if you are awarded damages in your case, your award will be reduced by the percentage you are determined to be at fault.
Types of Indiana Personal Injury Law Cases
There are no hard guidelines on what type of accident is considered a personal injury case in Indiana. Just about any type of accident that can result in injury and that was caused by deliberate actions or negligence may be the basis of a personal injury lawsuit. Some common types of personal injury accidents include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Dog bites
- Drunk driving
- Premises liability
- Pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Slip and falls
- Wrongful death
Indiana personal injury lawyers can evaluate evidence and analyze the facts of your accident and determine whether you have a valid claim to recover damages. The following are some examples of specific types of personal injury cases.
All drivers have a duty to drive safely, which means paying attention to traffic, other drivers, and road conditions and properly maintaining and operating the vehicle. Thousands of auto accidents happen in Indiana each year, and many of them occur due to distracted or drunk driving. Bradley Keffer and Tom Hirschauer are former Fatal Alcohol Crash Team prosecutors and are experienced in crash scene investigations. The experience the Indiana vehicle accident injury lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer bring to each case makes a significant difference in recovering compensation for their clients.
Under Indiana Code § 34-23-1-1, a surviving family member or estate of a person killed in an accident may file a wrongful death claim against a person who has caused a death by a wrongful act or omission. Specifically, personal representative of the deceased can bring a case to recover damages if the act or omission would have entitled the deceased to personal injury damages. The personal representative may recover a variety of damages including medical costs, funeral expenses, and lost earnings.
Under Indiana personal injury law, there are specific requirements for bringing a wrongful death case. For example, parents or children who seek to recover damages must prove that they had a substantial and ongoing relationship with the decedent. In addition, aggregate damages awarded are capped at $300,000. An Indiana personal injury attorney can help family members sort through the requirements and determine what compensation they may be entitled to recover for the loss of a loved one.
Property owners owe a duty to those visiting or crossing their property. They must ensure a safe environment for all guests and customers. Ensuring a safe environment means fixing dangerous hazards and warning visitors about existing hazards on the property. If you have been injured because of a slip and fall or sustained another injury on the property of a business, organization, or person, you may be entitled to recover damages.
Indiana Personal Injury Law Damages
There are a variety of damages that can be awarded under Indiana personal injury law. The most common damages awarded are economic damages, which cover medical and other expenses that the plaintiff has incurred as a result of an accident. Generally, economic damages may cover a range of expenses, including:
- Lost income
- Property damage
- Household services
- Medical expenses
- Loss of future wages
- Rehabilitation costs
- Long-term care
Economic damages are usually fairly straightforward to calculate. However, plaintiffs may also seek non-economic damages, which are more subjective. Non-economic damages include compensation for pain, suffering, loss of companionship, and mental anguish. While judges and juries have a guide to help them calculate non-economic damages, it often comes down to how they personally value these damages and how well the case is presented by the Indiana personal injury attorneys representing the injured party.
The last category of damages is punitive damages. Punitive damages differ from economic and non-economic damages because, while economic and non-economic damages are intended to make the plaintiff whole, punitive damages are awarded as a punishment for the party at fault. Punitive damages are generally reserved for cases that involve deliberate action or gross negligence. Under Indiana personal injury law as outlined in Indiana Code § 34-51-3-4, punitive damages are capped. Plaintiffs may only recover three times the amount of the damage award or $50,000, whichever is greater.
The Indiana Personal Injury Law Statute of Limitations
In Indiana, injured plaintiffs only have a certain amount of time during which they can make their claim to recover damages. Indiana Code § 34-11-2-4 allows plaintiffs two years to file a lawsuit after the injury. Generally, the clock starts on the date the accident occurred. While there are occasional exceptions, generally if you fail to file your claim within two years of the accident date, you forfeit your right to have your case heard in court or to recover damages. It can take time to gather the evidence necessary to file your claim, so it is important to contact Indiana personal injury lawyers as soon as possible after your accident.
The Importance of a Skilled Indiana Personal Injury Law Attorney
While Indiana personal injury laws are intended to protect consumers and make them whole in the case of an accident that was not their fault, proving a case in court is rarely straightforward. Complicated fact patterns, evidence that is hard to track down, and opposing parties who do everything they can to limit damages can make proving your claim challenging.
A skilled attorney understands Indiana personal injury law and knows the tips and tricks that are effective in settlement negotiations and in court. Your attorney will collect evidence to support your claim, handle communication with other parties involved, and develop a strategy aimed at maximizing the damages you recover. Regardless of the facts of your case, your best chance of recovering damages that will make you whole again is to partner with a trusted Indiana personal injury attorney.
Keffer Hirschauer LLP: Your Trusted Indiana Personal Injury Law Attorneys
At Indianapolis Injury Lawyers, we cover all types of personal injury cases, including serious accidents that result in life-changing injuries. We have the training and experience necessary to handle your personal injury claim and give you the best chance to recover the damages you deserve under Indiana personal injury law. For a free consultation with our Indiana personal injury lawyers, call 317-455-4043 or complete our online contact form.