After sustaining serious injuries or losing a loved one from an accident, you may be unsure of your next course of action. However, if someone’s negligence caused the accident, you should file a claim for compensation and that’s where an Indiana personal injury lawyer can help.
How can an attorney help in filing your claim? And how long should you file your claim before the expiry of the statute of limitations?
Discover reasons you need a personal injury lawyer in Indiana. Plus, you’ll understand how the statute of limitations can affect your rights to compensation.
Understanding the Statute of Limitations in Indiana
When filing a claim for compensation following an accident, different states apply time limits (Statute of Limitations) to file a lawsuit in court. In addition, timeframes may change depending on the type of personal injury lawsuit you wish to file.
In Indiana, the statutes of limitations are enshrined in Indiana Code, Section 34-11-2-4, which sets a two-year timeline for filing your case. As a result, you should file your case within two years of the accident or lose your right to compensation.
When Does the Countdown Begin?
Usually, the countdown begins from the accident occurrence date or the day you noticed your injuries. It is therefore essential to seek immediate medical attention after the accident and hire an attorney to evaluate your case for the relevant evidence.
What if You Miss the Deadline?
Filing a personal injury lawsuit after the statute of limitations may hinder your chances of winning the case. Moreover, if the party at fault or their insurer is aware of the expiry, they may file a motion in court to dismiss your lawsuit. Unless you’re entitled to a rare exception, the court may grant the dismissal since you lose your negotiating leverage after the statute of limitations.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
Although Indiana upholds a strict time frame to file your injury lawsuit, some exceptions may delay the statute of limitations or pause the countdown, essentially extending your time limits.
Below are the major exceptions that may change the statute of limitations:
The Victim Is a Minor
Under Section 34-11-6-1 of the Indiana Code, an accident victim may not lose their right to compensation if the victim is less than 18 years old at the time of the accident. Similarly, a mentally incapacitated victim may be entitled to extra two years to file the lawsuit if the mental competence is restored.
The Party at Fault Leaves the State
Sometimes, the person responsible for the accident may leave and cease being a resident of Indiana. As a result, the countdown will not begin if the at-fault party left the state before the victim filed the lawsuit.
The Party at Fault Conceals Liability
The party at fault may deliberately conceal liability for the accident, thus affecting the countdown of the statutes of limitations. According to Indiana Code Section 34-11-5-1, the countdown will only resume if the concealment ends and the liability is discovered.
Recoverable Damages in a Personal Injury Claim
Once you file a lawsuit for injuries caused by someone’s negligence, you should expect compensation for damages. Although case circumstances may differ, recoverable damages in a personal injury lawsuit are fairly consistent across different injury claims.
Damages may include;
Economic Damages: Monetary compensation to recover lost income and current and future medical expenses.
Non-Economic Damages: Compensation for non-financial losses such as pain, suffering, stress, and emotional turmoil. The state of Indiana limits how much non-economic damages you can recover in your lawsuit.
Punitive Damages: They aim to punish the party at fault instead of rewarding the accident victim. Usually, punitive damages apply where the accused party’s conduct was willful, reckless, or grossly negligent.
Why You Need a Personal Injury Attorney
The insurance and state laws surrounding personal injury claims can be complex, especially if you have no legal training. Therefore, it is advisable to hire an Indiana personal injury lawyer to help you negotiate compensation. Moreover, a lawyer will answer your concerns about the case and advise you on the best action.
Below are other reasons you need a personal injury attorney:
Determine the Party at Fault
Before seeking compensation, you should determine who was at fault for the accident and your injuries. You may lose the case if you don’t know who to sue for your injuries. Unfortunately, proving liability for the accident can be tricky since you must prove the negligent party breached their duty of care and that the breach caused your injuries.
A personal injury attorney comes in handy to help you identify and pursue all the responsible parties in your case.
Gather the Relevant Evidence
After your accident, you not only need to seek treatment but also build a case against the party at fault. You also need to gather evidence to support your claims in court. Hiring an Indiana personal injury lawyer implies your case will be in safe, legal hands.
An experienced attorney will examine your claims and gather the necessary evidence, including visiting the accident scene, recreating the scene, and obtaining eyewitness accounts.
Negotiate a Fair Compensation
Insurance companies know that most accident victims don’t know how to negotiate fair compensation and will likely settle for a lower claim. For this reason, the responsible party’s insurer will likely contact you after the accident for a settlement offer. Although the offer may be less than you deserve, accepting it means forfeiting your rights to negotiate further.
Having a lawyer by your side can cushion you against dishonest insurers. Based on the state laws and insurance regulations, the lawyer will evaluate your case and assess its value. Eventually, you’ll receive a fair compensation for your injuries.
Obtain Legal Representation in Court
If you don’t receive a fair settlement of your claim, you may wish to proceed to court. Usually, the process involves filing your complaint, gathering evidence, and proceeding to trial. At the litigation stage, you’ll need legal representation from an attorney.
A personal injury attorney can help you file all the required paperwork for your claim. As a result, you’ll avoid unnecessary filing delays that may complicate your claim’s outcome.