It happens abruptly, with no warning at all. You’re in a traffic collision and you are seriously injured. If this happens to you, you must seek medical attention at once, and then, you’ll need legal advice and guidance from an experienced personal injury attorney in Evansville.
Exactly how is fault determined after a traffic accident in this state? What are your rights if you’re injured in a crash because the other driver was negligent? Can you be compensated for your accident-related medical expenses – even if you require hospitalization and surgery?
If you keep reading, you’ll learn how fault is determined in traffic accidents, and you will also learn exactly what your rights are – and the best way to exercise those rights – as an injured victim of negligence in the state of Indiana.
HOW IS FAULT DETERMINED?
Indiana’s negligence and personal injury laws are complicated, but the laws are derived from fundamental common sense. The law makes the driver who causes a traffic collision pay for the damages and injuries. “Which driver was at fault?” is the first question that must be addressed.
No final determination of fault can be made until the evidence from a traffic accident can be gathered and carefully considered. Nevertheless, lawyers and auto insurance companies are guided by several basic presumptions as they investigate claims arising from traffic collisions.
If a driver “rear-ends” your vehicle, that driver is presumed to be at-fault. It doesn’t matter if you stopped suddenly in traffic for no apparent reason. It is presumed that a motorist should be able to brake a vehicle and bring it safely to a halt in any traffic situation.
WHAT IS MODIFIED COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE?
However, in Indiana, even in a rear-end collision, drivers can share the fault for an accident under the state’s modified comparative negligence system. It sounds complicated, but it’s not. To pursue a personal injury claim after a collision, you must be less than 51 percent at-fault.
In other words, your own negligence may reduce the amount of compensation you receive. If another driver rear-ends your vehicle because your brake lights didn’t work, for example, your final compensation payment will be reduced by your percentage of fault for the accident.
A second presumption made by lawyers and auto insurance companies is that motorists turning left at an intersection are usually at-fault for accidents with drivers who are coming straight through.
Naturally, there will be exceptions. If the motorist driving through an intersection was speeding or moving illegally through a stop sign or a red light, both drivers may be deemed partially at-fault, and modified comparative negligence applies.
IF YOU FILE A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM, WHAT’S REQUIRED?
When an injury victim files a personal injury claim after a traffic accident, that victim – called the “plaintiff” – will have to show that the motorist being accused – “the defendant” – was driving negligently when the accident happened.
Plaintiffs must additionally prove that the defendant’s negligence directly caused the plaintiff’s personal injury or injuries. Finally, a plaintiff must produce documentation detailing the extent of the injuries, costs, and all related losses and damages.
WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES AFTER A TRAFFIC COLLISION?
If you take legal action to seek compensation after a traffic accident injury, how can you acquire the documents and other evidence that you’ll need to prove and prevail with your claim? When you’re injured in a crash, you should presume that legal action will follow.
Obtain medical treatment immediately, even if you don’t feel injured. That is the immediate and paramount priority after an accident. You’ll need medical documentation if you subsequently file an injury claim, and you must be sure that you didn’t sustain a latent or difficult-to-detect injury.
If a medical condition later develops, and you did not have a medical exam, you may not be able to link your injury to a specific accident, and a defendant’s lawyer or auto insurance company may claim that the injury happened elsewhere – or that you can’t be seriously hurt.
WHAT EVIDENCE WILL YOU NEED TO GATHER AT THE ACCIDENT SCENE?
You’ll also need to speak with an experienced Indiana personal injury lawyer as soon as you’ve been treated by a medical professional. Of course, your lawyer will not be at the scene of an accident to offer advice, so along with seeking medical attention, here is what you’ll need to do:
- Take plenty of photos. If you are injured and incapacitated, ask someone to help. Get pictures of license plates, vehicle damage, the general crash scene, and your own visible injuries. Persuasive photos often mean the quick resolution of a personal injury claim.
- Try to identify eyewitnesses. Their statements can also be persuasive. If you can, approach any witnesses and get the information – names, telephone numbers, and anything else – that may help your attorney locate those witnesses and obtain statements.
- Summon the local police and ask the responding officers how and when you can obtain a printout of their written accident report. Any hint that the driver who injured you may have been negligent strengthens your claim if you take legal action to seek compensation.
HOW WILL AN INJURY ATTORNEY HELP YOU?
An experienced personal injury attorney in Evansville will examine every detail of a vehicle collision to determine who was at-fault. After identifying which party is liable, your attorney will fight aggressively on your behalf for the maximum available compensation.
In some collisions, no driver is in fact at-fault. Millions of cars, small trucks, and SUVs are recalled every year. If a vehicle defect or defective part is the reason why you’re injured, your lawyer may suggest bringing a product liability action against the auto or auto part manufacturer.
HOW SHOULD YOU HANDLE THE AUTO INSURANCE COMPANY?
If you are injured in a traffic accident in the state of Indiana, until you are able to consult an Indiana accident attorney:
- Make no formal statement. Do not admit to any liability or fault.
- Do not sign any insurance documents or accept any quick settlement offer.
- Don’t even speak to an auto insurance company. Refer all questions to your attorney.
If a negligent driver injures you in or near the Evansville area, make the call at once and ask an experienced personal injury lawyer to fight for the justice you need and for the compensation you deserve. That is your right. If you are injured by negligence, the law will be on your side.