The answer to a very this very common question is far more complex than many people realize and involves different elements that affect the value of a case.
- Indiana follows a modified comparative negligence – 51% fault system. While personal injury laws can be confusing, knowing these 5 facts will put you ahead of the curve when it comes to seeking compensation for your injury:
- You can still receive compensation even if the accident was partially your fault.
- You are only eligible for damages if you are less than 51% responsible for the accident.
- Your damages will be awarded based on the percentage you are at fault. If it’s determined the accident is 50% your fault, you’ll receive 50% of the value of your personal injury claim.
- If multiple parties are responsible for your accident, they will be held liable for damages proportionate to their fault.
- If you are determined to be 51% or more at fault, you may be held liable for the legal expenses of the defendants. For this reason, it’s important to speak with an Indiana personal injury attorney who deals with Indianapolis traffic accidents on a routine basis.
- Once we assess the liability angle, we move to what damages are available. These can be quickly summarized as the following:
- Medical Expenses–the injured person is entitled to the entire amount of their bills that are reasonably and causally related to the incident and are determined to be reasonable and customary. A $10,000 MRI probably will not be considered fair and reasonable, much as a hospital visit for the first time a year after an auto crash would likely not be deemed related.
- Future Medical Expenses–if there is medical testimony that the person will require future care and treatment, this may be an element of compensable damages sought.
- Pain & Suffering–just what it sounds like; the pain and discomfort of the injuries sustained. These often are looked at with the thought of “how long” and “how bad.” A person who could not use his hand to pick up objects for 3 months will likely garner more damages for their pain suffer than one who merely claims “it hurt a bit” to use that hand for a day or so.
- Loss of a Normal Life – this element mostly deals with things you “cannot do at all anymore” or “could do but had pain doing” following the incident. Most of the time, it is important to compare and contrast the injured person’s activities prior to the injury with those afterwards. For an active person who ran marathons and worked a job requiring standing for 8 hours a day and heavy lifting who injured her back in a car crash, this would include the inability to exercise, stand up while cooking dinner. One of the most important elements of this section of damages is activities of daily living, because many people are shocked at how difficult it is to perform basic daily activities like shaving, getting dressed, sitting at a desk, or driving, following an injury.
- Lost Wages and Income – If a person misses work following an injury, it can be compensable. This is especially true if there are doctor’s orders prescribing that they do not work. Even if the person is paid sick time or vacation time while off, the value of these paid days is still recoverable.
- The most important factor in determining what a case is worth is the insurance coverage. There are, unfortunately, many cases involving terrible injuries where the person who caused the incident had minimal insurance and no personal assets. In these cases, the injured person might have what is known as an Underinsured Motorist (UIM) claim for the difference between the tortfeasor’s (person who caused the incident) insurance limits and their own. Indiana is a mandatory insurance state. While this sounds good on paper, it means that there may be people insured with liability limits as low as $25,000 per person per incident. A fractured leg with surgery alone can generate bills alone far in excess of that amount!
The Indiana car crash attorneys at Glaser & Ebbs are skilled at representing clients and their family members injured in automobile accidents. It often takes legal action to receive fair compensation in these cases. If the responsible party is not found, we will help you look for other coverage. Contact Glaser & Ebbs to learn more about your legal rights and options.