Things to Keep in Mind for an Indiana Personal Injury Lawsuit
The process and results for a personal injury claim vary significantly depending on the type of accident, the facts and circumstances surrounding the underlying incident, and the nature of the parties involved. There are, however, a few general rules to keep in mind for any personal injury claim regardless of whether it stems from a car accident, a slip-and-fall, or another injurious incident. Continue reading for a few general tips, and contact a dedicated Indianapolis personal injury lawyer if you’ve been hurt by negligence in Indiana.
Statute of Limitations
If you have been injured in a car crash or other accident, you must file your lawsuit within a certain amount of time after the accident. The time for filing a lawsuit is known as the “statute of limitations.” For most personal injury claims in Indiana, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident or injury that forms the basis of your claim.
There may be grounds to delay the statute of limitations or start it at a later date: For medical malpractice, your statute of limitations may begin on the date you discovered an injury, rather than the date of the procedure. Likewise, if you contracted an illness at work, your statute of limitations may begin when you discovered or should have discovered your illness. Medical malpractice, product liability, and other types of specialized claims may have specific rules that set additional conditions on the statute of limitations.
If you suffered an accident, such as a slip-and-fall, and had no way of knowing it resulted from someone else’s negligence until a month or two later, you may be able to argue that your statute of limitations should start from the date you discovered the negligence. Your personal injury attorney can help you build your claim and establish the proper statute of limitations.
Indiana has what is known as a “comparative fault” system for personal injury claims. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you can bring a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. In Indiana, you can bring your claim even if you were partially responsible for the incident that caused your injury. Your damages award will, however, be offset by your percentage of fault. Additionally, you can only bring your claim if you were less than 50 percent at fault for the accident, as determined by a judge or jury.
For example, say a drunk driver blows a stop sign and hits your car. You are harmed for a total of $10,000 in medical bills, property damage, etc. At the time the drunk driver hit you, however, you were sending a text message. At trial, a jury determines that the drunk driver was 70 percent at fault for the accident, but because you were texting, you were 30 percent at fault. You can still recover, but your $10,000 award will be reduced by 30 percent to $7,000. If the jury decides that you were actually 51 percent at fault (it was a long text message), then you cannot recover any damages.
Punitive damages are meant to punish the perpetrator rather than compensate the victim in order to deter wrongful conduct. Punitive damages are generally reserved for situations where the at-fault party’s conduct was particularly egregious. For example, if you were seriously injured by a drunk driver, you may be able to get additional damages beyond those necessary to compensate you.
In Indiana, punitive damages are generally capped at the greater of either $50,000 or three times the amount of your compensatory damages claim. Additionally, the plaintiff-victim only keeps 25 percent of the punitive damages award; the remaining 75 percent goes to the Violent Crime Victim Compensation Fund, which helps victims of violent crimes with medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages and expenses.
Legal Help for Indianapolis Personal Injury Victims
If you or someone you love has been hurt as a result of someone else’s negligence in Indiana, contact the dedicated and effective Indianapolis personal injury lawyers at Lee Cossell & Feagley, LLP for a free consultation on your case at 316-631-5151.