Questions about your accident claim? Do you understand your insurance policy?

Our injury attorneys answer the most frequently asked questions about accident cases and automobile insurance policies here!

Injury and Accident Questions

Too often we associate personal injury claims with motor vehicle accidents. But claims for damages may also be brought against another person or entity for medical malpractice involving the carelessness or negligence of a doctor and/or medical provider, nursing home negligence, product liability, slip and fall injuries, workplace injuries, aviation and railroad death or injuries, premises liability, wrongful death and dog bite claims, to name a few.

A minor accident involving nothing more than property damage to your vehicle or possessions may often be handled without the assistance of a lawyer. That being said, incidents involving bodily injury are best handled by an attorney who knows and understands the law, legislation, your legal and financial obligations and rights. An experienced personal injury lawyer will do his or her best to protect your financial interests from defendant drivers and third parties to the case who deny full or partial responsibility for your injuries. Complications may arise, particularly during the discovery phase, that require legal representation to negotiate the perils and pitfalls in settlement negotiations and litigation. The attorneys at Ward & Ward Law Firm will not only protect the obvious and known, but will also protect the unknown.

This is a question for you to ask of the lawyer you want to represent you. Most injury lawyers receive remuneration for their representation on a contingency fee basis, i.e., they receive a percentage of your settlement or jury award. On the other hand, your lawyer may take nothing unless you have been compensated for your injuries.

1. Call 911

2. Assess your injuries and your need for medical attention
Soft-tissue injuries may not become apparent for several hours or even overnight as an adrenaline burst, the body’s natural reaction to trauma, can mask symptoms resulting from the injury. Damage to the delicate tissues of the spinal cord (neck and back) may not be perceived for hours, days or even weeks as the fluid from a torn or ruptured, inter-vertebral disk slowly leaks from the tear. As this spinal fluid drains, the disk may gradually collapse and create a bulge. A herniated, bulging disk in the lower back, for example, may create pressure upon a nerve root running through the spinal canal that can affect the leg, foot and toes. Generally speaking, our attorneys recommend that you visit a hospital immediately following a collision. If the hospital doctor recommends you follow-up with your primary care physician, do so as soon as possible.

3. Obtain information from other drivers involved in the accident
i.e. name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, license plate, car description, etc. and talk to witnesses. If you are unable to do this, the investigating officer will file the pertinent information with the accident report.

5. Take photographs and keep a diary of your recovery.
6. Talk to a lawyer immediately after an accident.
When an accident has occurred, Indiana law requires a Certificate of Compliance (COC) verifying financial responsibility be filed with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Your insurance company will file this form on your behalf when they have been notified of the accident. Therefore, you must notify your insurance company that you were involved in an accident but DO NOT DISCUSS FAULT WITH YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY. Refer your insurance company to your lawyer.<br/>

7. Immediately suspend all posting on social media including, but not limited to Facebook and Twitter.
Social media activity has been deemed discoverable by the Courts. Posts taken out of context can reflect negatively upon your case. Under no circumstances should you attempt to remove any posts published after the accident.

Your insurance company will want to take your oral, recorded statement after they have been notified of the accident. Refer your insurance company to your attorney before you give the oral or written statement. Your attorney will discuss this with you. Remember,

Your immediate concern should be your medical condition. Concentrate your attention and energy on improving the condition of your health. The attorneys at Ward & Ward Law Firm will work with and negotiate with your insurance company and your medical providers at the appropriate time. This is one of the obvious benefits to hiring an attorney immediately following an accident. Generally speaking, our lawyers’ recommend you not make any payments from your medical payment insurance policy until you have discussed your bills with them. Our staff will ask that you forward all medical bills and prescription receipts to our office. At that time, we will review and advise how payment distribution should be made from your med-pay insurance.

It’s impossible to estimate how long it may take for your claim to resolve because every case is different with a unique set of facts. The stance taken by the defendant and his or her insurance company, the willingness of your insurance company to settle if you must file an uninsured or underinsured claim and the number of claimants with injuries all play a role in the settlement or trial of your case.

Generally speaking, Indiana has a two-year statute of limitations. However, in certain instances you may only have 180 days from the date the accident occurred to notify the proper authorities of pending litigation. This reduced statute of limitations is a good reason why you should contact and hire an attorney as soon as possible. It takes time to thoroughly investigate and determine who and what, if any, entities are at fault in your claim.

There are many reasons why an attorney may refuse your claim. Here are just a few of the reasons cited by attorneys most frequently:

1. The Statute of Limitations is about to run
and the attorney doesn’t have enough time to adequately mount an investigation and prepare for settlement or litigation.

2. Question of liability
The person or persons allegedly responsible for the accident may not be clear.

3.Medical records may not show clear and concise negligence in Malpractice claims
A proposed medical malpractice claim in the State of Indiana requires a medical review panel of 3 doctors to determine if a claim has merit. When subpoenaed medical records don’t clearly show negligence by the medical provider , the same members of the physician panel may be used to testify on behalf of the defendant, rather than the plaintiff. Learn more about Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act

Depending upon the circumstances and facts of the case, a personal injury claim may include compensation from one or several types of damages. These include:

1. Economic Damages
Economic damages are quantitatively and objectively verifiable and may include but are not limited to property damage, medical and medical equipment expenses, present and future costs associated with living life with disability, present and future treatments and/or surgeries, loss of wages and future earning capacity. In matters of catastrophic injury, incapacity and disability, an expert economist may be employed to calculate reasonable compensation using current and professionally recognized tables of inflation. Funeral and burial expenses are considered economic damages in matters of wrongful death.

2. Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are difficult to measure monetarily. They may include but are not limited to pain and suffering, a loss of love and companionship, loss of reputation, disfigurement, sterility, and the loss of affection of a beloved child.

3. Punitive Damages
Punitive damage awards are a tool used by the legal system to prevent outrageous or egregious conduct. Evidence must demonstrate that the offender’s behavior was intentionally willful, wanton or reckless. Punitive damages are capped in Indiana and may not exceed three times the total of compensatory or economic damages awarded to the plaintiff or $50,000, whichever is greater.

Yes. However, Indiana’s Comparative Fault Act provides that a claimant is forever barred from recovery if claimant’s fault exceeds 50% of total fault. Example: if you were hit by an oncoming driver exceeding the speed limit while you were making a left-hand turn, the defendant driver’s insurance company may make the case that you were partially responsible for the accident because it was your error in judgment that underestimated the speed defendant driver was traveling. If a settlement could not be reached between the parties, it would be up to the judge or jury to assign percentage of fault to the parties. Read more about The Indiana Comparative Fault Act here

If the police report confirms you were injured because of the negligence of a hit-and-run driver, you may make a claim for property damage and bodily injuries through the “uninsured” coverage of your automobile insurance policy. Our law firm recommends purchasing as much insurance as you can afford to financially protect you and your family from a hit-and-run driver. In the case of hit-and-run, the lawyers at Ward & Ward Law Firm recommend you obtain the following information:

1. Description and license plate information of vehicle. (A full description may not be necessary to make a claim but is helpful to the police.)
2. Photographs from the scene of the accident.
3. Photographs of paint on your damaged vehicle from the other driver’s car.
4. Names and phone numbers of eye witnesses.

There are 5 necessary components of litigation claiming negligence on the part of the defendant, be it the truck driver, the maintenance facility servicing the vehicle, the company which owns the commercial vehicle, all of the above or another party that is fully or partially liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. The attorney representing the plaintiff or injured party must prove or be able to prove all of the following components before a case can move forward:

1. That the defendant owed a “duty of care” to the plaintiff.<br/>
2. That the defendant breached this “duty of care” owed the plaintiff.<br/>
3. That were it not for the negligent actions of the defendant, the plaintiff would not have suffered harm.
4. That the defendant could have foreseen—through his/her actions—the possible harms suffered by the plaintiff.
5. That the plaintiff has suffered physical harm and/or property damage.

If all of the elements of the claim of negligence against the defendant(s) are met, then the plaintiff’s attorney may move forward with plaintiff’s legal case.

Questions about auto insurance

No. In the state of Indiana, the owner of a motorcycle is required to have a separate insurance policy covering the cycle. A motorcycle policy will offer coverages similar to automobile policies including property damage and bodily injury liability, medical payment and uninsured/underinsured coverages. Depending upon the policy you purchase, you may receive discounts for wearing a helmet and other safety apparel.

Our attorneys recommend purchasing the maximum amount of insurance you can afford since cyclists are inherently more vulnerable to severe and catastrophic injuries due to the lack of protection surrounding the rider(s). And if you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you and your family will be better protected financially.

The Med-Pay portion of your insurance policy, is for paying medical bills should you be hurt in an accident and require medical attention. Many people don’t think to ask how much med pay they should purchase; it is one of the most overlook pieces of the insurance puzzle.

Insurance agents may suggest an amount of med pay coverage to generate your quote. But you can purchase as much or as little med pay insurance as you wish. It is cheap and can be a source of comfort should you ever need to use it.

No one can predict the future. But medical care is costly and med pay coverage, should you ever need it, can be a source of comfort when your greatest attention should be on healing your body and spirit. Our attorneys suggest you purchase $25,000 in coverage.

Med pay is surprisingly inexpensive so ask your agent to quote several amounts just for comparison purposes, i.e. $5,000, $10,000 and $25,000. You’ll be amazed at how the price per unit decreases as you increase the amount of this very important coverage.

The driver responsible for your injuries should pay your medical bills. But your claim against the other driver may take time to enter the settlement negotiations phase, mediation or trial. And medical providers request payment for your medical treatment soon after administering treatment. Your attorney will advise you and work with creditors when possible. Meanwhile, your med pay insurance may ease some of the stress while you are on-the-mend.

There is legislation for everything. An experienced personal injury attorney knows the law and will work with you, your insurance company and your medical providers to distribute your funds in a way that benefits everyone. Our lawyers strongly recommend you provide him or her with all bills and insurance explanation of benefits as you receive them. You should work with your attorney to make these important decisions.

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