Statutes of limitations are laws that place a time limit on how long a person has to file a particular type of legal claim. In general, if a person fails to file a claim within the time limit specified by the statute of limitations, he or she is barred from filing a claim at all, which means that he or she will be unable to petition the court for any type of legal redress.
If you have been hurt in a car accident, it’s important that you are aware of the statute of limitations – and that you take action to recover compensation before it’s too late. Below is some information about the statute of limitations for car accidents in Indiana. To discuss the specifics of your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer serving Indianapolis, call our office today.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Indiana?
Under Indiana law, the statute of limitations on personal injury claims – which includes claims for physical injuries and damage to property – is two years from the date the action accrues. This means that you have two years from the date of your car accident to file a claim. If you don’t, it’s likely that you will not be able to recover anything for your accident-related losses.
What Happens if You File a Claim After the Statute of Limitations Passes?
If you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has passed, the other party (in an auto accident case, typically an insurance company) will file a motion asking the court to dismiss the case, which will almost certainly be granted. This is true even if the statute of limitations has only passed by a day to two. The law has to draw a line in the sand somewhere, and the reality is that evidence becomes less reliable as time passes.
There are some situations in which you may be able to argue that that statute of limitations did not start to run on the date of your accident or that it should be extended. To determine whether this is an option in your case, you should speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Car Accidents Can Result in Significant Losses
If you have suffered injuries in an accident caused by the negligence of another person, there’s a good chance that you have also incurred significant economic and non-economic losses. These losses may include medical expenses, property damage, lost income, lost quality of life, and physical and emotional pain and suffering. In fact, it’s not unheard of for serious car accidents to entitle victims to hundreds of thousands of dollars of damages, if not more. For this reason, as an accident victim, it’s critical to be aware of the statute of limitations and to take action in a timely manner.
It’s Always Better to Retain an Attorney as Soon as Possible
While two years may seem like plenty of time to file a claim, it’s invariably better to start your claim sooner rather than later. Recovering compensation for a serious car accident is not as simple filing some paperwork with an insurance company and waiting for a check. To ensure you receive maximum compensation, you will need to obtain evidence supporting the losses you are claiming, which can take weeks or even months. Giving your attorney plenty of time to develop your case and obtain evidence will maximize your chances of obtaining the full and fair value of your car accident claim.
In addition, in cases where liability is contested, you may need evidence such as eyewitness testimony or surveillance footage. As we all know, memories fade with time, and waiting to obtain a statement from a witness to your accident could prove detrimental to your case. Furthermore, surveillance footage is regularly wiped, so if you wait to retain a lawyer, there’s a chance that the footage of your accident will be gone by the time your attorney makes a request to obtain it.
Will Retaining a Lawyer Immediately after My Accident Result in Higher Legal Fees?
You may be worried that retaining an attorney early in your case may result in higher legal fees than you would incur if you waited to call a lawyer until later in the process. You may even be considering trying to handle certain aspects of your case on your own to save money. It’s important to understand that waiting to retain an attorney to represent you will not save you money on legal fees and may actually hurt your case.
The reason that retaining an attorney later in the process will not save you money in legal fees is that personal injury lawyers typically do not charge by the hour. Instead, personal injury attorneys typically enter into a contingent fee agreement with their clients, which means any legal fees they recover will be a percentage of any settlement or award they secure on behalf of their client. If the lawyer is unable to recover anything, the client will owe nothing for the attorney’s services.
In addition, representing yourself in the claims process can hurt your case in a number of ways. In fact, it may even lead to a denial of your claim completely. Insurance companies and their employees are savvy and engage in tactics that are designed to trip victims up into saying things that can justify reducing their settlement or denying their claim. In addition, without the representation and counsel of an attorney, you are susceptible to accepting a settlement offer far below the actual value of your case.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Consultation With an Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident in the Indianapolis area, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. The legal team at The Law Office of William W. Hurst has been representing the rights of injured victims for more than 30 years and has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. We will review the facts of your case at no cost to you and will never collect legal fees unless we win your case. To schedule a free case evaluation with a personal injury lawyer in Indianapolis, call our office today at (317) 636-0808 or contact us online.