Indianapolis Car Accident Attorney

What Should You Do After Being in a Car Crash

Being involved in a car accident can be terrifying. If you’ve never gone through this before you’re probably trying to figure out what to do. Well, lucky for you the Indianapolis personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of William W. Hurst, LLC have prepared a nice checklist for you. Before, however, we would like to say; we hope you’re not injured, but if you are you’ll need the best representing you and that’s us.


Get To Safety:

Your first priority when involved in an auto accident should be to get to safety. If you are able to move your vehicle out of the road and get everyone out of harms way you should do so immediately.

Call for Help:What To Do After Being Involved In A Car Crash

Once everyone is safe, call the police or 9-1-1. The police will be able to control the accident site and make an official report. This will save you from getting into an argument later about what occurred and who caused the accident.

Stay On The Scene Until The Police Tell You to Leave:

Unless told otherwise by the police, stay there. Put on your hazard lights on and get to a safe area. Leaving the scene could result in you being cited for a hit and run or fleeing the scene of an accident. You must wait for the police to arrive and let the process play out.

Write Down The Contact Information Of Everyone Involved In the Collision And Those Who Witnessed It:

Write down the contact information of those involved and if possible obtain the names of witnesses. Witnesses can be crucial to making your claim. If the defendant tries to make up a story later, a neutral witness will be necessary to combat the fabricated testimony.

Take Pictures of The Vehicle Damage And Surrounding Area:What To Do After Being Involved In A Car Crash

Use a camera or take photos of the damage to your vehicle and the surrounding area on your cell phone. Pictures are often important if you end up making a claim. If there is extensive damage to the vehicles involved it’s very difficult for insurance companies to debate whether the crash could have caused the injuries you’re complaining of.

Remove All Valuables And Personal Items From Your Vehicle:

If your vehicle is being “towed” this may be your only opportunity to do so. You should find out exactly where it will be taken so you can pick it up later.

Get Treatment for Your Injuries:

If you are seriously injured then this is obvious, but at the time of the accident many people believe it unnecessary to seek medical attention because their discomfort is minor. Even if you don’t believe you need treatment it is wise to see a doctor. Many injuries and aches and pains can worsen over time and you’ll want to have medical documentation of the original symptoms in order to link the accident to the injuries.

Call Your Insurance Company To Report The Collision:

Report that you have been in an accident as soon as possible. Answer all necessary questions, but do not volunteer any more information than necessary. If they are recording your statement, be concise and directly respond to the question without volunteering any extra information. Providing more information than necessary could hurt your claim.

Get A Motor Vehicle Repair Estimate:

Go to a reputable body shop or dealer and have them give you a quote for how much repairs will cost. Repair estimates, much like pictures of the damage, can be used to show the collision was severe enough to cause the injuries you are complaining of. You will also want to find out what your insurance covers for expenses related to an auto collision so you can have your vehicle repaired.

Do Not Accept A Settlement Offer From An Insurance Company:

Insurance companies are not on your side. They are looking out for their best interests, which means they will attempt to get you to settle quickly and for far less than you deserve. Before settling talk with an experience Indianapolis car accident lawyer who can let you know whether the settlement offer you have received is fair.

Do Not Give A Statement To Any Claims Adjusters:

Claims adjusters will attempt to get you to provide a statement. Do not give them one. These types of statements can only hurt your case. They will reappear months or sometimes years later and impact your ability to testify.

Contact An Experienced Indianapolis Car Accident Attorney

If you ever find yourself in that distressing situation and have incurred property or personal injury damages, you need the help of an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer right away. To schedule a free case evaluation with an Indianapolis personal injury attorney, call the Law Office of William W. Hurst at (317) 636-0808 or contact us online

(back to top)


 

Indiana Auto Accident Statistics

Car Accident Statistics
Unfortunately Indiana’s statistics aren’t quite as up to date, with the most recent published statistics being mostly from 2014. According to the most recent Indiana Crash Report there were 205,532 traffic collisions resulting in injury or property damage occurred, a 6% increase from 2013. There were 702 fatal crashes resulting in 743 fatalities. That is a 1% decrease from 2013. This number rose to 817 in 2015 according to the NHTSA.

Of those who died in car crashes in Indiana, 53% were not wearing seat belts. Additionally, 26% of fatal crashes were speed related and 13.4% involved a legally impaired driver. The economic costs of these accidents was roughly $3,800,000,000. That number pales, however,  in comparison to the emotional costs of seeing our loved ones severely injured or even killed. We urge you to slow down and if you are intoxicated, call a cab or even and UBER.


 

What Rights Do You Have Under Indiana Law?

Experienced car accident attorneys in Indianapolis, Indiana

Indiana follows the traditional “fault” based legal system, which means that the person who is determined to be at fault for an accident must pay for any resulting costs, including for injuries, vehicle damage, and lost income.

Examples of negligence include:

  • Aggressive driving
  • Dangerous intersections and roads
  • Defective car parts
  • Distracted driving
  • Drugged driving
  • Drunk driving
  • Traffic violations

An injured car accident victim can begin the claims process in three ways:

  1. A victim can file a claim with his or her own insurance company, assuming the policy covers the loss. The insurer will then pursue action against the at-fault driver’s insurer.
  2. A victim can enter a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier.
  3. A victim may file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver in court.

Indiana law requires drivers to carry the following liability coverage:

  • $25,000 for injury or death of a person in an accident caused by an insured driver.
  • $50,000 for total injury or death liability in an accident caused by an insured driver.
  • $25,000 for property damage for each accident caused by an insured vehicle.

This basic coverage pays for medical bills, property damage, and other costs. If your coverage maxes out, you may be personally on the hook for any additional damages.

Damages that victims can sue for include:

  • Emotional suffering
  • Lost income
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage

(back to top)


 

Will My Car Accident Case Settle or Go to Trial?

Indianapolis Personal Injury Law William W. Hurst

If a car accident injured you, you’re no doubt overwhelmed and are probably concerned about what comes next. Many accident victims ponder whether their car accident case will settle or if it is more likely to go on to trial. While every car accident case is unique, several significant factors can play a determinative role in whether your case will settle out of court.

Statute of Limitations

Indiana has a two-year statute of limitations for car accident claims, which means that you have two years from the time of your accident to settle your claim. If you can’t obtain a fair settlement from the insurance company within this two-year time frame, you’ll need to file suit to preserve your claim.

Your Claim’s Worth

When someone else’s negligence injured you in a car accident, calculating your total damages can prove difficult. This is exactly why you should never agree to a settlement offer before consulting an experienced Indiana car accident attorney. Your car accident claim’s worth will depend on a range of elements:

  • The severity of the accident
  • The severity of your injuries and the extent of related medical expenses
  • Whether your injuries are catastrophic or permanent
  • The amount of medical expenses calculated for your ongoing treatments and therapy (including for mental health issues)
  • Your lost work hours and your diminished earning potential
  • Your pain and suffering

Calculating your total damages is a complicated process that necessitates experienced legal guidance.

Will Your Case Settle?

Most car accident cases in Indiana do settle. If they didn’t, the courts could never keep up with the sheer volume of cases. Insurance companies, however, are in the business of turning a profit—not in the business of ensuring that you’re adequately compensated for your damages. Remember that it’s in your best interest to allow a skilled car accident attorney to help guide your car accident claim toward a fair settlement.

Typically, car accident cases go to trial either in the event of a liability dispute—when it’s not clear which party caused the accident—or when the insurance company (or the injured party) declines to negotiate a reasonable settlement amount. In such instances, your car accident attorney will help you carefully consider your options and will help navigate your claim toward trial—if that’s the best option for protecting your rights and your rightful compensation.


 

Comparative Negligence in Indiana Vehicle Accidents

Under Indiana law, a car accident victim can recover from an at-fault party. However, Indiana follows a modified comparative negligence rule, which holds that victims may only recover if the at-fault party’s fault exceeds 50 percent. Furthermore, courts may reduce their judgment amount based on your percentage of fault for the accident, if below 50 percent.

Thus, if a court determines that you were at least 50 percent responsible for your accident, you will likely not recover any damages. Furthermore, if a court determines that you were 20 percent at-fault for the accident, you would likely only receive 80 percent of any damages award.

Each day, millions of Americans climb into their automobiles expecting to arrive safely at their destinations. Unfortunately, many don’t realize that a single car accident may change their lives forever.

There are many hazards on the nation’s roadways, but arguably the most dangerous ones are negligent drivers, who frequently injure or kill innocent victims. According to the Association for Safe Road Travel, 2.35 million people suffer injuries from car crashes each year, and an average of 37,000 die from their injuries.


A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that car accidents cost Americans $871 billion on average each year, including:

  • $277 billion in economic losses, almost $900 for every person within the U.S.
  • $594 billion in societal harm, including loss of life and decreased quality of life due to injuries and disabilities.

Car accidents can also result in serious physical, emotional, and financial injuries. Hospitalized survivors may spend months recovering from the trauma of their accident, and they might miss work as they recover from their injuries. Some wrecks total the cars of the victims, causing them to lose their access to dependable transportation. They may lose their jobs because they can no longer travel to work, or because they can no longer complete their required work due to disability. As they struggle to pay their medical expenses due to lost income, they may be forced to endure regular calls from collectors.


(back to top)

 

How Insurance Companies Reduce Their Liability

Insurance companies must pay accident-related expenses when their policy owners are liable. However, insurers frequently employ several sneaky tactics in an attempt to reduce how much they have to pay.

1. Insurance companies may pretend to care about a victim’s best interests to prevent the victim from ever filing a lawsuit. Insurers will send claims adjusters to visit car crash victims while they’re still in the hospital, at which point they may not even have legal representation. The companies may take statements from victims while they’re on pain-relieving medications, and the companies may attempt to convince victims to sign agreements that limit their ability to ever seek additional compensation. People can lose financial awards they’re entitled to from the insurer, which could have helped them pay off bills after a crash.

Insurance companies often teach claims adjusters to be nice to accident victims, and this friendly demeanor helps the adjusters secure people’s trust. These professionals may pretend that they care about a survivor’s best interests, while they actually are gathering evidence from these conversations to use against the victim in court. They also may ask for records to undermine a victim’s claim.

Additionally, adjusters may attempt to delay a victim from filing a formal lawsuit until the state’s two-year statute of limitations has run, unbeknownst to the victim. Indiana car crash victims have only two years to file a claim, after which they can no longer seek compensation for their injuries.

2. Insurance companies ask for accident statements that undermine the victim’s credibility. Most insurers will ask survivors to offer written statements regarding their accidents. The companies may also have victims list all of the injuries and damages that they believe may be involved in their claim. The companies may claim that these statements help speed up the claims process, but they are usually just attempting to gather evidence to discredit accident victims. These statements can help insurance companies place blame on the victim, and to limit their own liability.

3. Insurance companies scour social media for evidence to reduce their liability. Insurers will also search popular social media accounts in an attempt to limit their liability. These companies often use evidence of victims engaging in dangerous activities, such as posting on social media while driving, to prove that the victims are liable for their own injuries. Companies may also find photos of a victim engaging in physical activity, which they may argue shows that the victim is not actually injured.


 

Common Damages in a Auto Accident Case

Indianapolis Personal Injury Law William W. Hurst

Everyone should know that a car accident can strike anytime you are on the road. Most people believe that if they drive safely and follow the law, they will arrive at their destinations safely. For too many people, however, this is not true, and they end up in a crash and face serious, lasting injuries.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the following took place in the United States:

  • 34,439 fatal motor vehicle crashes
  • 37,461 deaths from motor vehicle crashes
  • 11.6 deaths per 100,000 people
  • 1.16 deaths per 100 million miles traveled

In Indiana, 768 fatal crashes took place with 821 deaths reported. This translates to 12.4 deaths per 100,000 persons, while there were 0.99 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

With so many crashes and deaths, drivers must understand the damages that can result from a car accident—and their rights to compensation when one takes place.

Compensation from a car accident will depend on the nature and severity of your injuries. Common damages from a car accident include:

  • Medical expenses – any medical expenses that come as a result of bodily injury to the driver from the accident
  • Income – any loss of income because the injured party cannot work due to the accident
  • Property loss – any personal property, such as a vehicle, that is damaged or destroyed as a result of the accident
  • Pain and suffering – compensation is given for the inconvenience of the accident to the injured party
  • Emotional distress – compensation is given for any anxiety or distress to the injured party due to the accident
  • Lost enjoyment – compensation is given due to a decreased quality of life for the injured party
  • Lost companionship – compensation is given due to the inability of the injured party to engage in a normal marital relationship with a spouse

Compensation can run from a couple thousand dollars into the millions in cases of disabling or fatal injuries. If another driver caused your crash, you likely have the right to seek financial recovery for all of your monetary and intangible losses.



Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer

Back, Neck & Spinal Cord Injuries Caused By Automobile Accidents

Thousands of automobile collisions occur everyday.  These accidents account for an astonishing number of chronic back, neck, and spinal injuries each year.  Medical researchers have found that between 20% and 40% of automobile collision victims will suffer long term pain and symptoms as a direct result of their accident.  Barnsley, Lord, Bogduk Whiplash Injury Clinical Review, Pain 58, 1994, pp. 283-307.  Spinal injuries, especially in the neck region are common in motor vehicle crashes.  They’re most frequent in rear impact collisions, but can occur in any type of vehicular collision.  Spinal injuries can affect the spinal cord, the nerves (i.e. radiculopathy), the discs (disc herniations), and surrounding ligaments and joint capsules.  Indianapolis Personal Injury LawyerFractures to the spinal bones can occur in auto crashes, and these often take the form of micro fractures and are difficult to diagnosis without special imaging such as CT scans.  www.triangledisc.com While surgery sometimes may be required, more often than it is not; and long term instability of the spine can result in accelerated degeneration of the spine.

There are 6 million reported automobile accidents in the United States annual, and over 38,000 of these accidents were fatal and 2.9 million people were injured.  According to the National Safety Council over 2.5 million rear end collisions are reported ever year, making them the most common type of automobile accidents.  These collisions often result in injuries to the spine.  Twenty percent (20%) of the people involved in rear end collisions exhibit symptoms of cervical strain, sometimes called “whiplash” injuries. http://www.auto-accident-resource.com/statistics.html  There are over 3 million neck injuries in the United States each year, and 1/3 of these victims never fully recover.  The cost of treatment for this has been estimated to run 49 billion annually.  The most common complaints are neck pain but there are a significant amount of complaints including shoulder pain, arm pain and low back pain.  Thirty five percent (35%) of spinal cord injuries are caused by automobile accidents, i.e. the body cause of such injuries.  The majority are males 16-30 years of age.

Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer

There have been several studies investigating the mechanism by which the neck and back is injured by rear impact forces.  www.medicinenet.com/    Some studies involve simulating the rear impact collision to live test subjects and recording the results with high speed motion x-rays.  Such studies found that this physical event and injury can occur at speeds as lows as 2.5 mph.  Panjabi MM, Cholewicki J, Nibu K, Grauer JN, Babat LB, Dvorak J, Bar HF (1998-12-01):“[Biomechanics of whiplash injury].” Orthopade 1998 Dec.; 27 (12):813-9.

Indianapolis Personal Injury LawyerAlmost 500,000 people living in the United States suffer from the effects of spinal cord injury and there are around 10,000 new cases each year.  35% of all spinal cord injuries are caused by automobile accidents, making car crashes the leading cause of spinal cord injures.  80% of all new cases of spinal cord injuries involve males 16-30 years old.  These spinal cord injuries range from severe (paraplegia) to mild (such as a muscle strain).  Despite the severity a certain percentage of the less severe injuries result in permanent injuries causing the victim to suffer a life time.

Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer

The spinal cord is a major bundle of nerves that carries nerve impulses from the brain to the rest of the body and is protected by rings called vertebrae.  Injuries in the upper area of the spine usually affect the chest and legs and result in paraplegia.  An injury in the area of the low back from where the ribs attach and hip bone generally results in some loss of function in the hips and legs.  The affects of a serious spinal cord injury depends on the type of injury and the level of the injury.  Spinal cord injuries are divided into two types of injuries-complete and incomplete.  A complete injury means that there is no function below the level of injury, no sensation, no voluntary movement and both sides of the body are equally affected.  An incomplete injury means that there is some function below the primary level of injury and the person suffering from the incomplete injury may be able to move one limb more than another and maybe feel parts of the body that cannot be moved.  With advances and acute treatment of spinal cord injuries, incomplete injuries are becoming more common.  Every year there are 10,000 new spinal cord injuries and quadriplegia is slightly more common than paraplegia.  Currently there is no cure for spinal cord injuries.  The choice you make of the rehabilitation center is extremely important.  Not all rehabilitation centers have a spinal cord injury facility.  For a good resource to understand spinal cord injury, find others who are living with spinal cord injury, and inquire about rehabilitation centers see www.spinalinjury.net/IHTML-101_continued.html  Also for a good resource for spinal cord injury treatment and current advances in research see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/spinal-cord-injury/DS00460


(back to top)

Concussions and Symptoms

Concussions, like other kinds of TBIs, are nothing if not unpredictable. Because these injuries affect your body’s very control center—your brain—the effects can be extremely serious. Concussions, however, don’t always present with symptoms at the time of the accident, which can lead to delayed diagnosis and resulting inferior prognosis. There are, however, several symptoms that are known to frequently accompany concussions:

  • The sudden onset of confusion, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, ringing in the ears, and/or inability to concentrate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Balance difficulties

If you’re in a car accident that causes your head to be jarred, seek immediate medical attention—even if you have no physical symptoms. The best prognosis is closely associated with early diagnosis.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBIs)

The Mayo Clinic defines a concussion as a form of a traumatic brain injury (TBIs), which is an injury to your brain’s functioning. Concussions can result in a variety of health deficits, including a diminished capacity to concentrate, headaches, and difficulties with balance and coordination. While these symptoms are usually temporary, that doesn’t negate their seriousness. Like other traumatic brain injuries, concussions are typically caused by the violent shaking of the head or by a traumatic blow to the head—as are often experienced in car accidents.

If another driver’s negligence has caused you to suffer a concussion in a car accident, seek immediate medical attention and then consult with an experienced automobile accident attorney. Concussions are serious and necessitate serious attention. The knowledgeable attorneys at The Law Office of William W. Hurst in Indianapolis understand the intricacies of these often-complicated claims, and we’re here to help. Car accidents are upsetting—in and of themselves—and if you’ve suffered a head injury like a concussion in the process, things are more upsetting still. Allow our experienced legal team to efficiently and effectively guide your claim toward just compensation while you get down to the important task of regaining your health.

TBI & Serious Health Consequences

Though concussions are on the milder end of the TBI spectrum, they are nevertheless closely associated with serious health consequences that require immediate medical attention. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most TBIs are concussions and TBIs account for almost a third of injury-related deaths in the United States. This stark statistic illustrates just how dangerous a concussion can be.


 

The Settlement Process

Once we identify the party at fault for your injuries, we can approach their insurance company to ask for compensation. In most cases, liability is not contested, making the only issue that needs to be resolved the amount the insurance company will pay you.

You should avoid trying to negotiate with an insurer on your own. Far too many clients come to us after having failed to negotiate an acceptable settlement with an insurer. Unfortunately, as part of their negotiations, they made key errors that affected their ability to recover compensation. Some of the more common errors include the following:

  • They admitted to fault for the accident. If your own negligence contributed to the crash, then you can expect to receive less compensation. In some situations, you might not receive anything. It is best not to make statements to the insurer that will be used against you.
  • They undervalued their injuries. Before you can ask for an appropriate amount of money, you have to know how much your injuries are worth. This can be difficult for members of the public to calculate on their own.
  • They didn’t hold out for more money. An insurer does not have your best interest at heart, so you cannot expect them to offer fair compensation. Instead, they try to settle claims for as little money as possible.
  • They signed a waiver. As part of any settlement, you must agree not to sue the driver in court based on the accident. Judges will enforce this waiver, which means you are forever barred from getting more compensation even when it becomes apparent you didn’t settle for enough to cover your medical expenses.

By working with our settlement lawyers, you can avoid making these errors. We have negotiated with some of the most powerful insurance companies in Indiana, and we know how to obtain fair settlements for our clients that get them back on their feet.
Written by Bill Hurst


 

How Can I Hire an Attorney?

The Law Office of William W. Hurst works on a contingency basis which means we collect our attorney’s fees from any settlements or judgments that you receive. Your success is our success!

Schedule a Free Consultation with the Law Office of William W. Hurst

Have you or a loved one sustained serious injuries in an Indiana car accident? If so, you should contact the Law Office of William W. Hurst immediately to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. We provide free consultations, meaning one of our attorneys will review your case and assess the validity of your claim at no cost to you. Call us at (317) 636-0808 or contact us online.

06 Nov

According to data compiled by the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, there were 216,312 traffic accidents in Indiana during 2015. Involvement in a serious car wreck is not something anyone expects, and many people are unsure about how to begin putting their lives back together in the days and weeks following the accident. Between dealing…

07 Jul

William W. Hurst: Personal Injury Lawyer – Indianapolis, IN On May 7, 2016 a man named Josh Brown became the first to lose his life as a result of an AutoPilot error. Josh, a 40 year old owner of his own technology company in Ohio was blown away by the new technology and even post…

09 Jun

William W. Hurst – Indianapolis Car Accident Lawyer A civil action was filed in Georgia last year after an 18 year old girl who was allegedly using a SnapChat speed filter while driving at 107 MPH caused an accident. The complaint alleges that not only should the young girl be held liable, but SnapChat should…