While it is difficult to predict the exact timeline of any personal injury lawsuit in Indiana, there are some milestones and steps that will help you chart your progress.
Personal injury lawsuits in Indiana
In the aftermath of an accident in Indiana, you may find insurance companies aren’t willing to pay out enough money to cover your losses and expenses. You feel like you’ve hit a roadblock as you attempt to negotiate a settlement. You think it may be time to retain an attorney.
The majority of personal injury claims in Indiana are settled before they go to court. However, at times filing a personal injury lawsuit is the only way to receive fair compensation from insurance companies. If you choose to file a lawsuit, you should be prepared to spend a good amount of time awaiting a verdict. On average, personal injury lawsuits can take anywhere from a few months to several years to settle.
According to the Lawsuit Information Center, 57 percent of Indiana personal injury cases that go to trial result in a settlement for the plaintiff. The median compensation received in an Indiana trial is $25,036. Yet personal injury awards in Indiana can reach millions of dollars. For example, Yosha Law helped a client fight for $7.5 million in a slip and fall case.
Steps in your Indiana personal injury lawsuit
After your accident, you should take basic steps to document any injuries or property damage incurred. Even before you file your lawsuit, you may want to ensure you’ve done the following:
- File a police or incident report: If your personal injuries are the result of an accident or act of violence, make sure you call 911 and file a police report. If your accident occurs in a public space or your workplace, file an incident report with the business owner or your employer.
- Document your injuries and the scene of your incident with photo or video evidence: Immediately after your accident, take photos and video of any property damage or physical injuries. This evidence may be used to bolster any compensatory claim you file in the future.
- Seek medical attention and keep documentation of appointments, diagnoses, and prescriptions: You may be asked to provide this documentation to affirm your personal injury claims.
Hire an Indiana personal injury lawyer
Legally, you have the option to represent yourself in an Indiana personal injury lawsuit. However, you may find the process overwhelming: Lawsuits require a copious amount of paperwork, adherence to deadlines, and a comprehensive knowledge of the negotiation process.
By hiring an Indiana personal injury lawyer, you might alleviate some of your stress. A legal expert can take over the reins of your case and allow you to concentrate solely on your recovery process. Although you may wait longer to receive your compensation, you may receive more money than if you were to settle your lawsuit quickly on your own.
When you should file your personal injury lawsuit
Indiana state law IC § 34-11-2-4 places a statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits. You have exactly two years from the date of the accident to file your claim. However, you shouldn’t file your lawsuit until you have knowledge of the severity and permanence of your injuries.
Once a doctor has cleared you from requiring further treatment or has predicted your ongoing treatment and given you a definitive diagnosis, you can proceed with your lawsuit. If possible, you should also wait until you have copies of all medical bills pertaining to your suit and documentation of every medical procedure you’ve required.
Requests for hospital or office medical records can take some time, and patience is vital in this process. You might validly deserve compensatory damages, but rushing the process could lead to a less than desirable outcome.
Insurance companies would love for you to settle quickly. Although a quick settlement may mean immediate money, it often means less money than you could receive in court. You could also end up financially responsible for future medical issues related to your accident.
File court papers and counterclaims
You should pursue a personal injury lawsuit after you fail to come to terms with an insurance company on your claim. The initial filing should detail the case and the amount of damages you seek.
The insurer (or any other defendant) will need an officially served lawsuit: If you hire a lawyer, they will take care of the serving process. However, if you choose to file a lawsuit on your own, you will need to hire a legal notice server. The defendant then has a period of 30 days to respond to the lawsuit.
Defendants also have a legal right to file counterclaims to your personal injury lawsuit. You will then need to respond to the counterclaim before your lawsuit can proceed.
After your Indiana personal injury lawsuit has been filed, the discovery process takes place. This is the stage of a lawsuit where you and your lawyer must allow the defendant’s legal team to look over your evidence and vice versa.
The discovery process follows four steps:
- Interrogatories: The insurance company (and any other defendant named in your suit) will present you with written questions pertaining to your case. These questions are fact-finding and include requests for your contact information, the names of any witnesses you may call, details about your accident, and medical treatment you’ve received.
- Request for Production: The defendant in your personal injury lawsuit may request to peruse forensic evidence from the accident, your medical records, and receipts of bills pertaining to your accident. All parties involved in the lawsuit must turn over requested documents to opposing counsel.
- Request for Admission: Parties in the lawsuit must hand over written statements to the opposing party who must then, under oath, either attest to the veracity of the statements made or deny them. Documents can also be presented during the request for admission.
- Depositions: Legal testimony given pre-trial and recorded by a court reporter. Both plaintiffs and defendants in a personal injury lawsuit can request depositions which usually include under-oath statements from witnesses and forensic experts as well as details concerning the accident. Depositions are often captured on video and can be played during trial. These witness statements are crucial to the negotiation process.
Negotiations and trial
Ideally, you can settle your Indiana personal injury lawsuit before you go to trial. Trials can prove costly and may take months (or even years) to conclude. Reaching a valid, pre-trial settlement is ideal for all parties.
Pre-trial negotiations may occur after the discovery process. Your attorney may schedule mediation meetings with opposing counsel to try to reach a financial agreement. You have final say over whether you’ll accept or reject these offers.
If you cannot reach an agreement, your lawsuit will then go to trial. The judge will oversee hearings and motions to decide which evidence included in the discovery process is admissible. After the trial is complete and a ruling is reached, both sides can file appeals. The appeal process can also prove lengthy. Thus, if it’s possible to reach a settlement and avoid a trial, this may be the most beneficial decision you can make.
If you decide to retain counsel for your Indiana personal injury lawsuit, it’s vital you find an Indiana personal injury lawyer who cares.
At Yosha Law, we are passionate about our clients and consider them part of our family. We will help with your personal injury claim and fight for what you’re owed.
We also offer an initial free case evaluation where we can help you explore the merits of your case and guide you through the legal process.