After you’ve suffered injury in an accident due to the negligence of someone else, you don’t want to be left to pick up the pieces on your own. You want to concentrate on your recovery.
But how are you going to pay your medical bills? You’ve had to take ample time off of work, and your sick leave doesn’t cover your lost income. Your injuries aren’t your fault: You wonder if there’s a way to recoup your wages?
Perhaps you’ve reached out to the insurance company to file a claim. You feel like they’re dragging their feet: They refuse to settle, or, their offer doesn’t account for what you’ve suffered.
You think you might need a lawyer, but you’re worried hiring an attorney will lead to more financial burdens. After your accident, when should you contact and retain an attorney? How do you even go about hiring a personal injury lawyer?
Personal injury claims in Indiana
In Indiana, personal injury legal claims stem from accidents that result in emotional, psychological, or physical injury. An average of 400,000 personal injury legal claims are filed each year in the U.S., 92% of which are filed as a result of vehicle accidents.
Most personal injury cases are settled before they ever go to court. However, you may not receive the settlement you’re owed if you engage in the legal process on your own. If you hire an expert personal injury lawyer, you can trust that they will fight to ensure you receive valid compensation for your claim.
Indiana is a comparative fault state: This means the courts determine who holds fault for your accident, and if you bear partial fault, the amount of personal injury damages you can seek are limited.
For instance, if you are intoxicated and fall in a privately-owned business, your comparative fault may equal 50% or more. Even if the restaurant holds fault as well, your personal injury claim would be rendered void. In Indiana, personal injury claims are only valid if you are less than 50% responsible for your accident. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether your personal injury claim has merit and is worth the time and money it will take you to file.
Accidents that can lead to personal injury claims
In Indiana, a plethora of situations can lead to a personal injury claim. Some of the most common accidents to justify a personal injury claim include:
- Medical Malpractice: If you are under the care of a physician and suffer unmerited injury, you may have a valid personal injury claim. (For example, your surgery was performed incorrectly or the birth of your child was hindered by a botched procedure.)
- Product Liability: If you’ve purchased a manufactured product that malfunctions and leads to injury, you may want to hire a lawyer to pursue a personal injury claim. This category also includes prescribed drugs. (For example, a heavy dresser breaks and falls on you due to incorrect manufacturer construction. Or, your prescribed medicine leads to adverse effects.)
- Slip and Fall Injuries: If you slipped and fell on another’s public (city, state, or federally-owned) property or on private property due to negligence. (For example, a restaurant fails to post “Wet Floor” signs on newly-mopped floor, and you fall and break your leg)
- Vehicle Accidents: Any car, motorcycle, or truck accident that causes severe injury due to negligence from the at-fault party. (This includes any vehicle that strikes pedestrians or cyclists.)
- Workplace Accidents: Poorly maintained workplace environments which lead to injuries. (For example, if you work in a manufacturing plant and suffer an injury due to outdated equipment that doesn’t meet safety requirements.)
Why you should hire a personal injury lawyer
A personal injury lawyer can help you navigate through the legal process of your claim. A lawyer can also give you an honest opinion about the legal merits of your case. If you’re worried about the cost of retaining an attorney, look for a lawyer who charges on a contingency basis (i.e., no money upfront, and the lawyer only gets paid if you win your case).
The attorney you hire can do the following:
- File all necessary paperwork
- Gather all pertinent documents related to your case
- Speak on your behalf in any mediation or arbitration meetings
- Utilize a legal team to gather the forensic evidence of your case
- Contact forensic experts to testify on your behalf
When to hire a personal injury lawyer
After your accident, you need to take several steps before hiring a personal injury lawyer. You may even want to write out a checklist before you contact an attorney.
Steps to take before hiring a lawyer include:
- Filing a police report
- Gathering photo and video evidence in the immediate aftermath of your accident
- Seeking medical attention
You may contact the insurance company before you hire a lawyer. However, if the company pushes back on your claim, or requires a plethora of legal hoops for you to jump through, it may be time to retain an attorney.
Before you contact a lawyer, you should have a general understanding of your injuries and who was at-fault in your accident. If it’s obvious that you hold over 50% of comparative fault or you haven’t suffered any injuries, you may decide not to contact a lawyer.
Indiana statute of limitations on personal injury claims
Another factor to consider when hiring a personal injury lawyer is Indiana’s statute of limitations on legal claims. Indiana law provides you with 270 days to file a claim against the state government and only 180 days to file a personal injury claim against your city or county government.
According to Indiana state law IC 34-11-2-4, any personal injury claims against a private company or citizen must be filed within two years. Exceptions to this law are given if the claimant was a minor at the time of the injury, or experienced a diminished mental capacity before (or because of) the accident.
How to hire a personal injury lawyer
So you’ve decided to hire a personal injury lawyer: You’ve suffered extensive injury and need legal help to file your claim. Although hiring a lawyer is relatively easy, it’s vital to research any attorney you’re considering.
Look for positive signs of professionalism and experience, including:
- A polished website and a strong online presence.
- Testimonials from former clients who speak of a lawyer’s empathy and compassion for each client.
- Easy access to court case outcomes that prove a successful track record.
- Honesty about the merits of your case and your chances at a just settlement.
Red flags for personal injury lawyers include:
- A guarantee you’ll win your case: Even if you’re hiring a lawyer with a proven success rate, no one can predict 100% success.
- Lack of an internet presence or accessible case record: If a lawyer doesn’t have a polished website, or does not provide verifiable examples of successful cases — you may want to avoid hiring this attorney.
- A huge fee before work on your case has begun: Many phenomenal, successful attorneys offer their services for personal injury claims on a contingency basis. If an attorney demands full and exorbitant payment on a case upfront, you may want to look elsewhere for legal counsel.
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.