In Elkhart, Indiana, you might not expect to suffer in a car accident. However, accidents can occur in a split second, and transform your life forever. Even a minor collision could leave you injured and with mounting, unexpected bills.
In the aftermath of your trauma, you should be able to focus on your recovery and you shouldn’t have to incur costs for a crash that wasn’t your fault. You might find the at fault party’s insurance company is reluctant to pay your personal injury claim and you don’t know where to turn for help.
An Elkhart car accident lawyer can help you determine what to include in your claim, alleviate your stress, and guide you on the legal path to just compensation.
What you need to know about car accidents in Elkhart, Indiana
According to the National Transportation Research Nonprofit, Trip, Indiana experienced an explosive increase in car accidents in 2022. Fatal and severe accidents in the state incurred over $47 billion in costs. Traffic fatalities rose by 18%.
In Elkhart, more vehicles are on the road than ever before. You may practice extreme caution while driving, but unfortunately, you can’t control the mistakes made by other drivers.
After a car accident, you can begin the claims process (and even file a personal injury lawsuit) without a lawyer. However, it may prove tough to receive the compensation you deserve sans knowledge of the laws and nuances that pertain to car accident settlements.
- How an Elkhart car accident lawyer can help
- Yosha Law car accident lawyers
- Steps to take immediately after your accident
- Compensatory damages in an Elkhart car accident
- Indiana personal injury laws to know
- Contact Yosha Law
How an Elkhart car accident lawyer can help
An Elkhart car accident lawyer can explain each step of the legal process, deal with the insurance companies so that you don’t have to, and help you fight for the justice you’re owed.
If you choose to navigate your claim without a lawyer, an insurance company may offer you a quick, lump sum settlement payment that deals with your immediate costs. However, it’s important to remember that once you’ve accepted a settlement offer, you may not have legal recourse to future compensation.
A car accident attorney in Elkhart could make a difference in the outcome of your case.
Yosha Law car accident lawyers
Yosha Law can help clients in Elkhart and greater Indiana to recoup both the measurable and immeasurable costs of collisions. Our car accident lawyers understand how to negotiate with insurance companies, and have helped countless clients receive compensation for the pain and suffering they’ve endured.
If you choose to connect with Yosha Law, our attorneys will do the following:
- Explore the merits of your case:
In your initial consultation, we’ll break down the merits of your case and help you to make an informed decision about your next step.
- Calculate estimated damages:
We’ll help you to determine the monetary amount of damages you should seek.
- File legal paperwork:
The documentation the courts require in a car accident case is time sensitive. We’ll take care of filing this paperwork so that you can concentrate on healing.
- Gather evidence:
We’ll gather evidence from the scene of your accident, along with documentation of any medical care you’ve received and repair costs you’ve incurred. This includes (but isn’t limited to) photos, videos, doctor’s reports, and police reports.
- Interview eyewitnesses:
We’ll obtain testimony from anyone who may have witnessed your car accident, as well as co-workers, doctors, employers, and loved ones who can provide firsthand testimony to how your collision has impacted your life.
- Represent you in legal meetings and negotiations:
We’ll act as your representatives in negotiations and settlement meetings with insurance companies. If the at fault party has also retained counsel, we’ll act as their point of contact for any matter pertaining to your case.
- Retain expert witnesses:
If it’s difficult to determine fault in your case, a car accident reconstructionist or forensic expert may strengthen your claim.
- Fight for you in court:
Although as much as 95% of personal injury lawsuits are settled before they reach trial, if your case cannot be settled, we’ll fight for you in court.
Steps to take immediately after your accident
You may be reeling from shock after your collision, and just want to get home and take time to recuperate. However, it’s important to remember that you need to take immediate steps to protect yourself in the aftermath of your accident.
If you’re involved in a collision in Elkhart, it’s vital that you take the following steps, both for your safety and to strengthen your personal injury claim.
Pull over to the shoulder of the road
If it’s possible to safely clear your car from oncoming traffic, you should immediately pull over to the road’s shoulder and put on your flashers. If you have safety flags, flares, or cones, place them around your car.
Exchange contact information
Unless you’ve been struck in a hit and run accident, any vehicles involved in your accident should safely pull over and then exchange contact and insurance information.
As you may experience shock as a result of the crash, you may be tempted to admit fault or apologize — it’s imperative that you do not act on this temptation.
Call 911 or fill out an online police report
If your accident causes injuries or more than $1,000 in damage, Indiana law requires that you fill out a police report. First responders will conduct a brief investigation of the accident and take your statement.
After a minor accident, you can fill out a police report online, but must do so within 10 days of your accident.
Take photo or video documentation
While you’re still at the scene of your collision, take photos or video with your smartphone as you may need it to strengthen your legal claim to personal injury damages. This documentation can act as future evidence in your case.
Seek medical attention
Don’t risk the chance of self-diagnosis. Adrenaline from the shock of your car accident may make you feel as if your injuries are minor and don’t need medical attention. However, injuries can worsen with time.
For example, a broken bone or internal bleeding may not be noticeable until the day after your collison. If you wait to see a doctor, or don’t receive a proper diagnosis, you may not have a valid legal claim to compensation for your injuries.
Before you even contact the insurer of the at fault party in your car accident, you should contact your own insurance company. Your insurer may cover your immediate costs before being reimbursed by the other driver’s insurance company.
Contact an attorney
If your car accident in Elkhart results in property damage or injury, it may be wise to consult an attorney before your insurance claim is even processed. An Elkhart car accident lawyer can help advise you as you go through the claims process. If you choose to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, you should have a lawyer on your side.
Compensatory damages in an Elkhart car accident
The compensation you may be awarded after an Elkhart car accident is legally referred to as damages. Damages account for the different types of loss you’ve suffered as a result of your collision, and are broken down into three categories.
Examples of economic damages
Economic damages, also known as special damages, refer to losses that have a set, or quantifiable, monetary value. For example, bills directly related to your accident are considered economic damages.
Some examples of economic damages include:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses (including appointments, hospital stays, prescriptions, rehabilitation services, surgeries, and treatments)
- Property repair or replacement costs
- Funeral costs (if you’ve lost a loved one as a result of your car accident)
Examples of non-economic damages
Non-economic damages, also known as general damages, refer to losses that do not have a set value. For example, if you can no longer enjoy the quality of life you maintained before your accident, the compensation awarded would fall under non-economic damages.
Other examples of non-economic damages in an Elkhart car accident include:
- Emotional distress (including anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder)
- Loss of limb
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death (Although no monetary amount will bring back a lost loved one, you may receive compensation for their death)
Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are rarely sought in a personal injury case. However, a jury or a judge may determine that a defendant requires punishment for their gross negligence and determine punitive damages. Punitive damages are additional to the economic and non-economic damages awarded.
In Elkhart, a plaintiff receives 25% of punitive damages and 75% is directly placed into the Indiana Violent Crimes Victim Compensation Fund.
Indiana personal injury laws to know
After your car accident in Elkhart, a lawyer can help to ensure that you understand and comply with Indiana laws surrounding your personal injury claim. However, there are two regulations that are especially vital to remember.
Indiana is one of a dozen states that has comparative negligence laws in place. This means that the amount of your compensation can decrease based on the amount of comparative fault you hold for your accident.
For instance, if you’re found responsible for at least 50% of the fault in your collision, an Elkhart accident lawyer may advise you not to pursue a legal claim. If you have fault for over 0% and under 50% of your accident, the amount of your compensation may be negatively impacted.
However, if you’re found responsible for less than 0% of your accident, your claim will not be impacted.
Statute of limitations
Most states have a statute of limitations in place to protect both a plaintiff and a defendant in a civil case. Although the amount of time for a statute of limitations can vary by state, these laws ensure that a plaintiff has enough time to file a personal injury lawsuit and that a defendant won’t be blindsided by a decades-old claim.
In Indiana, § 34-11-2-4 allows a plaintiff two years from the date of their accident to file a claim. Exceptions are made for a plaintiff who was a minor or was mentally incapacitated at the time of the accident. However, if neither of these categories applies to you and you wait more than two years to file a lawsuit, your claim could be rendered void.
Contact Yosha Law
At Yosha Law, we understand how difficult it is to focus on recovery when, due to your car accident, you’re overwhelmed by sudden astronomical costs and life changes. We’re passionate about finding justice for our clients, and each client becomes an extension of our family.
We can’t replace your losses or take away the trauma you’ve endured, but our Elkhart car accident lawyers can help you to fight for the compensation you’re owed. Contact us for a consultation today so that you can concentrate on getting your life back.