Indiana Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions

personal injury law book and gavel

Indiana law allows people who have been harmed due to the negligence or intentional misconduct of others to seek compensation for their losses. This is the area of law known as personal injury law or tort law. A tort is a legal term for a negligent or intentional injury to another party. Most personal injury claims are settled out of court. But when necessary, the civil court system allows victims to file an injury lawsuit and have a judge or jury decide the amount of compensation, if any, that an at-fault party must pay the victim.

Our clients often have questions about personal injury law and how it applies to their claim. The attorneys at Craig, Kelley & Faultless have compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on this section of our website. To discuss your specific personal injury and the legal options available to you, call (800) 746-0226 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation.

Personal Injury

What does the term “personal injury” mean?

Personal injury refers to an injury to a person that is the result of negligence or intentional misconduct. Injuries may be physical, emotional or psychological, or financial in nature. Personal injury claims could include injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents, a slip and fall, medical malpractice, a defective drug or a defective product.

Personal injury lawsuits are subject to a statute of limitations, after which the claim cannot be filed. Under Indiana law, a personal injury lawsuit must be filed in court no later than two years after an injury. There are a few exceptions, but you should consult with a personal injury lawyer sooner rather than later to determine if you have a case.

If the at-fault party has insurance coverage, the victims will have to deal with the insurer to seek compensation for injuries and damage to their property. Unfortunately, insurance companies are often reluctant to pay the full amount that the accident victim is owed. When this happens, an experienced Indiana personal injury attorney can help the victim and their family pursue compensation through a negotiated settlement or personal injury lawsuit.

How much should I ask for in a personal injury settlement?

When you have been hurt in an accident caused by negligence, the other party’s insurer may offer you a quick settlement to resolve your case. Determining whether the insurance company’s offer is fair can be challenging for someone without experience handling injury claims. This is especially true if you are unsure about your ongoing needs for medical treatment, rehabilitation, or other requirements related to the injury. An experienced personal injury lawyer will have an informed perspective on whether a settlement offer is reasonable and can offer helpful guidance.

Your lawyer will submit a demand letter to the insurer that requests fair compensation before you will release an at-fault party from liability. In so doing, consider the expenses you have already paid, as well any other injury-related costs you expect to incur in the future.

Along with your medical bills and property damage, your attorney will calculate lost wages and the cost of any medical devices or prescription medication. You can also seek compensation for other kinds of damages that cannot necessarily be quantified in a traditional manner, such as pain and suffering.

Your lawyer will consider the strength of your case, including the evidence and the likelihood that your story could earn the sympathy of a jury if the case gets that far. The insurer may accept your demand and move forward with a settlement, make a counteroffer or series of counteroffers, or simply deny your claim.

Should I hire a personal injury lawyer for my case?

Hiring an attorney to handle your personal injury case gives you the benefit of their experience. A lawyer will investigate the incident, gather pertinent evidence and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.

A lawyer is going to know what evidence to look for while investigating your case and take charge of any interactions with an insurance company. Moreover, a seasoned and aggressive personal injury lawyer also is equipped with the experience to properly evaluate your case and prepare a demand letter that seeks full and fair compensation.

Don’t fall for attempts by insurers to convince you that you don’t need a lawyer. Keep in mind that an insurance company is never going to look out for you and your future. The insurer wants to make the case go away as inexpensively as possible.

A personal injury attorney is your advocate in the court system, handling all the documents, procedures, trial preparation, and trial when necessary.

The personal injury lawyers at Craig, Kelley & Faultless handle cases on a contingency fee basis. A contingency arrangement means that there are no legal fees unless you recover a financial award in a settlement or court ruling.

Craig, Kelley & Faultless is never intimidated by taking on large corporations or insurance companies to pursue justice for our clients.

When receiving a settlement, how much does the personal lawyer take?

With most contingency fee agreements, an attorney agrees to a certain percentage of a client’s settlement or jury award in exchange for payment up front. The percentage is typically one-third, or 33 percent, but can be as high as 40 percent or more in some cases.

Some firms use a sliding scale on which the percentage deducted for fees varies depending on the stage of the legal process at which the case is resolved. When a demand letter leads to a quick resolution, the percentage will generally be lower than if the attorney has to file a lawsuit.

The contingency fee is distinct from other legal costs and expenses involved in the handling of a personal injury case. Filing fees, medical records, and expert witness fees are costs that the law firm may deduct from the final award.

Once a case is finalized, the insurer or the responsible party pays the settlement or judgment directly to the lawyer. Your lawyer then provides an itemized list of the deductions before disbursing the remaining proceeds to you.

The retainer agreement, which you sign when you hire a personal injury lawyer, details the specific fee percentage to avoid any surprises for the client in the end.

How long does a personal injury case take?

The amount of time it takes to resolve a personal injury case will vary depending on specific factors. Claims with stronger evidence may be more likely to be settled faster than cases in which key facts or the injuries themselves are in dispute.

Since the evidence gathering or discovery phase could take some time, you should expect it to take at least several months before a lawyer can begin negotiating a respectable settlement amount with an insurance company. Settlement negotiations could continue for several additional months and may last all the way through the eve of the trial or even during a trial if the case goes to court.

A lawyer may hold off on filing a lawsuit until the scope of the victim’s injuries and medical treatment needs are more evident. Once filed, a personal injury lawsuit can take several years to work its way to resolution.

Will My Case Go to Trial?

Nearly every injury victim asks whether his or her case will go to trial. The answer may depend on the insurance company handling the case on behalf of the at-fault party or parties. Insurers can be stubborn and refuse to negotiate. On the other hand, insurance companies seldom want a case to go to trial because of the uncertain outcome of litigation.

For this reason, settlements always remain the more likely outcome. There is no guarantee of any particular outcome, but in the end, an insurance company may conclude that settling is more cost-effective than paying their legal team to fight your claim and risking an additional judgment on top of those costs.

A settlement also can benefit the at-fault party or that party’s insurance company. For example, a confidentiality clause may be part of the settlement, which prevents anyone connected to the case from speaking about it – and specifically the dollar amount of the settlement — publicly.

If a case does go trial, it could be a year or longer before it shows up on the court docket. The trial itself could take weeks depending upon the amount in demand, the proof required, the number of witnesses, and how vigorously the defense responds in its rebuttal.

Any trial will be a matter of public record. Corporate defendants when they are engaged in any court battle may have concerns about preventing the disclosure of embarrassing information that could harm the company’s reputation. Your attorney could use that as a form of pre-trial leverage that leads to a favorable resolution.

At Craig, Kelley & Faultless, we will give your claim personal attention and do our best to move your case forward as quickly and efficiently as possible through the civil justice system.