Personal Injury FAQs
After an unexpected accident, you may have the right to recover compensation for the costs of your medical treatment, loss of income and benefits, and the pain and suffering you experience. You may also have questions about your rights and how to assert them.
Questions are great and always encouraged, and our personal injury attorneys at Stein Law have taken the time to provide answers to some of our top FAQs.
If you have additional questions, are unsure about your case, or simply want to talk with our team about your rights, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our personal injury law firm for assistance. We have law offices conveniently located in Indiana and Kentucky to serve you better. Call us to schedule a free consultation today.
Do I need a personal injury lawyer?
You do not need a lawyer to recover compensation after an accident, but it is certainly in your best interest.
The parties you will be going up against, whether it’s an insurance company, large corporation, or defense attorney, have extensive experience handling cases like yours. They’ll have playbooks and know how to get you to walk away with less money than you deserve – or no money at all.
The odds are stacked against you when you pursue compensation by yourself. Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer levels the playing field and, when you choose the right attorney, can even give you the edge you need to maximize your financial award.
Do I need a lawyer if the accident wasn't my fault?
It can help to hire a lawyer for an accident that wasn’t your fault because other parties may still try to blame you.
As stated in IC 34-51-2, Indiana operates on a modified comparative fault rule with a 51% bar to recovery. This means that sharing more than half of the blame for an accident will completely bar a financial recovery. It also means that sharing some of the blame will affect how much money you walk away with when your personal injury case is resolved.
Under KRS 411.182, Kentucky follows a pure comparative fault rule. The only bar to recovery is if you’re entirely at fault. Damages are also reduced based on the level of blame you’re assigned.
Insurance companies use these laws to their advantage. If they can push some or most of the blame onto the plaintiff, they can limit how much they pay in damages. Victim-blaming strategies are particularly popular when victims don’t have attorneys to offer guidance.
By hiring a personal injury attorney, you can protect yourself from these tactics. Your attorney will force the defendant to back up their allegations with proof while also gathering evidence to disprove the claims and minimize the degree of fault assigned to you.
Overall, the less fault you share, the more money you may be able to get for your injuries and suffering.
How much time do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit?
Indiana has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases. Kentucky has a one-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases. Both start from the date the injury occurred. Once the statute of limitations expires, you lose the right to file a claim and demand compensation from responsible parties.
There are some exceptions, such as cases involving government negligence or injuries to minors. However, those exceptions could give you less time to act, such as in the case of government tort claims, or more time to act, like those for injured children.
The best thing you can do is reach out to a qualified personal injury attorney immediately after you or a loved one suffer an unexpected injury. Your attorney can identify the timeframe that applies to your case and ensure the claims are filed on time.
How much does it cost to hire a lawyer?
Our personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means your lawyer fronts the cost of litigation and assumes the financial risks that are involved. They get paid only if they win your case and you recover compensation.
Your lawyer’s fees are a percentage of the settlement you are awarded, not a fixed rate, which means you won’t have to pay out of pocket. This percentage can vary, but it is typically between 33 and 40 percent. Indiana Code § 4-6-3-2.5, for instance, requires attorneys to obtain a smaller percentage as a client’s award increases. The higher a settlement or verdict, the lower the percentage for the attorney’s share.
How do I know if I have a case?
Most personal injury cases are based on negligence. Negligence means that someone owed you a duty of care, failed to act reasonably under the circumstances, and you got hurt as a result.
Examples of common personal injury cases:
You can also file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of a deceased loved one that suffered fatal injuries as a result of another party’s negligence. Our lawyers will determine if a wrongful death lawsuit is more applicable to your circumstances, which is akin to a personal injury lawsuit.
Negligence isn’t the only basis for personal injury cases, however. You could also have a claim if a party is strictly liable for your injuries, such as in cases involving defective products. Alternatively, you could have a case if you’re injured while working. In those situations, you can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits regardless of negligence or fault.
Ultimately, the best way to know if you have a personal injury case is by speaking with an attorney with extensive experience handling cases like yours.
What is the personal injury claims process?
If you get hurt due to the intentional, negligent, or reckless wrongdoing of another person or entity, you may have the right to recover compensation.
Here is a brief overview of the claims process and what you can expect to happen when you initiate a claim. Keep in mind that every personal injury case is different based on the circumstances and facts, and this is to be used as a reference point.
Seek Medical Treatment and Notify the Insurance Company
First and foremost, seeking medical treatment immediately following the injury will ensure that your injuries are diagnosed and treated appropriately. In addition, the medical records from your doctor or hospital visit will provide the documentation your legal team will need to prove that the accident caused the injuries.
Most personal injury claims begin with insurance. Generally, you will have to notify the carrier of an accident and injury to preserve your right to file a claim.
Meet with Your Personal Injury Lawyer
A consultation with your personal injury lawyer sets the stage for your case. You and your lawyer will first discuss your claim and the circumstances surrounding it, such as:
After assessing the intricacies of your claim, your lawyer will advise you on the best course of action.
If your lawyer decides to proceed with your case, they will initiate an investigation. Your lawyer will gather evidence, visit the scene of the incident, speak with witnesses, review medical bills and other treatments received, and get a better understanding of what happened and why.
Prepare and Submit a Demand Letter
This is your formal request for compensation, backed by evidence. Evidence may include police reports, photos of the injuries, medical bills and records, and documentation of lost wages. This letter is sent to the at-fault party’s insurance company, which will review and evaluate the value of your claims.
Accept a Settlement or Counter with Another Offer
The insurance company can deny your claim outright, agree to pay what you’ve requested, or offer a different amount of money. The choice is yours: you can accept a deal or counter with a different offer.
File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If negotiations have stalled, or it’s become clear that the insurer (or at-fault party) won’t offer a reasonable settlement, it’s time to file a civil claim for damages. Your lawyer will prepare a complaint and file it with the appropriate court in your jurisdiction, as well as serve copies of related forms to the defendant.
Discovery is an often-lengthy process that provides an opportunity for each party to gather information about the case. Your attorney will send requests for documents and interrogatories to the defendant. They may depose witnesses and parties with information relevant to your case. You may also be deposed or asked to provide sworn answers to questions submitted by the defendant.
Once discovery is completed and all parties have exhausted pre-trial motions, the case will go to trial. At trial, attorneys for the defendant and plaintiff will argue their respective cases, examine (and cross-examine) witnesses, and present evidence to the judge and jury. Parties can still agree to settle a case privately up until the moment a jury returns with a verdict.
What is the average settlement for a personal injury case?
There is no standard settlement or value for personal injury cases. Every victim, every accident, and every injury is unique.
However, there are many factors that will be relevant when it comes to your case:
Working with a personal injury lawyer is the most important step toward receiving the compensation you deserve for your injury.
Will I have to go to trial?
It is possible. However, the vast majority of personal injury cases don’t go to trial. Rather, they’re settled privately, often before the case gets that far in the process.
Whether or not you go to trial will depend on the parties’ willingness to negotiate and how clear-cut liability is. Ultimately, it’s up to you. If you decide that you aren’t getting a reasonable settlement offer and want to push for a potentially better result from a jury, that’s your right. Your attorney will offer guidance and support as you are tasked to make these difficult and important decisions.
Can I file a lawsuit without an attorney?
Yes, you can file a lawsuit without an attorney. However, you’ll have to comply with your state’s rules of civil procedure, which can be confusing if you aren’t familiar with the law. Additionally, errors can be costly in terms of both time and money.
When you file a lawsuit without an attorney, you’re also not sending the best message to the defendants in your case. Insurance companies and experienced defense attorneys won’t be threatened by the fact that you are trying to take them to court. They might not extend their best possible settlement because they don’t see a threat if you go to trial without representation.
That changes when an attorney files your lawsuit. When you have a reputable and successful trial attorney representing you, it can prompt more meaningful negotiations and set you up for a better result if you take your case to trial.
How long will it take to settle my claim?
It depends. An insurance company might be quick to make a settlement offer after you get hurt. If that’s the case, you are free to accept. However, if there is a quick offer from an insurance company, it is often worth much less than the full value of your damages. Insurance companies want to close out claims quickly and pay the lowest amount.
Accepting a settlement early in the process might put cash in your pocket now, but it can be detrimental in the long run. When you accept, you’ll sign a waiver of liability, which releases the insurer (and at-fault party) from responsibility for additional damages. If you have costs, expenses, or losses related to your injury in the future, you’ll be out of luck. You won’t be able to pursue additional compensation.
The length of time it takes to get a fair settlement can depend on your recovery time, whether liability is contested, and your willingness to push for the best possible result.
Our attorneys have also created video answers to some of the frequently asked questions about car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and insurance coverage. You can learn more here or visit our YouTube channel:
- How do I sue an insurance company after an auto accident?
- What can I claim in an auto accident?
- What will insurance cover if I get hurt?
- Does health insurance cover motorcycle accident injuries?
- Does insurance cover bicycle accidents?
- Who is at fault in a pedestrian accident?
- How much compensation can I get for a pedestrian accident?
- How can we prevent accidents as pedestrians?