Indianapolis Car Accident Attorneys
In the U.S., there are almost 4 million miles of public roadways that are traveled by millions of Americans every day on their way to work, school or for leisure. While vehicles are being made safer every year, and accidents are generally preventable, with so many miles of asphalt and concrete filled with vehicles, there are bound to be accidents- some minor, some severe, and some fatal- and these unfortunately happen every day.
As a result, there is an average of more than 2 people killed each day in Indiana as a result of car accidents. Most of these accidents are caused by driver negligence and distraction, leading to over 5000 people who are killed each year nationwide. At Wagner Reese, the experienced and knowledgeable car accident lawyers work hard to fight back against distracted driving, negligent driving, drunk driving and all other types of preventable, accident-causing driving behaviors that result in a car accident.
Ways to Increase the Value of Your Car Accident Claim
The attorneys at Wagner Reese handle hundreds of car accident cases each year. We know how to maximize the value of your claim, so that you are properly compensated for the traumatic event that happened to you and your family.
Witnesses – collect contact information for anyone who witnessed the accident. Witness statements can provide vital information in determining who is at fault. Especially if an insurance company is trying to blame you for all or part of the auto accident, a witness statement indicating otherwise will be even more valuable in limiting your liability.
Police officers and those investigating the scene should collect this information, but as long as you are not limited by injuries able, be sure to collect this information on your own. Having a duplicate record will never hurt your case!
Medical Treatment – Never wait to seek medical treatment. Delayed medical treatment can be detrimental to your case. Document all pain and suffering related to your auto accident injuries. Keep all related medical appointments and be sure to note dates and times to help recover any lost wages from time off work.
Many insurance adjusters refuse to pay claims when there has been a delay in seeking medical treatment. Victims often end up either uncompensated or under-compensated for this reason. While it is not uncommon for accident victims to feel uninjured, most do start to show symptoms within a day or two of the accident. It is very important to document the onset of any signs or symptoms of injury from the accident and to seek treatment for those injuries immediately. Clearly documented medical records are a key essential to successfully pursuing an accident claim.
Police Report – Request a copy of the accident report. In some circumstances, police reports can have errors or missing information from lack of communicate with all parties involved at the time the accident occurred. The accident report should always be reviewed for accuracy.
If there are errors, an attorney may be able to help you get the report amended. The report could provide your attorney with additional insights into new evidence and/or witnesses.
Insurance Companies – insurance companies will contact you soon after the accident, most often while you are still early in the recovery stages, and will try to obtain statements, medical releases and other information they can use to limit their liability or deny your claim.
Our experienced Indianapolis car accident attorneys will review the insurance policies and help you understand what to expect, so you can avoid being taken advantage of by large insurance companies who want to limit your settlement.
Lost Wages – Past and future lost wages, or loss of earning capacity. If injuries sustained in the auto accident left you unable to work, you may be entitled to reclaim part or all lost wages to ease the surmounting debt as a result of time off work.
Loss of Consortium
Your relationship with your spouse or partner is a significant part of your life. Injuries that occurred due to your accident may have changed the relationship. Our Indianapolis personal injury legal team will make sure your loss of consortium is represented and that you receive maximum compensation.
11 Steps to Take Following Your Indiana Crash
You Have Been Involved In An Auto Accident, Now What?
- Stay at the Scene
Never leave the scene until you have been cleared to do so. If you flee the scene, it is considered a hit-and-run. You can face serious criminal penalties, especially when injuries are sustained.
- Check on All Drivers and Passengers
If you are able to, check on all parties involved in the accident to determine if anyone is in need of medical attention. Never move an unconscious person or someone complaining of neck or back pain, unless their life depends on it. Call for help if medical attention is needed. If everyone is okay, assess property damage.
- Call the Police
Whenever there is evidence of property damage, injury or death, the police must be called. Always gather officer names and badge numbers and request a police report be filed.
- Exchange Information
Get names, phone numbers, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance information from all drivers involved. If there are passengers, also obtain their names, numbers, and addresses.
You also want to gather contact information for any witnesses at the scene.
- Inform Your Insurance Company
Review your insurance policy and then contact your insurance company immediately. Explain the facts of the accident clearly. Obtain and review any police report filed, so you can check for accuracy and determine who was at fault.
Keep a detailed account of all conversations with insurance company representatives, and be sure to take note of their names, phone numbers, and job titles.
- Seek Medical Attention & Keep Track of Your Medical Treatment
Seek medical attention immediately and anytime you have been involved in more than a fender bender. Note any doctors or other medical professionals you received treatment from. Keep a detailed record dates, times, treatments and/or medications you receive. Request a copy of all medical reports and expenses.
Keep a record of how your injuries have impacted your daily life. Include any time off work, missed routine activities, and how the injuries have affected your family life and personal life.
- Take Pictures
If you are able to, take pictures at the scene of the accident, all vehicles involved, and any damage to your vehicle and the other vehicle related to the accident. Be sure to get photos of any injuries as well. Photos will help determine who is at fault in case of disputes, serves as importance pieces of evidence if your case goes to court, and will help determine compensation for your claim.
- Request Vehicle Valuation
Request insurance adjuster’s estimation of vehicle valuation. If you are satisfied, proceed with getting estimates from body shops for repairs. If you don’t agree with the insurance adjuster, get at least two independent valuations and report back to the initial insurance company. Contact an experienced Indianapolis accident attorney if you still can’t agree on a value.
- Avoid Discussing the Accident
You should not discuss the accident with anyone except your attorney, your insurance company, and the police. Never talk to the other insurance company, refer the call to your attorney.
- Reject Early Settlement Offers
Never sign a release with the other insurance company. Refer all offers to your attorney. Never accept an offer until all medical treatments have concluded and you have been fully released by your medical provider. Always consult with an experience personal injury attorney prior to signing any legal documents related to your accident.
- Consult with an Attorney to Answer Your Questions
Auto accident claims can be complicated, especially if injuries were sustained in the accident. A personal injury attorney can ensure you receive a fair settlement and recover maximum compensation for you injuries. Contact Wagner Reese to receive a free case evaluation.
Common Mistakes to Avoid After a Car Accident
- Never apologize at the scene. An apology can be mistaken as a sign of guilt. Indiana is an “at fault” state, meaning legal liability must be determined. Try not to admit guilt unintentionally.
- Never give recorded or written statements to either your insurance company or the other insurance company until you have reviewed and understand your coverage. And, until fault has been determined and you have reviewed your case for accuracy. You can deny recording of your telephone conversation. If you have questions regarding your policy, contact an experienced Indianapolis personal injury attorney to discuss your policy and your accident claim with you.
- Never accept initial settlement offers. Insurance companies often contact you immediately following the accident with a low-ball offer in hopes of settling quickly with limited liability. You could risk losing hundreds of thousands in compensation if you aren’t careful.
- Never sign a release or any forms provided by the other insurance company until you obtain legal advice. If you sign before medical treatment is concluded, or an experience law firm has reviewed your case, you put your claim at risk.
- Never ignore time restrictions. Indiana has a statute of limitations. And, most insurance companies have policies that require a signed proof of loss within a certain time limit. In most cases you have one year to file a claim with the insurance company. If you have any questions, or are unsatisfied with how your claim is being handled contact the office of Wagner Reese for further assistance.
A Further Note About Statute of Limitations – Indiana statute of limitations dictates how much time you have to file a claim. It is important to be aware of all laws and dates regarding your case so that your claim does not expire, resulting in total loss of compensation.
Indiana Accident Statistics
- In 2016, 821 people were killed on roadways in Indiana
- The National Safety Council estimates that for every 100,000 people, there are over 12.4 fatalities in the U.S.
- In 2016, collision involvement rates were higher among young drivers, both male and female, than any other age group due to aggressive driving and lack of experience
- Alcohol-impaired drivers accounted for 9.5 percent of all fatal collisions
- 25 percent of fatal collision involved speeding
- Over two thirds of accidents with injuries occur in urban areas
When you call our Indiana car accident lawyers at Wagner Reese, we’ll immediately begin collecting evidence that proves the other driver’s negligence, whether he or she was speeding, driving while impaired, or engaging in reckless and dangerous driving.
Causes of Indiana Auto Accidents
There were over 6.2 million police reported car accidents in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Drivers have a responsibility to themselves and to others to drive safely. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to uphold that responsibility by either engaging in dangerous behaviors or failing to adapt to traffic and weather conditions.
Some of the most common factors that lead to crashes include:
These days distracted driving is the number one cause of auto related accidents. Talking and texting on cellphones contributes to 1.6 million accidents every year according to the National Safety Council. Other types of distracted driving include listening to the radio, eating, or having a conversation in the car can cause a driver to lose attention.
All major roads in Indiana have speed limits, which are posted and enforced. Exceeding the speed limit not only makes drivers more likely to lose control of their vehicle, but it also reduces the amount of time they have to react to other cars.
Driving is a complex task that involves multiple parts of the brain and use of fine motor skills. Intoxicated drivers may exhibit poor judgment, experience blurry vision, and be less capable of keeping their vehicles in their lane.
Every 51 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies in an alcohol or drug-related crash. In 2017, over one million people were injured in alcohol-related traffic crashes. Nowadays, the person or persons who served the individual found guilty of drunk driving may also face charges.
A driver is considered liable for an accident due to his or her intentional or reckless conduct. The NHTSA defines aggressive driving as a progression of unlawful driving actions such as:
- Speeding above the posted limit or driving too fast for the current conditions
- Improper or excessive lane changing, including failure to signal intent and failure to check that the lane change can be made safely
- Improper passing, including failure to signal intent and use of the shoulder, median, or an emergency lane to pass
- Disobeying traffic signs or signals
- Failing to signal while turning or passing where prohibited
- Disregarding weather or traffic conditions
- Inclement weather: Rain, snow, ice, and fog can reduce visibility and tire traction, making it more difficult to see and navigate turns. It’s important to reduce speed and drive accordingly in poor weather conditions.
Vehicle Product Liability
More and more frequently, automobile accidents occur due to a defect in someone’s automobile. In these cases, an automobile manufacturer or supplier may be held responsible for injuries caused by a defect in the automobile under the law of product liability.
In other cases, government entities can be held liable for auto accidents. Such incidents would include:
- Poorly maintained roadways
- Malfunctioning traffic controls
- Poor lit or lack-there-of construction signage
- Lighting on the roadways
- Missing guardrails and other roadway defects
Most Common Injuries Related to Indiana Auto Accidents
The five deadliest types of car accidents are:
- Head-on collisions
- Rollover accidents
- High speed
- Side impact or T-bone
Some of the most common car accident-related injuries include:
- Head and brain injuries
Both the skull and brain are susceptible to serious injury during crashes.
- Neck and spine injuries
Rear-end collisions, head-on collisions, and side-impact collisions can put enormous force on victims’ bodies.
- Back injuries
Auto accidents have the potential to cause micro-tears, ligament damage, and soft tissue injuries in the back region.
- Bleeding injuries
Suffering serious cuts, contusions, and lacerations due to broken glass, flying debris, and even ejection. Victims may experience significant blood loss that can be life-threatening without immediate treatment.
- Internal injuries
Some of the most dangerous and deadly car accident-related injuries aren’t visible to the naked eye.
Not all symptoms appear immediately. It is important to seek medical attention right away.
Leading Cause of Childhood Deaths
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the leading causes of death for children is car accidents. The proper use of car seats for infants reduces the risk of death by 71% and by 54% for toddlers. The CDC notes that child restraint systems are often used improperly and increase the risk of injury to a child due to improper use.
The CDC recommends:
- Use the correct car seat, booster seat or seat belt for your children. The appropriate car seat restraint depends on the child’s age, height, and weight.
- Use the proper restraint system every time the child is in the vehicle
- Always have children sit in the back seat. The middle of the back seat is also the safest place in the car.
- Never seat children under the age of 12 in front of an airbag.
- Use a rear-facing car seat for infants under the age of two.
- Use a forward facing car seat for children ages two to five.
- For children five and up, use a booster seat until a seat belt fits them properly. Seat belts should fit so that the lap belt lays across the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt lays across the chest.
- Install car seat correctly using proper attachments and hook mechanisms.
If your child is injured or killed in an auto accident where it is determined the child was improperly restrained, your will not be entitled to recover compensation for their injuries.
How Much Insurance Coverage Do You Need in Indiana?
Indiana law requires drivers to carry a minimum of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident in personal injury coverage, and a minimum of $10,000 in property damage coverage. Just as there are separate claim allowances, these claims are also handled separately and paid out separately by the insurance company. A majority of the settlement will come out of the personal injury coverage, however, any property damage claims are paid out of the required minimum $10,000 in property damage coverage. It is best to handle property damage claims on your own. Attorney fees would absorb most of the settlement awarded in a property damage claim.
Drivers found to be driving without valid auto insurance in Indiana can have their licenses suspended for up to a year or longer. Drivers involved in an accident without auto insurance will face further penalties. Indiana drivers must carry two types of coverage:
- Liability insurance
Liability insurance coverage is designed to compensate for injuries sustained in an auto accident. Minimum liability insurance requirements in Indiana are:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injuries
- $50,000 per accident in the event of multiple injuries
- $10,000 per accident for property damage
- Uninsured (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance
Indiana requires all drivers protect themselves from legal penalties involving auto accidents by purchasing the minimum uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. The minimum coverage for this type of insurance is:
- Uninsured motorist coverage: Equal to the minimum limits for liability coverage
- Underinsured motorist insurance: $50,000 per accident
In addition to these insurance requirements, additional coverage can be purchased, including comprehensive insurance that covers damages to their vehicles, collision insurance, and medical payment coverage.
How Uninsured Motorist Coverage Works
The state of Indiana does not require you to carry auto insurance. However, it does require you to demonstrate and agree to “financial responsibility” in order to be a licensed driver. Not carrying the minimum insurance coverage can result in the loss your license and additional legal penalties.
If you have uninsured motorist coverage, and no other coverage for the at-fault driver is available, then your insurance company will be contacted to compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, as well as the damage to your vehicle.
How Do Insurance Companies Calculate Diminished Value
Insurance companies will send out an adjuster to appraise your vehicle and determine it’s worth before and after the accident. Each insurance company has its own set of rules and formulas to determine how they reach this value. Usually the following factors are taken into consideration:
- factory-installed options
- pre-accident condition (including mileage and previous accidents)
- geographical location
- A title free from legal defects
- The same make, model and year as vehicle (Kelley Blue Book Value)
How to Pursue a Diminished Value Claim
Request the insurance adjuster’s estimation of your vehicle’s value. If you don’t agree with the insurance adjuster, get at least two independent valuations and report back to the initial insurance company. Contact an experienced Indianapolis accident attorney if you still can’t agree on a value.
If the diminished value of your vehicle is less than $6,000, you should file a claim in small claims court without hiring an attorney. Also, if your accident was caused by an uninsured driver, you can seek compensation for diminished value of your car from your own insurance company under the “uninsured motorist” portion of your insurance policy. This is subject to your “underinsured motorist” policy limits.
The statute of limitations in Indiana for this type of claim is two years. You can claim diminished value on car accidents that happen in Indiana for up to two years after the crash. Failure to file a diminished value claim before the expiration of the two-year statute of limitations will result in loss of compensation.
A Note About Recovery Limits
In 2012, Indiana put a compensation cap on non-economic based damages. For personal injury cases in the state of Indiana, any case paid by the government may not exceed an award of $5,000,000. The Indiana Supreme Court is currently contesting this cap as unconstitutional, so these limits may soon be abolished.
Indianapolis Car Accident Attorneys
Contact the Indianapolis Law Firm of Wagner Reese for a Complimentary Case Evaluation. No Fees Unless We Win Your Case
Don’t pay out of pocket for injuries that weren’t your fault. If you were injured in an auto accident, the lawyers at Wagner Reese are available to provide you with the individual attention you need and deserve. Our legal team will review your case and calculate your current and future accident-related expenses, and we’ll do everything we can to maximize your compensation.
There are no fees involved unless we successfully settle your case. To schedule your free case review, call the Indianapolis Law Office of Stephen Wagner and Jason Reese at 888-710-9377.