Personal injury lawsuits usually arise when a person suffers from an injury or accident due to the fault of another person. The individual who causes the accident is legally liable for the harm inflicted on the other person. In such cases, the responsible person’s insurance company will have to pay for the victim’s medical expenses and other ongoing medical bills.
Personal injuries and their compensation typically vary from one person to another depending on the injury’s circumstances. Similarly, Indiana has its injury lawsuit process, which is different from those living in other states.
“To fully establish who is legally at fault in cases of dispute or personal injuries, a lawsuit needs to be filed”, says attorney Michael McCready of McCready Law. This article is a guide to Indiana personal injury lawsuits, their elements, time limitations, damages, and compensation.
Things you should know about an Indiana Personal Injury Lawsuit
Before filing a personal injury lawsuit in Indiana, you should be familiar with certain provisions made by the law including:
#1. Time Limitation
Time limitation is also known as the “statute of limitations.” It is the amount of time given for a person to file a lawsuit after an accident has taken place. The Indiana personal injury lawsuits statute of limitations extends the timing for filing a lawsuit to two years.
However, there are certain exceptions to these time limitations on personal injuries in Indiana, such as in cases of medical malpractice or any other specific claims. In such cases, your time limitation begins upon your discovery of the injury.
An example could be when a person suffers an injury and discovers after a series of medical treatments that the injury was due to another’s negligence. With the help of a personal injury attorney, the injured person can build and establish a case based on time limitations.
For claimants filing a claim against a city or county, the time limit is usually 180 days. Where the defendant is a state government agency, the limit is extended to 270 days. If a claimant fails to file a claim before the time limitation lapses, they stand the chance of losing their case.
#2. Comparative Fault for Personal Injury Claims
A comparative fault lawsuit in Indiana is filed in cases where an injured person is partially responsible for the incident leading to the injury. In such cases, the victim must be less than 50 percent at fault for the accident caused to file the suit successfully. The purpose of the comparative lawsuit is to reduce and even eliminate the degree of damages on the injured person.
An example could be in a car accident case if your car brake fails and hits a person’s personal property, and you are then given a fine of $10,000. However, you later discover that the cause of the accident was that the driver tampered with your car brake while parking it.
During the lawsuit, if the jury determines that the driver is 80 percent at fault for mishandling your brake and you are 10 percent at fault for negligence, you can recover your award by 10 percent. If your jury discovers that you are more than 50 percent at fault due to negligence over a long period, then this lawsuit fails, and you cannot apply for damages.
#3. Liability for Cases of Dog Bite/Attack
The court will rule off a dog as not being dangerous in cases where it injured someone for the first time. Here, the dog owners enjoy protection from injury liability. In Indiana, this liability is usually referred to as the “one bite” rule.
The Indiana Code 15-20-1-3 provides for strict liability by the dog owners. Where a dog bites a person on public property without provocation, or on private property without the victim trespassing, the owner of the dog is liable for all damages suffered by the person bitten. The owner would then be required to pay compensation to the victim.
#4. Punitive Damages
A lawsuit on punitive damages in Indiana is created to punish the person who committed the crime and has no intention to compensate the victim for the crime. The person who committed the crime must be highly responsible for the crime. In such cases, the plaintiff keeps 25 percent of the damages award, and the remaining 75 percent goes to the Violent Crime Victim Compensation Funds.
Elements of a Personal Injury Case
Certain elements must be in place before claimants can file for a personal injury Lawsuit in Indiana. These elements include:
- Duty to exercise reasonable care: There is a duty to exercise reasonable care, and this duty is usually owed to the victim by the person at fault. The obligation to exercise reasonable care is typically easy to establish if the victim is in the same environment as the person at fault.
- Failure to exercise reasonable care: The victim has to prove that the person at fault failed in their duty to exercise reasonable care. In such cases, even if the victim is partially at fault, the other party will still be held liable for negligence.
- That there was causation: Causation is another element that has to be in a personal injury case. Here, the victim proves that the defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care is the actual cause of the injury. The person at fault contributed to the accident. However, if the victim has a hand in the accident, it may reduce the amount to pay as damages. It is the responsibility of the person accused to prove that the victim is responsible for the accident.
- That the Victim Suffered Actual Damage: The victim may need to prove that as a result of the other elements, the victim suffered actual damages from the accused. The case is usually filed to compensate the victim for the injury caused to himself or his property.
Individuals affected by personal injury cases in Indiana can decide whether to settle in or outside the court. It is, however, essential to have background knowledge of how these types of cases work. However, speaking with a knowledgeable attorney can make a difference in your case.