Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Personal Injury Laws in Indiana
Below are the answers to common initial questions many clients have when they first contact Keller and Keller. We hope that the information below address many initial concerns you may have, but if you don't find the answers here, please contact us with questions specific to your case. The consultation is free and confidential.
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Is there a difference between uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage?
All cars registered in the state of Indiana are required to carry a minimum amount of car liability insurance to cover anyone injured by the driver. If you have the misfortune of being in an accident caused by a driver who does not have the required insurance—or does not have enough insurance to pay the total amount of your damages—you will have to rely on your own uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. This coverage applies to both uninsured drivers and underinsured drivers.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage is the part of your policy that pays you for your injuries when someone who has no coverage injures you. It also pays you for your injuries when the at-fault driver has insurance coverage, but the liability limit is not high enough to fully compensate you for all you have suffered. These two situations fall under the same type of policy. In Indiana, your uninsured motorist coverage is automatically included in a minimum-coverage policy, but you may opt out of the coverage by submitting a written request to your insurance company, which we advise against. Along with the $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident UM coverage, you are required to carry the following:
- $25,000 per person for death or bodily injury
- $50,000 per accident for death or bodily injury
- $10,000 per accident for damage to other people’s property
Clearly, serious injuries sustained in an accident can easily lead to medical bills in excess of $25,000. When the at-fault driver’s insurance policy is not enough to cover your injuries, your own UM coverage will contribute up to an additional $25,000 towards your economic and non-economic damages.
You May Need an Attorney to Advocate for You With Both Insurance Companies
No insurance company is happy to pay out on policies. If you are seeking compensation from an at-fault driver’s insurance company as well as your own UM policy, you will need the help of an experienced Indiana car accident attorney. Connect with us through the link on this page to learn more.
How do I make a claim against an insurance company in Indiana?
Because Indiana is a “fault” state for car insurance purposes, as an accident victim, you have several options for collecting an insurance settlement when you are injured in a crash. If the other driver is found to be at fault, you can file a claim against his insurance company. You may also have to file a claim against your own policy, depending on what kinds of coverage you have. Filing a claim is not difficult, but you should make sure you are filing against the right policies.
Getting the Information You Need
If you will be filing against the other driver’s policy, you will need to get his name and insurance information. An official copy of the police report should have details, including the policy number under which the other driver is insured. To file the claim, you will need to provide the name of their insured, policy number, date of accident and item or accident report number
Contacting the Insurance Company
Virtually all insurance companies have toll free numbers for reporting claims which can be used to report the accident. Once you report the accident, a claim number will be assigned to your case which you can use for future communications or for reference when checking on the status of the claim.
Be careful when discussing the accident with an adjuster for the other driver's insurance company. Avoid giving statements or recorded testimony about how the accident occurred. Those details are usually contained on the accident report which can easily be obtained by the adjuster. If the accident report is accurate, simply refer the adjuster to it.
Adjusters frequently try to elicit a statement from the opposing party in an attempt to minimize your damages or deny your claim. Give only the information that is absolutely necessary and contact an experienced Indianapolis accident attorney if you have any doubts or questions about what information to provide.
Contacting Your Own Insurance Company
It is also important to report the accident to your own insurance company, even if you are not at fault in the accident. You may have a certain coverage that will immediately pay for your property damage and medical expenses without having to wait and learn whether or not the other insurance company is accepting or denying liability. When you file a claim with your own insurance company and they pay you benefits, they will then seek to recover their money from the other insurance company. This is called subrogation.
You May Not Have to Do Anything
In most instances, the other driver's insurance company will attempt to contact you once they learn about the accident. If a police report wasn't filed, then you may need to contact the insurance company based on the information given to you by the other driver, as they may not report the accident themselves. If the adverse insurance company does contact you, make sure you tell them that you want to know the claim number they have set up to process your claim against their driver.
When You Need an Attorney
Sometimes, car accident claims can be handled by those involved with no problem. When there is a dispute over fault or the seriousness of injuries, however, you may need the help of an experienced Indiana car accident attorney. Call Keller & Keller if you have any trouble filing a claim or getting the settlement you need and deserve.
If I don’t have insurance at the time of an accident, can I still make a claim against the other driver?
As a driver in Indiana, you are required by law to carry appropriate auto insurance. If you are caught without insurance, you are subject to fines and a suspension of your license. As of 2015, you may also forfeit your right to collect from an at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Under a statute known as “No Pay, No Play,” Indiana drivers who do not have the required car insurance for their own vehicle may not be able to collect all the damages an insured driver would be able to.
How “No Pay, No Play” Works
In an effort to crack down on uninsured drivers in Indiana, the state legislature passed the “No Pay, No Play” program to withhold certain privileges from uninsured drivers. Under the program, an uninsured driver would be eligible to collect all damages—including non-compensatory damages such as payment for pain and suffering—the first time they are in an accident without insurance. If they are in another accident that was not their fault and are still not insured, however, they will only be eligible for compensatory damages. The legislature also doubled the fines charged for driving without insurance.
Insurance Required in Indiana
Under state law, if you own a car in Indiana, you must carry liability insurance in the following amounts:
- Bodily injury coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Property damage coverage of $10,000
While you are not required to carry uninsured motorist coverage, it will be automatically included in your state-minimum policy. To have it removed, you will have to make a request in writing. However, we highly recommend carrying uninsured motorist coverage as 16 percent of Indiana drivers do not have insurance. If an uninsured driver causes an accident and you are seriously injured, you will need the uninsured motorist policy to help pay your medical expenses and make up for lost wages.
Always Carry Auto Insurance
Not only is not having auto insurance illegal, it is very risky. Even if you are not at fault in an accident that leaves you injured, you may not be able to make a full recovery of damages if you do not have insurance. We recommend purchasing the most coverage you can afford and staying up with payments. Otherwise, a car accident could wipe you out in more ways than one.
Do most automobile accident cases settle before I must file a lawsuit?
In most cases, the answer to this question is yes. In fact, most insurance companies will be anxious to settle quickly and may even offer you what seems like an adequate settlement immediately following the crash. However, we recommend that you never accept a settlement offer that quickly and, if there are any complicating factors, you hire a lawyer and take the time to negotiate a fair settlement. In some cases, this may even mean filing a lawsuit and going to trial.
What Factors Can Complicate a Car Accident Claim?
Not all car accident cases are cut and dried. When fault is in dispute or catastrophic injuries are involved, the case becomes much more complicated. If you as the victim are not being treated fairly, the only way to settle your case may be through a lawsuit and possibly even a trial. Some factors that can complicate your car crash claim include the following:
- Serious injuries. If the plaintiff suffered catastrophic injuries, such as brain damage, paralysis, or limb amputation, the ultimate cost of treatment and recovery will not be known for some time. These kinds of injury also require long-term or life-long care. In most situations, these cases should not be settled out of court.
- Fault is in dispute. If fault for the crash was not assigned by the police, or it was determined to be shared fault, a trial may be necessary to resolve the dispute. A judge or jury will assign a percentage of fault to one or both parties, which will affect how compensation is distributed.
- Amount of compensation is in dispute. If the insurance company for the at-fault driver rejects the settlement amount demanded by the plaintiff, it may have to go to a jury to decide. When large dollar amounts are involved, most insurance adjusters will reject the initial demand in an attempt to lower the settlement.
When an Early Settlement May Be to Your Advantage
An early settlement may be acceptable if your injuries are not serious and the at-fault party makes a fair offer. The biggest advantage to this is that you will have money in your pocket quickly. Another advantage is that you will not risk running out of time under Indiana’s statute of limitations. You have two years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit in Indiana, which is plenty of time in most cases. However, if you are waiting for a full physical recovery in order to know how much your damages are worth, you could come close to the deadline.
The attorneys at Keller & Keller would be happy to discuss your case and help you determine your best course of action.
Does my uninsured motorist coverage apply even if I am injured in another person's vehicle?
You purchased uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage to provide you with compensation if you were to be involved in an accident with a driver who did not have insurance. This is important coverage to have because—even though drivers in Indiana are required by law to have car insurance—many drivers are not insured. If an uninsured driver is responsible for the crash that left you injured, you would have no choice but to file a claim against your own insurance policy. However, with an uninsured or underinsured motorist policy, you have added protection to cover your medical bills and lost wages.
Your Policy May Do More Than You Thought
While you are probably aware of what a UIM policy will cover if your car is involved in a crash, you may not realize that the policy may also cover you in other situations. Under most policies, your uninsured motorist coverage follows you to every vehicle in which you are an occupant or a driver. Thus, if you are riding with a friend and get involved in an automobile accident with a driver who was at fault, but who does not have either any insurance or enough insurance, your uninsured motorist coverage will pay your damages up to the policy limits.
There Is No Reason Not to Carry UIM in Indiana
If you own a car in Indiana, you are required to carry a certain amount of liability insurance in case you cause a crash. You may also opt for additional coverage to pay for damage to your own car if you are in an accident. Every auto insurance policy in Indiana will also include uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, but you have the option to reject this coverage. You must do so in writing, stating that you were offered the coverage, but have chosen not to accept it. We do not recommend that you do this. This money is there for you if you are injured by an uninsured driver and could prove to be vital in helping you make a full recovery.
Call Keller & Keller With Your Car Accident Questions
If you have questions about who should pay for your car accident expenses in Indiana, contact one of our convenient Indiana office locations today. We are here to help.
Following a car accident, who pays for my medical bills and car repairs?
The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors. However, if you or your passenger is seriously injured in a car crash, your first concern should be getting medical care, not who is going to pay for it. Once liability is worked out and settlements are negotiated, reimbursements will be issued if necessary. In general, the party responsible for causing the accident is also responsible for paying for it.
When the Other Person Pays
If you share none of the fault in the accident, the other driver will be responsible for paying all of your costs. These costs are paid through the at-fault party's liability insurance and will cover your personal injuries and car repairs. However, the amount you receive will be limited to the amount of insurance he carries. If he has the minimum required by law in Indiana, your maximum payout will be $25,000 per person for bodily injury and $10,000 for property damage. If your costs exceed that, you may have to look to other sources for payment. One source may be the at-fault driver’s umbrella insurance policy, if he has one.
When You Pay
If the other driver is at fault, but does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to compensate you, your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will pay your medical costs and may cover property damage as well. You may also look to the following sources:
- Your health insurance
- Your medical payments coverage insurance policy
- Collision insurance on your car
If you were at fault in the accident, your liability insurance will pay for the injuries and property damage of the other driver. If you have collision coverage, that will pay for your vehicle damage. You will have to look to your health insurance for medical care, unless you have medical payments coverage with your insurance company.
How an Attorney Can Help
As you can see, it is important that you carry comprehensive insurance to protect yourself in the event of an accident. Whether the accident is your fault or not, you may end up relying on your own coverage to get you through. And while you may be entitled to compensation, insurance companies almost always fight back. An experienced car accident attorney from Keller and Keller will know where to go for compensation and will negotiate for the best possible award so that you can focus on your recovery. Call us today for a free consultation.
What are the benefits of an Indiana umbrella insurance policy?
We encourage our clients to purchase as much car insurance as they can reasonably afford. In general, the more coverage you have available, the more likely it is that you will receive all of the compensation you need if you are involved in a serious accident. One way to give yourself extra protection is to purchase an umbrella or excess policy.
How Does an Umbrella Policy Work?
While an umbrella policy will cover all of the policies you have with that insurance company—including homeowner’s, renter’s, boat, and auto—we will focus on auto coverage for our purposes. With an umbrella policy, if the expenses related to a car crash exceed coverage, you may pull from the umbrella coverage. This applies particularly in cases of your liability. For example, if you are found to be 100 percent at fault in a car accident and your $25,000 bodily injury coverage is not enough to cover the injured party’s expenses, your umbrella policy will make up the difference. This protects your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit against you for additional damages.
When you purchase an umbrella policy, you will want to make sure it provides uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This way, if the other driver is at fault and doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your expenses, you can draw on your own umbrella policy. Likewise, if the other driver has an umbrella policy, a claim should be made against it for your damages.
An umbrella policy in the amount of $1 million is usually available for a few hundred dollars extra per year, making it well worth the money considering the potential cost of a catastrophic car accident. The policy will also apply to your homeowner’s policy in the event of a natural disaster or fire.
Make Sure You Are Covered!
Car accident claims are almost always paid by insurance companies. Whether it is your policy or another driver’s, the amount you can recover is limited by insurance policy limits. That is why we encourage all drivers to carry maximum coverage amounts. Even with an attorney on your side, you will rarely be able to get more than the value of all applicable insurance policies. If you have questions about umbrella policies or anything else related to car accidents, feel free to call our offices today.
What is medical payments coverage?
When you are purchasing car insurance in Indiana, you will be offered several types of optional coverage. It is important that you understand what these options are in order to determine if the coverage is worth the money. One of these options is medical payments coverage. Simply put, this coverage will pay medical expenses for injuries sustained in an accident in your own car. The coverage also extends to any passengers in your car.
Why Would I Need Medical Payments Coverage If I Have Other Insurance?
When you are injured in a car accident, there could be several sources of compensation for medical bills. If the crash was the fault of another driver, his insurance policy should pay for your medical care. If his insurance is lacking or insufficient—or the crash was your own fault—you can file a claim against your own car insurance policy. Whether coming from another driver’s insurance or your own, the coverage will be limited to the amount of the policy. Indiana’s minimum coverage requirement for bodily harm is $25,000 per person ($50,000 per accident). Medical bills for catastrophic injuries can easily exceed $25,000. After that, your health insurance—if you have it—should cover the rest of the medical costs.
The advantage of medical payments coverage is that it kicks in immediately to pay medical expenses, regardless of fault in the accident. If you are in a battle with your own or another insurance company for a fair settlement, this coverage could be essential to making ends meet. It will also cover any deductibles or uncovered expenses you have with your health insurance policy. And unlike health insurance, it will cover medical expenses for any passengers injured in your car.
What Bills Will Medical Payments Coverage Pay?
If you have purchased a medical payments policy, it will cover any and all medical expenses, including the following:
- Doctor visits
- Hospital stays
- EMT & ambulance fees
- Professional nursing service and care
This coverage applies regardless of the fault of the parties and must be automatically paid if you present proof of medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident in which you were involved in your own vehicle.
Insurance Advice From Keller and Keller
In general, we recommend carrying the maximum amount of car insurance you can afford, including uninsured motorist coverage and medical payments coverage, especially if there are high deductibles or gaps in your health insurance. If you are in a serious car crash, you will need all the financial help you can get and the only way to guarantee maximum coverage is to carry it yourself. Connect with our office today if you have questions about your Indiana insurance coverage.
What happens if I'm in a car accident with an unlicensed driver?
It is traumatic enough just to be involved in a traffic accident, but to discover that the driver who caused the crash is unlicensed and may not be insured makes matters even worse. Where do you stand in such a situation? We explain several scenarios here.
Unlicensed Drivers and Liability
It makes no difference whether the driver who hit you was operating the vehicle with a suspended Indiana driver's license or he never had a license at all. In the eyes of the police, both drivers are unlicensed drivers and this will be noted in the accident report. However, the status of the driver’s license will not affect determination of fault. If he is to blame for the crash, he will be at fault. The more important question is whether the vehicle he was driving is insured. The following are all possibilities:
- Uninsured car. You need a valid driver’s license in order to obtain and keep insurance for a car registered to you. If the at-fault driver had a suspended license and was driving his own car, there would be a lapse in his insurance coverage. In this case, you would have to turn to your own car insurance to cover damages.
- Car borrowed with permission. If the at-fault driver was driving another person’s car with permission and the car has valid insurance, that policy will cover your damages, regardless of the status of the driver’s license. If there is a question regarding whether permission was granted, your attorney may need to investigate before making a claim. In some situations, permission can be assumed, making the owner’s insurance company liable for damages.
- Car borrowed without permission. If the at-fault driver crashes a car he did not have permission to drive—or is driving a stolen car—any insurance policy covering the car will not cover damages. If the driver has a valid insurance policy on another car—not likely if his license has been suspended—then that policy will cover damages. The most likely outcome, however, is that your insurance company will have to cover damages.
How to Protect Yourself
While the ideal situation is for the driver who hit you to be legally licensed and fully insured, we can’t choose who is going to cause our accidents. That is why it's important for you to carry uninsured motorist insurance and that you work with an attorney even if you are only dealing with your own insurance company. Believe it or not, your own insurer can be just as hard to negotiate with as another driver’s. Contact the experienced car accident attorneys at Keller and Keller to handle your claim, no matter what the circumstance!
What sources of compensation can be pursued after an auto accident?
The losses suffered in a serious car or truck crash can be extensive. From damage to your vehicle to medical treatments and long-term care, the costs can total hundreds of thousands of dollars. Given that there are limits on how much insurance policies will cover, you should be aware of other possible sources of compensation following a crash that was not your fault.
Primary Sources of Car Accident Compensation
Trust us—no insurance company is going to help you get more than the minimum they think you are owed. Likewise, other potentially liable parties are not going to offer themselves voluntarily. However, an experienced car accident attorney will guide you towards all possible sources of compensation for your unique situation, but the following are all possibilities:
- The at-fault driver’s insurance policy. If the other driver in your crash is found to be 100 percent at fault in the crash, your first source of compensation will be his insurance policy. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you should be able to get the full value of this policy, but if he is only carrying Indiana’s minimum coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per crash for bodily injury, that will be the most you can get.
- Other sources from the at-fault driver. If the at-fault driver’s car insurance policy is not enough to cover your losses, an attorney can pursue other sources from him, including his personal assets or any umbrella policies he may be covered under. An employer’s umbrella policy may apply if the at-fault driver was on duty at the time of the crash.
- Your car insurance. If you have collision insurance, you may need to make a claim for property damage to repair or replace your car. If the at-fault driver was either uninsured or underinsured, you can make a claim against your uninsured motorist coverage. You may also have coverage for out-of-pocket expenses such as towing, replacement rental, and more.
- Your health insurance. If you have health insurance through your employer or through the Affordable Care Act, your immediate medical care will be covered by that policy. However, if the other driver was at fault, your insurer may have to be reimbursed once you receive your settlement.
- Others responsible for a drunk driver. If the driver who hit you was drunk, he will be held responsible for the crash. Under Indiana’s dram shop laws, however, you may also be able to hold the person or bar who served the alcohol responsible. This is a difficult case to make and will require the help of an experienced attorney
- Other contributors to the accident. If a malfunction in your vehicle or the vehicle that hit you contributed to the accident, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer. If poor road conditions, inadequate traffic markers or signals, or a dangerous road or intersection design contributed to the crash, you may be able to sue the governmental entity responsible for roads and traffic.
Depending on the details of your case, there may be additional sources of compensation.
How an Attorney Will Be Able to Help
Seeking compensation following a serious crash can get complicated very quickly. When you hire the experienced car accident attorneys at Keller & Keller to represent you from the beginning, you can rest assured that we will seek every possible avenue of compensation to see that you get what you need for a full recovery. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.
Should I get medical treatment immediately after a car accident?
If you were involved in anything more than a fender bender, you should absolutely get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. Many people decide not to seek medical treatment because the initial bumps and bruises don't seem serious, or the onset of the symptoms aren't immediately apparent. However, by seeing your doctor soon after the crash, you can not only get hidden problems diagnosed, you can also protect any future injury claim you may need to make.
Injuries That Are Often Not Immediately Apparent
Of course, not every accident produces injuries. However, if the onset of a serious injury is delayed, the failure to have a medical complaint recorded can affect your chances of recovery. Back and neck injuries like herniated disks are not always immediately determinable. They are often initially diagnosed as "soft tissue" injuries before an MRI or CT scan reveals a disc injury. Normal x-ray film is generally not able to diagnose disc injuries.
The type of injury may not always be obvious to a person injured in an automobile accident. For instance, there are many documented cases of carpal tunnel syndrome caused by a person tightly clenching the steering wheel during an accident. Since the wrists may not have slammed into a part of the car, the person involved in the injury may not associate this problem with the car accident until it is too late to make a claim.
How a Delay Can Hurt You in the Long Run
Many insurance adjusters will refuse to pay claims when there has been a delay in receiving treatment or when large gaps in the treatment have occurred. Even though there are explainable and legitimate reasons for the delay or gap in treatment, victims may end up either uncompensated or under-compensated.
It is not uncommon for accident victims to leave the scene of the accident feeling that they were uninjured and wake up a day or two later with extreme soreness, tightness, or muscle spasm. In these instances, immediate medical attention should be sought from your doctor.
Again, documentation of the onset of injury is important in establishing a causal link between an accident and an injury.
If an injury has been diagnosed by your physician, it's critical that you keep your appointments and attend your scheduled treatments. Skipping doctor's appointments gives the insurance company a valid argument that suggests your injuries aren't severe or legitimate. Medical records and clear treatment paths are essential to successfully pursuing a claim.
Put Your Health and Safety First
Here’s the bottom line: if your car was rear-ended, t-boned, or sideswiped, you likely suffered some trauma. Even if you don’t feel it right away, you have nothing to lose by seeing your doctor right away, and you may have everything to gain. Insurance adjusters will be on the lookout for any cause to deny you the coverage you deserve. If you have any questions about this process, feel free to contact the car accident attorneys at Keller & Keller.
Who should I contact after an auto accident?
Car crashes can be extremely disorienting. During the chaos that follows a serious accident, it is hard to know what to do. However, if you have an idea of what steps you should take before you are ever involved in a crash, you may have the presence of mind to take some important actions that will protect a future injury claim.
Who to Call After a Crash
If there were any injuries in the crash—including minor ones, 911 should be called so that an ambulance will arrive and people will receive appropriate medical care. Following any crash, the police should be called to investigate the crash and issue tickets, if necessary. If you were not at fault in the crash, this will be very important to a later property damage or personal injury claim.
Depending upon the nature of the accident and the extent of the damages and injuries involved, a series of auto accident reports must be filed. Sometimes the reporting of an auto accident is mandatory, sometimes it is voluntary. Reports typically must be filed with two organizations:
- Police. The law of the state where the accident occurs may require a police report to be filed. However, as there are many variations in state and local laws—and even local practices—we cannot address them all. Generally, if an injury occurs in an auto accident, a police report must be filed. A police report generally also is required when property damage exceeds a certain dollar amount (often $200 to $500). The manner of making the report also varies. Some local police only take certain auto accident reports over the telephone, some require a trip to the station house. To be safe, at least a telephone call to local police should be made shortly after an auto accident to determine local practice and the information you are required to provide.
- Insurance company. Most auto insurance companies require their policyholders to promptly report every auto accident. The insurance company will want to gather all of the basic information concerning the accident for its records. Sometimes the insurance company will want your authorization to make a recorded statement concerning the accident. We suggest that if you or your passengers were injured in the accident, or believe the insurance company will try to claim "you're not covered" or you have any concerns about the adequacy of your coverage, you should contact an attorney before you go much further, and certainly before you give the insurance company permission to record your conversation. However, bear in mind that failure to provide information to your insurance company on a timely basis could result in loss of coverage for the accident without it constituting bad faith by the insurer. Your policy will set out how quickly you must notify the company (and it can be a VERY short time frame).
When You Should Also Call an Attorney
In a minor crash with shared liability, it is probably not necessary to call a car accident attorney. However, if you believe you were not at fault and the other driver disputes that, you may want an attorney to represent you when you challenge his insurance company. If you have suffered catastrophic injuries, you should also call an attorney as he or she will work to get you a fair settlement. If you are in a serious crash in Indiana, you can trust the experienced car accident attorneys at Keller & Keller. Contact us today.
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