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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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.
Will my Indiana insurance company drop me if I make a claim?
Generally, if you are not at fault in the accident and you make a claim against your medical payments coverage or your uninsured motorist coverage, your insurance company will not usually drop your coverage. This is because the accident was not your fault. However, if you are at fault and another driver makes a claim against your liability coverage, your insurance company may drop you or increase your premiums.
Reasons an Auto Insurer May Drop You in Indiana
First of all, it’s important to understand the difference between a cancellation and a non-renewal of an auto insurance policy. A cancellation means you are being dropped before the end of the policy payment. This usually only happens when you fail to pay your premium or it is discovered that you misrepresented the facts on your initial application. In most situations, policies are left untouched until the end of the policy period and then they are not renewed. Insurance companies refuse to renew policies for the following reasons:
- Bad driving record. If you rack up traffic violations, your insurer may decide you are too great a risk and deny your policy renewal.
- DUI conviction. Even on a first offense, insurance companies consider DUIs to be a major risk.
- Delinquent premium payments. If you frequently made policy payments late, you may be denied renewal. If you don’t pay at all, your policy could be cancelled.
- Fraudulent claims. Often grounds for cancellation, making fraudulent claims is definitely a reason for non-renewal of your policy.
- Too many at-fault claims. If you were found to be at fault for more than two accidents in a three-year period, you will likely be dropped as being too much of a risk.
- Too many claims. Even if you were not found to be at fault, if you file multiple claims for property damage or medical payments in a policy period, your policy will be considered for non-renewal. It’s hard to say how many is too many, but you should make every attempt to avoid filing a claim.
Insurance companies don’t really care if you are just a victim of repeated bad luck. They are in the business of making money, not showing sympathy. Even if the accidents are not your fault, if you are involved in them frequently and make claims, you will be considered too risky to cover. Consider not filing a claim if you are in a minor accident and you can afford the repair to your car. This could protect you if you later need to file a large claim for a serious accident.
When to Call Keller & Keller
Generally, you do not need an attorney if you are filing a claim with your own insurer. However, if you were injured in a crash that was someone else’s fault, you should call our Indiana car accident law firm to find out how we can help you obtain fair compensation for your injuries. Contact us through the link on this page and we will be in touch shortly.
What information should I write down after my car accident?
Serious car crashes are shocking and violent. In the aftermath, it can be very difficult to know what to do, especially if you were injured. Reading these tips now may help you if you are ever in a crash as a driver or passenger, or if you are a witness to a crash.
What to Do Immediately After a Crash
The most important steps to take after a crash are to get everyone out of danger and call 911. If anyone has been injured, let the 911 operator know that medical help is also needed. Once this is taken care of, you can begin to gather important information, including the following basic facts:
- The full names of the drivers of the vehicles involved.
- The driver's license numbers and addresses of all of the drivers.
- The full names and addresses of any passengers in any of the vehicles.
- The full names and addresses of any pedestrians or other parties involved.
- The full name, address, and phone number of any witnesses to the accident.
In addition to collecting names and addresses, you should write down your version of what happened and take notes about what you see in the aftermath. Try to answer the following questions:
- Did any person involved in the accident report any personal injury shortly after the accident?
- Did it appear as if anyone involved was influenced by drugs or alcohol?
- Was medical assistance rendered at the scene of the accident?
- What personal injury did the injured person report? Did anyone say "I'm not hurt?"
- In what direction were the vehicles traveling just prior to the accident?
- At what time of day did the accident occur?
- What were the weather conditions at the time of the accident?
- Was there anything wrong with the vehicles before the accident such as broken tail lights?
- Was there any damage to the vehicles as a result of the accident? What parts of the vehicles were damaged?
- Did any of the vehicles need to be towed from the scene of the accident?
When the police arrive, they will begin an investigation and will be asking some of the same questions. You will be able to obtain a police report later on, so don’t worry too much about talking to everyone at the scene. If you are an injured victim in the accident, the sooner you hire an attorney, the easier it will be to get the information you need to support your claim. Your attorney will be able to get the following important questions answered:
- Who are the registered owners of the vehicles (names and addresses)?
- Were all vehicles involved in the accident insured? What are the names of the insurance companies and the policy numbers?
- Did anyone accept responsibility for the accident, or make a comment such as "It was my fault, I am sorry, I was speeding, not paying attention, not wearing my glasses, distracted, tired, late for work, in a hurry, my coffee had just spilled, I should have seen you but I was on my cell phone, I've been taking these pills, my eyesight isn't what it used to be after dark, etc."?
Do the Best You Can
While it might not be possible to gather all of this information in the chaos following a crash, as much basic information as possible should be collected at the scene. As time passes, memories tend to fade and new versions of the chain of events are created. Putting the basic information down on paper helps later when liability for the accident begins to be examined. With the car accident attorneys at Keller and Keller on your side, you can relax and focus on your physical recovery.
How quickly should I contact an attorney after a car accident?
If you are involved in a car crash and have suffered injuries, getting immediate medical attention is always the first priority. However, once your condition is stable and you are under a doctor's care, you should follow up with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible. Delaying this important step could cost you valuable time and money.
What an Attorney Can Do
If you were not injured in the crash but the other driver was at fault, you can file a claim for property damage with his or her insurance company on your own. However, if serious injuries are involved, you will want an experienced car accident attorney on your side. The sooner an attorney is on the case, the easier it will be for him to take the following important steps:
- Securing evidence from the scene. Pictures of the scene, police reports, traffic camera footage, and witness statements will be vital if liability is contested. This evidence needs to be collected as soon as possible after a crash and you will not be able to do it yourself if you are in the hospital.
- Locating witnesses. An attorney’s investigator will be able to track down possible witnesses from nearby businesses or those who left the scene once the accident was cleared. Their statements could be important to your claim.
- Dealing with insurance companies. Insurance companies will work quickly in their attempt to reduce the value of your claim. They do this by taking recorded statements that may damage your claim, asking you to sign authorizations, and pressuring you into signing away your rights. Having an attorney on your side from the beginning helps to ensure these things are less likely to happen.
The longer you wait to retain an attorney, the harder it is for the attorney and their investigators to piece together the facts of your case, possibly causing it to affect the overall value. If you are injured in a car or truck crash in Indiana, contact Keller & Keller right away. We will get to work while you recover from your injuries.
Will Keller and Keller handle my property damage claim?
As a personal injury law firm, Keller and Keller’s focus is on recovering a financial settlement for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We will negotiate with the insurance company for the at-fault driver and, if necessary, take them to court to recover what you are entitled to for your injuries. If you are also seeking compensation from the other driver’s insurance company for the damage done to your car, we can usually handle that for you as well, but that may not be necessary.
Property Damage Claims Are Usually Straightforward
The easiest way to handle property damage is to file a claim with the liable party’s insurance company yourself. These claims are usually simple to prove and the cost is a fixed amount, so there is no negotiating. A few phone calls should take care of it. If the other insurance company is disputing the claim and you have collision insurance, your best bet is to file with your own company and let them deal with the other company. At worst, you will be out the amount of your deductible, but that may be recovered if liability is proven.
Personal Injury and Property Damage Are Separate Claims
Auto insurance policies have separate coverage allowances for bodily injury and property damage. In Indiana, drivers are required to carry a minimum of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily injury coverage. When a claim is filed against the policy, the settlement will come out of that coverage. However, a claim for property damage will come out of the required minimum $10,000 in property damage coverage. These claims are handled separately by the insurance company. If you were to hire an insurance company to handle just your property damage claim, the attorney fees would probably quickly drain the potential award amount.
Keller & Keller Is Happy to Help
If you have hired us to handle your personal injury claim and you are also filing a straightforward property damage claim against the same policy, we would be happy to take care of that for you free of charge. However, our main focus will always be on getting you optimal compensation for your injuries. If you have questions about this process, feel free to reach out to us.
What if I was partially at fault for my car accident?
Many car accidents are not the fault of a single driver. For example, if a driver pulls out in front of an oncoming car, but that oncoming car was exceeding the speed limit, both drivers may share blame for the crash. This is known as comparative negligence. Under Indiana’s modified comparative negligence law, a judge or jury will determine what percentage of the total fault goes to each person involved.
How Share of the Blame Factors Into Compensation
Once the percentage of fault has been determined, compensation amounts will be adjusted. Each at-fault party’s compensation will be reduced by the percentage of fault he or she has been assigned. For example, if you are assigned 20 percent of the fault for the crash, the amount you can receive from the other party’s insurance company will be reduced by 20 percent. However, any party whose fault exceeds 50 percent will not be eligible to recover any compensation from the other parties involved. If one of the drivers involved in the crash is assigned 51 percent or more of the fault, he or she may be held liable for the legal expenses of the other drivers.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help
If you are involved in a car accident and are being assigned even a small portion of the blame, you should consult an experienced Indiana car accident attorney. An attorney will protect your rights to compensation and make sure the fault determination has been fair. Call Keller and Keller as soon as possible after your crash to ensure you get the recovery you are entitled to.
I have insurance, but the driver who hit me didn't. Now what?
Indiana is a “fault” state for car insurance purposes. This means that when you are in a car accident and another driver is determined to be at fault, you can seek compensation from that driver’s insurance company. However, if that driver does not have insurance, your options are more limited. You can file a claim with your own insurer to repair the damage to your car if you have “comprehensive” or “collision” coverage. Most drivers will carry a form of coverage known as "uninsured motorist coverage." And while it's not the law to do so, it is not uncommon to see it in most insurance policies.
How Uninsured Motorist Coverage Works
In Indiana, you are not required to carry car insurance, but if you choose not to purchase a policy, you must demonstrate “financial responsibility” by releasing information about your personal assets and income to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. However, most people meet this requirement by simply buying minimum car insurance coverage.
In Indiana, you do not have to carry uninsured motorist coverage, but you must refuse the coverage in writing. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, and it's confirmed that there is no other coverage for the at-fault driver, then we will be asking your insurance company to compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, as well as the damage to your car. The first step our office will take in this instance is to verify there are no other applicable coverages for the driver that struck you, and we do this by performing various background checks.
You Have a Right to Compensation
Some people are hesitant to file an uninsured claim for their car accident. However, it's critical that you not feel this way if it's the only coverage available. You pay monthly premiums for this protection, and it's important that you use it. When you work with the car accident attorneys at Keller and Keller, we will exhaust every avenue of compensation to ensure you make a full recovery.
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