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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How quickly should I contact an attorney after my semi-truck accident?
When you have been involved in a semi-truck accident, an experienced and knowledgeable attorney should be contacted as soon as possible. Victims who choose not to contact an attorney often find that evidence proving negligence is often lost or destroyed. The longer you wait to retain an attorney, the harder it is for an attorney and their investigators to piece together the facts. The law offices of Keller and Keller are available to you and your loved ones at any time for a free consultation and legal advice.
Are you still entitled to a settlement if the police report places you partially at fault?
First of all, remember that a police report is not always the final word. There are instances where officers make honest mistakes or new evidence and witnesses are located after the initial report is completed. Even if the police report places you entirely at fault, it is a good idea to contact an attorney to have them examine the facts and circumstances of your case.
If the report places you partially at fault, you may still be entitled to a settlement. Every state has different laws regarding theories of negligence. Indiana is a comparative negligence state, which means that you may have the right to a paid settlement in the event it’s proven that you are not more than 50% at fault for the accident. This said, the value of your claim is reduced by the degree at which you are found to be at fault.
Example: If you were involved in a car accident that resulted in serious injury and received a settlement in the amount of $50,000 but were 10% at fault, your compensation would decrease by $5,000, leaving you with a total settlement of $45,000.
Your Ability to Recover Compensation Will Depend on Specific State Laws
Every state has different laws. Some states, like Indiana, have adopted a comparative negligence approach. Other states use a contributory negligence approach, meaning that the plaintiff is barred from recovering if he or she acted negligently and contributed to the accident in any way. It is important to ask your lawyer what law applies in your state so that you know your rights.
Remember: The sooner an attorney can get involved, the more likely it is that they will be able to appropriately assess your liability, if any, in the accident. And the earlier you contact an attorney, the more quickly they can gather evidence before it is altered, destroyed, or misremembered. At Keller & Keller, our on staff investigator will immediately go to the scene to gather information, interview key witnesses, and will thoroughly examine the crash details.
Are semi accidents viewed differently than other auto accidents?
Absolutely. The biggest and most obvious difference between semi accidents and car accident is that the impact can be much more severe because of the size and weight of a semi-truck (3,700 pounds of car vs. 80,000+ pounds of truck). The weight of the truck means that it takes a semi-truck longer to stop. The length of stop time combined with the high speed of highway travel can lead to deadly disasters.
Another important difference is that semi-trucks are required to carry greater amounts of insurance coverage, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. For that reason, semi-truck insurance companies will defend their claims aggressively to protect the large amount of money on the line.
Unique Regulations Governing Commercial Trucking Require Unique Legal Experience
Trucking companies also have to abide by safety standards and federal regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Act requires driver background checks, periodic evaluation of existing employees, regulation of hours driven in a day, drug and alcohol testing, and other strict standards. Violations of these regulations can provide the basis for establishing liability on the part of the company and its driver.
Types of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents can be caused by driver negligence, truck malfunction, negligent maintenance of the truck, or a combination of these issues. Again, because of their sheer size, there are many different types of accidents that can result, including:
- Rear-end collisions
- T-Bone/side impact collisions
- Head-on collisions
- Rollover accidents
- No-Zone accidents
For more information about what to do after a truck accident, download our free book, Free Truck Accident Guide Book.
The Bottom Line: Truck Accidents Are Complex
The bottom line is that truck accidents are complicated and far more complex than other auto accidents. The likelihood of severe injury combined with large insurance policies and federal regulations often results in intense legal battles that require experienced attorneys. Keller & Keller is recognized as one of the state’s top rated personal injury firms and our attorneys have represented hundreds of semi-truck accident victims. Contact us today for a free analysis of your semi-truck accident claim.
Why is the insurance company for the semi driver so aggressive?
Trucking companies are required to carry greater amounts of insurance coverage, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. For that reason, trucking insurance companies will defend their claims aggressively to protect the large amount of money on the line. Because of the size of the trucking company and its financial resources, it is easy for the trucking company to quickly get the upper hand. These companies have access to an experienced team who is familiar with the rules and regulations governing truck drivers and it is their job to negotiate settlements every day. They have years of experience investigating trucking accidents and know how to compare the value of your case to actual jury verdicts and past settlements. This is why it is so important for you, the injured party, to have an experienced team of lawyers on your side.
Don’t Take Their First Offer
Don’t let the insurance company’s aggressive tactics force you to take the first offer. The insurance company will likely play nice at first and tell you that you don’t need an attorney. They will say that they will work with you to resolve your case fairly. The offer from the trucking company may sound appealing at first, but keep in mind, it is not the trucking company’s nor its insurance carrier’s job to pay you what your case is worth. It is their job to pay you the smallest amount possible.
It is always important to consider not only how you are feeling today, but how you will feel tomorrow, next week, next month, and maybe even for years to come. If you settle your case too early or sign anything from the trucking company, you may be signing away your right to full compensation. Don’t sign anything before consulting with an experienced semi-accident attorney.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
Keller & Keller’s team of experienced truck accident attorneys isn’t afraid to stand up to the insurance companies. Don’t let an aggressive trucking company trample your legal rights, contact Keller & Keller today to request a free, no-obligation consultation. From our firm headquarters in Indianapolis, we’re proud to serve the entire state of Indiana and beyond.
When should I hire an attorney?
Some people like to try to handle the claim on their own before consulting an attorney. However, the best practice is to consult with an attorney before making any decision on how to proceed in a motorcycle accident case. Early investigation is critical and should be completed as soon as possible to secure scene evidence and witness statements. The insurance company will be nice at first and will encourage you to settle your case directly with them. Remember, they do not have your best interest in mind and are simply trying to get your case settled as quickly as possible so that they can wash their hands of you. Contacting an attorney immediately will ensure that you are fully and fairly compensated for your injuries.
Calling Keller & Keller to discuss your case is always free. We work on a contingency fee basis meaning that we don’t ask you to pay us anything up front and don’t charge hourly rates while we work on your case. We won’t get paid until you get paid.
Contact our Albuquerque, New Mexico office today for a free case evaluation of your potential motorcycle accident claim.
What if the other driver was uninsured?
Unfortunately, we see this problem far too often. Our client is severely injured in a motorcycle accident that is not their fault, but the person that hit them doesn’t have car insurance. In these situations, we must look to our client’s own insurance policy to see if it has uninsured motorist coverage. If uninsured coverage is available, we must look to our client’s own insurance company to be responsible for their medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.
Many people are apprehensive about filing a claim against their own insurance company. However, we explain to them that it is important to understand that you pay your insurance premiums for a reason and have this coverage for a reason. That reason is for instances exactly like this when you need protection from the at fault driver who was uninsured.
Even when filing a claim with your own insurance company, it is critically important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure that you are fully and fairly compensated for your injuries.
Are there special motorcycle laws in New Mexico?
In order to operate a motorcycle in the state of New Mexico, one must obtain a motorcycle license. According to the New Mexico DMV website, a Class M motorcycle license comes with three levels depending on age and how powerful your motorcycle is. A W endorsement is for 100cc and larger motorcycles. Y endorsements are for motorcycles between 50cc and 100cc. Finally, a Z endorsement limits riders to motorcycles with a displacement of less than 50cc. To obtain a Class M license, a driving and written test is required specific to which endorsement you will need and will go over basic motorcycle fundamentals.
Some states have moved toward requiring drivers of motorcycles to go through Motorcycle Safety Foundation training. New Mexico has not yet made that a requirement. However, the state is aware that many of the motorcycle accidents occurring each year in New Mexico are related to driver inexperience. Therefore, taking a motorcycle training class is highly recommended by New Mexico’s Motor Vehicle Division for everyone, but is required for motorcyclists under the age of 18.
New Mexico motorcyclists under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet. If you are over 18, the decision is up to you, but is highly recommended.
What if my damaged bike was customized?
It is not uncommon for our clients to ask us about recovering for custom features on their motorcycle. Property damage recovery for motorcycles can be more difficult than recovery for cars due to the customization on the bike – it isn’t as simply as going to the store and picking out a new bike. The best way to make sure that you are fully and fairly compensated for you bike is to do the following:
- Keep and present receipts for customization to the insurance adjuster. If you have records of the expense of a custom paint job, exhaust, or other feature to your bike, receipts will often be sufficient proof for the adjuster to compensate you for these details.
- Take photographs of the damage and of specific damage to customized features.
We will always be happy to offer advice regarding your properly damage. However, we typically advise our clients that it is in their best interest to handle this portion of the claim on their own. The reason for this is because if we were to represent you with regard to your property damage, we would legally have to charge a fee, leaving you with less money than your bike is worth or less money than what you need to repair it.
What should I do after a motorcycle accident?
You’ve just been in a motorcycle accident. If you are able, the first thing that you should do is call 911. This is important for many reasons, but specifically so that you and anyone else involved can get medical treatment as quickly as possible. Secondly, calling 911 will ensure that the police respond to the scene and document what happened.
Collect the Insurance Information of the Other Driver
Unless you are taken away in an ambulance, it is important to exchange information with the other driver or drivers involved. Obtain their name, license plate number, and insurance information.
Document the Scene of the Accident With Photos
Take photos of the accident scene and of the damage to all vehicles involved. If possible, it is important to document the accident before the vehicles are moved. Take photos of where the vehicles are positioned in the roadway, of skid marks, and of surrounding features including signs, light posts, and traffic signals.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Lasting, contact the insurance companies. Contact your own insurance company immediately to report the accident. If you have the information for the other driver’s insurance company, contact them as well. This will insure that the ball gets rolling on your property damage and personal injury claims. The insurance company will likely ask you questions about the accident, since the full extent of your injuries are likely unknown at this early stage, we encourage clients to state that they are unsure of the extent of their injuries at this time and that information will be provided at a later date.
I heard I should ask for 3x my medical bills in New Mexico, is this true?
The use of this “formula” is often brought up in consultations and is thought of by many as a way to value car accident claims. Though it could be true that you may receive three times your medical bills, it is also just as likely that you could receive more or less. Never assume that the value of your accident claim is simply “3x’s your medical bills.”
There are many important factors that must be considered to determine the true value of your case including the total amount of your medical bills, your lost wages, the severity of your injuries, and your pain and suffering.
There are also factors that can increase the value of your claim. Scenarios that can do so include:
- The client’s injuries worsened over time, leading to unforeseen treatments and costly procedures.
- The client didn’t predict the type and/or duration of treatment their injuries required.
- The client didn’t anticipate the strain the accident would place on their personal life.
- The client didn’t account for the long-term psychological effects.
While your accident may include more or less factors than listed above, it is important to realize that no one can give you an actual dollar amount until your claim has been fully investigated. Ultimately, your damages are likely to have additional value if presented to an insurance company by way of experienced legal representation. Having an attorney allows you to see the full picture of your claim while relieving you of the stress from dealing with the insurance company and allowing the time to focus on getting better.
When should I call an injury lawyer?
As soon as possible. Hiring a qualified, experienced attorney who you are comfortable with and that you can trust will be the best thing you do for your case. Many people initially try to speak with the adjuster and settle the case on their own, which is understandable. Other people seek an attorney right away because they do not want to deal with the hassle of handling the claim on their own and need to focus their attention on their medical treatment. Most often, it is wise to consult with an attorney as soon as possible.
Don’t Be Pushed Around by Insurance Adjusters after an Accident
Often times, the insurance adjuster seems nice, fair and reasonable—at first. They will probably tell you that you don’t need an attorney. But, then they start to pressure you to settle. They tell you that they will pay for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering, IF you settle NOW. But, beware and make sure you stop and think before you sign anything. Remember that you can only settle your case once. If you are still experiencing pain or haven’t been released from your doctor’s care, don’t settle. If your doctor said that you need to follow up in one month, wait. If you are worried that the pain might return, hold off. Once you accept the insurance company’s offer, you are barred from further recovery. So, if you sign today but go to the doctor tomorrow, your doctor’s appointment tomorrow will not be covered. Therefore, it is often when the insurance adjuster starts to be not so nice that the attorney is called.
Be polite when an insurance representative calls, but firmly state that you do not wish to give a recorded or written statement. Do not lie or exaggerate about the accident, Having the facts written down can be helpful. If you do not know the answer to a question or can’t recall, simply state that you cannot answer at the time.
Early Investigation Is Key
Hiring an attorney as soon as possible will not only ensure that you aren’t pressured to settle before you are ready, but will also ensure that your case is thoroughly investigated so that you can get every dollar you deserve. Thorough investigation of the vehicles, scene and evidence can be critical to your case. Obtaining witness statements can also be pivotal. An attorney with the resources and personnel to investigate your case is key.
What am I entitled to after a car accident under New Mexico Law?
When you are involved in a car accident caused by the act of another driver, you are entitled to a recovery on two separate claims; your property damage claim and your bodily injury claim. These claims are entirely independent of each other.
Property Damage Claims Allow You to Recover Compensation for Damage to Your Car
When you are involved in an accident that is not your fault, you are entitled to recovery for the damage to your vehicle. You can submit a claim for property damage compensation to the insurance company of the driver who is at fault. Usually, that company will pay for the damage to your vehicle and other property lost, destroyed or damage in the collision unless they are contesting who is at fault. You may also submit a claim to your own insurance carrier for the damage to your vehicle, but only if the policy includes “collision” coverage. Often times, your claim is handled more quickly when filed with your own insurance company who will then work with the other party’s insurance company to get reimbursed.
If your vehicle is a total loss, you are entitled to recover the Fair Market Value of your vehicle. A vehicle is considered a total loss if the repair cost PLUS salvage value is more than its fair market value. The Fair Market Value is what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller for your vehicle immediately prior to the collision. Factors that go into determining fair market value include year, make, model, mileage, previous damage and general condition of your vehicle. Fair market value has nothing to do with what you owe on the vehicle.
Here at Keller & Keller, we do not typically handle property damage claims. The reason for this is that if we were to represent you legally for repairs or replacement of your vehicle, by the time our fees were covered, you would end up getting less money for your car or truck than its actual value. We understand that you need to use the full amount of money to get your car fixed or get a new car. With that being said, we are always more than happy to answer any questions you have regarding your property damage claim.
If You Were Injured in the Accident, a Personal Injury Claim Can Make Sure You Have the Funds to Fully Recover
If you are injured in a car accident in New Mexico, you are also entitled to recovery for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The value of your personal injury claim will be determined by the severity of your injuries and medical documentation. It is important to remember that the insurance company will only settle once. They will quickly offer to pay your first few medical bills or lost wages so that they can settle quickly and wash their hands of the incident. However, remember that if you settle with them today, your treatment tomorrow will not be covered. So, it is important to consider not only how you are feeling today, but how you may feel tomorrow, next week, next month, and maybe even for years to come. If you settle your case too early or sign anything from the insurance company, you may be signing away your right to full compensation should your injuries become worse or should you need further treatment.
By law, all registered vehicles in New Mexico must be covered by car insurance. New Mexico minimum coverage law requires liability coverage of $25,000 per person for injury or death, $50,000 total injury or death if there are multiple people in the vehicle, and 10,000 for property damage. Unfortunately, even though it is the law, many drivers do not have auto insurance. In fact, according to the Insurance Research Council, in 2012, 21.6% of New Mexico motorists were uninsured. While there are penalties for uninsured motorists, including fines and license suspension, getting in a collision with an uninsured motorist puts an unintended penalty on the not at fault party.
Therefore, it is important to protect yourself in advance for the possibility that you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist in New Mexico. Because of this potential risk, many drivers carry a form of coverage known as “uninsured motorist coverage.” Uninsured motorist coverage protects not at fault drivers when they suffer a property damage loss or injury from an accident with an uninsured motorist. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, and it is confirmed that the at-fault driver does not have insurance, then your own insurance company will compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, as well as damage to your vehicle.
Some people are hesitant to file an uninsured claim for their accident since they are pursuing their own insurance policy. Though pursuing your own insurance company may not make sense initially, what is important to understand, is that you pay monthly premiums for this coverage and it is meant to protect you.
If the at-fault driver does not have insurance, and you do not have uninsured coverage, your chances of recovery are limited to a civil suit against the at-fault driver.
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