Each car accident case we see is unique. The needs of the injured victim vary on a case-by-case basis and the amount of insurance coverage available for compensation differs from one driver to the next. For these reasons, we never promise our clients a dollar amount until their case is settled. Instead, we fight on their behalf to recover the maximum possible amount of compensation.
Compensation Following an Indiana Car Accident
When you are injured in a car crash in Indiana, you can seek compensation for the following damages:
- Medical costs, past, and future
- Lost wages, past, and future
- Disability, disfigurement, pain and suffering, past and future
An experienced Indiana car accident attorney will be able to determine the value of each of these areas to make a fair demand of the liable party or parties.
Factors to Consider When Calculating Damages
Whether you are filing a claim with your own insurance company or the insurer for the at-fault driver, the adjuster will likely use some kind of formula to calculate the value of your injury claim. You may file the claim and receive a settlement offer within a few days. But how do you know if it’s a fair offer? If you work with a car accident attorney, he will determine what your claim is worth and will negotiate with the insurance adjuster to get you what you deserve. To a fair amount, consider the following expenses:
- Property damage. Payment for damages to your car is based on the cost of repairs or the replacement value of the vehicle if it is totaled. Most insurance policies do not offer the “replacement value” of the vehicle, meaning you will likely not get enough to buy a new car to replace a vehicle that is a total loss.
- Medical bills. Claims for bodily injury are handled separately from property damage claims. This is generally the bulk of the value of your settlement, so it is very important to consider all costs associated with your medical treatment for injuries, including emergency services, scans and tests, doctor visits, crutches or wheelchair rentals, physical therapy, and more. When you have suffered catastrophic injuries resulting in brain damage or paralysis, you must also calculate your long-term or life-long care expenses.
- Lost earnings. If you have to miss work because of your injuries, you can be reimbursed for lost wages or sick time you had to take. If your injuries prevent you from continuing to work in the same field and will result in lower future earnings, you can also make a claim for lost future earnings.
- Pain and suffering. Compensation for the pain and suffering you have experienced is considered “non-economic” damages because there is no easy way to attach a price tag to it. Insurance adjusters will use a multiplier of anywhere from 1.5 to 5 to determine these damages, depending on the seriousness of your injuries. The total of your economic damages will be multiplied by this factor to determine your pain and suffering damages. Your Indiana injury attorney will work hard to get you a fair multiplier.
The value of each of these factors will be a point of contention with the at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster. His goal is to offer the lowest possible settlement you will accept.
Factors That Will Limit Your Recovery
Even after all of these losses are calculated, your settlement will be limited by a couple of other factors. First, even if your claim is legitimately worth a million dollars, if the at-fault driver is only carrying the state-required minimum insurance coverage, your recovery will be limited to $25,000. If you have an attorney, he will look to all possible sources of compensation, including other insurance policies and personal assets of the at-fault driver.
If it was determined that you shared fault for the accident, your settlement will be reduced by that amount. Under comparative fault laws in Indiana, your settlement will be reduced by the percentage of blame assigned to you. For example, if you were assigned 25 percent of the fault, your $25,000 settlement will be reduced by $6,250. Again, an Indianapolis injury attorney can present evidence to prove that the other driver was 100 percent at fault, thus maximizing your settlement.