If you were injured in a car accident in Indiana that was not your fault, you are likely wondering how much compensation you may receive through an auto accident lawsuit. This page explains some key factors and legal doctrines that may come into play when determining the value of your claim. For a more in-depth look at the potential value of your case, do not hesitate to consult with one of the experienced personal injury lawyers at Truitt Law Offices. We are ready to evaluate your case in a free, no-obligation consultation.
What Factors Go into Determining the Value of a Car Accident Claim?
Before proceeding, it is important to realize that no one can truly predict the precise amount of money you may ultimately receive through a car accident claim. That is because there are no guarantees of what a jury may award if a case goes to trial.
That said, our attorneys can evaluate your case and give you a good sense of whether you have a strong claim or not. They will do so by considering the many factors that go into determining the value of a car accident claim. Some of the most prominent factors include:
- Injury severity and duration – The severity and duration of your injuries will heavily impact the value of your accident claim. Severe injuries may require emergency room care, surgery, and weeks or months of rehabilitative care, all of which can be very expensive. Therefore, if you suffered severe injuries that require extensive and long-term medical care, you likely have more compensable losses than someone who suffered superficial cuts and bruises.
- Impact on your work – If your injuries prevent you from working for several weeks or months, you may expect more compensation than if your income wasn’t significantly impacted by the accident. Further, if your injuries result in a long-term disability that prevents you from working in the future, you may receive compensation for your lowered future earnings.
- Impact on your quality of life – In addition to physical suffering, car accident victims can also suffer enormous psychological pain due to their injuries. In Indiana, injured plaintiffs can seek compensation for both kinds of suffering, as well as for things like permanent scarring/disfigurement and generally lowered quality of life.
What Kinds of Compensation May Be Available After a Car Accident?
The person responsible for a car accident may be ordered by a court to pay injured victims a wide variety of compensation. This compensation comes in three broad categories introduced here.
- Compensatory damages – As the name indicates, this form of damages is specifically awarded as compensation for personal injury victims. It is by far the most common form of damages awarded in car accident cases and can be broken down into two subtypes: economic and noneconomic.
Economic damages compensate victims for losses that can be easily reduced to a dollar value. Examples of things compensable through economic damages include medical bills, lost wages, and property repairs.
By contrast, noneconomic damages compensate victims for losses that are harder to quantify because they are unique to the emotional and physical experience of the victim. Examples of things compensable through noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, physical impairment, emotional distress, mental anguish, and lowered quality of life.
- Punitive damages – Unlike compensatory damages, which are meant to reimburse plaintiffs for their injuries and losses, punitive damages are meant to punish at-fault defendants in cases involving particularly egregious actions that gave rise to an accident. Punitive damages are also meant to deter similar behavior in the future.
Courts are normally reluctant to award punitive damages, which are capped at three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded or at $50,000, whichever is greater. That said, in qualifying cases, the value punitive damages may add to a claim should not be underestimated.
- Restitution – Unlike compensatory and punitive damages, which are awarded in civil cases, restitution is awarded to crime victims once a criminal prosecution is complete and the defendant receives their sentence. For example, in a case involving a defendant accused of drunk driving, victims may receive restitution as part of the defendant’s criminal punishment and in addition to damages awarded to the plaintiff through a civil personal injury claim.
Can My Compensation Be Affected If I Am Partially at Fault?
Yes, under Indiana’s contributory negligence statute, you may receive compensation for injuries and losses sustained in an accident so long as you did not contribute more than 50 percent to the cause. However, your compensation will be reduced in proportion to your share of fault below that amount. For example, suppose you are found to be 15 percent at fault for an accident in which you suffered $100,000 in losses. In this scenario, your damages would reduce to $85,000.
Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Car Accident Claim in Indiana?
Yes. In most cases, Indiana law sets a two-year deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident. The countdown starts on the day the accident occurred, and cases filed after the deadline passes are nearly always dismissed in court. Two years might seem like a long time, but do not wait. Car accident claims take time to prepare. The more complex the case, the more time may be needed.
Further, in addition to destroying your right to seek compensation in court, a late filing will also destroy your bargaining power when negotiating an out-of-court settlement with the at-fault party and their insurers. When they realize that you cannot sue because you missed the deadline, there will be little to stop them from making their lowest offer or denying your claim altogether.
Contact an Indiana Car Accident Lawyer
If you were injured in an Indiana car accident, the lawyers at Truitt Law Offices are ready to help you understand your rights, evaluate your case, determine all sources of compensation, and pursue them aggressively on your behalf. With over 40 decades of experience helping injury victims throughout Indiana secure the full and fair compensation they deserve, we are ready to do the same for you. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review with a skilled Indiana personal injury attorney.