Indiana follows a fault-based auto insurance system. That means a driver who causes an accident is liable for injuries and other damages. In Indiana, motorists injured in a car accident can seek compensation from at-fault parties for their losses. They may file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance policy or a car accident lawsuit against the at-fault party to pursue maximum compensation.
To file a car accident lawsuit in Indiana, you should take the following steps.
Before you can set the legal process in motion, your attorney may take this time to investigate the cause of the crash and gather vital evidence to support your case. Your attorney wants to collect as much information about the incident as possible so they can outline your options for pursuing compensation for your injuries.
File a Demand Letter
The next step your attorney will want to take involves filing a demand letter. This letter goes to the at-fault party or their insurer. It offers an overview of your claim and lists how much your attorney believes your case is worth.
Find Out Which Court Has Jurisdiction Over the Lawsuit
After your attorney sends the demand letter, you can expect to hear back from the at-fault party of their insurer. If pursuing a personal injury lawsuit gives you the best chance at recovering the compensation you need, your attorney must determine which court has jurisdiction over your case. In most cases, the court in the county where the accident occurred has jurisdiction. For example, accidents occurring in Fort Wayne typically get filed in Allen County. The circumstances of your case will help your attorney decide where to file.
File a Complaint
The first formal step to filing a personal injury lawsuit is to file a complaint. A complaint is a legal document submitted to the appropriate court. It states that you, the plaintiff, want to take legal action against the at-fault individual or their insurer. The complaint must outline the alleged facts and merits of your case. You must also include information about your request for compensation. Your attorney can help calculate the value of your case.
Get a Response from the Defendant
Once the defendant has the complaint and request for damages, they must file a response. The defendant typically has a limited timeframe to file one. The defendant can respond in one of the following ways:
- File a motion to dismiss – The defendant may request a motion to dismiss your case, meaning they ask the court to drop it. The most common reasons for asking for dismissal include insufficient evidence or lack of jurisdiction. Cases can also face dismissal if filed after the statute of limitations expires.
- File a motion for a more definitive statement – The opposing attorney may file a motion for a more definitive statement if they require more information before deciding to move forward. It may also be a tactic to probe for more details or see whether the plaintiff has the evidence to meet the “standard of proof” in a civil lawsuit.
- File a counter-lawsuit – The defendant may wish to file a counter-lawsuit against the plaintiff in response to the complaint.
- Settle the case out of court –The defendant might find it more cost-effective or easier to settle with the plaintiff out of court. If the parties can agree on the settlement terms, the case does not need to move toward a trial.
- No response – If the court receives no response, the plaintiff can request a default judgment against the defendant.
The discovery stage may be one of the longest stages in the legal process. During discovery, attorneys for both sides prepare their cases for court. Your attorney may be tenaciously working to gather more evidence, witness statements, and other documentation to support your case. Each side must share the information they collect with one another. This phase gives each side ample opportunity to review the facts of the case and prepare for anything that may come up during the trial.
During the pre-trial stage, both attorneys prepare for trial. This process can include finalizing evidence, requesting witness testimony, and seeking the testimony of outside expert witnesses. This stage is the last stage at which each side can file pre-trial motions.
If your case is not dismissed or settled out of court, it goes to trial before a judge or jury. Both sides get the opportunity to present their cases and argue their points. The length of the trial typically depends on the complexity of the case. Cases involving numerous witnesses and complicated evidence may take weeks. When each side finishes presenting their case, the judge or jury has time to decide the outcome.
Get a Verdict from a Judge or Jury
Once the judge or jury reviews the evidence presented, they issue a verdict. A verdict is the court’s decision, either siding in favor of the plaintiff or defendant. If the plaintiff wins, the court can award compensation for the plaintiff’s losses.
File an Appeal, If Necessary
Depending on the trial’s outcome, one side may file an appeal. An appeal means one side disagrees with the court’s ruling and wants another judge to review the case’s merits. If a court rules in favor of the plaintiff but the defendant appeals the decision, the financial award remains in limbo until the finalization of the appeals process.
Contact an Indiana Car Accident Lawyer
Filing a lawsuit after a car accident can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. The legal team at Truitt Law Offices has the knowledge and resources to guide you through the process and answer your questions along the way. If you were injured in a car accident, get help seeking the compensation you deserve. Contact Truitt Law Offices to request a free consultation with our Indiana car accident lawyers.