Suing an Insurance Company for Personal Injury Damages in Indiana
Although most people never find themselves in the position of suing an insurance company, it can happen if you were injured in an accident with an uninsured motorist in Indiana. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you may file a claim with your own insurance company to recover compensation for your expenses. However, insurance companies don’t automatically pay out uninsured motorist claims and may even refuse to pay your claim. If this is the case, you might need to take legal action against them to recover the damages.
Working with a skilled personal injury attorney offers a better chance of prevailing in your case against your insurer. If your insurance company is refusing to cover expenses you have incurred as the result of an accident with an uninsured motorist, you’re in experienced hands with the Indiana personal injury claim attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP.
Process of Suing an Insurance Company and How an Attorney Can Help
If you have been injured in an accident because of someone else’s deliberate or negligent actions—or failure to act—the at-fault party’s insurance company is usually responsible for paying damages under the terms of its policy. Unfortunately, not everyone has insurance or enough insurance. In this case, your own insurance company might cover your damages.
If either insurance company refuses to pay the damages you are entitled to, filing a lawsuit may be the best next step to take. You can learn what options you have by consulting with experienced Indiana personal injury claim attorneys. Suing an insurance company is not easy but it can result in the recovery of the compensation you need to move forward.
Steps in Suing an Insurance Company
Suing an insurance company is a long process that begins long before the filing of a lawsuit. The first step is retaining an attorney experienced with insurance coverage claims and negotiating those with the insurance company. Your attorney may send a demand letter to the insurer along with evidence of the other party’s negligence or fault as well as a list of your economic and non-economic injuries. Evidence sent to the insurance company may include:
- Police reports
- Accident reports
- Medical records
- Witness statements
- Employment and wage documents
If the insurance company does not agree that their policy covers your claim or, if they conceded coverage, the amount of your claim, your attorney may attempt to negotiate further with them to get you as much compensation as possible. It is in the insurance company’s interest to come to an agreement with your attorney to save them the time and expense of a lawsuit. However, if the insurance company does not agree to a reasonable settlement, filing a lawsuit may be necessary to obtain fair compensation.
After a lawsuit has been filed, negotiations to settle (resolve) may continue, and many cases are settled before going to court. If no settlement is reached, your case will go to trial to be decided by a jury or a judge (a bench trial). During the trial, your attorney will present all of the evidence collected in favor of your claim and argue how that evidence supports your claim for damages. Ultimately, the jury or judge will decide whether the insurance company must pay damages and, if so, in what amount.
Defenses Raised by Insurance Companies
Insurance companies are for-profit entities that do not have an incentive to pay sizeable—or sometimes even small—settlements. When you sue your insurance company or someone else’s, the company often will do everything it can to avoid paying damages if it does not believe the policy at issue provides coverage under the circumstances. Companies will try several lines of defense to minimize the amount of damages they ultimately have to pay or avoid paying altogether.
First, courts use the Indiana comparative fault rule outlined in Indiana Code 34-51-2 to determine to what extent each party to an accident is at fault. Under the rule, each party is assigned a percentage of fault for the incident. Insurance companies may argue that your fault in the accident amounts to at least 51 percent, in which case you would not be entitled to any compensation for your injuries or other losses. If a court or jury determines you to be at fault in part, but not more than 50 percent, the court may award damages. However, the percentage of fault attributed to you may be deducted from any damages awarded.
Insurance companies may also argue that an injury you are seeking compensation for was a pre-existing condition rather than an injury that was caused by the accident. For example, if your back was injured in a car accident, the insurance company will try to find medical records of previous back issues and use that to argue that your injury existed before the accident and, therefore, was not caused by it.
Any inconsistencies in your story or claims can also be used against you in court or settlement negotiations or at trial. Insurance companies and their attorneys interview witnesses and dig through your records. They may even look at your social media to try to find anything they can use against you.
Finally, insurance companies look for procedural mistakes that can get your case thrown out on a technicality. For example, Indiana has a two-year statute of limitations under Indiana Code 34-11-2-4, which means that you must file your lawsuit within two years of when the accident occurred, or you lose the right to pursue damages for your injuries.
When suing an insurance company, you need to be prepared to present evidence to support your claim and refute or counter the defense raised by the insurer. The skilled Indiana personal injury claim attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP know the strategies that insurance companies use and develop a strategy that maximizes your chance of success.
Damages at Stake When Suing an Insurance Company
When you are involved in an accident that was not your fault, you may suffer a range of financial as well as non-economic losses. Indiana law is intended to protect you and ensure that you receive compensation that will make you whole.
For example, you may incur a range of medical bills. In addition to the initial costs of an emergency room visit and initial medical treatment, you may need ongoing treatment such as physical therapy to make a full recovery. In serious cases, long-term care may even be required. If you were involved in a car accident, you likely also incurred costs related to vehicle repairs or replacement and possibly other property damage losses. In addition, you may miss out on work and other important life events. These examples and more can cause serious financial impacts on your life. That is why Indiana law allows you to recover a variety of economic damages including:
- Property damage
- Existing and future medical expenses
- Lost income
- Loss of future income
- Rehabilitation and/or long-term care
- Household services
You may also be entitled to non-economic damages, such as outlined in Indiana Code 34-30-29.2-2 for cases when the other party is uninsured. These damages may include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of consortium. The damages awarded are determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the facts in your case. An attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help you sort through the evidence and make a case to get you the maximum compensation possible to aid in your treatment and recovery.
Common Types of Personal Injury Cases Involving Insurance Companies
In Indiana, personal injury lawsuits can be filed for just about any type of accident, including dog bites, pedestrian injuries, and slip and fall injuries. However, vehicle accidents are the most common type of case that may require the injured party to sue an insurance company.
All drivers have a duty to drive safely on the roads. Drivers are required to pay attention, comply with traffic rules, and adjust their driving when required by traffic or weather. Hundreds of thousands of car accidents happen in Indiana each year, many of them causing injury to one or both drivers. Many of these accidents occur because of distracted or dangerous driving such as speeding, running lights or stop signs, and texting while driving. If you have been hit by another driver who was driving negligently, you are entitled to damages. If the other driver is uninsured and your own insurance company is not willing to pay for your damages, you may need to sue your insurance company to get the damages you deserve.
The responsibility of drivers to drive safely on roads does not just apply to other cars; it applies to all travelers on the road, including motorcycles. Motorcycle-involved accidents can be some of the most serious and complicated because they often involve severe injuries that require significant resources to recover. If you were injured on a motorcycle hit by a vehicle, you may incur significant medical bills as well as ongoing care costs. Suing an insurance company following a motorcycle accident may be a good option for a personal injury claim denied improperly or underpaid.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 30 percent of traffic fatalities in the United States involve drunk driving. Unfortunately, not all drunk drivers are insured, meaning that you could be left negotiating with your own insurance company after being injured by a drunk driver. Although it is generally easier to prove the negligence of the at-fault party in drunk driving accidents, that does not mean that your insurance company will be willing to pay for all of your expenses incurred as a result of your injury. You may need to sue your insurance company to recover the compensation you deserve.
The Importance of an Attorney When Suing an Insurance Company
A skilled attorney can help you prepare for and navigate what’s required to sue an insurance company. Suing an insurance company is not a simple endeavor that you should attempt without an experienced attorney. Insurance companies have lots of staff and resources available to intimidate policyholders and claimants into settling for low offers. Having knowledgeable Indiana personal injury claim attorneys in your corner can help you fight back and recover the compensation you need and deserve.
The experienced attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP can anticipate the strategies that insurers use to minimize or avoid liability. We will gather the evidence available to rebut the company’s claims and help you recover maximum damages.
Thinking of Suing an Insurance Company? Get Help from Indiana Personal Injury Claim Attorneys
The Indiana personal injury claim attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP have experience in all types of personal injury cases and the strategies necessary for successfully suing an insurance company to obtain the damages you deserve. With the knowledge and experience needed to go up against even the biggest insurers, we use our years of experience to develop a successful insurance coverage strategy. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call (317) 455-4043, or complete our online contact form. Call today!