Personal Injury -- Plaintiff Law
Personal injury lawsuits are complicated, but often necessary if you’re injured by someone else’s actions and can’t afford your care on your own. When you sue your injurer, you can recover monetary damages for the costs of your immediate medical bills, your long-term care, pain and suffering, lost wages, and the loss of potential wages if you cannot work long term.
Every state has its own rules that apply to personal injury lawsuits. If you are injured in South Bend, Indianapolis, Bloomington, or anywhere else in the state, it’s important to pay attention to the rules the Indiana courts expect you to follow.
There are many circumstances that can create a claim based on an injury. With some exceptions, you can recover damages for most injuries caused by another person, whether those injuries were intentional or accidental.
Intentional injuries are usually seen in cases of assault or battery, in which another person purposefully strikes or otherwise creates some kind of contact that leads to your injuries.
Accidental injuries often fall under one of two categories: negligence and strict liability.
Injuries caused by negligence are accidents caused by carelessness. They occur when someone performs an activity in a way that doesn’t conform to the expected safety standards. Distracted driving and medical mistakes are examples of negligent acts that can cause physical bodily harm to another person.
Strict liability cases usually occur when someone is trying to abide by expected safety standards, but hurt someone anyway. These cases can happen when someone performs an “abnormally dangerous activity” that goes awry despite proper procedures. A construction crew that blasts rocks that fall outside of the expected area and hurt someone could be cause for a strict liability lawsuit.
Dog bites are another common injury under strict liability. Indiana is a “one-bite” rule state. A dog owner can be liable for someone’s injuries even if it’s the very first time the dog has bitten anyone, if you can prove that the owner knew their dog was aggressive enough to potentially attack. If the owner can successfully show they had no way of knowing their dog would lash out like that, they could be found not liable under strict liability rules.
Indiana has some specific laws that apply to how you can file and pursue a personal injury lawsuit.
One requirement to take note of when filing a personal injury lawsuit is the statute of limitations. Most injured parties will have two years from the date of their injury to file their lawsuit in Indiana. Waiting beyond that period could result in the court refusing to hear your case, no matter how much proof you have against the injuring party. Some exceptions to this rule would be if you were incapacitated for some time as a result of the injury that prevented you from a timely filing.
Another consideration is the cap for damages in Indiana. Most personal injury cases don’t have a limit for how much money you can try to recover. There are some limits, though, such as if you’re suing the state for damages. In that case, your limit may be $700,000. Medical malpractice cases in Indiana often have a $1.25 million recovery limit.
If your actions also contributed to the circumstances that caused your injury, you may be barred from some or all of your compensation. This is the “comparative fault” doctrine. In Indiana, the courts will reduce your monetary awards if you’re found 50 percent at fault or less, and alter your damages accordingly. So, if you’re seeking $10,000 in damages, but the court finds you were 30 percent at fault, you’ll only be eligible to recover $7,000.
However, if you’re found to be 51 percent responsible or more, you’ll likely be prevented from recovering anything.
Your consent to the activities that injured you could also limit your compensation. Engaging in certain sports, for example, would be consenting to a situation that potentially causes injury. So if you’re fouled in a basketball game and injured as a result, you’re likely barred from compensation, because you accepted the risk of that kind of injury when you agreed to play the game.
With so many rules for when and how to file, deciding what category of injury to file under, and pursuing the case in court, it can be easy to misunderstand the process and make a mistake. In any lawsuit, mistakes can be costly, potentially with lasting ramifications that prevent you from a full award.
Working with a local, experienced personal injury attorney can help you complete the process correctly. Your attorney will be able to compile your evidence, file your documentation, and advocate for your interests in court, putting you in the best position to maximize your compensation.