In part one of this series on personal injury, we learned the basics about personal injury and personal injury claims. Personal injury can happen anywhere, and the following types of injuries generally fall under the category of personal injury: car, motorcycle or truck accidents or crashes, hit and run accidents, dog bites, injuries from using a dangerous or faulty product, or medical negligence. If you are injured because of an accident caused by the negligence of another person, you may be able to recover damages to help compensate you for losses you have suffered.
In part two of this series, we learned more about personal injury claims and the possible alternative methods of resolving them in the state of Indiana without going through a trial in a civil court.
In part three of this series, we will learn how the legal process works when you file a personal injury claim to seek compensation and damages for your physical and emotional injuries through the civil court system.
What happens after I file my Personal Injury Claim?
What is the Discovery Process?
After your personal injury claim has been filed, the first step in the legal process is called Discovery. The discovery process helps your attorney gather information to prepare your case for trial. Discovery is important because it allows your attorney to develop a legal strategy for your personal injury claim.
The discovery process allows your attorney to gather information critical to your case by requesting information from the other person or group involved in your lawsuit. You and your attorney are also required to provide information, if it is requested from the other person or group involved in your lawsuit. For example, you might be asked to provide your work or medical history, insurance information, or you might be asked to provide details about the accident that caused your personal injury. Some tools of the Discovery process include Depositions, Interrogatories, and Requests for Production of Documents.
What is a Deposition?
A deposition is used to gather information from a person before a trial. A deposition is testimony given outside of a courtroom by the person or groups involved in a lawsuit, or by other witnesses. A deposition typically takes place in an attorney or court reporter’s office. The person who is deposed is under oath and obligated to tell the truth, just as if he or she was in a court room. The person who is deposed answers questions, gives testimony, and may be cross-examined. The deposition is recorded and transcribed by a certified court reporter. The written deposition can be used at trial.
What are Interrogatories?
Interrogatories are written questions sent to a person or group involved in a lawsuit, either the person or group who has been named in a lawsuit or the person or group who filed it. Unlike depositions, interrogatories cannot be sent to other witnesses or non-party. Interrogatories carry the same obligation to respond truthfully under oath as the testimony given in a court room or in a deposition.
Unlike depositions, interrogatories cannot be sent to other witnesses or to any person or group who is not involved in the lawsuit. Interrogatories carry the same obligation to respond truthfully under oath as the testimony given in a court room or in a deposition.
What are Requests for Productions of Documents?
Requests for productions of documents are requests to examine, copy, test or sample specific documents, electronically stored information, or other actual objects. Requests for productions of documents are sent to the person or group involved in a lawsuit, either the person or group who has been named in a lawsuit or the person or group who filed it. Under certain circumstances, requests for productions of documents may also be sent to a person or group who is not involved in the lawsuit.
What can I expect when my personal injury claim goes to trial?
If you are charged with a crime, you must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal court. In a personal injury lawsuit, the burden of proof is different. The legal standard for a personal injury lawsuit is a preponderance of evidence. A preponderance of evidence means that the facts, evidence, and arguments that you and your attorney present to the judge or jury must be more likely than not to be the correct version of the circumstances that resulted in your injury.
You and your attorney have the burden of proving a preponderance of evidence in your case to a judge or jury, and this evidence must show four components: Duty, Breach, Causation and Damages.
What is Duty?
As we discussed above, duty simply means that the person or group responsible for causing your injuries owed you a duty of ordinary or reasonable care. In other words, the person or other group responsible for causing your injuries had a legal obligation to treat you carefully with attention and concern for your well-being. They had a legal duty not to hurt or injure you.
What is Breach?
Your attorney has already determined that your personal injury claim meets the legal standard to be actionable. Your personal injury happened because of the negligence, reckless actions, or intentional misconduct of another person or group. A Breach is defined as a violation of a legal or moral obligation. The person or group responsible for causing your injuries had a legal obligation to treat you carefully with attention and concern for your well-being, but they failed in their legal duty not to hurt or injure you.
What is Causation?
Causation is the connection between the breach of legal duty by the person or group responsible for causing your personal injury and the hurt or injury you suffered. In other words, you and your attorney must show that your physical or psychological injuries were caused by your accident, and your accident was caused by the negligence, reckless actions, or intentional misconduct of a person or group who was legally obligated to treat you carefully with attention and concern for your well-being. Another legal term for causation is proximate cause. For example, the person or group responsible for causing your personal injury proximately caused your injuries.
What are Damages?
Finally, you and your attorney must show that your accident caused damages to your physical, mental or emotional and financial well-being, and these damages were the result of the negligence, reckless actions, or intentional misconduct of a person or group who failed in its legal duty not to hurt or injure you.
What else do I need to know about Personal Injury lawsuits in the state of Indiana?
Indiana has two laws that regulate most personal injury claims. The first law is called modified comparative fault, and the second law is called contributory fault.
What is comparative fault?
Comparative fault is important if you are partially responsible for the accident that caused your injuries. If you are more than 50 percent responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, then you cannot collect any compensation or damages. If you are partially responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, but your responsibility is less than 50 percent, then the amount of your compensation or damages will be reduced according to the extent of your responsibility. In other words, if you are found to share 20 percent of the responsibility for your accident, then you cannot collect more than 80 percent of the total compensation or damages.
For example, you are involved in an accident that happened because another driver turned left into your car’s path, but you were driving a few miles per hour over the speed limit at the time. Your personal injury claim seeks to recover $10,000 damages. The legal process establishes that your speeding makes you 20 percent responsible for this accident, and the other driver is 80 percent responsible. The comparative fault law means that your $10,000 personal injury claim will be reduced by 20 percent, or the percent of the accident that is your fault. In this example, you would collect $8000, or 80 percent of your total claim.
What is contributory fault?
The contributory fault law applies to your personal injury claim if your claim is against a health care provider, such as a medical malpractice claim, or if your claim is against a city, county, the state of Indiana, or any other government agency. The contributory fault law does not allow you to file a personal injury claim against one of these groups if you have any responsibility at all for your accident.
What are Damage Caps?
Damage caps are specific limits to the amount of compensation or damages that you might be entitled to collect in your personal injury claim. Damage caps apply only in certain circumstances, so please consult with an attorney for guidance on damage caps in Indiana.
Find a good personal injury attorney……
Personal injury can happen anywhere, and the consequences can be devastating. Damages can help compensate you for the losses you have suffered, such as medical costs, pain and suffering, and the loss of past and future income. A good personal injury attorney will help you find the best strategy for collecting the compensation that you are entitled to and the compensation can help you to rebuild your life.