More than 8,000 people suffered injuries in traffic accidents in Marion County in 2018, and 111 died, according to a report from the Indiana University Public Policy Institute. Across the state that year, distracted drivers caused five fatalities and 1,096 injuries. Across the country, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that distracted driving claimed 2,841 lives.
If you have suffered an injury because of a collision with a distracted driver, an Indianapolis distracted driving accident lawyer could work to protect your rights and secure the compensation you deserve. The team at Ben Crump Law, PLLC, works on a contingency basis, meaning we do not get paid unless you receive a settlement or judgment.
Call our offices today at 800-598-7557 for your free case evaluation with a staff member.
New Law Makes Holding Cell Phone Illegal
On July 1, 2020, Indiana Code § 9-21-8-59 went into effect, making it illegal to operate a moving motor vehicle while holding or using a cell phone except in hands-free mode. The new law added heft to the state’s hard-to-enforce texting-while-driving ban. Starting July 1, 2021, cell phone-using drivers will accumulate points on their license.
However, using a cell phone is just one way that drivers can become distracted. Other ways of becoming distracted include:
- Eating or drinking
- Playing with the radio
- Checking your navigation system
- Talking with friends or children
- Applying makeup
- Combing your hair
Anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road is dangerous—and could turn deadly.
For a free legal consultation with a distracted driving lawyer serving Indianapolis, call 800-959-1444
After an Accident
State law requires those involved in an accident to stop as close to the scene as possible. As mandated by Indiana Code § 9-26-1-1.1, you will need to provide your name and vehicle registration information to the other driver and render assistance if it looks like someone suffered an injury. Call 911 as soon as you can. You should then notify your insurance company of the accident.
The police will investigate any accident involving a death, injury, or property damage in excess of $1,000, as noted in Indiana Code § 9-26-2-1. Even so, you should conduct your own sleuth work, taking pictures of vehicle damage and as much of the crash scene as possible and speaking with potential witnesses—including passengers in the other driver’s vehicle—asking them what they saw and experienced.
Seek medical attention as soon as you can, maintain records of your bills and time out of work, and detail your daily pain levels in a diary.
You might also consider contacting an Indianapolis distracted driving accident lawyer to review your case. Call Ben Crump Law, PLLC, today to speak with a team member.
Indianapolis Distracted Driving Lawyer Near Me 800-959-1444
In general, liability in traffic accident cases comes down to negligence. In legal terms, this means the other person owed you a duty of care and breached that duty, causing an accident that led directly to your losses. In many car accident lawsuits, the plaintiff must prove each element of negligence, but that might not hold in certain distracted driving cases where the at-fault driver violated the law.
In Indiana, as in other “at-fault” states, the driver responsible for the accident must pay for the other driver’s damages. Sometimes, assigning responsibility is straightforward but not always. Determining blame and apportioning responsibility to each driver can sometimes become contentious.
Following the accident, you will file a claim with the distracted driver’s insurance company for your damages, including both damage to your vehicle and your past and future medical expenses. Under Indiana law, every motorist must carry minimum insurance liability coverage, according to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV):
- $25,000 in bodily injury liability (BIL) per person
- $50,000 in BIL per accident
- $25,000 in property damage liability (PDL)
Further, the Department of Insurance (IDOI) explains how every auto liability policy must include BIL and PDL coverage at the same minimum limits for uninsured and underinsured motorists, which you can only reject in writing.
Two types of problems might emerge while negotiating a settlement with an insurance company that could lead to taking a case to court:
- The distracted driver might not have enough coverage to pay for all your damages. For example, if you face $100,000 in future medical treatments, but the driver only has the minimum coverage standards, their insurance policy cannot make you whole.
- The insurance company offers an insufficient settlement, either because they dispute the amount of your damages or they believe you had partial responsibility for the accident, a standard known as “comparative fault.”
Indiana is one of many states that uses a form of “contributory fault,” as described in Indiana Code § 34-51-2-5, when determining liability for an accident. With contributory fault—or comparative negligence—a court will reduce your award in proportion to your responsibility for the accident. As long as your share of blame does not exceed 50 percent, you can collect damages for your losses.
In accident cases, if the other party was mostly at fault, but you drove 10 mph over the speed limit, the court might assign you 10 percent of the blame and have your compensation reduced by 10 percent. Insurance companies use comparative negligence while forging settlement proposals.
Damages and Limitations
Indiana does not limit the amount of compensatory damages—either “economic,” for accountable losses such as lost wages and medical expenses, or “noneconomic,” for less tangible damages such as pain and suffering—you may receive in court.
If you can show “malice, fraud, gross negligence, or oppressiveness,” as the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in a 2003 case, you could pursue punitive damages. However, the state caps this award at three times the amount of compensatory damages or $50,000, whichever is greater, according to Indiana Code § 34-51-3. The state then claims three-fourths of it for the violent crime victims compensation fund.
Indiana Code § 34-11-2-4 places a two-year deadline from the accident date to file a personal injury lawsuit. A car accident lawyer can help you build a case and file it before time runs out.
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How Ben Crump Law, PLLC, Can Help
An Indianapolis distracted driving accident lawyer can help you focus on recovering from your crash while they focus on your case. The team at Ben Crump Law, PLLC, does not get paid unless we recover compensation on your behalf. We’re there with you every step of the way, negotiating with insurance companies, reviewing medical records, bringing in experts, and going to trial if necessary. We never shy away from tough cases.
To schedule your free case evaluation, call our team today at 800-598-7557.
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