Thomas E. Scifres PC - Attorney At Law.
Thomas E. Scifres PC - Attorney At Law.
  • 43 Public Square,
    Suite 103,
    Salem, IN 47167
  • Schedule Your Free Personal Injury Consultation.

    (812) 359-8007

    Call For An Appointment To Discuss Your Needs.

The Things That Can Hurt Your Claim… And How To Avoid Them

The Things That Can Hurt Your Claim… And How To Avoid Them

What Happens When You Are Partially At Fault

If you are partially at fault for your injuries, you still have a right to open a personal injury claim. Because of this, you should never hesitate to speak with an attorney before assuming that your injuries won’t be covered because you share part of the fault for the accident.

Consider, for example, a slip-and-fall accident. Commonly, the person who’s injured in a slip and fall could have done things a little bit better. However, just because they may have taken some action to prevent the fall doesn’t mean that the property manager is 100% in the clear for leaving dangerous conditions unattended to.

How does this work? The 1985 Comparative Fault Act says that the jury or judge can assign fault between the at-fault party and the injured party – as well as any non-parties who haven’t been named in the lawsuit. This type of thing may be difficult to understand in “legalese”, but consider this example…

When my client first walked into the store, the metal threshold at the bottom of the entry door was bent up. It had been that way for a while because the store had not fixed it. She tripped and fell over the metal threshold, hitting her face on the hard floor tile. She broke her nose, orbital bone, and several other bones in her face – as well as her elbow. Her face was bruised and swollen and she was in tremendous pain.

In Indiana, liability for a slip-and-fall is usually directed toward the injured pedestrian. This means the jury would find this lady “at fault” for tripping over the bent threshold. Because of the fact that each side’s percentage of fault is assessed by a jury,

If the damages were assessed at $100,000, and the jury found the lady 20% at fault, the final verdict in her favor would be for 80% or $80,000.

Common Ways To Unintentionally Hurt Your Personal Injury Claim

Following your medical instructions is very important. The most common ways that people reduce their final payout include:

  • Not attending all doctor or all therapy appointments
  • Failing to cooperate in physical therapy
  • Failing to follow medical instructions such as:
    • A home exercise program
    • Wearing a brace at night
    • Resting your injuries
    • Weight bearing recommendations
    • And more…

What’s also important is that you don’t say anything or post anything on social media that undermines your claim. Posting comments, photos, and videos on social media can be misconstrued and used against you. As such, you should be very cautious with what information you make available in a public setting.

We counsel our clients on all of these things to make sure that they don’t do anything that diminishes their recovery or diminishes the value or perception of the value of their case. So, if you choose to work with our firm, you can get the insight you need to protect your claim.

The Effect Of The At-Fault Driver Not Having Insurance

If the at-fault driver does not have insurance, you must go after the person’s assets, which is difficult for several reasons.

First, most people with substantial assets tend to have substantial liability insurance. The more assets they have, the more insurance they’re likely to have to protect those assets.

Most people with little or no assets, don’t have insurance because they don’t have enough income to pay for it. If they don’t have enough income to pay for insurance, they probably don’t have enough assets to go after. 

The Effect Of Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Coverage

There are a lot of people who don’t have enough liability insurance to cover the full amount of damages. While there are many reasons for insufficient liability insurance, a typical reason is the rate of inflation for medical treatment.

Indiana has a minimum liability insurance law. This law states that every motorist who is licensed to drive must have $25,000 minimum liability coverage. The year the law was enacted to require a minimum coverage of $25,000, that amount would purchase a lot of medical care.

It wasn’t that long ago that if you got evacuated from a crash site by a helicopter, it was well within that $25,000. Today, emergency services are quicker to call an air ambulance and when they do, you’re looking at probably $70,000. The minimum of $25,000 isn’t enough anymore.

In cases where people have no insurance, you’re probably going to be looking to your uninsured motorist coverage to pay for damages. In cases where they don’t have enough insurance, you are going to be looking at underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM).

In Indiana, this insurance has to be offered to everybody by their insurance agent. However, it is not required that you purchase this insurance. In fact, you have to specifically state in writing that you reject uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. The truth is, uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance is relatively cheap coverage that everyone should have.

Another rule in Indiana is that you can only carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage up to the limit of your liability coverage. This means if, for example, you have $100,000 in liability coverage, you can get up to $100,000 in UM/UIM coverage – but no more.

Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage is important because there are a lot of uninsured motorists out there. A lot of people will get insurance, get their license to drive and register their vehicle, and then call and cancel their insurance. Because of this, I recommend having no less than $100,000 of UM/UIM insurance. (This is the minimum, having coverage of this type in the amount of $300,000 to $500,000 is quite standard.)

Having high liability limits and equally high uninsured and underinsured motorist limits is very important to your protection. To understand how UM/UIM insurance works, consider the following:

Say you have UM/UIM insurance of $100,000. Suppose somebody has $25,000 minimum coverage and you have $100,000 of underinsured motorist coverage. This means the most you’re allowed to recover from all sources is $100,000.

If the underlying party that caused the crash had $50,000 of liability limits, then your underinsured motorist insurance has up to an additional $50,000. Again, the two have to total $100,000.

With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Personal Injury Cases, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy. For more information on Personal Injury Law In Indiana, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (812) 359-8007 today.

Thomas E. Scifres

Schedule Your Free Personal Injury Consultation.
(812) 359-8007
Call For An Appointment To Discuss Your Needs.

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