Motor vehicle accidents are an unfortunate reality in the United States: according to the IIHS, there are nearly 40,000 car accidents per year, often occurring due to the negligence of other drivers.
After a car accident where the other driver was clearly at fault, you might assume that your insurance company will compensate you for your losses. But sometimes, to get what you’re owed, you might have to take on your own insurance company.
In this article, we explore why and how the process works in Indiana.
Understanding the Limitations of Your Insurance Policy
Before taking legal action and suing your insurance company, it’s essential to understand the coverage and limitations of your policy and the other driver’s policy. Insurance policies are often complex, and knowing what is covered and what is not can make a significant difference in your ability to recover damages.
What is Covered
When an accident occurs, the at-fault party’s insurance company is typically responsible for compensating the victim for their losses. Nevertheless, these payouts are often limited by the policy’s liability coverage limits.
According to the Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI), the minimum required auto insurance liability coverage is:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death per person.
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death per accident.
- $25,000 for property damage per accident.
So, for instance, if the at-fault driver’s insurance policy has a limit of $50,000 per person for bodily injury, that’s the maximum amount the insurance company will pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages related to physical injuries.
However, these minimums may not be sufficient to cover all the damages you incur in an accident. In this scenario, understanding your policy’s coverage limits and optional coverages, such as underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, can help you determine if you need to sue your insurance company for additional compensation.
What is Not Covered
While your insurance policy may provide coverage for certain types of accidents and damages, there are also situations where coverage is often denied. For example, if you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, your insurance company will probably refuse to cover your losses.
Additionally, if you were using your vehicle for business purposes and your policy only provides coverage for personal use, your claim may also be denied.
Understanding these exclusions can help you assess whether suing your insurance company is possible or not in your particular circumstances. On the other hand, when the injuries warrant it, insurance companies often offer a settlement at the policy limit, even if your damages exceed this amount.
That’s why we stress the importance of a car accident lawyer, whose support can be invaluable at this stage. We will help you understand your rights, evaluate the fairness of the settlement offer, and negotiate with the insurance companies to maximize your recovery.
The Process of Filing a Lawsuit Against Your Insurance Company
Under certain circumstances, suing your insurance company is the best course of action, but you’ll need to follow a specific process to comply with the policy terms and to increase your chances of success:
Step 1: Review Your Insurance Policy
Before taking any legal action, thoroughly review your insurance policy to ensure you understand its terms and conditions that must be met before you can file suit against your insurance company. This will give you a clear picture of what you’re entitled to and any potential challenges you might face. Pay close attention to the coverage limits, exclusions, and any other relevant provisions that can impact your claim. If you are pursuing an underinsured motorist claim, you must first contact your insurance company before settling with the underinsured motorist’s insurance company. Indiana Code § 27-7-5-6.
Step 2: Gather Evidence
Gathering evidence includes collecting police reports, medical records, witness statements, photos of the accident scene and damages, and any other relevant documentation related to the accident.
Personal injury lawyers know that the more compelling evidence you can present, the stronger your case will be. That’s why lawyers also have their own tactics to build strong claims. For example, they often work with accident reconstruction experts or medical professionals to gather compelling evidence.
Step 3: Contact a Lawyer
Suing your insurance company can be a complex and time-consuming process, and having an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side can significantly increase your chances of success.
We can help you navigate the complex landscape of Indiana’s legal system, gather additional evidence, and deal with the insurance company on your behalf. If necessary, we will also represent you in court to ensure your rights are protected.
Common Challenges When Suing Your Insurance Company in Indiana
In Indiana, while the path to compensation might seem straightforward, there are specific exceptions that can alter the course of your claim. Here’s a closer look at these exceptions that could impact your pursuit of justice:
The Modified Comparative Negligence Rule
According to the Indiana Code § 34-51-2, Indiana operates under a modified comparative negligence rule in personal injury cases. This means the amount of compensation you receive is reduced if you are found to be partially at fault for the accident.
Under this rule, your compensation is reduced by a percentage equal to your share of fault. If you are found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, you will be barred from recovering any compensation at all, and suing your insurance companies won’t help with your case.
Policy Interpretation and Disagreements
Even when the other driver was clearly at fault, suing your insurance company might be challenging for other reasons. Your insurance company may interpret the policy differently than you, leading to disagreements about coverage. It can also unreasonably deny your claim or fail to investigate it properly.
The Statute of Limitations
Remember that the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit against your insurance company in Indiana is typically two years from the date of the accident. After your accident, it’s crucial to act promptly to ensure you are able to claim compensation.
Why You Should Seek Legal Help for Your Insurance Claim
Depending on your case’s specific circumstances, you may need to sue your insurance company after a motor vehicle accident in Indiana. Once you decide to take legal action, the next step will be to file an insurance claim.
During this process, a personal injury lawyer can help you negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and ensure they don’t try to minimize your payout. At Christie Farrell Lee & Bell, we have decades of experience handling insurance claims in Indiana, so you can leverage our local expertise to strengthen your claim. If you are ready to take the first step in pursuing compensation, contact us today to get a free consultation!