Fort Wayne, Indiana, has an infrastructure many other cities could only dream of, thanks to its fast growth and important location in Indiana. Fort Wayne’s roads show how committed the city is to progress and development because they are a seamless mix of historic charm and urban sprawl. With significant roads like US 27 cutting through downtown and the always-busy I-69 connecting many commuters, the city’s roads make it easy for residents and visitors alike to get around quickly.
Also, the Fort Wayne International Airport is a hub for many people and keeps the city connected to the rest of the world. Yet, for all its advancements, there’s a drawback. The impressive expansion, while undeniably beneficial for the city’s economy, inevitably leads to an upswing in traffic and heavy-duty trucks on the roads. Unfortunately, this increases the risks of road mishaps and emphasizes why you need a reliable Fort Wayne car accident lawyer on your side.
Imagine this: You’re returning home from a trip, the familiar sights of Fort Wayne welcoming you as your vehicle glides smoothly on the tarmac. As you merge onto I-69 from the Fort Wayne International Airport, suddenly, a truck rear-ends your car, jolting you. Such collisions, though unpredictable, are becoming more commonplace.
Or consider another situation: After a long day of securing deals at the Indiana Auto Auction, you’re driving on US 27 through the busy downtown area. Suddenly, a driver looking at their phone and not paying attention sideswipes your car, leaving you upset and damaged. You could also be at the corner of Oxford and Abbott St., having just picked up your kids from a fun-filled evening at the McMillen Park Community Center. Just as you’re pulling out, another vehicle hits you head-on, the force of the impact making your heart race.
Accidents are random by their very nature. Even though no one expects them, being ready for them is essential. Knowing a reliable Fort Wayne car accident lawyer familiar with the city’s infrastructure and way of life can make all the difference when getting justice and compensation.
Heavy Traffic in Fort Wayne Leads to Hundreds of Car Accidents Annually
Fort Wayne is the second-largest city in Indiana, and it has always been a busy place. Because of its central location, it serves not only Indiana but also Ohio and Michigan. As a result, traffic congestion is an undeniable fact. Key highways like I-69, I-469, US 24, US 27, US 30, US 33, and the Airport Expressway are the lifeline of the city’s transportation system, with hundreds of thousands of cars and trucks using these important routes daily. But because there is so much traffic, the unfortunate result is more car accidents.
A closer look at recent data reveals a concerning trend. According to the Indiana University Public Policy Institute’s 2020 Crash Fact Book, Allen County, where Fort Wayne is the county seat, has witnessed significant traffic-related issues with 11,156 collisions in 2020, which brought it to the third-highest county in the state.
Allen County also saw 17,189 people in a car accident in 2020 with 36 fatalities; 976 people suffered incapacitating injuries, and 1,627 had non-incapacitating injuries. As per the data presented in the 2019 Allen County Traffic Safety Report, the total number of crashes increased from 13,862 to 13,976, with a notable rise in fatalities from 32 to 38.
While Fort Wayne continues to grow and expand, catering to its residents and the influx of commuters, there’s a pressing need to address these traffic-related concerns. Stricter law enforcement, regular maintenance of infrastructure, and public awareness campaigns are crucial to ensure the city’s roads remain safe. But equally important is the role of every driver—because it’s not just about navigating the streets but ensuring that you and everyone around you get to their destination safely.
How Do I Prove the At-Fault Driver Was Negligent?
Proving fault in a car accident is critical to getting fair compensation. It establishes the driver’s liability for the accident and helps determine the compensation the court will award to the injured party. While this may seem simple, it can be complicated, especially given all the scenarios that could result in an accident. Although each car accident has its unique set of circumstances, there are general rules followed by Indiana’s auto liability laws that determine fault:
- Drunk Driving – Driving under the influence is a severe offense in Indiana, and offenders are usually found to be at fault in the event of an accident. However, unlike other accidents, the process is not as simple. Evidence like blood alcohol levels and substance use become critical for establishing the driver’s incapacity. A competent car accident lawyer in Fort Wayne may argue for gross negligence or intentional conduct in extreme drunk driving cases, potentially leading to punitive damages.
- Failure to Yield – Intersections are accident hotspots, primarily due to drivers failing to yield. Turning left without looking, ignoring traffic signals, or becoming distracted—often by gadgets—are all common scenarios. These situations can be more complicated, resulting in conflicting accounts of what happened. A skilled Indiana car accident attorney usually goes beyond witness accounts, utilizing traffic or dash camera footage, vehicle tracking systems, and other relevant information to determine fault.
- Multi-Party Fault Scenarios – Car accidents can sometimes involve multiple parties who might be at fault. For instance, consider a scenario where one driver speeds through an intersection while another, distracted, fails to halt at a stop sign. In the event of a collision, determining liability can be complex.
- Rear-End Collisions – If you hit someone from behind in Indiana, the courts almost always consider you at fault. The main idea here is that drivers should always keep a safe stopping distance and be aware of their surroundings. If a collision happens from behind, it is frequently assumed that the following driver has violated these rules, regardless of the actions of the leading driver.
Comparative Negligence in Indiana
Indiana follows the comparative negligence rule. You may request compensation if the court finds you less than 51% responsible for an accident. However, insurance companies’ attempts to deflect liability and minimize payouts can muddy this simple rule. Suppose you believe your claim has been unfairly reduced or rejected due to minor errors on your part. In that case, you should consult with a car accident attorney in Fort Wayne because they can explain your legal rights and suggest appropriate next steps.
Allen County Has the Highest Amount of Hit-and-Run Accidents in the State
A concerning trend has emerged in Allen County. According to the Indiana University Public Policy Institute’s 2020 Crash Fact Book, Allen County has the unfortunate distinction of having the most hit-and-run accidents in the state, with 23.2% of all hit-and-runs in 2019. To put it in perspective on how high this is, the average county percentage of this type of accident was 7%. These kinds of events cause property damage and injuries and create a tangle of legal issues for both victims and perpetrators.
Understanding ‘Leaving the Scene of an Accident’ in Indiana
“Leaving the scene of an accident” or “hit and run” refers to a situation in which a person is involved in a vehicular accident and chooses to flee without adequately identifying themselves or helping the injured, if any. While a typical hit-and-run involves two moving vehicles, many other cases involve parked cars or pedestrians. Leaving the scene without satisfying legal responsibilities is a severe violation of Indiana law, regardless of whether the affected vehicle is occupied or not or whether the victim is a pedestrian, and it can result in the following charges:
- Class A Misdemeanor – Failing to stop after an accident, commonly known as a hit-and-run, is classified as a Class A misdemeanor in Indiana. This is a serious charge that can result in severe repercussions. If convicted, individuals can face up to one year in jail and be required to pay fines of up to $5,000. Such a charge typically comes into play when the accident leads to property damage or minor injuries, and the responsible driver neglects their duty to stop and offer necessary information or assistance.
- High-Level Felony Charges – The situation becomes more grave if the hit-and-run accident leads to severe injuries or even the death of another party. Under such circumstances, the driver who flees the scene without fulfilling their legal obligations could get charged with a high-level felony. The consequences of a felony conviction are far-reaching, leading to extended prison sentences and hefty fines, among other penalties.
- Level 3 Misdemeanor – Conversely, if the accident results in minimal damage and does not involve another vehicle – for instance if a driver damages property like a mailbox or street sign and flees the scene – they might be charged with a Level 3 misdemeanor. Though less severe than the previously mentioned charges, a Level 3 misdemeanor still carries potential legal consequences, including fines and jail time, albeit on a smaller scale than the more severe classifications.
Indiana § 9-26-1-1.2
For those interested in the specifics of the law, Indiana § 9-26-1-1.2 provides detailed insights into the responsibilities of a driver involved in an accident. Key highlights include:
- The obligation to immediately stop their vehicle at the accident scene or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary
- The duty to remain at the scene until they’ve provided their name, address, and the vehicle’s registration number to the injured party or the police. They should also display their driver’s license if requested.
- If the accident results in injury or death, the individual is also legally bound to offer reasonable assistance, including transporting or making arrangements to transport the injured person to a medical facility.
Violators of Indiana’s hit-and-run laws face the legal consequences mentioned above and the moral weight of avoiding responsibility and potentially leaving someone in distress.
Is It Worth Getting an Attorney for My Fort Wayne Car Crash?
The legal landscape in Fort Wayne, Indiana, can be complicated if you are involved in a car accident. When it comes to determining fault and compensation, Indiana has its quirks. Hiring an experienced Fort Wayne car accident lawyer can mean the difference between receiving fair compensation for your injuries, damages, and other losses.
In Indiana, establishing fault in a car accident can be critical. Having an attorney on your side helps prove the other party’s negligence and provides a strong defense if the other party attempts to place some or all of the blame on you.
Our Fort Wayne car accident attorneys have fought for many people’s rights in similar situations. While we have a wealth of case experience, we believe each accident and its aftermath is unique. As a result, we provide personalized service, ensuring that your specific needs, concerns, and circumstances are met.
Indiana as a ‘Fault’ State
Regarding car accidents, Indiana uses a “fault” system. This means that the person who caused the accident is also liable for any damages caused by the crash. If you are injured in an accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you have the right to ask for compensation from that driver or their insurance company. In this system, the at-fault party’s insurance typically covers the costs of injuries, property damage, and other losses.
The concept of shared fault is one of the more complicated aspects of Indiana’s car accident laws. In some cases, multiple people may be at fault for the accident. For example, one driver may have been speeding while the other failed to signal a turn. In such cases, both parties share the blame for the accident.
Avoid Early Settlements with Insurance Companies
Being wary of insurance companies looking for a swift resolution is crucial. Their primary aim is often to close claims quickly and with minimal payouts. They might present offers that seem generous initially. Still, such offers can often fall short of covering all the medical bills, lost wages, and other associated costs that can arise from a car crash.
Settlements Amounts and How Damages Are Calculated in Indiana Car Accidents
One of the main worries of injured parties following a car accident is the potential value of their claim. While an accident can be stressful, understanding how settlement amounts get calculated in Indiana can help. Insurance companies have established methods for estimating car accident settlements. A standard general formula is as follows:
- General Damages – These damages are not as easy to figure out. They cover aspects like pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, or loss of life’s enjoyment.
- Lost Wages – If you’ve missed work or cannot work in the future due to your injuries, these are factored into the settlement.
- Special Damages – These are concrete, measurable costs stemming from the accident. They include medical bills, rehabilitation costs, property damage, and sometimes future medical expenses.
The formula insurance companies often use is: (special damages x general damages multiplier) + lost wages = estimated settlement amount. It’s crucial to realize that this is a general formula, and individual cases may have variances based on their unique circumstances.
Average Car Accident Settlement Amounts
Based on data, the average car accident settlement amounts to approximately $42,000. However, there are nuances:
- For regular car accidents, the average settlement stands at $41,783.00.
- Truck accidents, given their potential for larger damage, average $42,909.88.
- Motorcycle accidents, often resulting in more severe injuries due to the exposed nature of riders, come in higher at an average of $67,564.31.
However, these figures are averages. The actual amount can vary based on the injury’s severity, the accident’s circumstances, the insurance policy limits, and the negotiating skills of the attorneys involved. It’s worth noting that the more severe the injuries sustained from the accident, the potential for a higher settlement value increases. For accidents with only minor or no injuries, settlements might range between $10,000 and $15,000.
Out-of-State Accidents and How to Handle Your Claim
Fort Wayne, located just 18 miles west of Ohio and 50 miles south of Michigan, attracts out-of-state commuters and travelers due to its proximity to neighboring states. Those traveling from Ohio, Michigan, or any other state may face unique challenges if involved in an accident in Indiana, particularly when seeking legal recourse.
When you’re involved in an accident outside your home state, the critical question is: Where can you file your lawsuit? This boils down to the concept of “jurisdiction.”
- Subject Matter Jurisdiction – This refers to a court’s authority to hear a specific type of case. State courts in Indiana generally have this jurisdiction over personal injury cases.
- Personal Jurisdiction – This pertains to the court’s power over the individuals involved in the lawsuit. Courts can exercise this over anyone who resides in that state or has significant connections to it.
Where Can You File Your Claim?
- Injuries in Indiana – If you get injured in Indiana due to the negligence of a resident or entity from Indiana, you can typically file a lawsuit in the state.
- Defendant from Another State – Things can get a bit more complex if the responsible party isn’t from Indiana. The critical factor is their connection to Indiana. They must have “minimum contacts” with the state for Indiana courts to exercise jurisdiction over them. Activities like doing business, owning property, or driving in the state often qualify as such contacts. For example, if a company has a branch in Indiana but is headquartered elsewhere, you can usually still sue them in Indiana if they’re responsible for your injuries.
Why You Might Need a Local Lawyer
Understanding Indiana’s legal system can be challenging when you are from another state. Using a local attorney can be highly helpful because they will have a thorough understanding of the legal system in Indiana and will be able to guide you through the complexities of jurisdiction, ensuring that your case is handled efficiently and correctly.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
In 2023, Fort Wayne, under Mayor Tom Henry and the Public Works Division, made a record investment in its neighborhood infrastructure. This initiative highlights the city’s dedication to its residents and vision for future growth. You can find more on the official announcement from the City of Fort Wayne. Additionally, as Fort Wayne progresses, several local businesses stand out:
- Rich’s Auto Center – Serving the Fort Wayne community with dedication, Rich’s Auto Center is known for its impeccable automotive services. Their commitment to quality and customer satisfaction has cemented their reputation as one of the best in the area.
- Summit City Car Care – A trusted name in auto repair, this business is renowned for its skilled technicians and top-notch services. Whether routine maintenance or comprehensive repairs, they’ve got you covered.
- Ed’s Car Care Center – With a longstanding presence in Fort Wayne, Ed’s Car Care Center is a go-to for many locals. Their expertise and genuine care for customers make them a preferred choice for automotive care.
- R&L Automotive – Specializing in a wide range of auto services, R&L Automotive has consistently delivered excellence. Their team’s professionalism and the use of the latest tools and techniques ensure that vehicles are in the best possible hands.
Contact a Fort Wayne Car Accident Lawyer Today
At SLG Accident Attorneys, we are dedicated to standing by the side of Fort Wayne residents during their most challenging times. With a deep-rooted commitment to justice and a passion for serving our community, our experienced Fort Wayne car accident lawyers strive to ensure that every client receives the comprehensive support, guidance, and representation they deserve. Reach out to us today and let us champion your rights, helping you secure the best possible outcome for your situation.
In addition to Fort Wayne, some of the locations our legal team serves include Fishers, Carmel, Noblesville, Greenwood, Indianapolis, Avon, Anderson, Munster, Hammond, Gary, East Chicago, Highland, Portage, Lawrence, and more.
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