Frequently Asked Questions
Indiana attorneys helping injured people
The following are answers to some frequently asked questions we receive at Cooke Law Firm in Lafayette, IN. Please remember that the specific facts of your case will determine what legal rights you may have.
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- Since I was injured through no fault of my own, can I file a personal injury action?
- Do I need an attorney?
- Will I have to go to trial to recover damages?
- What is considered pain and suffering?
- What determines the amount I might recover?
- Is there a minimum or maximum amount that can be recovered in a personal injury settlement?
- What is a typical settlement amount?
- Can the insurance company refuse to pay my medical bills in an auto accident if my car was not damaged?
- What is wrongful death?
- What is the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim?
- Who can sue for wrongful death?
- If I come in for a free consultation, do I have to hire you?
- What if we have to go to trial?
- What if I don’t like the settlement offered?
- Can you help me with payment benefits?
Since I was injured through no fault of my own, can I file a personal injury action?
When you are injured by another’s negligence, carelessness, or wrongful conduct, you can often seek compensation from the negligent parties and their insurers.
Do I need an attorney?
While it is often in your best interests to consult with an Indiana injury lawyer, especially if your injuries are serious, it may not be necessary. You should only hire us if we can put you in a better position than you would have been on your own. At Cooke Law Firm, we tell you what we can and cannot do for you and what your claim is worth. We only take your case if we believe we can help you.
Will I have to go to trial to recover damages?
About 95 percent of personal injury cases filed are settled prior to trial.
What is considered pain and suffering?
Pain and suffering includes harm caused by physical injury and mental anguish caused by your accident and the potential of surgery.
What determines the amount I might recover?
Every case addresses three issues:
- Liability—establishing someone’s negligence
- Damages—the amount that fairly and adequately compensates you for your injuries
- Source of collection—insurance or other assets from which damages can be recovered
Is there a minimum or maximum amount that can be recovered in a personal injury settlement?
What is a typical settlement amount?
An experienced personal injury lawyer reviews and interprets your case information to determine the appropriate value for your claim:
- Incurred medical bill amount
- Future medical bills
- Loss of past income
- Your age
- Permanent limitations caused by your injuries Impact on future earning capacity
- Activities you can no longer do
- Activities you can do but do not enjoy as much
- Prognosis for further problems
- Strength of witness testimony
The goal is fair and adequate compensation for your injury. An experienced attorney knows what a reasonable jury would award. The strength of lay and expert witness testimony usually influences the amount.
Can the insurance company refuse to pay my medical bills if my car was not damaged?
No. While the insurance company might try to draw a direct correlation between damage done to your car and the severity of your personal injury, it is possible for the body to sustain damage even if the car did not. The reverse may also be true—a car might sustain major impact but passengers may only suffer minor cuts and bruises.
What is wrongful death?
The idea behind a wrongful death lawsuit is the wrongful death—in addition to injuring the person who died—also brings harm to the people who depend on the victim for financial and/or emotional support. The wrongful act might be:
- A negligent or careless act (e.g., careless driving)
- A reckless act
- An intentional act such as deliberate murder
Indiana has a statute permitting a lawsuit to be brought by the decedent’s relatives in the event of a wrongful act.
What is the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim?
Indiana law sets the timeframe, or statute of limitations, for filing. Time begins with the time of the incident or when the party became aware of the injury. Indiana does not honor a wrongful death claim filed after the statute of limitations has run out, and the opportunity to recover damages for the family is forever lost.
Who can sue for wrongful death?
Indiana law defines the person(s) allowed to bring a wrongful death suit. A spouse and children may file. Grandparents or other relatives may also be allowed to sue, depending on the circumstances. Indiana restricts a filing in which one family member sues another for the wrongful death of a third family member.
If I come in for a free consultation, do I have to hire you?
The staff of Cooke Law Firm do not pressure clients to retain this law firm. Prospective clients are encouraged to think it over. If we accept your case, we start processing your case immediately. In addition, information from our offices, whether over the phone, in person, in the yellow pages, or in our brochures is free. We believe that prospective clients should be able to come to the office and discuss a case without charge.
The insurance company wants me to see their doctor, what do I do?
At Cooke Law Firm, we help clients prepare for medical exams, to make sure you get the best possible treatment for your injuries. Before a medical exam, we show you specially prepared materials about insurance company doctor exams, tell you what you should expect, and explain what you can do to make sure you get a complete diagnosis while also safeguarding any potential case you may have.
What if we have to go to trial?
At Cooke Law Firm, we know many clients are nervous about going to court. If your case goes to trial, we make sure you are prepared for the experience. We have presentations for our clients to help them understand what it is like to go to court and to be in front of a jury.
In addition, we have materials to help our clients prepare to give their sworn depositions and statements to the insurance company attorneys. (This is only necessary if a lawsuit is filed.) We have found that our clients enjoy these materials. They make learning how to behave in court a lot easier.
We believe spending the time to help you understand the trial process allows you to be more confident and ensures better results as we work together on your accident claim.
What if I don’t like the settlement offered?
Settlements are your choice. We will not settle your case without your permission. In fact, you are informed of each and every offer of settlement from the insurance company as the offer is given. We take the time to discuss the settlement offer with you, most particularly, whether or not the settlement offer is fair and reasonable.
Can you help me with payment benefits?
We help our clients process their health and auto medical payment benefits at no charge. In addition, we negotiate liens with health insurance companies to reduce the payback to the lien holder at no extra charge to you. The savings are passed on to you.