When to Hire a Lawyer After a Car Accident

February 14, 2023 / Car Accidents

When to Hire a Lawyer After a Car Accident

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, chaos often ensues. You may be laid up in the hospital, attending physical therapy appointments, and missing days at work. Your family’s routine is turned upside down. Any thoughts about when to hire a lawyer after a car accident are likely low on your list.

But it’s an important question to ask yourself: Do I need a lawyer for a car accident in Indiana? The answer is often, yes. There are several benefits to hiring a lawyer, including:

  • Injury victims represented by lawyers typically receive larger payouts than do victims representing themselves.
  • Victims who interact directly with insurance companies are at a disadvantage because they don’t know the law. Insurance company lawyers are legally savvy.
  • Personal injury lawyers often work on contingency, which mean the defendant’s insurance company pays your legal fees in successful cases. It costs you nothing.
  • When a lawyer handles all your interactions with insurance companies, you get to focus on healing from your injuries.

So, there are several reasons why hiring a lawyer in a car accident case can provide great benefits to you. Generally, the sooner you hire a lawyer, the better. This gives you a head start on negotiating with insurance companies and puts you at an advantage.

Why Choose Stephenson Rife

Attorney Mike Stephenson has 40 years of legal experience and has won many large personal injury claims totaling millions of dollars. He has served as lead trial counsel in more than 100 civil jury trials and has handled litigation in 18 states around the country. State and local polls by peers have listed Mike as one of Indiana’s top lawyers. The legal team at Stephenson Rife also includes Attorney Brady Rife, who prepares each case as though it may be tried in court. We have achieved outstanding case results and have many satisfied clients. We also offer an attractive attorney referral program. In a nutshell, here are the reasons to hire us:

  1. Our attorneys possess decades of legal experience.
  2. Our law firm has won millions of dollars in payouts for clients.
  3. We are not afraid to fight aggressively on your behalf.
  4. We have a winning track record in personal injury cases.
  5. Our attorneys communicate openly and frequently with the clients we serve.

Call us today at (317) 680-2501 for a free consultation about your case. We’d be happy to answer your questions and assess what your claim might be worth.

Talk to a Skilled Attorney

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Car Accident in Indiana?

Time and time again, we see individuals walk into our office who are dissatisfied with their interactions with insurance companies. Either the insurance company is low-balling their offer of compensation after a car accident or insurance companies are non-responsive and take weeks to return phone calls. This can be frustrating for injury victims who are trying to get back on their feet after being harmed in a vehicle crash.

Case in Point: Consider our client, Ms. Carla Fausnaugh, a 45-year-old woman injured in a car accident that wasn’t her fault. The insurance company initially offered her $1,374 for the injuries she suffered. After she hired Stephenson Rife, we were able to negotiate a $35,000 settlement. That’s the difference a lawyer can make.

The facts in the case were simple, though tragic. Liability was not in dispute. An elderly man was driving a car and ran a stop sign. His elderly wife was in the passenger seat. His vehicle slammed into our client’s car, seriously injuring the elderly man and killing his wife. Our client, Ms. Fausnaugh, sustained scalp lacerations requiring seven staples; chest pain and bruising; left groin/hip pain and bruising; right shoulder and right elbow pain; ongoing pain and swelling in her left lower leg; tenderness over the common peroneal nerve region with a positive Tinel sign; and ongoing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and anxiety. Her injuries completely disrupted her ability to work and her family’s schedule of meals, sports practices, and daily living.

Our lawyers were able to negotiate a settlement that was nearly 20 times more than the insurance company’s initial offer. That’s why car accident injury victims should avoid direct interactions with insurance companies and trust a lawyer to work on their behalf.

Should I Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident that Wasn’t My Fault?

When considering the question “Should I get a lawyer for a car accident that wasn’t my fault?”, there are several things to keep in mind. These include:

  • Indiana negligence laws
  • Statute of limitations for personal injury claims
  • Wrongful death laws in Indiana.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these …


Indiana applies the legal theory of modified comparative negligence when determining fault in a vehicle accident case. This means you can be partially at fault for a car accident and still seek compensation. However, you must be less than 51% at fault to file a successful injury claim. Any damages awarded will be reduced by the percentage of fault that is yours. For example, if it is determined that you are 20% at fault for a car collision and the other party is 80% at fault and the total award is $300,000, then you will receive $240,000 (the total less 20%).


The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim in Indiana is two years. (Indiana Code Title 34. Civil Law and Procedure § 34-11-2-4) The clock starts ticking on the date you were injured. This means you can’t delay in filing your legal claim for damages. If the statute of limitations expires, then a court can dismiss your case, barring you from recovering compensation.


In the tragic event that a loved one is killed in a car accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim to seek damages. Indiana law defines a wrongful death as a death that is “caused by the wrongful act or omission of another” person or parties. (Indiana Code §§ 34-23-1-1, 34-23-1-2, and 34-23-2-1(2021).) You can seek economic and non-economic damages, including medical costs, lost wages, loss of future earnings, loss of guidance, protection and care of surviving family members, funeral and burial costs, and other damages. The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim in Indiana is two years from the date of the person’s death.

As you can see, personal injury laws can be complex and time sensitive. For these reasons, it’s often best if you hire a car accident lawyer to represent you, even if the car accident was not your fault. A lawyer can help you avoid mistakes and understand your legal rights.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer at Stephenson Rife Today

The skilled and experienced personal injury lawyers at Stephenson Rife stand head and shoulders above the rest. We’ve won tens of millions of dollars in compensation on behalf of clients throughout Indiana and across the nation. If you’re debating whether to hire a lawyer to represent you after a car accident, keep in mind that injury victims represented by lawyers often receive significantly higher payouts than do victims trying to go it alone.

At Stephenson Rife, we believe that injured victims should be able to focus on their recovery and return to normal life while we do the legal heavy lifting. The legal system can be confusing and overwhelming, and your hands are already full with doctor visits, rehabilitation, and other medical care. We shield our clients from harassing phone calls and letters from insurance companies. We offer advice and guidance when you’re making decisions about your case.

From our point of view, our clients are like family. We offer compassion, care, and reassurance that you will get through your ordeal and come out on the other side. There’s no question too small – we’re always available to provide answers. We also pride ourselves on being responsive and returning phone calls and emails promptly. At Stephenson Rife, you have an entire team of attorneys, paralegals, and trained staff who stand behind you in your hour of need. To find out more about how we can help, call us for a free, no-obligation consultation at (317) 680-2501.

Attorney Mike Stephenson

Attorney Mike StephensonMike Stephenson has 40 years of experience and is a trusted advisor to many individuals and companies. His current practice is dominated by civil litigation in state and federal courts. He focuses much of his time on handling catastrophic injuries caused by all types of accidents, including motor vehicle, trucking, workplace injuries, product liability, and fire, just to name a few. He also works extensively in construction accidents. [ Attorney Bio ]

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