Indiana Burn Injury Claim Process
Indiana State Court System
- Small Claims Court: Small claims courts in Indiana have concurrent and original jurisdiction with the circuit and superior courts in civil cases where the damages claimed are not over $6,000.
- Circuit Court: These courts have concurrent jurisdiction in all civil cases, including personal injury or contract actions.
- Superior Court: The Superior Court is a court of original and concurrent jurisdiction in all civil cases.
- Court of Appeals: The Court of Appeals is Indiana’s appellate court with jurisdiction over all appeals that are not taken directly to the Supreme Court.
- Indiana Supreme Court: The Supreme Court is Indiana’s court of last resort and has discretionary appellate jurisdiction over Court of Appeals cases. They also have exclusive jurisdiction over special cases, including supervision of the exercise of jurisdiction by other courts.
*Some of the courts in the Indiana State Court System also have jurisdiction over other proceedings which are not covered here.
In the beginning stages of a lawsuit legal documents called pleadings are filed. To initiate the lawsuit, the plaintiff files a pleading called a Complaint which sets forth one or more causes of action against the defendant(s) named in the Complaint. After the Plaintiff files the Complaint and properly serves the Complaint on the Defendant(s), the Defendant(s) then have 20 days from the date of service to file a pleading called an Answer. The Defendant(s)’ Answer will respond to each of the causes of action in the Plaintiff’s Complaint and set forth any defenses, cross claims and/or counter claims the Defendant(s) will raise.
After all parties to the lawsuit have filed pleadings, the case then proceeds to Discovery. Essentially, the discovery process is a fact-finding and investigative endeavor in which each party gathers information and evidence from opposing parties and/or non-party witnesses. While the discovery process includes a variety of other mechanisms used to gather information, it will generally consist of the following:
- Written Discovery is generally used at the start of discovery and comes in two basic forms:
- Interrogatories – Formal questions and/or requests for information served on one party by an opposing party. The party served with interrogatories must provide written responses to each of the interrogatories or respond with an objection to the interrogatory.
- Requests for Production of Documents – Often served with a set of interrogatories, requests for production of documents are formal requests for certain documentation relevant to the claims and defenses raised in the pleadings.
- Depositions – In a deposition, either a party to the lawsuit or a non-party witness will provide oral testimony under oath and in the presence of a court reporter who makes a written record of everything said during the deposition.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Before the lawsuit goes to trial, the parties may engage in alternative dispute resolution to attempt to resolve the matter. Indiana recognizes settlement negotiations, arbitration, mediation, conciliation, facilitation, mini-trials, summary jury trials, and private judges as forms of alternative dispute resolution.
Mediation: This is a process in which a neutral third person, called a mediator, acts to encourage and to assist in the resolution of a dispute between two (2) or more parties. This is an informal and non-adversarial process. The objective is to help the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement between or among themselves on all or any part of the issues in dispute. Decision-making authority rests with the parties, not the mediator. The mediator assists the parties in identifying issues, fostering joint problem-solving, exploring settlement alternatives, and in other ways consistent with these activities.
Arbitration: This is a process in which a neutral third person or a panel, called an arbitrator or an arbitration panel, considers the facts and arguments which are presented by the parties and renders a decision. The decision may be binding or nonbinding as provided in these rules.
Mini-Trials: A mini-trial is a settlement process in which each side presents a highly abbreviated summary of its case to senior officials who are authorized to settle the case. A neutral advisor may preside over the proceeding and give advisory opinions or rulings if invited to do so. Following the presentation, the officials seek a negotiated settlement of the dispute.
Summary Jury Trials: This is an abbreviated trial with a jury in which the litigants present their evidence in an expedited fashion. The litigants and the jury are guided by a neutral who acts as a presiding official who sits as if a judge. After an advisory verdict from the jury, the presiding official may assist the litigants in a negotiated settlement of their controversy.
Private Judges: This is a process in which litigants employ a private judge, who is a former judge, to resolve a pending lawsuit. The parties are responsible for all expenses involved in these matters, and they may agree upon their allocation.
At all times throughout the claims process, the parties can agree to settle the dispute by reaching an amicable solution for both parties. 95% of all personal injury claims or lawsuits are resolved by way of settlement prior to trial.
If the parties have not reached a settlement through mediation or otherwise, at the conclusion of discovery, the case then proceeds to trial. Depending on the complexity of the case, a trial can take as little as a single day or as long as several weeks to complete. At the conclusion of a typical civil trial, the jury will return a verdict for the plaintiff and award money damages to the plaintiff or the jury will return a verdict for the defendant finding that the defendant was not at fault.
Motions and Appeals
A notice of appeal may only be filed with the Clerk of the Indiana Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, or Tax Court. The notice of appeal must be filed within thirty (30) days after the entry of final judgment.
A judgment rendered in Indiana is valid for twenty years.
The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.
By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Indiana. Should you have a question/concern specific to Indiana law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Indiana.