Government Immunity

If you are in a car accident, or highway accident with a car or truck owned by the government you get hurt just as bad as if the car or truck is owned by a private person.  You can have a back injury, a brain  injury, paralysis, or even wrongful death.  But, what you did not know is that if the car or truck is owned by the government, you may get no compensation for your injuries.

In Indiana, the government gave itself a lot of protections that the little guy is not entitled to.  To do this, the government  created the Tort Claims Act.  This Act, which is a legislative creation, limits the amount of money the government owes in compensation.  So, take for example a person who is in a car accident with a car owned by the government.  Let’s also say the person has a brain injury and is paralyzed.  Let’s also say that the medical bills for this injury total $1,000,000.00.  In that case, the government is only responsible to pay $750,000.00.  This means that the person will owe out of his own pocket $250,000.00 for medical bills even though the accident was not his fault.  He will not be able to send his kids to college because he can’t work, but that makes no difference, the Government protected itself by limiting how much it has to pay.

In addition to this protection the Government gave itself a bunch of other protections.  They are called immunities.  These immunities make it so the government does not owe a dime to the person it is responsible for hurting, even if the government was the sole cause of the car accident or highway accident.  The Tort Claims Act gives the government 16 different immunities.  The little guy gets no immunities.

If you are in a car accident with a government owned car, call Young and Young.   We have represented hurt Hoosiers for more than 55 years.  We know how the government works to protect itself.  We are accident attorneys who know how to protect you.

Trial Driving Statutes

If you have a car accident or a highway accident, resulting in severe injury such as brain injury, back injury, paralysis, spinal cord injury or wrongful death, you may have to have a trial to sort out who caused the car accident or highway accident.  If this happens, it pays to have experienced accident lawyers on your side.  How do you know if a lawyer is a skilled accident attorney?   Well there are a couple of ways.  Usually an advertisement is not the way to find out.  Most lawyers who advertise cannot get work any other way.  It often means they do not have experience and other lawyers or former clients will not recommend them.  Those lawyers who invade the privacy of a car accident or construction injury victim  appear to be chasing the ambulance. It doesn’t take much to advertise. Experience in the Court room is the key issue.

Go to the website for the National Board of Trial Advocacy.  This group certifies lawyers, in the same way doctors become board certified.  To be board Certified, a lawyer must have a minimum number of trials.  They must also pass a test.  To remain certified, the lawyer must complete a minimum number of trials in the last five years.  A certification from the National Board of Trial Advocacy is good evidence that the accident lawyer you select has the know how to properly represent you if you are injured by a drunk driver, or hurt in a construction accident, or any other type of injury.

Another way to find a good lawyer is to ask a friend who they recommend.  If the first friend does not know, ask a second.  If your friend or family member has gotten good results with a particular lawyer, chances are good the lawyer is able to properly handle your case.  Just because a lawyer says he means business, or its just that easy to recover, does not mean they have the know how to represent you.  Ask the lawyer questions.  Ask about his experience, not the people who work for him, but his experience.  How many trials has he had in the last 10 years?  His experience, not the experience of the people who work for him.  Ask if he will personally handle your case.  Ask if he is board certified.  If he’s not board certified, or promises to handle the case and then doesn’t, or you can’t get him on the phone, then you probably do not have a lawyer who will be able to handle your case.

I spoke about trial experience because a good accident attorney knows from experience what to expect at trial.  In a car accident case, whether against a drunk driver or a sober driver, statutes controlling the use of the road are extremely important to who will win the case at trial.  The rules of the road are there to keep us all safe.  We all have to work together to make the roads safe, and rules of the road do just that.  Good accident attorneys will use the rules of the road to show who was the cause of the accident.  If a driver violates the rules of the road, the law says that violation can be used as evidence as to who caused the collision.  Take for example a person who is driving 45 miles per hour in a thirty mile per hour zone.  Travelling that much faster than the speed limit  is evidence that that driver was negligent.   There are many different rules that are effective at showing who is negligent.

If you are a juror, and you hear that someone violated the rules of the road, know that you are being told that driver was negligent and likely was a cause of the collision.  This is good evidence upon which to base your verdict.

At Young and Young, both John P. Young and Fredrick W. Crow have been board certified trial lawyers for more than ten years.  John and Fred are accident attorneys who have the knowledge and experience to win at trial. Give us a call.

Good Health

Urban Meyer, coach of the Florida Gators Football team, winner of two national championships in five years, is stepping down.  Urban Meyer is giving up millions of dollars in salary.  He is giving up millions of dollars in endorsements. Urban Meyer is at the top of his game.  Good accident and injury lawyers know why.  His health is the most important thing in life.  If you have your health you have it all.  If you have a fortune, but suffer ill health, you really have very little.

Injury lawyers know that injuries from car accidents, highway accidents, or construction accidents can have devastating impact on the injured person, and her loved ones.  Three significant reasons account for this.  Medical care for injuries, such as brain injury, back injury, spine injury, paralysis, and for injuries which may lead to wrongful death is very expensive.  However, a person who is injured, through the negligence of another (with little or no fault of his own) is entitled to be put back in the physical condition he was in before the car accident or truck accident.  Although we cannot always put a person back the way he was, he is entitled to the best medical care available.  Just like a child knows that she is responsible to make up for the messes she makes, a person who causes these injuries is responsible to make up for it by paying for the best medical care.  (See my previous post about Insurance at trial if you are worried about the negligent person losing all he has worked for- it normally does not happen that way).

If you are injured in a motorcycle accident , car crash, highway crash or construction accident, chances are you will not be able to work at least in the short term.  In the worst cases you can’t work for the rest of your life.  I ask you, who should be responsible for making up for this loss, the person who caused it through her insurance, or taxpayers through social security?  I say it is the responsibility of the person who made the mess, just like the child who makes a mess.

Finally, the third reason is the most important.  Ask Urban Meyer why he gave it all up.  He did it to preserve his health.  He knows that his health is the key to enjoying life.  If a person is hurt in a car accident, motorcycle accident, truck accident and the injury is so severe that they cannot enjoy life because of the constant pain or lack of movement the person who caused that hurt is responsible for making up for all of it.  It is not right to say, well we can never make the pain go away, so we won’t help.  You tell your child to do whatever is necessary to make up for the harm.  So must the negligent cause of the injuries.

Young and Young has more than fifty five years of experience in ensuring that Hoosiers who are hurt by the drunk driver, negligent car accident or construction accident are fully compensated.  Call us now.

Crossing the Street

We do it everyday.  When we are children, it is so dangerous that our parents will not let us  do it on our own.  Schools hire guards to make sure we are safe crossing the street.  Cars are so much bigger and heavier than we are that a car wreck between a car and a pedestrian almost always results in serious injuries to the pedestrian.  These injuries include paralysis, spine injury, spinal cord injury, brain injury and wrongful death.  In traffic accidents between pedestrians and cars, the cars always win.  Therefore, the pedestrian has to be careful.

The first rule of good street crossing is to always cross in a cross walk.  You may have heard that you should always cross at an intersection.  While this is a good rule of thumb, it is not hard and fast.  Some crosswalks are in the middle of a street.  These are marked with heavy white stripes (like those on the album cover of the Beatles Abbey Road).  Many times these cross walks are also accompanied by a flashing light.  Nine times out of ten, if a pedestrian is hit while fully in a cross walk, the fault for the car accident is the driver of the car not paying attention.  In fact, there are a series of statutes in the Indiana Statutory code which give pedestrians in cross walks special privileges.  One statute requires all cars to stop at a cross walk if another car is already stopped.  This is true even if the light is green for those cars.

Simply because you are in a crosswalk does not guarantee your safety.  Always be on the lookout for your best interest.  A drunk driver is not going to honor the rules of the crosswalk or your right of way, and because the car is bigger than you, you will lose the battle.  So, do not walk out into traffic unless you are certain you can make it across without being hit.  Be especially careful for the good Samaratin who stops and waives you across.  Although all other cars are supposed to stop, most won’t.  So do not step out from behind that car until you can confirm you will not be hit.  Always cross with the light at an intersection, but keep an eye up the road to make sure that everybody sees you and the red light.  Some won’t and you will have to act fast.  Also keep an eye out for the turning driver, especially if you are walking in the direction opposite travel on a one way street.  The turning driver on the one way street will always look for cars coming at them, but rarely looks for the pedestrian coming from the opposite direction.  In those cases, always wait for the car to pass unless you make eye contact with the driver and they acknowledge your presence.

Pedestrian collisions are a common road accident.  Injuries from these traffic accidents can be severe.  If you or a loved one is injured, we have more than fifty five years of experience waiting to help.  Please call or email.

Insurance at Trial

Did you know that in most every trial in Indiana which involves a car accident, or a highway accident, the defendant (the person who the hurt person believes caused the collision) has insurance.  This insurance pays for the defendant’s attorney — every bit of it.  This insurance pays for all the costs the defendant has in going to trial — every bit of it.  If the defendant caused the hurt person’s injuries, such as a brain injury, back injury, paralysis, or even wrongful death, the insurance will pay for the compensation the jury tells the defendant he must pay the hurt person to make up for the injuries he caused.

The insurance companies have convinced Judges that to tell the jury the truth about the insurance is not fair to the insurance companies.  The insurance companies do not think Hoosier Jurors are either smart enough or honest enough to know the truth.  They think that if the jurors know that the defendant has insurance they will overcompensate the hurt person.  So, the jurors are not told the defendant has insurance.  I AM HERE TO TELL YOU THAT IF YOU ARE A JUROR IN INDIANA AND YOU ARE ASKED TO DETERMINE WHAT IS FAIR COMPENSATION FOR THE BRAIN INJURY, PARALYSIS, BACK INJURY, OR EVEN WRONGFUL DEATH, THE DEFENDANT HAS INSURANCE.  INSURANCE IS PAYING ALL THE EXPENSES AND WILL PAY THE JUDGEMENT. This is also true in most medical malpractice cases, product liability cases, and construction injury cases.  In fact in almost every case where the jury is trying top determine fair compensation, there is insurance.  At Young and Young 55 years of trial experience tell us these things are true.  As accident and injury attorneys, we know these things from experience.

The fact that there is insurance will not influence the jury.  Hoosiers are smart.  They know the fair value of a serious injury from a car accident, highway accident, construction accident, medical malpractice, and other situations where a person is hurt.  They will compensate the injured person by paying him back for his medical bills, and lost wages .  They will provide him the money he would earn in the future, but cannot because of the injury.  They know that being alone, in pain and not able to do there regular activities has great value and will compensate the hurt person in a fair manner.

Jurors do not protect insurance companies.  They compensate hurt people fairly.  When you are a juror, know there is most likely insurance to pay the bills for the wrong done.

Final Word on Drunk Driver Compensation

As we have discussed in parts one and two of this topic, thousands of Hoosiers are killed, paralyzed, suffer spinal cord injury, brain injury, amputation, and wrongful death in a car accident with a drunk driver. Traffic accidents with drunk drivers cost injured or killed Hoosiers and their families dearly not only in medical bills and lost income, but also in the loss of the injured or killed persons love, attention and affection.  How can Hoosiers protect themselves against a drunk driver with little or no insurance?  Imagine a parent is heading home from work.  This parent is the bread winner for the family of three, the other parent and two young children.  The working parent earns $80,000.00 dollars per year.  She is hit by a drunk driver.  Her injuries are so severe she is admitted to the hospital.  The hospital bills total over $300,000.00 dollars.  Her future medical bills will be $25,000.00 per year for the rest of her life.  She is only 30 years old, so she is expected to live another 50 or so years.  This makes her future medical bills about $1,250,000.00.  She will have lost wages of about $2,975,000.00.  The drunk driver has no insurance, what happens?

If the wage earner had planned ahead, she will be able to make a claim against her own insurance company under her “Uninsured motorist coverage”.  You may say, “That’s not right, why should she have to make a claim against her own insurance policy when it was the drunks fault?”  You would be right, of course, it’s not fair.  In a perfect world everyone would carry enough insurance to compensate people they hurt in a car crash.  We all know this is not a perfect world.  As such smart drivers protect themselves by buying uninsured motorist coverage.  The smart thing to do is to buy a policy in an amount of say $250,000.00.  Then you buy an “Umbrella policy.”  An umbrella policy will pay after the first policy is exhausted.  Umbrella policies are relatively less expensive than the underlying policy.  You should be able to purchase $1,000,000.00 for as little as $150.00 per year.  The increases for $1,000,000.00 and up are progressively less expensive.

I have been handling cases where the victim has been seriously injured for more than twenty years.  I’ve given seminars for more than ten years on the subject and am coauthor of what many consider to be the definitive book on Unisured Motorist Coverage in Indiana.  If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, call me. Put my know-how to work for you and your family.

More Drunk Driver Compensation

In our last discussion about the drunk driver, and forcing them to properly compensate the person they injured or killed, we discussed  that the drunk driver harms their victims in many ways.  The physical injuries, including paralysis, spinal cord injury, back injury, brain injury, amputation, may last for the rest of the victims life.  This impacts not only the injured Hoosier, but his or her family.  If the victim cannot work, the family suffers the loss of support. Children may not eat properly, may not have proper housing and clothes, and may have their education impacted.  If the Hoosier suffers wrongful death, all these things will happen unless the victim and his family is properly compensated.

The good injury attorney starts by preserving evidence as we already discussed.  Another important aspect of such a claim is working with the police and prosecutors to make  sure the best evidence is available at the criminal trial.  There are five different levels of investigation performed by the investigating police agency.  The level of investigation is generally directed by the seriousness of the highway crash or car crash.  If the car crash caused a death, a level five investigation is generally performed.  This includes taking pictures, and in depth witness statements.  The pictures include of the street, for skid marks or other marks on the street.  This investigation usually includes measurements of the skid marks from start of the crash to the end.  If death does not result from the car crash, the police agency may do a lesser investigation.  This is why it is important for the victim and his family to do their own investigation.  This starts with hiring a competent injury attorney.  The competent injury attorney has the resources available to complete the investigation the police do not perform.  This includes finding witnesses, taking additional pictures and other important matters.

Once the investigation is complete, cooperation with the prosecutor is essential.  The reason for this is, a conviction of the drunk driver on charges of driving while intoxicated, or a plea agreement pleading guilty to these charges can be used in the civil claim against the drunk driver to show they are responsible for the harm they caused.  A short review may be helpful.  In any drunk driving crash two separate cases arise, criminal and civil.  The criminal case is handled by the prosecutor and is based on the state’s criminal code.  The result of a conviction in a criminal case is usually jail and probation.  The civil case is brought to compensate the victim, to try to obtain sufficient funds to pay medical bills both past and future, lost wages both past and future, and money for permanent injury and pain. Both types of cases are extremely important.  The criminal case is brought to deter others from drunk driving.  The civil case is brought to compensate the injured person and his family.

In our next installment, we will talk about the sources of money available to compensate the hurt Hoosier, and his family.

At Young and Young, we are a family firm with a legal presence in Indiana for more than one hundred consecutive years.  We have been focused solely on injury accidents for the last 55 years.  We have the experience and resources to help Hoosier families recover what they need to live fulfilling lives.  Whether you have been injured in a car accident, a traffic accident, a truck accident, a motorcycle accident, or hit by a drunk driver, we stand ready to help.

Drunk Driver Compensation

Thousands of Hoosiers are killed, paralyzed, suffer spinal cord injury, brain injury, amputation, and wrongful death in a car accident with a drunk driver. Traffic accidents with drunk drivers cost the injured or killed Hoosier and their families dearly not only in medical bills and lost income, but also in the loss of the injured or killed persons love, attention and affection.  The reader might say that the lost wages and the medical bills are the real burden, but I say that loneliness is what we humans fear most.  Isolation from our friends and loved ones is terrifying.  It costs us our support network and our sense of security.  Taking a spouse or a child away from us opens a hole in our lives we may never again be able to fill.  If loneliness is not the worst loss we can suffer, then why are internet match services so popular, why do churches have mixers for singles, why is that when an old person is left alone they die more quickly?  Loneliness is devastating.

When the drunk driver enters our world and causes a fatal accident, or a car wreck that paralyzes, or a traffic accident that result in back injury and brain injury, the law gives the injured a remedy.  Often an accident attorney or accident lawyer will be an important early call.  This is important because the capable accident lawyer will immediately begin an investigation to preserve all the evidence needed to ensure proper compensation for the victim.

Tire marks on the road, such as skid marks, fade quickly on busy streets.  A good accident lawyer will visit the scene within days of being hired to document the scene with pictures and measurements.  You may think, well hey, the police have been at the scene, surely they will document the scene.  While this may be true, often they do not take enough pictures and often will make no measurements at all.  If a thorough documentation of the scene is not made, crucial evidence may be lost, allowing the drunk driver the opportunity to get away with not compensating you or your loved one.

In our next blog, we will continue with how a good accident and injury attorney insures you and your family are protected when a drunk driver causes a traffic accident or a highway accident.  The tips contained in this blog are based on more than fifty five years of experience investigating drunk driver car wrecks.  Fifty five years  of experience from a family law firm helping our fellow Hoosiers.

More on the Danger of Truck Accidents

This is Part two of a previous blog about Truck accidents.  As we know from our earlier discussion, the difference between the size and weight of a semi v. a passenger car means that truck accidents usually result in catastrophic injury to the passengers in the car.  These injuries include back injury, spinal cord injury, brain injury, amputation, paralysis and wrongful death.  A highway accident is something the government has being working hard to avoid.

As we discussed previously, the government has issued regulations addressed directly to the trucking industry.  These regulations are identified as Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). These regulations cover all areas of highway truck use.  They cover the driver as well as the truck.  As it relates to the driver, a driver must be at least 21 years of age. He/she must be able to sufficiently read and write English.  He/she must be able to operate the truck safely.  He/she must be physically qualified  to drive a truck and meet the requirements of E-Physical Qualifications and the complete the examination of that part. He/she must have a currently valid commercial drivers license (CDL) issued by only one state.  He/she must produce all prior traffic violations.  He /she is not otherwise unqualified to drive a truck. He/she has successfully completed a driver’s road test.  If a driver fails to meet any of these criteria, he/she and their employer will be subject to significant civil consequences and fines.

As tired drivers are a hazard on the road, and cause a lot of the truck accidents, there are strict regulations as to how long they may drive.  The regulations limit a driver to 8 actual driving hours within a 24 hour period.  To ensure compliance with this regulation, a driver is required to maintain an hourly log detailing his activities.  The driver must be no more than eight hours without having recorded his/her activities.  The driver must also be able to present the log immediately upon demand for inspection for any law enforcement officer.  If the log is incomplete, unavailable or otherwise unsatisfactory, the driver’s license can be suspended, subject him/her to fines and subject his/her employer to civil action.

The FMCSR is effective in controlling who can drive a truck for the safety of all users of the road.  This is yet another example of how the focus of the tort law is accident and injury prevention.  We are proud of our legal system here at Young and Young.  Over the more than 55 years of the firm’s work, we have represented thousands of victims of truck accidents, car accidents.  We stand ready to assist you and your family.

Drawbacks of the Interstate Highway System

Since President Eisenhower created the interstate Highway system in the 1950’s America has enjoyed the ability to move freely across the country in rapid pace.  In addition the trucking industry eclipsed the rail system in the volume of goods moved across the country.  In a real sense, the interstate highway system is a key factor to America becoming  a super power.  A consequence of the high speed roads, passenger cars must travel side by side with semi tractor trailers. This creates the very real potential for car wrecks which result in fatal accidents, back injuries, brain injury, motorcycle accidents, spinal cord injury and wrongful death.  A truck accident is one of the most devastating types of traffic accidents because of the vast difference in size between a truck and a car or motorcycle.  It is kind of like the rule of gross tonnage in shipping.  The ship with the highest gross tonnage usually wins in a collision.

In an effort to minimize the devastating effect of car truck collisions, trucks are highly regulated.  The Federal Motor Safety Carrier Regulations are an attempt to keep us all safe.  These rules and regulations were put into effect by an act of congress, after several statistical studies, included those performed by the Office of Motor Carriers of the Federal Highway Administration.   These studies revealed some startling statistics.  In 2005, 5,212 people died in accidents with trucks.  Those who were not killed, but were injured totaled more than 100,000. Almost 40% of those truck accidents were caused by truck driver error.

The Federal Rules can be found at Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulation. Indiana adopted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation as part of our state regulatory scheme.   It may seem obvious, but the purpose of these rules is to promote uniform rules, applicable across the country for trucks and trucking.  In this way everyone has the same set of rules to follow so everyone can be safe.  This uniform set of rules also justifies the basic idea that ignorance of the law is no excuse.  This helps avoid truck accidents which might result in bad accidents resulting in paralysis.

In our next blog we will be covering specifics of the act.  Rest assured that Young and Young has the knowledge to fully and aggressively represent Hoosiers, and their families who have been hurt or killed in a truck accident.  We have had a presence in the Indiana Legal community for more than one hundred years.  Our Firm has been operating under the Young and Young name for more than 55 years.  We have represented hundreds of families involved in truck accidents.  We have represented families with serious injury including brain injury, spinal cord injury, paralysis and death.  We stand ready to help you and your family.

How can an injured person know they are being represented by a qualified attorney

How can an injured person know they are being represented by a qualified attorney. After all being able to buy an ad only means they are able to buy adds. There is nothing in an add that tells you what you need to know. A truly qualified attorney is one who is Certified as a Trial Advocate. The injured person, whether it be a car crash, a semi crash, a construction injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, spine injury, brain injury or any other kind of injury can go to the following website for vital information.

In order to qualify to be a Civil Trial Advocate the attorney must have substantial trial experience, more than 25 jury trials, ongoing experience in the civil litigation area and pass a difficult written examination to qualify. I order to remain certified, the lawyer must continue to represent injured people in Court and stay active in the profession. This includes handling on going trial.

You may have seen or heard of people who claim to be super lawyers. This means nothing, it is a popularity contest and most of the people who are “Super Lawyers” only do it so they can put it in their advertisements to fool the public into thinking they are experienced lawyers. Do not be fooled. Ask your potential lawyer if he or she is certified. You can do this in advance by going to the website referenced above and check it out.

John P. Young and Frederick w. Crow of the Firm of Young and Young are Board Certified Lawyers and have been for almost ten years.

Thousands of Hoosiers suffer brain injury every year

Thousands of Hoosiers suffer brain injury every year. Brain injury is one of the most common injury in a collision, fall, or traumatic event. Brain injury can occur even if the person is not knocked unconscious.If you have ever been in a collision, a fall, or otherwise have hit your head, and you had the sensation of being knocked goofy, or having your bell rung, you probably have had a brain injury.

Brain injury is categorized as severe, moderate or mild. These categorizations are based on many factors including whether you were knocked unconscious, and if so, how long you were unconscious. Don’t be fooled by the term Mild Brain injury. Even those with mild brain injury can have life long medical problems and even an inability to work. Brian injury is often frustrating to its victims because they often times have no outward signs of the injury. They look normal. This makes people think that the person with a brain injury, who looks normal, is either drunk, or weird or strange. This can be very difficult for the brain injured person.

Prevention is the best way to deal with brain injury. Wear a helmet when riding your bike or are involved in other rigorous activities.

Most States have Brain Injury Associations. In Indiana, the Brain Injury Association is quite active and is a resource for families dealing with Brain Injury and for persons who have been injured. You can contact the BIAI at 356-7722. John P. Young is a long time member of the Association, Member of the Board of Directors, Past Chair of the Board of Directors and current member of the emeritus board. Years of experience result in effective representation with Brain Injury claims.

Protect Your Motorcycle Freedom

Motorcycles are a great way to see the country side.  Cruising down the road with the wind in your hair and nothing but the open road between you and happiness.  Motorcycles express the American dream in ways we feel deep in our collective souls: independence, rebel, free spirit.

Learning to be safe on a motorcycle should be the first step.  Indiana requires a rider to obtain a special license to ride a cycle.  Riders are encouraged to take a special course to learn the tricks and the dangers in riding.  ABATE offers a great class.

Most collisions or crashes between a cycle and a car occur because the driver of the car does not see the motorcyclist.  This happens when a car makes a turn across a cycle’s path, pulls out in front of the cycle or changes lanes when the cycle is in the car’s blind spot.  To avoid being put in this danger as a motorcyclist, you must always assume that you cannot be seen and ride defensively.  Your headlight must always be on.  Fortunately headlights today automatically come on when the cycle is started.  We are seeing dual headlights and flickering headlights which draw a car driver’s attention to the light.  Even with these aides you must drive within the speed, limit, pass only in passing zones, maintain a safe distance between cars, etc.

Even though a helmet is unpopular with many riders, it is an essential piece of safety equipment. One spill on the bike, with no helmet makes it likely that the old melon ( your head) is going to hit the pavement.  There is only a small piece of bone and a couple shear pieces of tissue between your brain and the pavement.  There is no cure for a brain injury.  The only way to deal with it is to avoid it.  You only have one brain, so protect it.  Protect it, if not for yourself, then for your lover, your child, your mom or dad, but protect it.  Be safe, wear a helmet.

Wrongful Death Claims in Indiana

We read it about it constantly: a motorist killed in a car crash, a motorcyclist killed in a crash, a construction worker killed on the job site, a child dies because a toy becomes lodged in her throat or his head becomes wedged between the bars of his crib.  As we have said before the purpose of the tort law (The law which helps people who have been hurt or killed by another person’s negligence) is accident, injury and death prevention.  It is only when the law fails in its original purpose that we turn to its secondary purpose, compensation for the harmed or killed individual.  When a person has been negligent (a person fails to use reasonable care when, for example they run a stop sign or a stop light, or fail to follow safety guidelines on the work site like OSHA rules and regulations.  A person can be negligent and not mean the harm.) and injures or kills another person the negligent person is responsible for making up the harm to the injured or killed person.  That’s what compensation means, to make up for.

In the case of the person who is killed because of the negligence of another, the law provides compensation through the “Wrongful Death Act”.  This is a set of statutes (laws enacted by the legislature) which creates the ability of the killed person’s family to be compensated for that person’s death.  Before this set of statutes was passed, there was no compensation for the death of a family member.  If the breadwinner was killed, the family either made do, or they suffered economically.  The law gave no remedy at all for the loss of the love the deceased person gave.  The law used to be that if a child was negligently killed, the parents were entitled to nothing.  In fact the law considered the parents lucky because they no longer had to pay for raising the child.

Recently, (in the law recently was within the last 50 years)  the people of Indiana spoke out against the injustice of these laws.  The Indiana legislature listened and passed the wrongful death act.  The statutes can be found in title 34 of the Indiana Code.  These statutes allow, as compensation for the death of a family member, the recovery of the medical bills for the dead persons last injury or illness, funeral and burial costs, lost support to the family the person would have provided in the way of lost wages or other support, finally the family is entitled to recover for the loss of affection love and guidance the person would have given the family.  Take for example the preteen girl, who has all kinds of questions about becoming a woman.  Her mother guides her, and teaches her, and helps her through the anxiety of that awkward time.  The mother’s guidance has real value and her loss causes a real loss.  The negligent person is responsible for making up for all those harms.  Remember what your parents taught you, and what you teach your children, if you break something, you take responsibility and see that it is repaired.  Asking the negligent person to do that is right and just.

A child’s loss for love and affection has been capped, In Indiana, at $300,000.00.  This is an arbitrary amount set by the legislature.  Look at your child, imagine the worst and tell me $300,000.00 is not insulting.  However, that is the current state of the law. The statute allows for compensation for the adult without dependents.  An adult, who dies without dependents (No children or spouse or other person who depends on him financially), the persons parents or non dependent children may be compensated for the loss of the deceased person’s love and affection.  This is limited to $300,000.00.

Our office has more than 55 years of experience handling wrongful death cases.  Please call us for advice in your time of need.

Drive Like a Reasonable Person

In the Indianapolis Star, Monday December 14, 2009, a story describes the charges brought against a school bus driver who, allegedly, did not extend the stop sign on the bus when dropping off a child. The bus driver is facing potential jail time for her actions. The school bus is the most iconic transport for our children. It is equipped with stop signs to make the travels of the children, to and from the bus as safe as possible. The bus stops at all railroad crossings and has extended mirrors for safety. Those who refuse to stop for the bus stop sign or proceed with caution when a bus begins to slow or accelerate are not acting reasonably. A reasonable person knows that children do not always use good sense and do things which will put them in danger. Therefore, the reasonable person moves more slowly and cautiously around a school bus.

The reasonable person also behaves the same way when driving in a residential neighborhood or near a school. Children live and play in these areas. Children will do silly things, like run into a street without looking. We see all the time the “Kids Dart” signs. The reasonable person will treat a child like a stop sign, i.e. when there is a child, or children, present the reasonable person will be able to come to a complete stop in an instant to save the child. I tell my driving children that it makes no matter who’s fault the collision might be, if you strike and injure or kill a child, you will be haunted by it for the rest of your life. Getting to practice or the game or the party five minutes later is a small price to pay to live without that weight on your conscience.

The reasonable person is also always scanning for kids in the residential neighborhood. Kids are small and can be blocked by a car or a tree or other things. If there are children present, the reasonable person knows they can run into the street, and drives more carefully because of that knowledge. The reasonable driver knows that children sometimes sled down hills that lead into the street and that such a child will not be able to stop. The reasonable driver drivers more cautiously in residential neighborhoods because of this knowledge.

We all must live together. We must use caution to protect the lives of the precious children who cannot protect themselves. The reasonable driver does this by driving at reduced speeds in residential neighborhoods, and evermore cautiously when children are present.

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