Texting and Driving

Semi tractor Trailers are huge powerful engines driving our economy.  We depend on them for the abundance that is the American way of life.  Other trucks join in making us the envy of the world. However, because of their size, when they collide with a passenger car in a highway accident, the results can be horrific.  Wrongful death is common.  Brain injuries and spinal cord injuries happen frequently, injuries resulting in paralysis, including quadriplegia and paraplegia, change people’s lives. Burns and back injuries are also common.

A recent trend is helping to raise accident rates across the country – texting and driving.  You see it all the time, a car swerving, and you wonder what’s going on until you pull up to see if you can help and there is a person with one hand on the wheel and a phone in the other with the driver looking up and down constantly, paying almost no attention to the road.  I see this on the highways.  Talk about a recipe for a disastrous highway accident.  In fact statistics show that texting while driving has a similar impact on the drivers ability to control their car as a drinking and driving. Here is a startling fact issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, drivers who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every 6 seconds while texting. At 55 miles per hour, this means that the driver is traveling the length of a football field, including the end zones, without looking at the road.

To deal with this problem there has been a movement in both state and federal legislation to prohibit texting and driving. The United States Department of Transportation passed regulations last week designed to prohibit bus drivers and truck drivers from sending text messages while operating a commercial vehicle.  These rules apply to trucks and buses on the highway, with a weight of more than 10,000 pounds. The penalty for violating these rules is a fine up to $2,750.00.

Smart accident attorneys and injury attorneys know that there is likely no way for the government to enforce these rules and regulations.  Although I hope these rules and regulations help, I still think the best way to avoid a road accident or a highway accident, is to not be texting yourself.   This allows you to keep your eyes on the road, and to look out for other drivers who are not paying attention to the road.  Please, parents have this discussion with your children – tell them not to text and drive.  Tell them to keep an eye out for others not paying attention to the road.

If you want to learn more about highway safety, contact young and Young.  If you have been injured by a texting truck or bus driver, or even a person texting in a passenger car, please call Young and Young for a free consultation.  We will meet in our office or in your home or hospital room.  We have 55 years of experience to help you and your family.

Do I need a Will if I Die As A Result Of Negligence?

If you are killed as a result of someone’s negligence, what happens to your will?  The first thing you need to know is that if you die, and you have a will, an estate will be opened to administer your estate.  This means that your Will is filed with the Court in the county where you lived and died.  A person is appointed as an administrator.  The administrator collects your assets, accounts for those assets, protects for those assets, pays your debts due after you die, pays all taxes due, and then distributes the assets to the persons you identified in your will.

If you die as a result of someone else’s negligence, such as in a car wreck with a drunk driver, a highway accident with a semi tractor trailer, a motorcycle accident, a construction accident, you are electrocuted, or burned or in any type of automobile accident, and you have a will, the process is the same as described in the first paragraph.

However, a second estate may be opened as well.  This is called a wrongful death estate.  It is not really an estate at all.  Along time ago, if you died as a result of another person’s negligence, your there was no compensation (remember, compensation simply means “to make up for") for the harm caused to your family.  This meant that if you died and you were the sole bread winner in your house, your spouse and children would be on their own. Most families fell into poverty and worse.  Hoosiers saw a huge problem with this and passed the Indiana Wrongful death statutes.  The legislature knew that a deceased person could not bring the claim in their own name (deceased people cannot legally do anything, for obvious reasons), so they had to come up with an entity which could bring the claim.  They settled on what they called a "Wrongful Death Estate" or WDE.  This works well, but it is a little confusing.  It is confusing because the WDE does not change how the estate described in paragraph one works.  The funds which are paid in compensation for the wrongful death do not become part of the regular estate.  The wrongful death statutes describe how the funds generated by the WDE claim are distributed.  Usually the funds are for the surviving spouse and dependent children, to make up for the loss these folks endure as a result of the wrongful death.

At Young and Young, we have more than fifty five years of experience helping families who have to deal with the tragedy of losing a loved one.  We have read and used the Indiana Wrongful Death Statutes to help families survive the economic hardships caused by losing a loved one.  Please call us today.

What Do I Do If A Loved One Dies in an Accident?

If you are reading this because you need information about wrongful death, our family extends our sympathy for your loss.  We know firsthand the angst, sorrow, and numbing grief you are dealing with and we pray for your strength in the face of this tragedy.

The first things you need to take care of are the arrangements for funeral and burial.  It is always helpful to allow a family member or friend to accompany you to make these arrangements.  You are in grief, and it is almost impossible to concentrate in this state of mourning.  Having a friend or family member who is not as directly involved is always helpful.  The first three to four days will be a blur and our ceremonies and traditions help us cope with the loss.

In the days following the death, it is important to find the will and seek the advice of a probate lawyer to help administer the estate assets.  A Probate lawyer is a lawyer who specializes in handling wills and estates.  You should look for life insurance policies and make contact with the insurance companies so that you can fill out the “Proof of Loss” forms all insurance companies require.  Don’t forget to check with your health insurance company and credit card issuers, often times these entities will have small life insurance policies attached to them.  You car loan may also have a life insurance policy attached to it which will pay off the loan, the same goes for your mortgage, so check with each of these folks.

If the death was caused by the negligence of another person, it is called “Wrongful Death”.  It does not matter if the death was caused by a car wreck with a drunk driver, a semi tractor trailer in a highway accident, a motorcycle road accident, any kind of traffic accident, a construction accident, burns or electrocution. Indiana has three statutes dealing with the wrongful death of a loved one.  One statute deals with the death of an adult with dependents (spouse, child or financially dependent person), wrongful death of an adult without dependents, and wrongful death of a child (one who is under the age of 20, or 23 if the child is a full time student).  The statutes can be found at I.C. 34-23-1-1, I.C. 34-23-1-2, and I.C. 34-23-2-1.  We will go into the specifics of each statute in later blogs.

As we have stated in earlier blogs, an immediate and thorough investigation into the facts of the fatal accident should be conducted as soon as is practical.  A competent car accident attorney or accident lawyer will be able to handle the investigation for you, relieving you of that stress, so you can focus on your family.  At Young and Young, we have been asked to perform these services for hundreds of Hoosier families.  We have the resources and the experience to do what needs to be done to help you in this awful time.

Negligence Liability for Following Too Close

Rear-end collisions of various degrees of severity are a common occurrence on Indiana roads. In general, one of the most helpful driving hints for any driver who wants to avoid being a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit is to take your time and leave a lot of space between you and the driver in front of you.

In a motor vehicle accident case, following too closely and then crashing into the car in front can be a basis for a negligence claim. The reason this is so is if a motorist tailgates another vehicle, that motorist cannot keep a proper lookout for hazards and conditions in the roadway ahead of the vehicle in front. If that vehicle (let’s call it vehicle #1) suddenly stops and vehicle #2 rear-ends it, the operator of vehicle #2 can be held liable in court. If vehicle #1 suddenly swerves to the left and there is a stopped vehicle in the roadway ahead, and you collide with that stopped vehicle, you may also be held liable.

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles talks about the “two second rule” in relation to proper following distance. This means that a driver should keep a distance of at least two or three seconds between his or her car and the car in front. You can do this by picking a landmark or fixed object on the side of the road and when the car in front of you passes it, it should be at least two seconds before you pass that same landmark. The BMV manual also identifies several factors that in addition to speed that affects a car’s ability to stop safely, including the condition of the brakes and tires, and road conditions. Although a driver has no control over slick roads especially in the winter months, it is important to keep your vehicle in good operating shape for your safety and the safety of others.

At Young and Young, we have represented thousands of Hoosiers who have been injured in rear-end collisions. We would be happy to sit with you and your family to advise you as to how the law can help you receive compensation for the injuries you sustain when another’s negligence causes your injury.

What if I am Hurt in an Accident and My Doctor Commits Malpractice While Treating Me?

You are in an accident.  It does not matter how the accident happened.  It could be that you were in a car wreck with a drunk driver.  It could be you fell in a construction accident.  You might have had a highway accident with a semi tractor trailer. You might have been in a road accident while riding your motorcycle.  It does not matter if it was a traffic accident or a slip and fall, or you were electrocuted with burns, you are injured.  Your injury might include a brain injury, or a back injury with spinal cord injury, which causes you to become paralyzed as either a paraplegic or a quadriplegic.  If you are hurt and it is someone else’s fault, you are going to need medical care and treatment.

Most doctors do excellent work. As a result the injured person recovers as best they can and gets back to life as best they can.  Every so often, however, the doctor treating the patient makes a medical error, also called malpractice.  Remember, malpractice does not mean the doctor meant to cause the harm.  It simply means the doctor was negligent in providing medical care.  Doctors are human, and they make medical mistakes.  If they do make a medical mistake, they must do what your mother taught you and what their mothers taught them, they must make up for the harm they caused.  They do this by having insurance.  Don’t worry about their rates going up.  Indiana passed medical malpractice tort reform back in the seventies.  The doctors are protected by the malpractice act which caps recoveries for the people they injure at 1.25 million dollars.  This might seem like a lot, but a child who suffers permanent injury is going spend 5 or 6 times that amount in medical care over their life time.  Instead of the person who caused the problem making up for the harm they cause, we as tax payers have to make up for the harm they cause through Medicare and Medicaid.

If your doctor makes a medical mistake while treating you for injuries caused by another person in an accident, the person who caused the original injuries is responsible for making up for the additional harm caused by the doctor.  The other driver does this through their insurance.  The injured person can also bring a claim against the doctor as well, asking the doctor to make up for the additional harm he caused.  The reason for the first rule I discussed (the person who caused the accident is responsible for all the harm that is caused by the accident) is to make sure that the injured person receives full and fair compensation.  The reason the injured person can also bring a claim against the doctor is because the driver that originally caused the harm may not have enough insurance to pay for the harm the doctor caused.  Do not worry about the injured person obtaining a double recovery.  This is not allowed under Indiana law.

Competent and careful accident lawyers and accident attorneys know the rules about how and when to bring a claim against the person who caused the accident and the doctor who made a medical mistake.  Young and Young, as injury lawyers for more than 55 years, are qualified to help you with your claim.  Call us today.

If I am Injured in a Highway Accident, is Social Security Disability Possible?

Every qualified injury attorney or accident lawyer knows that if their client is injured, the injuries may be permanent, or at the very least, likely to last more than twelve months. Some of these types of injuries include spine injuries and back injuries which cause paralysis, either paraplegia or quadriplegia.  Brain injury can be quite debilitating, as can severe burns from electrocution, or amputation of a limb.  Blindness is permanent, and loss of hearing is as well.  It makes no difference whether these injuries were caused by a car wreck with a drunk driver, a highway accident with a semi tractor trailer, a motorcycle accident, a truck accident, or a construction accident.

The Social Security Disability rules and regulations will grant a person disability benefits if that person’s injuries are expected to last more than twelve months.  The injuries do not have to be permanent.  Thus, if the injured person is unable to work for twenty four months, but then is able to return to work in the twenty fifth month, that person is entitled to Social Security Disability Benefits for those twenty four months.  Remember, the injuries must also be severe enough to meet the social security regulations (please see previous blogs for a discussion on how the SSA determines if a person’s injuries are severe enough to merit disability).  It must be noted that the first five months of every period of disability is eliminated from eligibility for benefits.  So in our above example, the person who is entitled to 24 months of benefits will receive only 19 months of benefits because the first five months are not eligible for payment.

If the injured person receives fair compensation for the injuries they receive in the traffic accident or the construction accident, that money does not affect the injured person’s eligibility for Title Two Disability benefits.  If the injured person has not worked five out of the ten years prior to their road accident or construction accident, they may only be entitled to Title Sixteen Supplemental Security Benefits (SSI).  If this is so, then the amount of money received as compensation for their injuries may affect how much money that person is entitled to receive in SSI benefits.

Finally, if the injured person was working when they were in the traffic accident, or in the construction accident, they may be entitled to workers compensation benefits.  If so there are two sets of consequences if the person receives compensation from the negligent person’s insurance company.  The injured person must repay, out of their compensation from the negligent person’s insurance company, 2/3rds of the amount the workers compensation carrier paid.  This is called subrogation.  In addition, your social security benefits will be reduced by a proportion of the amount you received from the worker’s compensation insurance carrier.

Each situation is factually different, so if you have a situation where you think your injury from being in a highway accident with a drunk driver driving a semi tractor trailer involves issues of workers compensation and social security, give us a call.  At Young and Young we have helped thousands of Hoosiers sort through these issues to make their lives less complicated. We look forward to hearing from you.

Owner Liability for Dog Bites

Man’s best friend can sometimes be unfriendly. With the popularity of television shows such as Cesar Milan’s "The Dog Whisperer," who preaches rules boundaries and limitations for canine pets, proper dog training and behavior is near the top of the public agenda. Maintaining a dog in Indiana imposes on a dog owner the duty of reasonable care even when the dog owner is unaware of the dog’s vicious or dangerous tendencies. Indiana law requires dog owners to exercise reasonable care in restraining and maintaining their dog on a leash or on their premises. If a dog owner fails to properly restrain or maintain the dog, the owner could be liable in negligence for money damages to the person who gets bitten by a dog in an unprovoked attack. There are also criminal penalties on the books. Note that Indiana law defines owner to include possessor, keeper, or harborer of a dog, not just the official owner. In Indiana, physicians are considered "mandatory reporters" when it comes to dog bites. That is, any physician who treats a patient for dog bite injuries must file a report with the Indiana Department of Health within 72-hours after the incident.

Indiana law no longer accepts the so-called one-bite rule. That is, it used to be that if a dog had never bitten anyone before, then there would be no dog-bite liability because the owner would lack knowledge of the animal’s vicious propensities (dogs are presumed by the law to harmless). The victim used to have to prove knowledge of prior bites; now if you prove that the dog is of a breed that is known to have vicious propensities or there is other evidence that the owner knew or should have known that the dog had vicious propensities, then the dog owner may be responsible for the injuries caused by the dog. There is also a special statute for postal workers; dog owners are strictly (i.e., automatically) liable to them for dog bites. County and local ordinances in Indiana may impose additional responsibilities on dog owners.

A dog attack can inflict serious injuries on the victim, including physical and emotional trauma. If you or a loved one have been victimized by a dog attack, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Young and Young in Indianapolis for a free consultation.

How Does the Social Security Administration Decide If I Am Disabled?

I meet with people who need Social Security Disability Benefits two to three times a week.  Usually, they have already applied, and have been turned down.  They are disappointed and frustrated.  They worry about how they are going to take care of their families.  Almost everyone says, in one way or another, “I know a guy who gets the benefits and he is not even disabled, and I can’t work, how is that fair?”  I always say, let’s not worry about the other guy, let’s worry about you.  I then tell them about the rules the Social Security Administration uses to determine if a person is disabled. 

Most people who need disability benefits have been injured in one way or another. Some have been in car accidents with drunk drivers.  Others have been injured in a constructions accident or been in a highway accident with a semi tractor trailer.  Motorcycle accidents, vehicle accidents, electrocution, burns, it does not matter.  The injuries can be far ranging.  They include spinal cord injuries or back injuries resulting in paralysis such as paraplegia, quadriplegia, disc herniation, disc injuries, and brain injuries. Some people have heart problems, breathing problems, psychological problems.  It does not matter why the applicant has the problem.  What is important is that the person can prove, with objective medical evidence (we have discussed objective medical evidence in previous blog), they have the problem they claim to have. 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will follow a five step process to determine if you are disabled: 

1. Have you worked since you claim to have been disabled? 

2. Do you have a medically determinable impairment? 

3. If you have an impairment, is it severe, and does it meeting a listing? 

4. If you do not meet a listing do you have the residual functional capacity to work your former job(s). 

5. If you can’t do your past work, can you do any other type of work? 

This five step process is set out in the Code of Federal regulations at sections 404.1520 and following for Title Two Disability, and 416.920 and following for Title Sixteen SSI.   If you have one of the listed illnesses, injuries or disease, and it is severe enough, you will be found to be disabled.  The listings can be found 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.  CFR stands for Code of Federal Regulations.  Type 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1  into any search engine and the listings should pop up. The listings are broken down into 14 categories which include Musculoskeletal, Special Senses and speech, Respiratory,  Cardiovascular, Digestive, Genitourinary, Hematological, Skin, Endocrine, Neurological, Mental, Cancer, Immune System.

I have 21 years experience with these listings.  I have represented hundreds of claimants.  I have personally represented claimants in over 400 hearings.  I handle the cases myself.  When you hire me, I do the work.  I don’t hand you off to a paralegal.  When you call, you get me, or I call you back.  I make house calls and represent people all over the State of Indiana.  Give me a call. I can help.

What an Injury Trial is Really Like – Part 3

Now that we have picked our six person jury, we are ready for the “Opening Statement”.  Please take note of the word statement as opposed to the word argument.  This is not an argument.  It is each party’s opportunity to tell the jury what they think the evidence will show.

A good accident attorney or accident lawyer knows the opening statement is not the time to try and convince the jury that their side is right.  It is the time for each party to give the jury an outline of what the evidence will show.  The opening statement is the story of the case. An experienced car accident attorney will tell the jury the rule of the case.  One example is that a person must never drink and drive.  A drunk driver causes car wrecks – that is why it is a rule.  Another rule might be that a semi tractor trailer must drive the speed limit to avoid a highway accident.  The reason for this rule is the semi tractor trailer ignores the rule it causes a fatal accident, a wrongful death case.

After the rule(s) is set out, the jury is told what the defendant did.  An example might be that the defendant was a drunk driver and pulled out in front of a motorcycle causing the motor cycle accident.  Another example might be that the power was not cut off to the electrical wires causing a construction accident where the person suffered electrocution.

The next part of the story is why the defendant was the cause of the injury. The last part of the story is the harms and losses caused by the defendant’s negligence.  This might include a brain injury.  It could be a spinal cord injury or a back injury.  You might be a paraplegic or a quadriplegic.  You might have a burn injury.  Whatever the injury, you have medical bills and you have lost wages.  You might not be able to return to work.  You are worried how you are going to be able to feed and cloth your kids, and be able to pay your medical bills. And finally, and most importantly, how the injury affects your ability to enjoy life.  The opening statement is concluded by informing the jury what the parties believe is fair compensation.

Next time we will discuss the sequencing of how the evidence is presented.

Brain Injuries Coming Under Increasing Scrutiny

Congratulations to the Indianapolis Colts who are headed to the Super Bowl after their come-from-behind victory in yesterday’s AFC Championship game. Pro athletes make a great living, and fans in Indiana and across the country derive a tremendous amount of enjoyment from following their favorite teams. But there is a downside:  For example, more retired NFL players are coming forward to report dementia-related symptoms as a result of repeated on-field concussions during their playing days. Although many feel that the National Football League has been slow to acknowledge the connection between concussions and brain disease, the league recently decided to implement stricter rules for players suffering head blows, which, among other things, prevents them from returning to action the same day if they have headaches, dizziness, memory gaps, or disorientation. Given the increased attention on brain injuries in pro (and college) sports and in military combat, medical researchers are exploring a number of innovative treatments that will also eventually apply to persons from all walks of life.

That being said, on an everyday basis, most Hoosiers are more likely to suffer a severe blow to the head in a car crash or a slip-and-fall accident than in a sports-related injury.  Severe or traumatic brain injuries can unfortunately have far-reaching consequences on the victim as well as the victim’s loved ones. Victims may require permanent care, which often places an emotional and financial burden on the injured person and the family.

If you believe that you (or a family member) have sustained a severe concussion, it is important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney in addition to obtaining expert medical attention. As a result of the potentially devastating nature of a blow to the head, representation by the best possible attorney is crucial for a fair recovery against the responsible party. John P. Young is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of Indiana, serving as its chair for two years. Mr. Young has 20 years of experience helping Hoosiers and their families deal with brain injury. Call him and let him assist you and your family.

What an Injury Trial is Really Like – Part 2

When we last left off the jury had seen the video and was on its way to the court room to see if they were going to be on the jury. For those of you who missed our first in this series, I offer a little review.

I’ll begin by resetting the stage: You are in a car wreck with a drunk driver. You are in a truck accident with a semi tractor trailer.  You are riding a motorcycle and are in a highway accident. You are in a construction accident. You are injured.  The injury could be a brain injury.  It could be a spinal cord injury or a back injury.  You might be a paraplegic or a quadriplegic.  You might have a burn injury.  What ever the injury, you have medical bills and you have lost wages.  You might not be able to return to work.  You are worried how you are going to be able to feed and cloth your kids, and be able to pay your medical bills.

The insurance company for the person who was negligent, and caused you injury refuses to compensate you fairly for the injuries, medical bills, lost wages and the loss of the ability to enjoy your life.  Your claim must be resolved by a civil jury trial.  Remember, it is a civil jury trial, not criminal.  This means no one is going to jail.  In fact the person who is hurt is not claiming, in most trials, that the person who caused their injuries did it on purpose.  What the injured person is saying is exactly what you mother told you when you broke some window, or spilled your milk:  The harm you caused occurred because you were not careful, it is your fault and your responsibility to make up for the harm you caused.  This is true whether the person was in a road accident or an industrial accident.

The group of potential jurors is seated in the court room.  At this point in the proceedings the group is called the venire.  They are asked to stand by the judge and asked to take an oath to honestly answer the questions put to them by the judge and the attorneys for the people involved in the law suit. The judge will then explain to the potential jurors that this part of the jury trial process is called voir dire.  This is just a Latin term meaning to speak the truth.  The judge tells the jurors the basic outline of how the trial will be run.  The judge will then ask the jurors a series of questions to determine there ability to serve as a juror.  Generally the judge covers the issues dealt with under the statutory reasons why a person cannot be a juror.  We discussed this last time. If the judge allows the persons to remain as potential jurors, 12  to 15 people will be placed in the jury box seats and the attorneys for the people in the lawsuit will be able to ask them questions.  The idea is to try and find six jurors (yes six, it used to be twelve but that changed more than 30 years ago) who can listen to the evidence and be fair to both parties and return a fair and just verdict. 

A good accident lawyer or injury attorney knows that a juror who cannot be fair has no place on the jury.  After the questioning, the lawyers select the persons they think can be most fair.  This part of the jury trial can take anywhere from 2 to 8 hours depending on the judge and the complexity of the case. Once the jury is selected, the next step in the process starts.  This is called the opening statement.  We will up there next time.

What an Injury Trial is Really Like – Part 1

A civil injury jury trial is nothing like what you see on TV.  Usually there is no one in the gallery.  The press is usually not stationed outside the door.  The lawyers are not usually yelling at each other, the witness or the judge.  If the trial is being conducted by a competent Judge, and a good injury lawyer, the trial can be fascinating.

Let’s set the stage.  You are in a car wreck with a drunk driver. You are in a truck accident with a semi tractor trailer.  You are riding a motorcycle and are in a highway accident. You are in a construction accident. You are injured.  The injury could be a brain injury.  It could be a spinal cord injury or a back injury.  You might be a paraplegic or a quadriplegic.  You might have a burn injury.  What ever the injury, you have medical bills and you have lost wages.  You might not be able to return to work.  You are worried how you are going to be able to feed and cloth your kids, and be able to pay your medical bills.

You hire a good accident lawyer.  The good injury lawyer knows that any case can go to trial.  He prepares the case by doing a thorough investigation (see December Blog entries for a discussion of why an immediate investigation is essential) and talking to the witnesses.  After a complaint is filed, the case goes through discovery and then an attempt at settlement is made. If the defendant’s (the person who was negligent and caused your injuries) insurance company will not offer to compensate the injured person fairly, a jury trial is the next step.  Remember every car and truck has liability insurance and every contractor has insurance.  In fact in every trial where a person is injured and the injured person is asking for fair compensation the person who was negligent has insurance. Unfortunately the insurance companies will not let the accident attorney tell this to the jury so I am telling you now, remember it. 

The jury trial takes place in the county court house.  The court sends out summons to prospective jurors.  These folks come to the court house on the proper day.  They watch a video about the jury trial process and then they wait to see to which Court they will be assigned.  Just because they are being sent to any court does not mean they will be jurors.  The judge will ask questions of the group.  If the prospective juror knows any of the parties, or is being represented, or has been represented, by either of the lawyers, if the prospective juror is over 65, is in poor health or cannot hear, they will be excused from jury duty.  There is a list of reasons why a person will be exempted from duty.  If you are not in one of these groups the process continues.  We will pick this discussion up in our next blog.

What Structured Settlements are and Why Selling One is a Bad Idea

When a Hoosier or their family member is seriously injured in any type of trauma situation, such as a car wreck with a drunk driver, a highway accident with a semi tractor trailer, a road accident, a motorcycle accident, a construction accident or a fatal accident, qualified accident attorneys and accident lawyers know that a structured settlement may be the best thing for a person.  Think about what happens to a person who is seriously injured. The injury might be a brain injury and they cannot take care of themselves or their money.  The injury might be a spinal cord injury which makes the person either a paraplegic or a quadriplegic.  If this is the case the injured person is going to have a lot of future medical bills.  What if the injury is an amputation where the person will have to buy a new prosthetic arm or leg every few years, not to mention wheel chairs and other adaptive equipment.  What if the injury is a wrongful death of a working mother of two small children.  Those children are going to need money all through their childhood and even into young adulthood.

A structured settlement of any or all compensation is a valuable tool for protecting money you will need well into the future.  Think about a child who turns 18, and gets a bunch of cash.  That kid is going to blow all that money.  He/she will blow the money on things that will not last, like a new car.  They might spend it on drugs and alcohol.  They might spend it on new toys like an off-road vehicle.  What they are unlikely to do is invest the money so that it will be there for them when they need it, to get married, pay for their education, start a business, or a lot of other things that will help that child live comfortably.

A structured settlement is money from your compensation that is invested in an annuity, more likely than not with a large bank or insurance company.  The money is paid out, over time, with interest.  The plans can be set up any way you want, it depends on the need.  If the person who is going to receive the money is a child, it may be set up to pay out enough money each year to pay for college.  The rest may be paid out over time to help start a business or pay for a house.  If the person who is getting the money has future medical costs, and is not able to work, the money can be paid out every year just like receiving a paycheck.  Smart injury lawyers know how to set up these settlements so that the interest earned off the money invested is paid out tax free.

You see companies advertising on TV telling you “It’s your money, use it when you want.”  What they are not telling you is they will only pay a fraction of the true value of the structured settlement.  This cheats the unsuspecting injured person out of the money and the security of having future payments.  The people on TV smile and tell you they want to help.  What they really want is your structured settlement at a cheap price.  After all they are in it for the money.  Do not sell to them.  Counsel others not to sell to them.  A structured settlement can be a great thing.  Let it work for you.

Brothers Perish in SUV Road Accident

Various media outlets are reporting on a fatal accident that occurred on the morning of January 16 in Washington County, Indiana, involving two Amish brothers riding in a horse-drawn buggy. A motorist in an SUV allegedly rear-ended the buggy on State Road 160 near Salem, Indiana. Tragically both brothers, ages 17 and 9, were killed at the scene. The driver of the SUV was apparently unhurt. An accident investigation by the Washington County Sheriff’s Department is underway, and heavy fog may have played a role in the collision.

This incident has an unusual fact pattern since most traffic accidents in Indiana and everywhere else are usually car on car. It may turn out that there is no liability involved in this particular horrific calamity. In general, however, Indiana statutes establish various rules of the road which all drivers must follow. Failure to follow these safety statutes can be a basis for a finding of negligence as a matter of law unless there is some reasonable excuse or justification for not following those rules.  Young and Young has more than 55 years experience in ensuring that Hoosiers injured in car accidents receive full compensation for their injuries. If you have been injured on Indiana roads, put our know-how to work for you.  Contact us for a no-obligation consultation in Indianapolis.

What Can I do To Improve My Chances With Social Security?

I am in my office, and as I write, a client is sitting in the waiting room to talk about his social security claim.  No, I am not being heartless, he showed up a half hour early because he is anxious about his claim.  I do not blame him.  The system can be overwhelming.  The Code of Federal regulations book which outlines the Social Security rules and regulations is two inches thick and the print is font size 8 or 10.  Believe it or not I have read all or most of it over the last 21 years of representing people before the social security administration.

What helps the most in improving your chances of getting your benefits is to have  proper medical treatment and proper medical documentation.  I have had to tell many, many clients, I believe you, but the Social Security Administration will not give you benefits unless you can show medical evidence of the problem.  The best evidence is objective evidence of a physical problem.  If you have a disc problem (back injury or spinal cord injury), an MRI or CT scan demonstrating that problem is best.  If you have a breathing problem, pulmonary function tests (FEV, DLCO) are essential.  If you have a heart problem, proper heart imaging including EKG and cardiac catheterization or echocardiogram are essential.  If you have peripheral neuropathy, an EMG is essential.  No matter what the condition, if an objective test (a test that shows the problem without you being able to affect the outcome of the test) is by far and away the best and improves your chances of obtaining your benefits.

Some problems do not lend themselves to objective tests.  Brain injury often requires evidence of a neuropsychological test.  This test is not perfectly objective, but does carry a lot of weight.  If you have a psychological condition, proper treatment from a psychiatrist and counselor are essential.  This means on ongoing course of treatment, not just seeing them every so often.  A lot of times, people with depression just get medications from their family doctor.  This is fine, but if you have a disability claim with the SSA, I recommend that you see a psychiatrist and a counselor on a regular basis.  This will enhance your chances of getting your benefits.

At Young and Young, John P. Young has represented claimants before the Social Security Administration for more than 21 years.  He handles the claims personally.  When you call John, you talk to John. John will be at your hearing with you.  Give him a call.

I have a Headache – Was it Caused by my Accident?

You are in a car accident.  Your head moves forward real fast and then backward real fast, but it does not hit anything.  You are not knocked unconscious, but you feel ok.  This can happen in a motorcycle accident, a highway accident, and accident with a semi tractor trailer.  These kinds of traffic accidents happen all the time.  You may have a back injury, or a spinal cord injury or other kind of injury.  You go to the hospital and they check your head, but find nothing wrong.  After a couple weeks your other injuries are starting to get better.  Now, though, you are starting to have headaches.  You have had headaches in the past, but these are a little different.  They come on frequently and they ruin your day.  You may have nausea and vomiting.  You may see lights before the head ache hits.  Are these headaches caused by the road accident or car wreck with the drunk driver?  The answer is they may be.

 

First, the pain you feel from these headaches is not like pain from the brain.  The pain is most likely from irritation of the lining of the brain within the skull. There are many reasons why you might have a headache after a car wreck, even though you were not knocked unconscious.  Headaches caused by a truck accident, or any other type of trauma, are generally caused secondary headaches.  That is the headache is secondary or caused by an event such as a collision.  Therefore, it is very important that if you develop headaches after an accident, you need to go see your doctor and let the doctor know what is going on.  This will allow the doctor to properly observe your condition and prescribe the best treatment.  Treatment can range from medications and rest, to chiropractic treatment, to other remedies such as biofeedback and acupuncture.

Police Officer, K-9, Killed by Drunk Driver

A horrific accident in Mishawaka, Indiana: A driver fleeing from a traffic stop on January 9 ran a red light and crashed into another police cruiser, tragically killing an officer and his police dog. The motorist, who apparently had an extensive rap sheet, allegedly registered a BAC of .239, almost three times the legal alcohol limit. His blood is also said to have tested positive for drugs. The motorist also apparently violated his probation by being out after 9 p.m. Police will arrest the man once he is released from the hospital.

A person under the influence that gets behind the wheel creates a lethal weapon. Obviously drunk drivers can wreak havoc on ordinary citizens as well as law enforcement personnel. In addition to criminal charges, the victim and/or the victim’s family can sue the offender for money damages in civil court.

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 person’s love, attention, and affection. Young and Young has more than fifty five years of experience in ensuring that Hoosiers who are hurt by the drunk driver are fully compensated.  We stand ready to help.

If I am Hurt and My Health Insurance Pays my Bills Do I have to Pay Them Back?

Did you see the Jets play the Chargers the other day?  The Jets had a defensive lineman who broke his hand midway through the game.  He went to the sidelines where they taped him up and sent him back into the game.  He looked like he had a big black club at the end of his arm.  He could play defense but it was hard for him to grab onto the opposing quarterback, David Rivers.  As a Colts fan, I hope Peyton Manning doesn’t get clubbed by the guy.  The point I am trying to make though has to do with insurance, not the injury itself. 

If you are in a car wreck, highway accident or a motorcycle wreck with a drunk driver, chances are high that you are going to go to a hospital.  If you are hit by a semi tractor trailer your injuries can be quite severe.  They may include a back injury, spinal cord injury, paralysis, brain injury, amputation or severe burns.  Good accident attorneys and injury lawyers know that traffic accidents are a major cause of injury and lost productivity in the United States.  One of the first things you will be asked at the hospital is for your insurance information.  Which one of the three potential insurances do you give them?  You will be tempted to give them the insurance company for the person who caused the road accident.  The immediate problem with this is you probably do not know the name of that company when you are in the hospital.  Good accident lawyers can obtain this information for you, but when you are the hospital, you will not know.  That is okay, the liability insurance carrier for the person who caused the traffic accident will not pay your medical bills as they come due.  The insurance company for the person who caused the vehicle accident will only pay you a one-time settlement, and only if you sign a full release.

This leaves you with the two other kinds of insurance available to you, your health insurance and the medical payments insurance on your car.  In previous blogs we discussed what Medical Payments Insurance is, we will not address that here.  We really do not need to discuss the difference between the two types of insurance here, because the obligation to pay these insurance carriers back is the same.  The fact is you give the hospital one or the other of these two types of insurance and these insurance carriers will pay your medical bills. Now to the heart of the matter- do you have to pay either or both back when you settle your claim with the insurance carrier for the person who caused the motorcycle accident?

The short answer is probably yes.  Most policies contain a subrogation paragraph.  Subrogation is just a fancy word meaning obligation to reimburse.  The paragraph states something to the effect that you agree to reimburse your insurance carrier out of any money you receive from the person who caused the fatal accident.  So how much do you have to repay?  The maximum you will have to pay (this discussion does not apply to an ERISA health program) is 66 and 2/3% of the amount the health insurer paid.  This is because of the existence of Indiana Statutes which require the company requesting repayment to share the cost of collecting your money (I.e. attorney fees).  If you were partially the cause of the highway accident, or there was not enough insurance available to compensate you for the entire amount of your injuries, the company claiming reimbursement will have to accept even less.  This is because you are not being fully compensated, so the insurance company claiming reimbursement is not entitled to being fully repaid. 

If you collect nothing from the person who caused the accident then you do not have to repay your health insurer anything.  Next time we will discuss construction injuries and workers compensation issues.

If I am Injured, How do I Know Which Doctor Do I Go To? Part Four

In our last three blogs we have discussed the different kinds of doctors who can be helpful if you have been injured in a car wreck with a drunk driver, or in a traffic accident, or highway accident with a semi tractor trailer or a motorcycle accident.  This discussion applies equally to people who have been in a construction accident.   The types of injuries we discussed include brain injury, severe burns, electrocution, amputations, paralysis, spinal cord injury and back injuries.  While knowing what type of doctor treats what kinds of injuries is very important, did you know that there are different types of hospitals that treat different types of injuries?  Knowing this, and knowing which type of hospital is best for you can be as important and your doctor. 

 We start first with acute care, and post acute care hospitals.  Acute care hospitals are those hospitals that treat immediate injuries and conditions and there short term consequences.  The goal of the acute care hospital is to get the patient stabilized, so that proper treatment can be rendered to address the patient’s medical issues. The word acute simply means having short and relatively short duration. Thus the patient who has been injured in a car accident or is injured in a construction accident is going to be taken to an acute care hospital.  

There are different types of acute care hospitals.  They are divided by levels.  A level one trauma center is the most prepared for significant trauma patient.  Indianapolis is fortunate enough to have two level one trauma centers, Wishard Memorial Hospital and Methodist Hospital.  The most severely injured patients will go to one of these hospitals.  As the ability of the hospital to deal with significant trauma decreases, their level increases.  Many hospitals are not equipped to deal with significant trauma, and the patient is likely to be transferred by either ambulance or helicopter to the level one trauma centers. 

After your stay in an acute care hospital is complete, you may be transferred to a post acute care hospital.  These hospitals are typically referred to as rehabilitation hospitals.  These hospitals specialize in helping patients adapt to life after their injury.  They do this by offering many types of rehabilitative therapies, including occupational therapy and physical therapy.   Many spinal cord injury, brain injury and amputation injury patients become patients at a post acute care hospital. 

Qualified accident attorneys and injury lawyers know the difference between these types of facilities, and will work with you doctors and hospital staffs to fully understand your needs and requirements.  Young and Young is dedicated to helping you and your family deal with severe injuries.  We have been since 1954.  Give us a call, we can help.

If I am Injured, What Kind Of Doctor Do I Need? Part Three

What is the difference between a family practitioner and an internist?  If you are in a construction accident, or a car wreck with a drunk driver, or hit by a semi tractor trailer in a highway accident chances you are going to be injured. If you are injured, considering what kind of doctor you will need is important.  How do you know who is best to treat a back injury.  How do you know who is bests to treat a spinal cord injury, amputation, paralysis, brain injury?  These are all tough decisions.  First, rely on your doctors.  Just as you would never look for a qualified injury attorney or accident attorney by calling an advertiser, you don’t seek your doctor by waiting for a TV commercial to tell you who is qualified.  Heck being on TV only means you paid for the ad, anyone can do that.  Ask your friends who they use, do they trust them etc. 

A Family Practitioner generally treats both adults and children.  The family practitioner has completed medical school and a family practice residency before starting their practice.  An internist generally only treats adults.  An Internist has completed medical school, and an internal medicine residency.  Most specialists, such a cardiologists (heart), pulmonologists (lungs), nephrologists (kidneys) begin as internists and then take addition education and obtain additional experience in their specialty. If you are hurt in an auto accident, both the family practice doctor and the internist are qualified first line of defense doctors.  I think what you are really most interested in is a doctor who is talented as a diagnostician.  This means that the doctor has the ability to quickly analyze your symptoms and signs and zero in on the cause of the problem.  Once the problem is detected it can be treated.  Your doctor should also have access to a list of qualified specialists if your injuries require additional care.

NOTICE: No face-to-face meeting needed. You can remain safely in your home from case signup to settlement.

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