Which Doctor Do I Go To If I Have Been Injured? Part Two

Last time we talked about the hospital process and who to go to after you get out of the hospital.  Now let’s talk about specialists and what they do, and the different kinds of hospitals there are.  When you have been in a car crash with a drunk driver, the type of doctor your see is very important.  It is also very dependent upon your type of injury.  This blog is not an attempt to tell you which kind of doctor to go to – that is a doctor’s job.  This blog talks about the kinds of specialties that exist and what they treat.  A neurologist is a wiring specialist.  Your wiring starts with your brain, continues to the spinal cord, leaves the spinal cord and continues to all the different parts of your body.  Your nerves help your muscles move and they help you sense the world around you by carrying messages from all over your body to your brain for processing.  If you have a brain injury, a spinal cord injury, or any injury to the nerves in your body, you will see, among other doctors, a neurologist or a neurosurgeon.  If you have had an amputation, nerves have been severed and you will probably be seen by a neurologist.  

If you have a back injury in a highway accident with a semi tractor trailer you may see an orthopedist. An orthopedist is the nuts and bolts doctor.  Orthopedists treat bony injuries.  If you have a broken vertebrae or other broken bones in your body, an orthopedist may see you.  Orthopedists also treat some kinds of soft tissue injuries, like a disc injuries, cartilage injury or ligament injury.  Orthopedists perform surgery and other types of work on your body. 

If you have been injured in a car wreck and hurt your back, you may see a Chiropractor.  Chiropractors are Doctors of Chiropractic, and that is why they have D.C. after their names.  Chiropractic medicine is based, very generally, upon the theory that as long as your spine is in proper alignment, you should feel fine.  If, however, the spine gets out of alignment (sometimes called a subluxation) from a construction accident, or a car accident, then the nerves can become affected such as being pinched or dinged.  This can cause pain. The can also interfere with their ability to transmit information.  A Chiropractor attempts to manipulate the spine to coax it back into realignment, in order to eliminate pain. 

In Part Three we will continue with this discussion.  Remember a qualified accident lawyer or injury attorney will not attempt to direct your medical care.  Instead, he/she will ask the doctor to tell him/her the problem and what can be expected in the future.

If I am Injured, How do I know What Kind of Doctor to go to?

You are on your way to the store.  You are mentally reviewing your list.  The light turns green, you start to move into the intersection and POW out go the lights.  When you come to, you don’t recognize where you are.  There are people around you talking to you but what they are saying does not really make sense.  You come to realize you have just been in a car wreck with a drunk driver.  You feel back pain.  You wonder do I have a back injury, do I have a spinal cord injury?  You try to move your arms and legs, you are worried about paralysis.  You know that people are telling you not to move, but it is like you are in a dream, with smoke, and vapor before your eyes.  Do I have a brain injury?  You cannot feel your foot, is it still there?  Has there been an amputation?  You feel your heart start to race, and your breath is getting shallow, but is much faster.  You are on a stretcher, being put into an ambulance.  At the hospital you are checked out, starting to feel a little more like yourself, but you are sore, and scared.  What is in store in your medical future?

In most hospitals, when you are released, whether from the Emergency Room, or from the hospital you will receive instructions about what to do.  The instructions are both general (you may feel pain for the next few days) to specific (you have suffered a brain injury, you should see your doctor if you have the following symptoms).  What you are really being told is that the hospital is likely only the first step on your road to recovery.  It is essential to bear in mind, for the benefit of your health, that you should always do your very best to follow the medical recommendations you receive.  Some people (men more likely than not) will put on the tough guy face and think they will “power” through it.  They think, “I’m tough, I don’t need a doctor”.  Big mistake.  There may be things happening in your body that require ongoing care and treatment.  If you miss that treatment, your body may not heal properly, and in the some cases, get worse.

The first line of defense in our system is to see your primary care physician (also called family doctor, or internist) within a few days of the collision.  This is especially true if you do not have broken bones or other identified problems that require the help of a specialist.  Your primary care physician (PCP) will examine you and offer you treatment options which might include medications, rest, and physical therapy.  The PCP will assess your progress after these treatments and if in their opinion you need further care they may recommend that you see a specialist.

If you are injured severely enough in a semi tractor trailer accident or in a highway accident the hospital will assign doctors to see you in consultation. The main doctor, overseeing your care is often called a Hospitalist.  This doctor may ask other doctors, with various specialties, to see you.  These are sometimes called consultations.  It may turn out that you will continue to see one or more of these doctors after you are released from the hospital.

Always follow your doctors recommendations.  If you are concerned about these recommendations, get a second opinion, but please, do not just do nothing.  Good accident lawyers and injury lawyers do not try to influence your medical care, or direct your medical care.  Your lawyer is a specialist in the law, not in medicine.  If a lawyer attempts to get involved in your medical care, be wary.  It is not their place.

Next time we will talk about acute care versus post acute care versus long term care.

Indiana Fatal Road Accidents Set Record Low

Some good news to start the year: According to Indiana State Police preliminary statistics, the number of traffic-related fatalities in 2009 was the lowest on record since the presidency of Calvin Coolidge. The last time less than 700 Indiana highway deaths occurred in a single year was 1925, when 670 persons lost their lives on the roads according to state Department of Health archives.  This result is even more noteworthy in that there are eight times more vehicles registered in Indiana now than in the “Roaring 20s.”

Year-end totals indicate 680 deaths on Indiana roads for 2009, representing a 16 percent drop from the previous year alone, even though Hoosiers apparently drove the same number of miles in both 2008 and 2009.

Authorities say that the improved statistics result from stricter enforcement of DWI, traffic safety, and seat belt laws, among other initiatives.  In particular, state police say that wearing a seat belt is the single most effective thing a motorist can do to survive a crash.

We certainly hope that Indiana traffic safety trends continue on this positive track through the new decade. The alternative can be very dangerous if not life threatening: a serious traffic accident caused by an impaired, reckless, or distracted driver can have devastating consequences on the victim and the victim’s loved ones. Young and Young has more than 55 years experience in ensuring that Hoosiers injured in car accidents are fully compensated. If you have been injured on Indiana roads, put our know-how to work for you.  To learn how our experience can benefit you and your family, contact us for a no-obligation consultation in Indianapolis.

Do I Need an Attorney to File My Application for Social Security Benefits?

I think the answer to this is “probably not”.  Let me explain.

First, let me tell you a little about my experience with the Social Security system.  I have been an attorney since 1988.  I handled my first Social Security Disability Claim in 1989.  Since that time I have handled close to five hundred claims.  I handle them myself.  If you hire me, you get me on the telephone.  I will be the one doing the work, not a paralegal or someone else you did not call.  I have handled as many as 400 hearings before the Social Security Administration.  I was personally present at all of them.  I did not send my assistant or associate.  I have read the Code of Federal Regulations, which is where the Rules and Regulations applicable to a claim for Social Security Benefits can be found.  I am a member of NOSSCR (National Organization of Social Security  Claimant’s Representatives) and have been for many years.  I handle most aspects of a Social Security Claim, including the first Appeal (Request For Reconsideration) the second appeal, (Request for Hearing Before Administrative Law Judge), the third appeal (Appeal to Appeals Council), and the fourth appeal (Appeal To Federal District Court).

Now why do I think that you probably do not need an attorney to represent you (Remember no matter who you call ask if they are a licensed attorney or merely a non-attorney representative.  As the fees are tightly controlled by the Social Security Administration and both Attorneys and non attorney representatives have the same fees it only makes sense that you want the most highly trained, most experienced person representing you.)  Unless you simply cannot organize a little information about yourself (and understandably some people cannot say a person with brain injury) the following advice should see you through the initial application process.

Three ways to make an application 1. Go to your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office and fill out the application. 2. Call the SSA office and ask them to mail you the application and you complete it.  3. Go on line to WWW.SSA.GOV and fill out the application on line.  All three have the exact same application, so it is really what you feel most comfortable with.  No matter which method you choose, you will need four lists with you, prepared in advance.  These lists will make the application process smooth.

1. List of all injuries, illnesses, and/or diseases you believe make you disabled. 2. A list of your medical care providers (hospitals, doctors, physical therapists etc) with addresses and telephone numbers. 3. A list of the jobs you have had in the last 15 years, with the name and address of each employer and they type of work you did.  It will help if you can list the physical demands of the job i.e. what was the heaviest weight you had to lift, how long you had to sit, stand and/or walk etc. and 4. A list of your medications, what they are for, who prescribed them for you, the doses and what side effects the meds cause you.

This is the information the Social Security Administration is looking for when reviewing your application.  If you are prepared to give them this information, you probably do not need a lawyer to give it to them.  If you win on your first application, you will not need to share any of your money with a lawyer. 

A good Social Security Lawyer will be willing to discuss your case, and your need (or not) for representation at the time of filing.  I will talk with you, and assist you when you need it without  looking for a fee while your initial application is pending.  It is for those folks who are turned down, and need to appeal that I think require an attorney.

What Do I Do If I Think My Doctor Made a Mistake?

In Indiana, most doctors try their best and do fine work.  However, the Medical Malpractice Act, passed in 1976 to help doctors, had an unintended effect.  Doctors who made mistakes in other states came here because of the protections of the medical malpractice act.  So what do you do if you think your doctor made a mistake.  The answer has several parts.  It would be nice if you could go to your doctor and have a frank discussion about what happened.   Some doctors, the good ones, will have this discussion with you.  They will tell you what happened and what you can do about it.  Doctors who have these discussions are much less likely to be sued than someone who is perceived as trying to hide something.  A frank discussion with your doctor may convince you that they really did not make a mistake.  You see, sometimes medical care does not result in recovery.  Sometimes the result of a surgery is not what you expected, or hoped for, however, a bad result alone is not evidence of malpractice.  (As we discussed before, Malpractice means a failure to do what a reasonable doctor would have done.  It does not mean the doctor meant to do you harm).

If your doctor is unwilling to speak with you, or you are too shy to speak with the doctor, you still have options.  One option is to meet with a qualified accident and injury lawyer.  A qualified attorney is more like than not certified as a civil trial lawyer by the national Board of trial advocacy.  A competent accident or injury lawyer has experience with all types of injuries, including brain injury, spinal cord injuries, back injuries, paralysis, amputation, and wrongful death.  A qualified accident or injury attorney knows that whether your doctor committed malpractice is a question only another doctor can answer.  Therefore it is essential to have contacts with all types of doctors who can review the facts of your case and let you know whether your doctor committed malpractice.  Knowing this information up front can give you peace of mind, that no malpractice occurred, or give you a strong basis for bringing your claim for compensation.

A second option is to file a complaint with the Indiana Medical Licensing Board.  Your complaint alone probably will not have any real effect.  However, if your doctor is consistently making mistakes, and his patients are consistently reporting his actions to the Board, eventually the board will take action to investigate  the doctor and if he/she is making many mistakes, take action to prohibit him or her from further practice.

A  third option is to report your concerns to the Indiana Attorney General’s Office (317 232-6531).  The attorney General has the ability to investigate doctors and make sure they are removed from practice.

If you would like to discuss your concerns about a serious injury case involving medical treatment, please call Young and Young.  With more than fifty five years of experience, we know we can help.

How Important is an Immediate Investigation – part 3

You know the dream, you are back in high school, you know you have a final coming up, but you have not bought the book, you have not been to class and you do not know where the test is going to be.  You feel anxious and nervous because you are not prepared.  A good accident lawyer or injury attorney knows this dream, but the dream is a little different. The injury lawyer knows they have a trial coming up.  The good accident attorney knows how important this trial is to his client.  But he does not know the facts of the case or who his witnesses are.  The lawyer wakes up, relieved, because it is only a dream.  He is relieved because he has performed a thorough investigation and is ready to win at trial. 

People injured in a car wreck with a drunk driver.  People injured in a highway accident with a semi tractor trailer. Hoosiers injured in a construction accident.  People with severe injuries, maybe paralysis, or badly burned, a spinal cord injury or a brain injury, cannot focus on anything but their medical care and treatment.  They want to perform an investigation into how the auto accident occurred but can’t.  Do they say, oh well, it can wait, or do they seek the advice and representation of a qualified accident attorney or injury lawyer. I recommend, with all my professional experience, that they do not wait and let me tell you why. 

The police generally do a good job of investigating a truck accident or a car wreck.  They do not, as a general rule go to the businesses, or houses around the scene of the injury to determine if anyone there saw the auto accident.  We have had cases where a witness to the collision was not listed on the police report, but who saw the collision from their front porch or through the window of their business.  These witnesses have caused the police to change their opinion about the cause of the collision. 

A picture is worth a thousand words.  Documenting the scene of an injury is essential.  Sometimes the police do not take pictures.  You should.  These pictures should include pictures of the cars, the wreck scene, the site of the construction injury, and of the injuries themselves.  Believe it or not, you will heal and your memory of the injury will fade.  A picture will keep the truth preserved.  Now that we have heap digital cameras, take a bunch of photos.  You may not need them all, but if you only take a few, the ones you took may not turn out well and that may be a problem, maybe worse than not taking them at all. 

A good investigation is an immediate investigation that preserves the evidence for later, when you need it.  Contact Young and Young today.  We will insure the investigation is done right.

How Important is an Immediate Investigation – part 2

Here we are – the Indianapolis Colts are heading toward their playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens.  We are only a few days away.  Even though Peyton Manning and the rest of the team have already played these guys this year, and beat them, do you think the Colts would be wise not to thoroughly and immediately investigate the team they are about to play?  Heck, Freeney already knows what to expect and Manning could play these guys in his sleep.  But they do investigate the Ravens.  The Colts know that their best chance to beat the Ravens is to know everything about them.  To know what they will do next and how they will do it.  Bill Belichick, of the Patriots, love him or hate him, beats those teams who do not prepare for him because he always slips in something they do not expect. 

It is the same thing with an investigation into an injury case.  You were just in an car wreck with a drunk driver.  You were just in a highway accident with a semi tractor trailer. You were just injured in a construction accident.  Your injury is severe, say maybe you are paralyzed, have been badly burned, have a spinal cord injury or a brain injury.  You cannot focus on anything but your medical care and treatment.  You would like to perform an investigation into how the auto accident occurred but you can’t.  Do you say, oh well, it can wait, or do you seek the advice and representation of a qualified accident attorney or injury lawyer. I recommend, with all my professional experience that you do not wait and let me tell you why. 

Witnesses move, die and forget things.  Say you have a key witness.  The jury will probably believe the witness because he has nothing to gain or lose.  If you do not get out to the witnesses home and get a statement right away, you may never get that statement and the evidence will be lost.  How many times have I heard a witness say, its been two or three years, I can’t remember that stuff.  That is when I pull out my copy of the statement I took from them just a week or two after the car wreck.  They read it, refresh their recollection and give testimony that wins the case. 

If you are in an auto accident in an urban area, the cameras of some stores may have captured the wreck on tape.  You need your experienced trial lawyer or accident attorney to get out to that store right away to secure a copy of the tape because stores recycle their tapes every two weeks or so.  Therefore, if you do not get out there right away the tape and the helpful evidence on it may be destroyed. 

Next time, more reasons why you cannot afford to put off that investigation.

Group Seeks to Educate Motorists About The Dangers of Talking or Texting

The federal government and the National Safety Council have joined together to further raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. The new initiative comes in the form of FocusDriven, a nonprofit advocacy group along the lines of Mothers Against Drunk Driving that will push for a nationwide ban on cell phone use in the car. FocusDriven’s new website hosts information on distracted driving, help for victims and family members, and ways to get involved.

Laws vary from state to state about whether it’s okay to talk on your cell phone while driving. Some experts even argue that hands-free operation (which is usually legal everywhere) is unsafe. In the meantime, the U.S. Transportation Department has vowed to push for an outright ban on using wireless devices while driving that would apply to all 50 states. But texting behind the wheel in particular has emerged as a major cause of national concern. You are more 23 times more likely to get into a car crash while texting, according to one study. And when it comes to road accidents, some safety experts say it is even more dangerous than drunk driving. Nineteen states have already banned the practice by adult motorists. Current Indiana law prohibits texting by teenage drivers only, although a bill has just been introduced in the Indiana General Assembly that would apply to everyone.

Fortunately, most Indiana motorists drive responsibly. However, if you or a loved one have been injured on Indiana roads by a distracted driver, contact the personal injury lawyers at Young and Young. Rest assured that our firm, which has been operating under the Young and Young name for more than 55 years, has the knowledge to fully and aggressively represent Hoosiers and their families who have been hurt or killed in a traffic crash on Indiana roads. Although the technology has obviously changed over the years, our high-level of legal representation has remained constant. We stand ready to help you and your family.

How Important is an Immediate Investigation?

You were just in a car wreck with a drunk driver.  You were just in a highway accident with a semi tractor trailer. You were just injured in a construction accident.  Your injury is severe, maybe you are paralyzed, have been badly burned, or have a spinal cord injury or brain injury.  You cannot focus on anything but your medical care and treatment.  You would like to perform an investigation into how the auto accident occurred but you can’t.  Do you say, oh well, it can wait, or do you seek the advice and representation of a qualified accident attorney or injury lawyer?  I recommend, with all my professional experience that you do not wait and let me tell you why.

The insurance company is not waiting.  They have people who will be out combing the accident scene looking for witnesses and evidence which will support their case that YOU were the cause of the truck accident.  If you do not do something, and fast, you are at a big disadvantage to a cold and uncaring insurance industry.

At any accident scene, there are likely to be skid marks on the road, yaw marks and gouges that will fade or changed over time.  In some instances, the skid or yaw marks (Yaw marks are the marks a spinning tire leaves as the car is sliding or turning) are the keys to the story of what happened.  Believe it or not, some people will not tell an accurate story to protect themselves, but the objective physical marks usually don’t lie. 

Your car has a “black box” (See Previous blog on “black boxes”) that may give essential clues to what happened.  It must be preserved before the car is destroyed.  Also the crush of the metal on your car, and the car or truck or semi tractor trailer being driver by the person who caused the automobile collision may be studied to help determine how fast each of the cars were being driven.  This can be very helpful in determining the cause of the collision.  

The attorneys at Young and Young have 55 years of experience helping injured Hoosiers investigate the cause of their very serious injuries.  John Young is a Board Certified Trial Lawyer who knows how to find the facts.  Give him a call. 

In our next blog, we will continue with reasons why an immediate investigation into the facts of your automobile collision is essential.

What Affect does Bankruptcy have on my Injury Claim

This entry is the third in a series of blogs dealing with the overall effect of an injury claim on a person’s ability to work, and lost wages.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be Peyton Manning or Dwight Freeny?  Of the many things they have to be thankful for is that they have earned enough money that if they get hurt (and that is likely in the NFL) they will not have to worry too much about lost wages.  Unfortunately the rest of us are not so lucky.  Say you are in a car wreck with a drunk driver, or you are hit by a semi tractor trailer in a highway accident, or you are hurt in a construction  accident, like a fall or electrocution, and say also you are severely injured, such as being paralyzed, having an amputation, burns, spinal cord injury, having a brain injury, a back injury, blindness, and you do not have a lot of savings.  You might have to consider filing bankruptcy before your claim is resolved.  What does that do to your claim?

Once you file bankruptcy, your creditors can no longer harass you.  However, in filing bankruptcy you must list all of your assets.  One of your assets is the injury claim.  This is an asset because it has potential value.  What I mean is that if you are properly compensated, you will be paid money to make up for your injuries.  The claim, as an asset, become part of your bankruptcy.  The trustee of your bankruptcy case will look at your claim and try to determine if it is a good claim, or a claim that is not likely to merit compensation.  If the trustee thinks the chances of recovering compensation are slim then the Trustee has the ability to abandon the injury claim.  What the trustee is saying when he /she abandons a claim is that it is not worth the time to pursue, and therefore he/she abandons it. You are then free to pursue the claim as if the bankruptcy did not occur.

If the Trustee thinks the claim has merit, he/she will hire a lawyer to give them an opinion about the value of the claim and to pursue the matter.  Usually the trustee will hire the same accident attorney or injury attorney as you hired.  The trustee will be the named plaintiff (in your place) and will have all the decision making powers.  The trustee can order the case settled or order it to go to trial.  No matter how the case is resolved, all the money will go into the bankruptcy to be distributed according to the plan of the bankruptcy.  The overall impact of the bankruptcy is that you give up control of the claim and of the settlement.  If there is money left over after the bankruptcy claims have been paid, then you will be entitled to that money.

It may not seem fair, as you were injured and the injury caused you file bankruptcy, but being free of the harassment of creditors has great value.  At Young and Young, we have handled many injury claims for people who must also file bankruptcy.  Give us a call, we can help.

What Do I Do if I Am Injured and Cannot Work – Part 2

When we last left off we finished our discussion about how you can protect yourself, in advance, if you are injured in a car wreck, construction accident, motorcycle accident, highway crash or any other sort of incident causing injury.  You really do not know what you have until its gone.  If you have a brain injury, a spinal cord injury, a back injury, become paralyzed, or have an amputation, it is likely you are not going to be able to go back to work.  What do you do?

First is what you do not do.  You do not expect the liability insurance carrier for the negligent person (maybe a drunk driver) to start paying you right away for your lost wages.  The liability insurance carrier, 99.999999% of the cases will not make any kind of payment until they pay a lump sum payment, in exchange for a full release. They have the money, and they know you probably do not, so they try to wait you out.  This puts pressure on you because money is tight.  This can result in you settling your claim early putting you in jeopardy of not being fully compensated for your injuries.

If you were working when you were hurt, say at a construction site, or your were on the road, as part of your job when the highway accident happened, you are eligible for workers compensation benefits.  You must notify your employer immediately after the injury, or as soon after as is reasonably possible.  The employer will then report the injury to their workers compensation insurance carrier.  The carrier will then be responsible for paying all your medical bills caused by the car wreck or construction accident.  After a week, the insurance company will also be responsible for paying you your lost wages.  They do not always have to pay you the full amount of your average weekly wages.  You are entitled 66 and 2/3% of your average weekly wage, not to exceed a preset amount.  This amount changes every year, so I cannot quote it here.  If you earn more than that present amount, then you will get 66 and 2/3% of that preset amount. The reason for the 66and 2/3% is because this dough is not taxable, so they do not make the workers compensation insurance company pay the full amount.  I know of no good reason for the limited preset amount except to make it easier on the insurance companies.

Is Social Security available?  First know that Social Security is not a short term disability program.  In order to be entitled to it, your injuries must be so severe that they are expected to keep you working for at least twelve months.  The next thing you need to know is that the application process can take up to three years from the time you first apply to the time you start to receive your benefits.  Social Security is a good program, but it may not kick in fast enough if you cannot work.  If you are not sure if your injuries will keep you from working at least twelve months, I recommend you apply any way.  If your injury does not keep you from working for those twelve months, you can always dismiss your claim.   

 If you are hurt and can’t work, and have no money coming in, do not hide your head in the sand.  Get to a qualified accident injury attorney or accident lawyer.  The lawyer can start to contact your creditors and hopefully take a lot of the worry off your shoulders.    Next time, we will talk about the effect of Bankruptcy on your claim for your compensation (remember compensation means to “make up for” so all you are asking is for the person who caused your injury to “make up for” the harm they caused.)

What Do I Do if I am Injured and Cannot Work?

I know I can’t be the only one who wakes up in the middle of the night worrying about what I am supposed to get done tomorrow, and is there enough time in the day to do it?  Then my brain becomes much sharper than it ever is in the daylight.  My brain recalls everything I am supposed to do, and then nags me that I may not have done it, or I might not get it done.  I struggled with this for years and then it hit me, what am I worrying about, at least I have a job and I can pay my bills and give my children what they need.  So what do you do if you are hurt in a car wreck and can’t work?

Injuries such as spinal cord injuries, brain injury, back injury, amputation, paralysis (either paraplegia, quadriplegia or just a single limb) can interfere with your ability to work for days, weeks, years or even permanently.  These injuries can happen in the blink of an eye.  They can be from construction accidents, highway accidents, semi tractor trailer accidents, motorcycle accidents, basically any kind of traffic accident.  A good accident attorney or accident lawyer knows the options when you are injured and can’t work.  Some options are protections you must put in place before your are hurt, and some can be put in place after you are hurt.  I know that some of these suggestions may not be possible due to price or health history, but you can pick and choose what works for you.

Disability Insurance-  The statistics tell us that people under 50 have a much higher chance of becoming disabled than they do of dying.  To protect against this, short and long term disability insurance can be purchased.  On your favorite search engine ( I like Dogpile) type in disability insurance and several companies will pop up.  You can also contact your independent insurance agent.  The amount of insurance you will be able to buy will be based on your average earnings history and what your budget can afford.  As disability insurance payments are not taxable, you can figure that you need approximately 66% of your average wage to be fully covered.  If you cannot afford that much try to think what your essentials will cost and work to replace that amount of income.  Anything is better than nothing, so even if you cannot cover your essentials, get some income coming in while you are hurt.

Employers often times offer short and long term disability programs.  If you can afford it, take advantage of these programs.  You often times can get a direct withdrawl from your paycheck, so it won’t seem so bad.   If you cannot get a paycheck deduction, pay it yourself. I guarantee that you will be tempted to drop this coverage when things get tight.  I know you will groan when you have to write that check, because that ________ (put your latest must have item here) sure looks good.  But before you do that let me assure you, that groan is nothing compared to being in your home, unable to work, with no dough coming in, the bills piling up and the children playing in the next room.  I have seen this first hand, and the level of fear and anxiety in the house is horrible. 

In our next blog we will talk about what you can do, if you were not able to prepare for not being able to work after you are hurt.

What is my Duty to Shovel Snow?

Snow is beautiful.  I love to watch it fall.  I takes me back to my childhood, when a snowman, a snow angel, sledding and hot chocolate were what snow meant.  As an adult I know about the dangers associated with snow.  My father’s cold turned into pneumonia while he was shoveling snow.  Every year you hear about someone having a heart attack while out shoveling their front walk.  The more common injury, though, is a back injury.  When the snow warms up, melts and then the temperatures drop we get the ice and the danger becomes real for us all.  Slipping on the ice can cause all sorts of very serious injuries.  I have represented people who have ruptured discs,  hit their heads and had a brain injury, been in car wrecks and have been paralyzed with a spinal cord injury.  But we are not here to talk about traffic accidents.  We are here to discuss the duty to remove snow and ice from sidewalks.  

 Homeowners and business owners have a duty to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition for their guests and business patrons.  So if you are a homeowner, and you have no one coming over, you probably don’t have to worry about shoveling your walks.  If you invite someone over, though, a reasonable person would want to make sure that that person  can get into their home without falling.  In this circumstance, shoveling the walk, or putting down ice melt is a reasonable thing to do to make your walk safe.  If your property is in a city or town, and your property is boardered by a public walk, what is your duty?  Most Cities and towns have ordinances which require people who have a public walk next to their property to shovel that walk.  If you do not shovel that walk, and the city or town is up to the task, they can write you a ticket, and you may have to pay a fine.  However, this duty to shovel the public walk does not make the homeowner responsible for a persons injuries if they do not shovel the walk and that someone falls.  We do not owe a duty to other people to shovel snow on other people’s property, including public property.  The duty is to the City, and you can be fined (though this rarely happens) but you are not liable if you were to get sued. 

Business owners have essentially the same duties as homeowners.  The major difference is that the whole point of the business is to get people into your store to buy what you have to sell.  Usually the store owner puts up catchy signs and lights to catch the attention of the consumer to lure them into the store.  Because the store owners know that people will be coming and their attention will be diverted, it is important, that once they know there is snow and or ice on the ground, they must make the walks and parking lots safe for those customers.  A reasonable business owner does this by contracting with a snow removal business.  The property owner is still responsible to make sure the snow removal business does a good job making their property safe for their customers.

In conclusion, if you are worried about what to do, it is probably safest to remove the snow and ice.  This helps us all get along and allows all to get things done.

Brain Injury and Phineas Gage

Phineas Gage worked for the railroad at the end of the 19th century.  His job was to fill holes with blasting material to allow the railroad to blast out material to level its new rail bed.  He did this by using a five or six foot rod to tamp the explosives into the hole.  Phineas was described as a model employee, kind, courteous and a good family man.  One day, while tamping down the explosives, the material exploded.  This shot the tamping rod out of Phineas’ hands upward through his skull.  Looking that the pictures you can see that the rod entered Phineas’ face just below the eye, and shot through his skull, brain and all, and out the top of his skull.  Although Phineas lost his eye, the rod did not kill him.  Amazingly, the rod going through his head did not even cause him to lose consciousness.

Phineas Gage suffered a severe brain injury in a time when physicians’ knowledge of neurology, and how the brain works was in its infancy.  This construction accident would have far reaching impact on what we now know about injury of the brain, both physical and psychological.  Phineas eventually recovered physically recovered from the event.  However, his family began to notice almost immediately that Phineas was a changed man.  He began to cuss like a sailor.  He started drinking like the stills were going to run out.  He lost interest in what, before the construction accident, made him happy.  He started to make mistakes at work.  He started to miss work and eventually lost his job.

Scientists studying Phineas’ case came to realize that an injury to the brain has adverse consequences far beyond simply the physical injury.  They began to realize that an injury to the brain causes changes in cognitive function (how we think), in personality, in control, and in many other functions that we take for granted.  It turns out that the rod injured Phineas’ frontal lobe.  This is the part of the brain that controls our cognitive ability known as executive function. (Executive function is similar to RAM memory in a computer, it is what lets us do many different things at the same time).  Pineas’ injury impaired his ability to do many things at the same time and thus interfered with his ability to do his job.

The frontal lobe also controls disinhibition.  This is what stops us from doing socially inappropriate things such as cussing inappropriately.  Phineas’ brain injury interfered with his disinhibition and he began to act socially inappropriately.  We have learned that some brain injury enhances underlying personality traits.  Phineas reportedly drank socially prior to the construction accident, but after he could not control his drinking.  This may well be caused by enhancement of this personality trait combined with impaired disinhibition.

Brain injury can be caused by  car accidents, highway accidents, truck accidents, slip and fall, motorcycle accidents and the drunk driver.  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 twenty years of experience helping Hoosiers and their families deal with brain injury.  Call him and let him help you and your family.

What Do You Do If You Have a Shoulder Injury

Last night I was watching the BCS Championship game.  I thought it was really exciting, did you?  I felt bad for University of Texas quarterback, Colt McCoy.  For those of you who missed it, the University of Alabama had, for some really strange reason, attempted a fake punt while on their own twenty yard line after three horrible plays that left them with a fourth and twenty three.  It went badly and Texas had the ball deep in Alabama territory and were driving.  Colt McCoy took the ball and attempted to run off left tackle. He hesitated and took a ferocious hit to his shoulder.  He initially looked like he was okay.  Then he was trying to shake his arm, to get it to work.  Next thing you know the arm is hanging limply at his side and he is out of the game.  Next we see him going to the locker room and them we see him going to the x-ray area of the Rose Bowl.

In a rapidly sped up time frame most shoulder injuries happen like this.  First you have a trauma.  You are in a car wreck with a drunk driver, or you are in a highway wreck with a semi tractor trailer or you are riding a motorcycle and someone turns in front of you or any kind of traffic accident or road accident.  You feel a twinge in your shoulder.  It is not exactly painful, but you know something is wrong.  It is very important, tell the investigating officer, or if the injury is from a construction accident tell your employer or whoever is investigating the accident, that you are having pain in your shoulder.  You may not need to go to the hospital in ambulance, but you should go to the hospital as soon as you can, as soon as you leave the accident scene.  It is inconvenient, but  your health is priority number one.  Don’t worry, these injuries are very treatable. 

At the hospital they should take x-rays.  X-rays are good at seeing the bone.  If there is a bony injury, like a break, immediate care will be given.  If there is no fracture, the emergency room people will likely give you pain medication and recommend that if you are still having pain in the next week, you go to your primary care physician for a checkup.  If you are still having pain in that first week, it may be general pain, but if it is a rotator cuff injury, it will only hurt with certain injuries.  Do what the ER people told you to do go see your doctor.  The doctor will likely recommend physical therapy, usually two to three weeks worth.  If the doctor recommends PT, do it, go to all the sessions.

If the PT does not work, the doctor will likely ask you to have a CT scan or and MRI.  These are tests that show the soft tissue surrounding the shoulder, called the rotator cuff.  The rotator cuff is a combination of muscles, tendons and ligaments which hold the arm bone to the shoulder bones.  This miraculous mechanism allows the arm to rotate nearly 365 degrees, the most rotation of any joint in the body.  I have provided a drawing of the shoulder to help you understand these wonderful structures.

If you have a tear in one of these structures, your doctor will likely refer you to an orthopedic specialist.  An orthopedic specialist is a doctor with more training.  Orthopedists work on the bony and muscle structures of the body, and generally they specialize on certain parts of the body.  In your case your doctor will send you to a shoulder specialist.  The specialist will reexamine you, review your test results and make a treatment recommendation, possibly surgery.  Remember it is very important to follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment.

At Young and Young, we have represented thousands of Hoosiers with shoulder injuries.  We would be happy to sit with you and your family to advise you as to how the law can help you be compensated for the injuries you sustain when another’s negligence causes you injury.

Lead Poisoning

Lead is a neurotoxin.  This means it causes brain injury and other neurological injury.  Children are most susceptible to the harms of lead.  So how does this lead get into our children’s bodies?  There are several sources.  The first is lead paint.  Paint used to have lead added as an ingredient.  The lead stays in the paint.  As that paint begins to peal and chip, the flakes can be, and are, eaten by children.  When a wall with lead paint on it is sanded, in preparation for repainting, the dust created by the sanding contains lead.  If this dust is inhaled, lead is introduced into the body.

Lead is also contained in the paint on many toys.  In the last few years, toys imported from China have been found to have a shockingly high level of lead.  Our children hold these toys close to their bodies, or put the toys in their mouths and they are poisoned.  A friend of mine mentioned today that maybe China is putting the lead in the paint and sending it to us, as a way to get rid of their lead.  It sounds a little far fetched, but it is a devilishly simple way to rid themselves of a big problem at our expense.  If they ever wanted to dominate us, it certainly would be in their best interests to poison our children, in their own homes.  The effect of the poison is to injure the cognitive processes of the brain.   This makes it more difficult for the child to process information and to think.  It would be easy to dominate a nation of impaired people.

Another source of the lead is plates and dishware.  Another friend noticed strange symptoms being exhibited by her child.  For months she sought medical advice.  One doctor suggested that the child might have lead poisoning.   The mother said she knew of no way the child could be exposed to lead.  The doctor suggested she have her plates and dishware tested for lead.  Much to her surprise her dishware tested positive for high levels of lead.  Her dishes included Wedgewood and Spode.  They were wedding presents and Christmas gifts she received from well meaning friends and families.  To her dismay, the dishes were harming her child.

Lead poisoning can be just as devastating as other types of personal injury.  Become familiar with the signs and symptoms of lead poisoning.  If you have any doubt about your child’s toys, or your dishware, have them tested.

Driving in Ice and Snow

The weather conditions this morning reminded me of  watching Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts play in the driving snow of Buffalo, New York, against the Bills. I noticed that all the players were missing plays.  They were missing tackles, missing holes to run through and missing coverages.  It was all due to the snow on the ground.  I watched all this from the comfort of my living room thinking how nice it was that it was not snowing here, and I did not have to worry about driving to work on snowy icy roads.

On days like today, I see a lot of problems that could be avoided, if people would just slow down and use the techniques they learned in drivers education.  The first thing I recommend on such days is a two hour delay for all schools in the affected area.  If the children are allowed to go to school two hours late, they will not be on the roads.  This gives two distinct advantages.  First, there is less traffic on the road and therefore less opportunity for traffic jams.  The second is that our children will be out of harm’s way during rush hour.  Good accident attorneys and good accident lawyers know that any car accident, highway accident, or truck accident can result in severe injuries.  These injuries include brain injury, back injury, spinal cord injury, paralysis, amputation, and wrongful death.  If the children are not on the roads, they cannot be hurt and everyone is better off.

Never ride a motorcycle when it is snowing or there is even a possibility of ice on the road.  A two wheel vehicle has no lateral stability.  If the motorcycle starts to slide, or the wheels lock up, the bike is going down.  The rider will be hurt from the fall, but may also slide into a car or another object, and it may be a fatal accident.

If you are driving a rear wheel drive vehicle, know you have less traction than a front wheel drive vehicle.  It helps to put weight over the rear axle to help with stability.  Sand bags are very good.  Bags of road salt can serve two purpose.  The first is to put weight over the rear axle.  The second is to provide snow melt if you become stuck.  If you are driving a rear wheel vehicle, it is essential to press on the gas pedal gently with a smooth fluid motion.  If you press too hard on the gas, the tires will begin to spin and you will lose traction.  The back end of the vehicle will start to move left or right.  This is called fishtailing.  If you feel the back end of the vehicle begin to fishtail, let off the gas.  This will allow the tires to spin less and reduce or eliminate the fishtail action.  Never slam on the brakes when you begin to fishtail, this may cause a loss of control and further exaggerate the fishtail.

Chains on your tires can be very helpful, as can studded tires.  Some jurisdictions do not allow either, and if they do, they may be limited to certain times of the year.  The most helpful winter driving hint is to take your time and leave a lot of space between you and the driver in front of you.

Good luck and be safe out there.

Accident Lawyers and Social Security Disability

Good accident lawyers know that full compensation for their clients is not always possible.  There are a number of reasons for this if a person is hurt in an auto accident, construction accident, highway accident, truck accident, or hit by a drunk driver.  This often times results in terrible injuries, including back injuries, brain injury, spinal cord injury, and paralysis.  More often than not, if the injuries are caused by a car accident, the  person who caused the accident does not have enough liability insurance to fully compensate the victim of these terrible injuries.  If the injured person does not have adequate underinsured motorist coverage,  he cannot be fully compensated for the lost wages and medical bills that will be in the his future.

A good accident attorney will recommend that his client file an application for benefits with the Social Security administration.  This can be done online.  The applicant can also go to his local Social Security office to fill out an application.  We have spoken of this in other blogs, but it bears repeating.  Take with you a list of your doctors, with addresses and telephone numbers.  Take with you a list of your medications, with dosages and side effects.  Take with you a list of your employers for the last 15 years, with addresses and a short description of what you did in that employment.  It will make the process go a lot smoother.

If you have a back injury or disease, which includes disc herniations, degenerative disc disease, osteoporosis, osteopenia, spinal cord injury, compression fractures and a whole host of other back problems there is a reasonable chance that you may be entitled to benefits.  It makes no difference that the condition was from a disease, or from a car accident, or construction accident.  What is important is that the condition prevents you from working and is expected to last more than a year.

You must be able to show the Social Security Administration medical documentation confirming the presence of the medical problem.  That medical documentation must also demonstrate the severity of the condition.  Without documentation, you have little to no chance of successfully obtaining benefits, even if the condition is real and disabling.

If you have a back injury or disease, your claim will be analyzed under the first section of the listings of impairments.   The Listing of Impairments is exactly what it sounds like, a list of injuries, illnesses and diseases.  If you have one of the listed conditions, and it is severe enough, you are entitled to benefits.  The first section of the listings deals with the musculoskeletal system.  If your back injury is a neurological problem, your condition will also be analyzed under Section 11, Neurological.  This section is for someone with a spinal cord injury and paralysis, like Christopher Reeve, who once played Superman.

A good accident lawyer will help guide you through this process.  All fees for this work are contingent, meaning there is no fee unless you are granted benefits.  The Social Security Administration must approve all fees before they are charged.

Car Wreck Black Box

We have all heard about the black box in an airplane.  The black box (it’s not really black, but brightly colored to stand out among crash wreckage) is the cockpit voice recorder.  The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) always searches for this voice recorder to try to piece together  the facts about a jet crash or helicopter crash.  The recorder gives a good insight into the thoughts and actions of the pilots before and during a midair emergency.

Did you know that every modern automobile and truck is equipped with a version of the black box?  Why?  Car crashes cause hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage and personal injury every year.

Injuries are often quite severe.  They include brain injury, back injury, paralysis, spinal cord injury and wrongful death.  In fact, car accidents and highway accidents are a leading cause of lost wages and lost productivity in the USA.  Accident lawyers, like Young and Young, have known that the primary purpose of the tort law (the law allowing compensation for injury caused by negligent acts) is accident and injury prevention.  It is only when we fail in the initial purpose that we turn to the secondary purpose of the law, compensation for the injured people and their families.  The car black box is designed and used in an attempt to prevent future collisions.

The black box is a computer device that records several sources of information during the operation of a vehicle.  The black box records, among other things, the speed of a car just before and at the time of the collision, and whether the brakes were applied and when.  The information recorded is objective, meaning that it is not likely to be influenced by the people in the collision.  As we are coming to understand, eyewitness testimony is generally not a reliable source of information in a complex collision involving high speeds and multiple cars or events.  Without intending to, in most cases, the position of the witness, his/her relationship to the people in the car crash and other factors influence what they recall and to what they can testify.   Another problem with eyewitness testimony is generally it can take a couple of years for a trial to be held after a collision, and memories can fade.  The black box is not subject to these complications.

If a highway accident or car accident occurs and fault for the collision is disputed obtaining the information from the black box can determine who was really at fault.  This means that initially after the collision both cars should be preserved until the information on the black box can be retrieved.  In some cases the cars will be a total loss and storage fees will build up.  In other cases the cars can be fixed and driven off.  Therefore, it is very important to hire a good accident attorney.  A good accident lawyer will have the resources and contacts to hire an engineer with the know how to get the black box information.  Getting the information does not take a long time, but it does require specialized equipment and know how, so a qualified engineer or expert is essential.

If you, or your family or friends, are in a highway accident or a car collision, call Young and Young right away.  We have the experience (55 years)  and the contacts and the resources to immediately get the information from the car black box that can be the difference between proving who was the cause of a car accident and who was not.  Please call.

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

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