Multiple People Injured by One Persons Negligence

We have spent a lot of time talking about injuries to one person, but what happens when many people are injured by the negligence of one person? Often times multiple people are injured in accidents with tractor trailers, highway accidents, traffic accidents with drunk drivers, big truck crashes, and other vehicle accidents.  Smart accident attorneys and accident lawyers know that the effect of severe injuries, such as broken bones, scarring, spinal injury leading to paralysis such as paraplegia and quadriplegia, back injuries, burns and even wrongful death.  The injury lawyer knows that fair compensation is often times more difficult to obtain, because the injuries to the persons in the car may be so severe that their value may exceed the insurance available to cover the claim. 

Let’s take a step back and talk about how people protect themselves if they are negligent and cause injury to others.  First, a person who is negligent (runs a stop sign, is speeding, runs a red light) is responsible for fixing the harm they cause. This is what your mother taught you when you were little, and it is only fair. Second, people protect their assets by buying insurance to cover their car in case they are negligent and cause an injury.  The injured person makes a claim against the negligent person’s insurance company for fair compensation for the injuries the negligent person causes.  This is true whether there is a settlement out of Court, or a judgment as a result of a jury verdict.  As I told you before, if you are ever a juror, know, for certain, that the person against whom the claim is brought is being represented by an insurance company. All that person’s legal costs are being paid by the insurance company and the insurance company will pay the verdict that you as the jury feel is fair compensation for the injured person. 

If the negligent person hurts more than one person, they have insurance that will pay.  The way it normally works is that the negligent person has purchased insurance that says it will pay out a certain amount per person to a person making a claim and it will pay out a maximum amount per accident. So, for example, negligent person A has insurance with limits of liability insurance of $100,000.00 per person, $300,000.00 per accident. (Check your policy, I bet you find language similar to this although the amount of coverage may differ).  This means that each person injured in the crash will be limited to $100,000.00 of compensation from that policy.  You ask, what if fair compensation is above $100,000.00, or there are four people with claims that have a fair compensation value in excess of $100,000.00 each? (This is important because the most the insurance company will have to pay under this example is $300,000.00 because of the per accident limit of liability).  This is a great question. 

The answer is Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) the injured person maintains on his/her car.  This coverage will kick in to pay the additional fair compensation you are entitled to.  This is true even if you are not driving your car at the time of the collision.  The Underinsured Motorist Insurance follows you, even if you are not in your car.  Because UIM is for your protection, and it is relatively inexpensive, you should keep high limits of UIM insurance.  I keep $250,000.00 plus an umbrella insurance policy which will pay additional amounts. 

At Young and Young we have 56 years of experience representing severely injured Hoosiers.  Call John Young for assistance today.

Suing for Medical Malpractice – Final

Let’s wrap up our current discussion of medical malpractice lawsuits in Indiana.

In addition to the factors that we’ve already discussed, the stress suffered by loved ones can also be an element of "non-economic" damages in a personal injury case. Indiana allows claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress for people that either witness a serious accident or come on the scene immediately afterwards and are a close family member. These are persons expected to have significant emotional problems as a result of the occurrence. Assuming this applies to the facts of a particular medical malpractice action, there are specific rules that need to be met for a valid bystander claim; however, if family member meets those requirements, the jury can award damages for emotional distress.

Note that in all civil cases (including medical malpractice), the burden of proving the case is on the plaintiff (i.e., the injured person) because the plaintiff gets the ball rolling by filing the lawsuit. In a civil case, the burden of proof is a "preponderance of the evidence" which means that the jury must be convinced that the claim is more probably true than not true. Most legal observers describe this as merely tipping the scales held by "Lady Justice" ever so slightly (even as little as 51 percent to 49 percent) for a finding of liability. In contrast, a criminal conviction requires guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, a much higher legal standard.

Another interesting fact is that Indiana has enacted a "collateral source statute" which essentially rewards individuals for protecting themselves through insurance coverage. This law says that a jury should not be advised nor take into consideration payments made by collateral sources such as health or disability insurance if the injured person or the person’s family paid for those collateral sources. The statute also considers Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security or Social Security Disability, or other government payments, as collateral sources that the jury can’t use as a reason to cut down an injured party’s damages.

As we have outlined in this series of blog postings, medical malpractice cases in Indiana require compliance with technical legal rules. Competent and careful personal injury attorneys know the rules about how and when to bring a claim against a healthcare provider or providers who made a mistake involving medical treatment. If you would like to discuss your concerns about a serious injury case involving medical care, please contact Young and Young in Indianapolis. With 55 years of experience, we have the qualifications to help you evaluate and pursue your claim.

Bicycle Safety and Sidewalks

As bicycle and bike use are increasing there are some things both the biker and the motorist need to know.  First, as we all know, in a collision between a bicycle and a car, the car is going to win every time.  These collisions can result in very severe injuries, including, brain injury, back injury, broken bones, scarring, road rash, spinal injuries causing paralysis including paraplegia and quadriplegia, and wrongful death.

What is the law regarding the use of bicycles and sidewalks?  In Indianapolis, there is an ordinance that gives us clues on this subject, it reads as follows:

The Revised Municipal Code of Indianapolis-Marion County can be found online.

The local ordinance(s) regarding this topic are found at Chapter 431 regarding Streets, Sidewalks and Public Ways. State Law regarding bicycles is found at IC 9-21-11.

ARTICLE VI.  BICYCLES*

Sec. 431-601.  Definitions.

As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section.

Bicycle  means and includes every conveyance or device which is designed:

(1)   To travel on two (2) or more wheels in contact with the ground;

(2)   With a saddle or seat for the use of a human rider; and

(3)   To be propelled solely by human muscular power.

However, bicycle shall not include a pedal cab, as defined in chapter 903 of the Code, or a wheelchair.

Greenway  means a linear open space which is intended for the use of pedestrians and non-motorized devices, and which facilitates transportation to neighborhoods and other community destinations.

(G.O. 45, 2001, § 1)

Sec. 431-602.  Operation by children under twelve years of age; responsibility of adults.

(a)   It shall be unlawful for the parent, legal guardian or custodian of a child under twelve (12) years of age to suffer or permit such child to operate a bicycle in a roadway in the city while such roadway is open and used by vehicular traffic; however, this subsection shall not apply when and where:

(1)   The child is at least eight (8) years of age, and is accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or custodian who at all times is in position to observe and direct such child’s bicycle operation; or

(2)   The child is riding only in that portion of a roadway which is designated by signs or pavement markings as being set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles; or

(3)   The street where such roadway is located is designated by the city as a play street.

(b)   A child under twelve (12) years of age may operate a bicycle upon a sidewalk or greenway in the city in the manner provided by section 431-603(b) of the Code.

(c)   After a law enforcement officer gives one (1) warning to a parent, legal guardian or custodian that he or she has committed a violation of this section, it shall be unlawful for such parent, legal guardian or custodian to commit a second or subsequent violation of this section. A second or subsequent violation of this section is subject to the enforcement procedures provided in chapter 103, article III, of the Code.

(G.O. 45, 2001, § 1)

Sec. 431-603.  Operation on roadways, sidewalks and greenways; violations.

(a)   A person who operates a bicycle in a roadway shall comply with the provisions of IC chapter 9-21-11.

(b)   A person who operates a bicycle on a sidewalk or greenway in the city shall do so only in the following manner:

(1)   The bicycle shall not be operated at a speed, or in any manner, which constitutes a threat to the safety of either the bicycle operator or other persons, or diminishes or impairs the free use of the sidewalk or greenway by other persons.

(2)   The person propelling, and each person riding upon, a bicycle shall be seated upon a permanent and regular seat firmly attached to the bicycle;

(3)   The person propelling the bicycle shall not allow more persons to be carried at one (1) time than the number for which the bicycle is designed and equipped;

(4)   The bicycle shall be equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving an audible signal, lamps, and brakes in the same manner as is required by state law for bicycles operated upon a highway; and

(5)   The bicycle’s bell or other device capable of giving an audible signal shall be sounded not less than fifty (50) feet from any pedestrian or vehicle approaching upon the sidewalk or greenway; and

(c)   It shall be unlawful for a person to operate a bicycle in a manner prohibited by this section. A person’s first violation shall be subject to the enforcement procedures provided in chapter 103, article III, of the Code, and each second and subsequent violation is subject to the enforcement procedures and penalties provided in section 103-3 of the Code.

(G.O. 45, 2001, § 1)

Secs. 431-604–431-606.  Reserved.

Editor’s note:  G.O. 45, 2001, § 1, adopted May 21, 2001, repealed in their entirety §§ 431-604–431-606.

Formerly said sections pertained to manner of operation; impoundment of unregistered, stolen or abandoned bicycles and enforcement of this article as to children, respectively, as related to the operation of bicycles. See the Code Comparative Table.

Please, be very careful when riding your bicycle on the road.  If you have been hit by a car, while riding your bicycle, and are injured, call injury lawyer John P. Young, right away.

Can a Child Bring a Claim for Injury Compensation?

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about injuries to adults, but this ignores about 20 percent of our population.  Children are often injured in tractor trailer crashes, highway accidents, traffic accidents with drunk drivers, big truck crashes, and other vehicle accidents.  Smart accident attorneys and accident lawyers know that the effect of severe injuries, such as broken bones, scarring, spinal injury leading to paralysis such as paraplegia and quadriplegia, back injuries, burns and even wrongful death.  The injury lawyer knows these injuries may be even more severe for a child because they may affect the child for the rest of their life.  A child born in the United States can expect to live at least 75 years.  That is a long time to live with injuries that make it so the child cannot work and is in pain for the rest of their lives. 

The answer to our question is, yes, a child can bring a claim for fair compensation based on injuries caused by the negligence of another.  It used to be that the child’s parent had to bring the claim on behalf of the child. This is because the child was considered incompetent, simply because of the fact that the child was not 18 years old.  This has changed over time, and the child can bring his/her claim for fair compensation in his/her own name.  The determination of compensation for the child is determined in the same way it is for an injured adult.  

Ultimately, if the claim is resolved, resulting in fair compensation, the money will have to be placed in a restricted account (bank or otherwise) for the protection of the child.  Believe it or not, some parents have been known to take their children’s money and spend it on things other than the child’s welfare.  The Court in the county where the child lives will have oversight of the account until the child reaches the age of 18.  At that time the funds will be released to the child.  In the mean time, if money is ever allowed out of the account, it must be with the Court’s permission.  Even then the Court will only allow money to be taken out of the account for things that are for the direct benefit of the child.

At Young and Young, we have worked for thousands of Hoosier Children who have been injured by others negligence.  To help your child obtain their fair due, call John  P. Young today.

Suing for Medical Malpractice – continued

To continue our discussion of medical malpractice, Indiana law provides the following: 

Recovery for medical malpractice in Indiana since July 1, 1999 is limited to $1,250,000; 

All qualified healthcare providers carry $250,000 of insurance and also pay a surcharge to the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund. The Fund is then liable for up to an additional $1,000,000 in compensation for injuries to a patient;  

In order to be able to petition the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund for additional damages, the patient must first use up the healthcare provider’s $250,000 insurance policy. If the patient’s damages fall below this level, he or she has no claim for additional compensation against the Patient’s Compensation Fund; 

The patient and healthcare provider can reach a settlement which pays out money damages over time through a structured settlement. The settlement has to cost the healthcare provider’s insurance company more than $187,000. Typically, the insurance company will pay $150,000 in cash and then purchase an annuity for $37,001 that will pay $100,000 over time. The payments plus the cash reaches the $250,000 threshold which allows the patient to tap into the Fund. 

In tragic circumstances, a patient can wind up not merely injured by medical negligence but passing away. A “wrongful death” claim is a legal case filed by the spouse, children, or parents against the healthcare provider to compensate them for their losses as a result of the wrongful death of their family member. Indiana also permits a so-called survival action, in which the family can additionally sue for damages suffered by the deceased person prior to death. Damages include physical pain, suffering, property damages, and medical expenses.  

Note: Indiana’s adult wrongful death statute–which only applies to unmarried adults who die without dependents–caps damages to $300,000 for loss of love and affection plus reasonable medical, funeral, and burial expenses incurred. Before this statute was enacted, a person who died with no spouse or dependents could only recover reasonable medical and funeral expenses.  

We will continue this discussion in the next blog entry.

Suing for Medical Malpractice

As discussed in prior blog entries, even doctors who have developed a great deal of expertise and who might be using advanced technologies unintentionally make mistakes. That’s where a lawsuit for medical practice comes in. Case in point: A patient went in for surgery due to pain in the legs.  The surgery was to reroute the blood supply to the legs. During surgery, the surgeon failed to keep the patient’s blood thinned appropriately and clots formed which cut off blood supply to the patient’s organs. This led to overwhelming sepsis and organ failure as well as amputation of the patient’s legs. The patient sued for medical malpractice, by alleging among other things that the surgeon failed to live up to recognized and accepted standards of medical care or that the surgeon’s action or non-actions was a departure from those standards.

Under the law, medical malpractice (or medical negligence) can include misdiagnosis, improper treatment, or unreasonably delays in treatment–or in general, substandard care or lack of care.

A medical malpractice claim can include elements such as past and future medical bills, past and future lost income, physical impairments, pain, emotional suffering, and for family, the loss of the affection and companionship of a deceased loved one.

Medical malpractice cases in Indiana require compliance with specific, technical procedures. For example, all cases must be presented to a Medical Review Panel before a lawsuit can be filed in court. The Medical Review Panel is made up of a lawyer who functions as a non-voting chairman and who guides the three doctors named as the actual members of the panel. The patient selects one doctor for the panel, the defendant selects a second doctor, and those two physicians select the third doctor. Both parties are allowed to submit evidence to the Medical Review Panel in written form which can include: depositions, statements, medical records, medical literature, x-rays, and any arguments they would like to make as to whether they think there was or was not malpractice.  Neither party can contact the Panel members before they issue their opinion. After the materials are submitted, the Panel members meet to discuss the case and then render their written opinion. After the Medical Review Panel completes its work, the patient can then file in state court and proceed to a jury trial. The Medical Review Panel opinion is admissible in court but it is not binding on either party.

We will continue this discussion in the next blog entry.

What Should I do if I am Injured in an Accident?

Knowledgeable accident attorneys and injury lawyers know that the dangers of having an accident – be it a motorcycle accident, highway accident with a semi tractor-trailer, a large truck accident, a wreck with a drunk driver, a truck crash , a construction accident , a fall, or even a battery.  Aggressive accident lawyers and injury attorneys also know that these types of accidents can cause all sorts of serious injuries.  When a traffic accident occurs what are some of the things you should do? 

Stay at the scene of the collision.  This will allow you to speak with the police and receive medical treatment if necessary.  In addition, state law requires you to stay at the scene. 

Call the police to begin an investigation in the cause of the collision. 

Wait for the police to tell them what happened, you do not need to give a statement to anyone else. 

If there are witnesses to the collision at the scene, and you are able to do so, write down their name, address and telephone number.  Sometimes witnesses do not have time to wait for the police.  Sometimes the police do not obtain all the names of the witnesses. 

Seek medical attention right away.  Even if you think you are okay, injuries have a way of showing themselves after the adrenaline rush is over.  

Follow your doctor’s advice.  

Contact Young and Young to assist you in the investigation of the vehicle accident.  As we have said in other blogs, a thorough and immediate investigation is very, very important.  Waiting can cause evidence and witnesses to be lost. 

Allow Young and Young to contact the insurance company for the negligent driver who caused the collision and your injuries.

 Focus on your recovery, following the medical advice you are given and allow Young and Young to worry about the claim.

Should I get a Police Accident Report?

Many times people who are in automobile collisions do not think they are hurt or there is  much property damage.  They will not want to take the time to call the police and have a police report completed.  This can be a very costly mistake if they later find out that they are injured or find more damage to their vehicle than meets the eye.  A police report can result in valuable photos at the scene and the names and addresses of witnesses who may not otherwise offer their contact information. A police report can better assure getting accurate information from the person who caused the collision. This can include correct name, address and insurance information.  It is best to error on the side of caution and take the time to get a report made at the scene. If you find out later that your injuries are more serious than you originally thought or your vehicle has damage that was not visible to the eye at the scene, this valuable information could be lost and cause a whole set of new problems for you in getting reimbursed for your damages.

How Long Do I Have to File A Claim?

“How long do I have to bring a claim?” is a question we often hear from potential clients.  Generally in Indiana you have two years to bring a claim in court for negligence. Failure to either have settled your case or not filed in court within that two year period can mean you lose your rights to continue with the claim. 

As with everything in the law there are exceptions and that is why it is prudent to contact a lawyer early after an event to find out what exceptions might be applicable to your situation.  For instance, any claim against a governmental agency requires a specific “tort claim notice” to be given to the responsible agency within 180 days or you lose your right to pursue a claim. Medical negligence claims, especially for children, have different time frames for claims to be filed to preserve your right to continue.  Some insurance policies for uninsured or underinsured motorist claims require the claim to be brought within one year.  

The safest and smartest thing to do if you are hurt as a result of someone else’s negligence is to contact a lawyer you can trust – one who is familiar with this area of law, and find out after giving them the facts what time limitation applies to you.  Most lawyers will discuss this with you without charging you regardless of whether you hire them or not.  Ask your friends or your family lawyer who they would recommend you to contact for this advice.  Any of us at Young and Young would be happy to talk with you – please give us a call.

I was in a Traffic Accident – What do I do?

Today, you were in a traffic accident. It was your first, and you are injured.  What do you do?  

Experienced injury attorneys and accident lawyers know this is a scary time for you.  You do not know the full extent of your injuries.  You do not know how long you will be off work, and you do not know how long you will have this pain.  First things first, do not panic.  Take a deep breath.  From the collision scene, you should seek medical attention.  If your injuries are severe enough – go to the hospital by ambulance.  Do not play the hero.  Your injuries are unpredictable at this time and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you do not go to the hospital by ambulance seek medical care immediately.  Have someone drive you to the hospital.  Go to your doctor’s office, go to an immediate care center, but seek out medical care. 

As to the damage to your car, let it be towed to where you want, a body shop, your favorite dealer, an impound lot.  Let your insurance company know what has happened either by calling them yourself of by having a family member or friend call.  You do not have to wait for the person whose negligence caused the collision to turn in the claim to their insurance company.  You can call them yourself or have a family member or friend turn in the claim.  Give the insurance company the location of the vehicle and ask them to appraise the damage.  I recommend that you do not give them a statement at this time.  Also ask them for a rental car until your car is repaired or the settlement for the total damages on the car is paid. 

If these things seem a little overwhelming, you may want to contact an attorney to perform these tasks for you.  This gives you the opportunity to relax, and concentrate on your healing.  This will also allow the smart accident attorney and injury lawyer to begin their investigation by speaking to witnesses and taking pictures. 

One thing you will receive in the mail is an SR-21 form from the State.  This is a proof of financial responsibility form which the State requires to be completed within 90 days of the collision, even if it was not your fault.  You provide this to your insurance agent, who then completes it and sends it to the state.  If you do not complete this form, your license will be suspended.  There will be fees for reinstating the license if you do not complete the SR-21 form in a timely fashion. 

Young and Young has 55 years of experience handling auto accident cases.  Let our family help your family.  Give us a call.

What Is A Contingency Fee Agreement

You were minding your own business when a drunk driver driving a large truck causes a large truck crash.  Experienced injury attorneys and accident lawyers know trucking accidents are often the most dangerous.  These types of traffic accidents result in serious injuries, burns and even wrongful death. Smart accident attorneys and injury lawyers know that when Hoosiers have been injured, money becomes tight.  We also know that your injuries might cause you to be disabled, and force you to file for Social Security Disability.  Then the money really gets tight.  How can the injured Hoosier pay an attorney to represent them for either fair compensation from the person whose negligence caused the injuries, or to represent them before the Social Security Administration?  John Young is a Social Security lawyer with 21 years experience. 

The answer is the contingent fee.  Contingent is defined as depending upon a preceding event. So, a contingent fee is a fee that is only paid if you win your case (the preceding event).   At Young and Young we work almost exclusively with personal injury and wrongful death claims for compensation on a contingency fee basis.  This contingency fee does two things for you.   First it gives you, the injured Hoosier, the keys to the Court House.  What I mean by this is that without the contingency fee, most injured Hoosiers would not be able to bring their claim for compensation to court, it would simply be too expensive.  In addition, despite what you hear about the injury compensation system, there is risk that a jury will not agree with you about who caused your injuries, or the extent of your injuries.  If the jury does not agree with you, and you lose your case, then without the contingency fee, you would lose all the money you had to pay to the lawyer to bring the case, plus the money you had to pay to bring the case.  In some cases it can cost as much as several hundred thousand dollars to bring your case to court.  They don’t talk about this cost when they call the system a lottery.  

The other benefit the contingency fee provides is incentive on the part of your lawyer to present your case in the most effective way.  The lawyer (like me) knows that if the presentation is not the best it can be, the case may not be successful in providing you fair compensation.  It further means that the lawyer will not get paid, and all the time and effort put into the case may be for nothing. 

The Social Security Administration knows that people making claims for disability benefits have no money, but need competent representation.  The administration allows for contingency fees.  The administration also controls fees, meaning that a layer cannot charge you any fee unless you win your case, and the administration approves the fee. 

All contingency fees must be in writing and signed by the client.  It is unethical to charge a contingency fee without the agreement being in writing. At Young and Young, we have been representing Hoosiers for more than 55 years.  We work for you through a contingency fee arrangement.  We are paid when you are fairly compensated.  Please give us a call.

If I am Compensated for an Injury – is it Taxable?

Knowledgeable accident attorneys and injury lawyers know that you can will have medical expense and lost wages if you have a motorcycle accident, a highway accident with a semi tractor-trailer, a large truck accident, a wreck with a drunk driver, a truck crash , a construction accident , a fall, or even a battery.  Your medical bills and your lost wages are money that you may recover as part of your compensation for the injuries you receive as a result of another person’s negligence. 

You may also be able to recover compensation for pain and the inability to live your life the way you want to.  Remember compensation means to be made whole- in other words recover the fair amount of what you lost.  Some may say that it is not fair to compensate someone for their pain, or the inability to enjoy life.  I hear this all the time out of insurance executives and politicians.  Remember who is saying this and why.  The less the insurance companies have to pay out for just compensation the richer the suits become.  When was the last time you saw your premium go down, even though your state has passed so called tort reform.  Indiana is silly with tort reform and my rates have never gone down.  I bet yours haven’t either.  The last thing I want to say about pain is that it is easy for the suits, who get paid obscene amounts of money to say that you should not be compensated for pain.  I say let them live in your shoes for a day and they will change their tune. 

Compensation for your injuries, medical bills, pain and inability to enjoy life are not taxable. Why, you ask.  The reason is very sensible.  As the money you receive in compensation is simply to make up for the harm you suffered as a result of another’s negligence, you are not actually getting income.  You are simply receiving what makes up for the harm.  Now wages are different.  You would have been taxed on the wages if you earned them by working, so it is only fair that you pay taxes on them if they are part of the compensation you receive. 

If you have a structured settlement as a result of your injuries, the tax code allows the interest on the money in the annuity to be nontaxable if your accident attorney is wise enough to set the structured settlement up properly.  If you or your family is hurt by another’s negligence, call Young and Young.  Put our families’ 55 years of experience to work for you.

How will a Hospital Lien Imact My Injury Compensation?

 Knowledgeable accident attorneys and injury lawyers know that you can be put in the hospital if you have a motorcycle accident, a highway accident with a semi tractor-trailer, a large truck accident, a wreck with a drunk driver, a truck crash , a construction accident , a fall, or even a battery.  Aggressive accident lawyers and injury attorneys also know that these types of accidents can cause all sorts of serious injuries including broken bones, back injuries, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries causing paralysis including paraplegia and quadriplegia, blindness, burns, and amputations.  When these things occur you will be taken to the hospital for treatment.  When the hospital finds out the injuries were caused by a traffic accident they will send a message to their legal department to begin the process of filing a hospital lien.  A hospital lien is usually filed when the injured person does not have health insurance.  The hospital lien can also be filed even if the person does have insurance.  The hospital lien is usually filed when the hospital is not fully paid for its services. 

So what is a hospital lien, and why are you getting one?  The hospital lien is like any other lien, it gives the hospital a legal right to collect the remaining balance of their bill from any compensation you receive as a result of the injuries you have from the accident.  In order for the hospital lien to be enforceable certain things must be done in a timely fashion.   The first thing you should know is that the hospital lien is authorized by statute.  The Indiana Statute is I.C. 32-33-4-1 and the related statutes which follow this first statute. 

To be a valid lien, the hospital must follow the requirements of the Hospital lien statutes.  Some of those requirements include: The lien must be filed in the recorder’s office of the county where the hospital is located within 180 days after you are released from the hospital, the lien must have your proper name, your proper address, the name and address of the hospital, the dates of service and more.  If the hospital does not comply with the statutes, their lien is not enforceable.  This does not mean that you are not responsible for the bill.  It only means that the hospital does not have a lien against your settlement.  

One of the protections built into the hospital lien statutes is that if the lien exceeds the amount of insurance to compensate you for your injuries, you as the patient are guaranteed 20% of the amount of the settlement.  In other words, the hospital lien cannot take all your compensation. 

At Young and Young we have more than 55 years of experience helping injured Hoosiers.  Part of what we do is to help resolve these hospital liens.  If you are seriously injured, please give Young and Young a call.  We know when we can help.

Safety and Truck Crashes

It is a risk we accept every day.  A drunk driver driving a large truck causes a large truck crash.  Experienced injury attorneys and accident lawyers know trucking accidents are often the most dangerous.  These types of traffic accidents result in serious injuries including paralysis such as paraplegia or quadriplegia, brain injury, spinal cord injury, spine injury, amputation, broken bones, terrible scarring, burns and even wrongful death. Smart accident attorneys and injury lawyers know that the Federal Government issues a series of rules and regulations to protect highway users from fatal trucking accidents.  Roadway safety is in everyone’s best interest, but not every truck on the road is safe. 

The Federal Motor Safety Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) is dedicated to this principal.  This is reflected in its latest campaign:  “A Change to Save Lives: With Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 (CSA 2010), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), together with state partners and industry will work to further reduce commercial vehicle (CMV) crashes, fatalities, and injuries on our Nation’s highways. “   You can visit the FMSCA to learn more about how the FMCSA is working hard to make the roads safe for everyone. 

Part of what the FMSCA is doing is revamping its safety analysis system. As reported on its web site, the FMSCA establishes how this update compares to the older model. Within the Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA 2010) Operational Model, the Safety Measurement System (SMS) quantifies the on-road safety performance of carriers and drivers to identify candidates for interventions, to determine the specific safety problems exhibited by a carrier or driver, and to monitor whether safety problems are improving or getting worse. SMS replaces SafeStat in the new Operational Model.  This model includes several expanded and improved indicators of safety performance of truck carriers.  These include an expanded set of categories of analysis including seven behavior analysis and safety improvement categories, up from the previous four categories, giving a more detailed basis for analysis.  The system also emphasizes on-road safety performance, using all safety-based inspection violations.  The system includes a safety rating to identify possible safety problems based on a carriers current on road safety performance. 

The highway interstate trucking industry is the backbone of American commerce.  Keeping all users of the road safe will only enhance the effectiveness of our trucking industry.  If you, a loved one or a friend have been injured in a trucking accident, Young and Young has more than 55 years of experience aggressively working to ensure Hoosiers are properly compensated for their injuries.  Give us a call today.

Toyota Troubles

Sudden acceleration and braking problems, what a crazy combination!  Aggressive accident lawyers and accident attorneys know that either one of these problems can cause highway accidents with semi tractor-trailers, motorcycle accidents, large truck crashes, crashes with drunk drivers, fatal accidents, trucking accidents, and all kinds of traffic accidents. Smart injury lawyers knows these car wrecks can result in severe injuries including spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis including paraplegia and quadriplegia, brain injuries, back injuries, broken bones, burns, amputation and even wrongful death.  However the combination of unexpected acceleration and braking problems is likely to result in more traffic accidents and more severe injuries. 

Toyota is now voluntarily recalling at least ten models of cars with one or both of these problems.  This totals more than 8.5 million cars. This recall is prompted from statistics including at least 34 wrongful death accidents since the year 2000.  The National Highway Safety Administration has received more than 1000 complaints about the Prius in the last week.  It should be noted that of these 1000 complaints received, none have as yet been verified. 

One of the truly frightening aspects of this problem is that Toyota cannot reproduce the problems in trials.  This means that Toyota does not really know what is causing the problem.  Toyota has speculated that the acceleration issue might be caused by the electronics involved with the acceleration system.  Toyota has conducted its own testing and hired an outside consulting firm to try to understand the problem.  However their testing tends to support the idea that the problem is not in the electronic system supporting the acceleration system.  This begs an important question, if Toyota does not know what is causing the problem, then what are they doing to your car when you take it in for the recall?   Toyota is installing what they are referring to as a fix, but can it really be a fix if the problem is unknown? 

If you have a Toyota, please go to either Toyota’s website  or the National Highway Safety Administration  to see if it is the subject of a recall and if it is, what you need to do to protect yourself and your family.  The NHSA has issued the following information as of February 10, 2010: Toyota consumers should check the provided list of recalled vehicles and pay close attention to their vehicles. If you are experiencing any problems with your Toyota vehicle, park the vehicle in a safe place and immediately call your Toyota dealer or Toyota’s North American headquarters at 1-800-331-4331. 

If you have been in a collision with your Toyota, and were injured, and the care rapidly accelerated or the braking system failed, give John P. Young a call.  John can help you and your family work through all the issues you are now facing.

Lessons Learned from an Improper Diagnosis

 When we last left off, I was describing a situation in which a client presented with nosebleeds and flu-like symptoms and was misdiagnosed with the flu by a nurse practitioner. It turned out that the client had promyelocytic leukemia and later suffered serious brain injuries. 

Going forward, we can derive some lessons from this incident, including:  

Most Hoosiers are unaware that immediate care centers are staffed with nurse practitioners as opposed to physicians. The law allows nurse practitioners to examine, diagnose, treat and prescribe medications to patients as any family physician would do. The supervision for these nurse practitioners is chart review by a supervising physician at a later time. It seems a patient would prefer to be examined and treated by a doctor rather than a nurse practitioner who may lack the same degree of education or training experience of a physician; 

It is important to note that a nose bleed can indicate a more serious issue. The healthcare provider should perform a full examination and work-up if there are other symptoms in addition to the nosebleeds; and 

Lay persons sometimes throw around the term “flu” in an all-purpose way. But the flu has very specific symptoms (ranging from mild to severe) and can even be over-diagnosed by physicians. And a flu diagnosis in and of itself doesn’t necessarily mean that the patient is out of woods. So be careful when you are diagnosed with the flu; flu-like symptoms plus other symptoms or problems could be a signal of a more serious condition. 

Medical malpractice cases in Indiana require compliance with specific, technical procedures. Competent and careful personal injury attorneys know the rules about how and when to bring a claim against the healthcare provider or providers who made a medical mistake. Young and Young, as injury lawyers for more than 55 years, are qualified to help you pursue your claim. 

Hazards of Snow Shoveling

If you live in Indiana, you no doubt, especially this winter, have found yourself shoveling snow.  In terms of prevention of injury, it is important to be careful when shoveling snow, as it is hard work.  People who are not in good physical condition or who do not regularly exercise could strain their heart and cause potentially life-threatening injuries.  Shoveling heavy, wet snow can increase a person’s heart rate within two minutes to a dangerous level, and simply lifting a shovel-load of snow, which can weigh up to 20 pounds, can send blood pressure soaring, according to the American Heart Association.

Some tips to avoid this problem include:  slow down; stay warm; and take it easy.  Other shoveling tips include:  push, don’t lift, as this is easier on your back; keep your back straight and bend your knees when you do lift; take frequent breaks; drink plenty of water, tea or hot chocolate; dress in layers; and be careful of frostbite.

Failure to Make a Proper Diagnosis

We can all agree that most healthcare providers–from EMTs to our family doctor to the staff of medical facilities–do excellent work for their patients. Occasionally, however, a healthcare practitioner can make a medical error in diagnosis or treatment, commonly known as malpractice. Malpractice doesn’t mean that the provider had a specific intention to cause harm. Instead, it means that the provider acted in a negligent or perhaps careless manner (in general, negligence is what the law calls a failure to use reasonable care or acting unreasonably under the circumstances) in rendering the treatment. 

In one of the personal injury cases that I handled, a client went to an immediate care center with flu-like symptoms and five-to-six nosebleeds for several days prior to her visit. This occurred during flu season. The client saw a nurse practitioner rather than a doctor. The nurse practitioner diagnosed the client with the flu, but failed to examine her nose. Nor did she examine the patient in a gown so that she could see the skin on the torso, trunk, and upper extremities. If the nurse practitioner had followed this protocol, she would have noted bruising in various stages of healing, which–along with the nose bleeds–would have required a CBC (complete blood count). This would, in turn, have revealed the patient’s true diagnosis: promyelocytic leukemia–a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. 

My client went home but returned to the emergency room two days later with a brain bleed. She now has a very serious, permanent brain injury. Several points can be learned from this encounter; we will pick up this discussion in the next blog entry.

Why Does Everyone Say Trampolines are Dangerous?

When I was a child, I loved trampolines.  One of our favorite activities on the trampoline was the double bounce.  This is where two people on the trampoline bounce at the same time, usually one is larger than the other.  Eventually the larger person gets the trampoline extended down as far as it will go and then pulls their feet up fast and the one person gets launched twice as high.  Herein lies the real danger of the trampoline.  Many people think the only danger lies in falling off the trampoline.   Falls can cause injuries such as spinal cord injuries, brain injury, back injury, paralysis (either paraplegia, quadriplegia or just a single limb), and broken bones. That is why you see trampolines with the netting around them to prevent the user from flying off the trampoline.  This netting merely gives the user a false sense of safety.  The sense of safety is false because a very real danger still lurks on the trampoline.  

 The larger danger is the loss of body control where the body turns upside down.  This danger is especially high in the double bounce.  The danger also exits when the user is alone on the trampoline.  When the user is turned upside down, they are in danger of landing on their head.  You see, your head is supported on your body by a flimsy neck.  In most instances the neck is strong enough to resist pressures that will injure the spinal cord.  Unfortunately  the neck is not strong enough to resist the pressure of your full weight coming down on the unstable surface of the trampoline.  The neck bends beyond it tolerances, and the vertebrae break.  The spinal cord is then allowed to push out of its canal and can be pinched or severed by the neck recoiling back into position.  This kind of injury causes paralysis, and possibly wrongful death.

The trampoline can be as dangerous as a wreck with a drunk driver, or a tractor-trailer crash.   Follow these links to learn more about the dangers.

CNN – Health experts: Dangers of trampolines underestimated

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS –  trampolines should never be used in the home environment

If you still want to use a trampoline – please read these safety tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

            If you have any other questions, or know someone who has been injured on a trampoline, Give John P. Young a call for a free consultation.

Brain Injury Support for Families

The number one cause of Brain Injury is trauma.  Trauma, which is blunt force directed at the body, can occur in many settings.  Good accident attorneys and injury lawyers know they can happen in a motorcycle accident, a highway accident with a semi tractor-trailer, a large truck accident, a wreck with a drunk driver, a truck crash, a construction accident, a fall, or even a battery.  Good accident lawyers and injury attorneys also know that the brain injured person, and their families need support and resources to help them recover from and or live with the effects of brain injury. 

The Brain Injury Association of Indiana (BIAI) was started by families who lived through the recovery process and wanted other families to have the benefit of their learning.   BIAI is a thriving organization operated by caring individuals who are dedicated to helping the brain injured, and their families to cope with the injury. What BIAI is all about can be summed up in their mission statement, Vision Statement and Core Values as stated on their website: 

Our Mission
The Brain Injury Association of Indiana is a nonprofit service organization comprised of people with brain injury, their families, and concerned stakeholders who are dedicated to creating a better future by reducing the incidence and effects of brain injury through public and professional education, advocacy, support, and by facilitating inter-agency commitment and collaboration. 
Our Vision Statement
We envision a reduction in the incidence and effects of brain injury in Indiana, and that people with brain injury and their families will be well served, understood, empowered, and supported to live full and meaningful lives.
 Our Core Values

1. We value and respect the dignity and worth of all people in a true spirit of inclusion.

2. We support prevention opportunities through research, education, and public awareness.

3. We believe that people with brain injury have the opportunity to live meaningful lives and have full participation in their communities.

4. We value and respect the importance of meaningful relationships by all people affected by brain injury.

5. We provide rapid, relevant, and accessible information.

6. We promote excellence, quality, and best practice in all fields.

7. We advocate for effective public policy.

8. We practice fiscal responsibility.

9. We respond to issues with integrity, courage, and ethical decision making.

10. We are committed to our values, beliefs, and principles.

 

                John P.  Young is a past Chair of the Board of Directors of BIAI.  John has represented hundreds of brain injured Hoosiers and their families.  John can help you too.  Call Him.

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

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