The hot weather is now upon us. As I was walking my dogs yesterday, I heard the screams of delight as the first day of the pool season began. I could remember my own excitement at being the first one in, when I could first touch the drain in the deep end, and the first time I jumped off the high dive (It looks a lot higher on the board than it does on the ground). What great memories. Then, this morning I received word that a child is in the hospital in critical condition after being found at the bottom of a pool. The incident happened yesterday at the Valley Brook Trailer park community pool. The child, a 13 year old was celebrating his birthday. Party goers spotted the boy at the bottom of the pool. He was pulled from the pool and CPR was performed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of this young man and to the young man for a speedy and total recovery.
It is amazing how fast bad things can happen at a pool. It seems everyone else is watching the children in the pool and it turns out nobody is. To combat this there should be a designated lifeguard. If the pool does not supply one, then the parents at the pool should agree among themselves who will be the designated lifeguard. This person should only be assigned a 15-20 minute shift and should be sober and responsible. Once the shift is over, the next designated lifeguard should take watch. The life guard should be able to swim, but if not, then to be able to operate a whistle or other attention grabbing device. The lifeguard’s job is to watch the activity in the pool. They must avoid from getting into a conversation with anyone or taking pictures or anything else that will distract the life guard. As we see with the young man discussed above bad things can happen in an instant. Preparation and planning are your best defense against a life time of regret.
Did you ever get the impression that lawyers talk in a foreign language. They say things like personal injury when they mean your injury whether it is a broken bone, spine injury, brain injury or any other kind of injury. The say reasonable care when they mean being careful. They say just compensation when they really mean to make up for. This last one is what I really want to talk about. When we were little and we broke something, our mamas would tell us you have to step up, admit what you did and either fix it or clean it up. That is exactly what lawyers mean when they talk about fair or just compensation. Heck, that’s what the word compensation means, to make up for. We all know Mom was right about this. We all have to live together. We all want to be free to live our lives, take care of our children and earn a decent living. We do not want to be hurt and have that hurt stop us from doing what makes our lives worth living. In most cases the people who are not being careful (There mind wanders while they are driving etc) do not mean to hurt us, but they did and because they did, they have to fix what they broke or clean up the mess. If the mess causes you to have medical bills, they need to pay em, all. If the mess costs your wages, they must pay you back for those lost wages. If the mess causes permanent loss of use of part of your body, they must make up for that.
This is all very straight forward, and really is based on what your mother told you about being a good, caring citizen. Jurors are asked to decided what will fix the mess, when the parties disagree. Just because the parties disagree does not make either one a bad person or greedy or cheap. It just means they can’t decide and they need your help as a juror. When you are asked to be a juror, know that the people before you are just as unacquainted with the system as you and they would rather not be there either. Be fair, do what your mother told you and you will be fine.
As your Indiana Serious Injury Attorneys, I spend a lot of time thinking about safety. I come by it honestly, my dad was Indiana’s Serious Injury Lawyer, the go to guy for 60 years. Around our dinner table and in our lives we heard a lot about things that nobody else seemed to be talking about. In any event, I was reading today about a couple events that sparked the following question. What do school buses and mini bikes have in common? Of course they are both motorized vehicles, but short of that there seem to be a lot more differences than there are similarities. Well, School Buses carry children and that is exactly what mini bikes are designed to do.
Two school buses collided yesterday. The Mount Vernon School buses were carrying students in northwestern Hancock County. The bad news is that about thirty children were injured. The good news is that none of them were injured seriously. The collision occurred when one bus rear ended another. The bus driver told police that she was distracted because of a student acting up. If this account is accurate, this student’s action, likely without any thought about the possible consequences, put the lives of all the children in danger. Parents, take this time to talk to your children about the danger of distracting the driver. Tell them that if they are standing up in the bus while it is moving that their bodies are moving as fast as the bus and that if the bus has to stop quickly, their standing body will continue to move at the same speed and will either hi a metal seat or another student, both likely to result in bad injuries. Give them the tools to tell the other students, no, they are not going to do something dumb and put the others on the bus in danger.
In another story, two preteens were injured yesterday when the mini bike they were riding left the road and crashed. Unfortunately, and as is likely to happen, the passenger, who had no control over the bike or where it was going was injured. The passenger suffered significant brain injury and is a patient at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. Although the story does not mention it, I will bet a dime two things combined to allow this to happen. First, the children were not under the supervision of an adult. As a corollary to this, the adults left the min bike is such a position as to allow the children access to it when they were not around. The old saying is true, if something can happen, it will. If a child can get to something they will use it. The parents must make sure this cannot happen. The second thing is that I bet the parents who bought the mini bike for the child did little or nothing to teach the child safe operation techniques. Giving a child a mini bike and not teaching them safe riding techniques ids inviting a crash. Parents, let this be a lesson. Teach your children. They are smart, they will learn. Help them to help themselves and others.
As Indiana’s Social Security Attorney, I must explain the basic differences between the two disability programs offered by the Social Security Administration. Most people I talk to tell me they applied for SSI and need help with their case. In most instances, people use the term SSI as a catch all phrase. What they really mean is that they applied for both Title II Disability and Title XVI Supplemental Security Income. The difference between the two is huge and Title II Disability is the better program. A worker becomes eligible for title II Disability by working and paying their FICA Tax. This tax is kind of like a premium you pay for Insurance. When you have worked for five years and paid the FICA tax, you become eligible for Title II Disability. The worker will remain eligible for the Title II benefits as long as they continue to work and pay the FICA tax. In fact the worker will remain insured for the five years after they stop working. The worker will be eligible for Medicare two years after they become disabled.
Title XVI SSI, on the other hand, is for those who have not worked or paid enough into the FICA tax fund. This would include those persons who have not worked because they become disabled at a young age and have not yet had an opportunity to earn money. Some basic differences between SSI and Title II Disability is that one is entitled to more money under Title II and there are restrictions that apply to SSI that do not apply to Title II. One example of these restrictions is if you are living with someone who is paying all the bills and supporting you, the amount of that support will decrease the amount of benefits the SSI recipient will receive. It is because of these restrictions, and the lower benefits that if you qualify for Title II you should apply for it.
So, How does a young person become eligible for Tile II based on their parent’s earning history? We must look to 20 C.F.R. Section 404.350. CFR stands for Code of Federal Regulations. This section tells us that you are eligible for benefits, based on your parents earning history, if you are the earners child, you are dependent on the earner, you apply, you are unmarried, you are under 18 or if you are older than 18 your disability started before you became 22, and your parent is either receiving disability, is entitle to Old Age Benefits, or is deceased. If this criteria applies to you, make sure you apply for child benefits based on your parents earning history.
As many of you know the David Bisard case arises out of an alleged drunk driving case. David Bisard, while on duty with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was allegedly responding to an emergency call. While on his way, he ran into the back of three motorcyclists, killing 30 year old Eric Wells and severely injuring two others. The collision scene was treated as a personal injury accident scene, instead of a crime scene. The difference between the two is with the crime scene evidence is preserved about the alleged crime. At an accident scene, evidence is not generally preserved. It is not clear when, if ever, the officers at the scene began to suspect that officer Bisard might be intoxicated. Regardless, he was transported from the scene of the collision to a lab to have him tested for alcohol. The lab was not certified for evidence taking which casts doubts upon the admissibility of the results of the tests at any criminal trial against Bisard.
Former Marion County Prosecutor, Carl Brizzi, actually dismissed the charges against Bisard citing problems with the tests. Once in office, current Marion County Prosecutor, Terry Curry, refilled the charges and is now pursuing those charges. Defense counsel for Officer Bisard has filed papers with the Court, in which the criminal case is pending, asking the Judge to rule that the tests results are not admissible in Bisard’s criminal case. In addition the defense has asked the Court that if it finds the test results are not admissible, to dismiss the drunken driving charges against Bisard. The logic of that motion is that if you have no admissible evidence that Bisard was intoxicated, you cannot prosecute him for drunk driving.
Marion County Judge Grant Hawkins is holding a hearing today to hear the positions of both the defense and the prosecution on the merits of the defense motion. It is not likely that the ruling will be issued today. This is a very complex issue and the judge will probably want to consider the arguments and the law before he issues a ruling.
Although we accept that Bisard is innocent until proven guilty, we still want to take this opportunity to raise awareness about the dangers of drunk driving. Drunk driving is a selfish act that hurts not only the victim, but their family as well as the family of the drunk driver. Call a friend, call a cab, walk. Do anything, but do not drink and drive.
Construction is one of the most dangerous professions in the United States. The opportunity for injuries from falls from heights (such as from a ladder, scaffold or even through a floor hole), from heavy equipment, trench collapses, electrocution, explosions, objects falling from height and many others. We send our thoughts and prayers to the family of a northern Indiana construction worker who, yesterday, fell from a roof resulting in wrongful death. David W. Gingery was cleaning a roof when the fall occurred. Details are not fully known but either the roof collapsed or the safety cable Mr. Gingery was using at the time to protect himself failed.
The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is charged with investigating the facts of Mr. Gingery’s death, as well as any other construction accident resulting in death or serious injury to multiple construction workers. Indiana has adopted the Federal OSHA rules and regulations for the safety of construction workers. This is administered under the Indiana Department of Labor. You may visit their website at http://www.in.gov/dol/iosha.htm. The rules and regulations enforced by IOSHA can be found at http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owasrch.search_form?p_doc_type=STANDARDS&p_toc_level=1&p_keyvalue=Construction. These rules and regulations cover all of the different facets of Construction safety. It is our hope that all Indiana employers strive to meet all these rules and regulations for the safety of their employees and all other workers on the site.
The question always arise, in my initial consultation with either a seriously injured Hoosier, or their family, “Should we file for Social Security Disability Benefits now or should we wait until the claim against the person who hurt me is completed?” My answer is based on twenty three years of experience in representing seriously injured Hoosiers against the people whose negligence caused their injuries and my twenty three years of experience representing disabled Hoosiers in their claim before the Social Security Administration. If you are injured seriously enough so that you cannot work, you should file for benefits immediately. This is not to say that you will be entitled to benefits from the Social Security Administration, hopefully you will not. You see, in order to be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, your disability must be expected to last more than twelve months. It is my hope that you will be healed and back to work before that twelve months. It is my experience that Hoosiers are generally happier to be back at it, productive and working. They earn more money and are generally happier to be back to work.
Most of the time it is impossible to know early on if your serious injuries, such as a spinal cord injury resulting in paraplegia, or quadriplegia, brain injury, broken bones, burns etc., will heal in twelve months and if they do, whether you will be able to get back to work. This is true regardless of whether your injuries are caused by a drunk driving accident, a construction accident or even an semi tractor-trailer accident. So it is vitally important to apply for benefits now. There is no penalty for dismissing your claim later if you are able to get back to work. The main reason I encourage early filing is because the application process takes a long time. It will take three to four months just to get a response to your application. Even then close to 80% of all initial applications are denied. Most people are approved for benefits by an administrative law judge. It can take two years to get a hearing before a Judge. So you can see that can be very important to file early. The social security claim should have no impact on your serious injury claim.
Just the other day, I had a hearing before the Social Security Administration on a client’s application for disability benefits. As I always do, I asked my client to meet with me an hour before the hearing. I do this to make sure the client knows what is about to happen and feels comfortable. I also like to talk with the client about my review of their medical file. There is always some fact or question that needs to be checked. Well, in looking through this client’s file I found that the client had issues with alcohol. There were a couple of admissions to the hospital and some physical findings that suggested a heavy usage of alcohol. So, as you might imagine, I wanted to ask the client about these things. Of course the client had explanations for all my questions, but it was one of the things that she said that made me wonder what Americans know about Social Security Disability and how it is affected by the use of alcohol. The client said to me, “What is the big deal about drinking, I know a guy and he is on disability because he is an alcoholic”.
Well, let’s get this straight right now, although many years ago disability could be granted based on alcoholism, that has been changed. A person will be denied disability benefits if the sole basis for the application is because the person is an alcoholic. In fact, in most instances where the physical problems of the claimant are caused by alcohol abuse, i.e. liver damage, kidney failure, bleeding ulcers, esophageal stricture etc., if the person is continuing to drink and not seeking help, that person will be denied benefits. The basis of this position is that the old rules seemed to encourage alcoholism and discourage seeking treatment.
Now, if you have physical problems that were caused by alcohol abuse but you are no longer drinking and are in treatment, you may be granted benefits. Be aware, however, that the Administration will look carefully at the file to insure that the drinking that caused the problems is no longer taking place. If you are granted benefits, and start drinking again, you will eventually lose your claim to benefits, It may not be right away, but it will happen. If you are struggling with alcohol abuse, we encourage you to seek help. Only you can make the choice to live without alcohol, but once you have made that decision, there are many, many programs to help you on your journey.
We are Indiana Serious Injury Attorneys. A big part of what we do is help seriously injured Hoosiers obtain fair compensation for the injuries caused by negligent Hoosiers. A large portion of those injuries were caused by what we always refer to as drunk drivers. Maybe we should change our words. Although Mothers Against Drunk Driving has drunk driving in its name, they know that all drivers who are impaired and should not be driving are not drunk on alcohol. Many drivers are impaired because of the use of illegal street drugs, or the abuse of everyday household products. Take for instance a tragedy which has befallen a Southern Indiana family. Brandon E. Miller has been charged with causing the death of his step brother in a auto collision where Brandon was impaired on something other than alcohol. Apparently Brandon Miller was smoking pot, drinking large amounts of cough syrup, to get a high off the chemical in the syrup, and inhaling an aerosol propellants. One of these chemicals is bad enough, but all three at the same time definitely caused Mr. Miller to be impaired. Mr. Miller chose to drive in this impaired state and ran off the road into trees. The collision killed Mr. Miller’s step brother Ryan Vanhentenryck. Our sympathies go out to this family and we sincerely hope that Mr. Miller will turn his life around, to honor the loss of his brother.
We take this time to inform our readers that an arrest has been made in the hit and run collision we discussed recently. Geoffrey Collins, age 24 has been arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a serious injury accident. David Smith died of injuries sustained in the collision and Jason Pedigo is in serious condition at Methodist Hospital. Apparently Mr. Collins admits he was driving the car that killed Mr. Smith and seriously injured Mr. Pedigo. Thanks to the citizen who provided the police the tip that led to Mr. Collins. We also salute the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for their fine work in bringing this criminal to justice.
I was reading in the paper today about a hit and run collision which caused the wrongful death of one Hoosier and seriously injured another. Apparently David Smith and Jason Pedigo were hit by a ford traveling east on Morris Street. Mr. Smith was killed. There is some indication that that two men were walking in the travel lane of Morris Street at the time of the collision. However, this does not justify the driver of the Ford in leaving the scene of the collision. We may never know, but what if Mr. Smith could have survived if the driver of the Ford stopped and immediately called for medical help? This series of events started me thinking about what the average driver should know and do if there is a collision.
The first thing to do is to stop and stay at the scene of the accident. Sometimes it is a tricky call as to whether you should move the cars if you are able. If the damage is slight and there are no injuries, it may be helpful to move the cars out of traffic to help keep traffic moving and to protect the drivers and their passengers from another collision. You should assess whether you are hurt and if anyone else in the car is hurt. If there is any question have the injured person stay put. Sometimes adrenaline surges through the body after a collision, masking pain. Keep this in mind. If you have a cell phone call 911 and ask for a police officer and emergency aid. If you can walk and talk without endangering yourself, effort should be made to talk with the other driver. You will want to exchange insurance information and addresses and telephone numbers. You should always keep you insurance information in your glove compartment just in case of an accident. You may also want to call family to let them know what has happened. You may want to consider and ICE button on your phone. ICE stands for in case of an emergency and should be the number of the person(s) most likely to be able to assist you.
Being involved in a collision involves time and forethought. If you are prepared and keep your cool, you will reduce stress and make the process less scary.
Did you know that there are different statutes dealing with drunk driving? I want to address just a few. The first is the statute that we are likely to use against a first time offender. See 9-30-5-1. This statue makes it a crime to operate a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to at least eight-hundredths (0.08) gram of alcohol but less than fifteen-hundredths (0.15) gram of alcohol per: (1) one hundred (100) milliliters of the person’s blood; or (2) two hundred ten (210) liters of the person’s breath. A violation of this statute is a class c misdemeanor, i.e. punishable by among other things less than one year in jail. We think this is too lenient. It is no secret that drivers with this much alcohol in their blood are dangerous because they cause drunk driving accidents. In these drunk driving accidents, innocent Hoosiers suffer wrongful death and serious personal injury such as spinal cord injury, broken bones and brain injury. As the rate of drunk driving remains at a constant level, it is clear that this punishment is not effective at deterring drunk driving.
If a driver operates a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to at least fifteen-hundredths (0.15) gram of alcohol per (1) one hundred (100) milliliters of the person’s blood; or (2) two hundred ten (210) liters of the person’s breath; they commit a commits a Class A misdemeanor. Still the punishment is less than a year in jail.
While it is true that if the drunk driver causes serious bodily injury or death, the punishment is enhanced to a C felony, punishable up to 8 years in jail, rarely will the drunk driver spend any more than four of those years in jail. Four years can seem like a long time, but I have yet to know a family that is not shocked at the leniency the criminal justice system shows to one who chooses to drink and drive, knowing the potential consequences, when the drunk driving accident kills or seriously injures a loved one. If we are to deter this kind of behavior we must use a multifaceted approach including alcohol awareness for teens, parents talking to their kids about the dangers of alcohol, effective treatment and strong punishment to make people think twice before they get behind the wheel after drinking.
We take it for granted. It is the essential component of getting from there to here. Although we have developed ingenious devices to help us when we cannot walk, nothing really can replace it. If you think about it, walking is nothing more than a series of interrupted falls. We lean forward and before we fall on our face our leg moves forward to stop the fall. We continue to lean forward and are in danger of falling again but our leg moves forward again and we move off to our destination. Naturally, our ability to walk is essential to working. We must be able to leave our house, get to our source of transportation, get from our source of transportation to our place of work and then move around our place of employment to do our job. If we cannot walk, for any reason, including spinal cord injury resulting in paraplegia, or quadriplegia, significant arthritis, amputation, severe burns or broken bones that result in deformed legs, we probably cannot work. Of course there will always be those who cannot use their legs as they are intended to be used and can still work, but the Social Security Administration knows that the inability to walk is a huge impediment to our ability to work.
The Social Security Administration refers to the walking necessary to work as effective ambulation. According to the administration, in to ambulate effectively a person must be able to walk over level ground at a reasonable pace without the use of assistive devices. Assistive devices are two canes, crutches or a walker. Even though a person may be able to travel at a reasonable pace with these devices, in order to work, we must be able to carry items. If you find that you are not able to walk because of an injury, illness or disease, it is possible that you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits. Please, contact our office for a free consultation.