Indiana Serious Injury Lawyer Discusses Sam Mack

I knew Sam Mack as a child, then lost touch with him as he grew into an adult.  Sam struck me as a child with immense potential, once he grew out of the awkward stages of life.  He was smart and energetic and entertaining.  So, I guess, Sam Mack was a lot like any child.  I read today, with despair, that Sam has made a fatal mistake.  He got behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated and caused a drunk driving accident that led to the wrongful death of his passenger, 18 year old Daryn Barnett.  Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the family of Miss Barnett.  We hope that the memories of your daughter, sister, or grandchild will help you through these awful times.  Know that you do not have to go through this alone.  There are support groups and counseling that has helped other families deal with the grief you are now enduring.

Sam, it is apparent that you have a disease.  That disease is alcoholism.  This is your second arrest for drunk driving, and you are only 21 years old.  Alcohol has severely affected not only your life, and the lives of Daryn Barnett and her family, but it has also affected your families lives.  For your family, I hope they seek out the counsel of AL-ANON Family Support.  You can find them at www.al-anon.alateen.org. These folks know what you are going through and talking it out, and hearing the experiences of others can help. 

As for you, Sam, you now have to live with knowing that your disease has taken the life of your friend.  If you do not do something about it, it will take your life too.  Certainly it has irrevocably changed your life, but you are still alive.  You still have a chance to make up for what has happened.  Admit your disease.  Take steps to obtain help.  Work to improve your life.  It would be fitting to dedicate your recovery, and a fruitful life of service, to your friend Daryn, so that her loss was not in vain.   Sam, your mistake does not have to crush your life and spirit. Do not allow that to happen, if for no other reason, then for Daryn’s sake.

Indiana Serious Injury Attorney Provides Medical Malpractice Information

There are many , many wonderful, competent and caring doctors in Indiana, and we are lucky to have them to care for us.   However, we all know that there are some doctors who may not be up to the task.  One way to check on your doctor is to go to the Indiana Department of Insurance databank on claims against doctor.  The site can be found at: http://www.indianapcf.com/public/index.aspx.  When you reach the site, select “Search for Providers”.  This will take you to a screen that will contain a list of options.  You want to select “individual”.  This will produce a screen that allows you to type in the doctors name.  I recommend typing in only the first name and then hitting search.  This may give you many doctors with the last name, but if you have the first name or the address or the specialty of the doctor, you should be able to find the doctor.  Once you have the right doctor, hit the “select” button to the left of the name and you will be allowed to search for claims made against the doctor.

The claims page will present all the claims that have been made against the doctor.  Do not stop here.  Some of these claims were dismissed, some were found not to be malpractice, but some are found to be malpractice. Some of the more important information on these pages is the “panel Opinion”  which is the decision of the three panel of doctors who reviewed the case.  Also look to see if there was a payment or a settlement, as that is an indication that malpractice took place.

As an example, a Dr. Svabek has 17 claims made against him.  A review of all these claims show that some were dismissed, some were found to be malpractice and some are pending. Good luck in your research.  If you need any help give us a call.

Social Security and the Difference Between Title II Disability and Title XVI SSI

As a Social Security Disability Attorney, representing Social Security Disability claimants from all over the State of Indiana from our Indianapolis offices, I am often asked why a Hoosier is not entitled to Social Security if they have not worked enough in the past ten years. This statement is always  true but sometimes it may not be true.  The key to this mystery is that there are two different types of Social Security for people who are disabled.   The first type of Social Security is Title II Disability, sometimes referred to as SSDI.  I do not like to refer to it as SSI because it can too easily be confused with SSI, which we will discuss in just a moment.  The rules and regulations governing Title II Disability can be found in 20 CFR Part 404.  CFR stands for Code of Federal Regulations.  As part of this set of regulations, there can be found the requirement, that to be eligible for Title II Disability, the claimant must be have a disability that prevents them from working and is expected to last at least 12 months, AND the claimant must have worked for 20 out of the last 40 quarters.  See 20 CFR Part 404.140 through 20 CFR Part 404.146.  A quarter is one quarter of a year, so essentially you must have worked 5 out of the ten years immediately prior to the start of your disability to be eligible for Title II Disability.

Social Security Attorney IndianapolisThe other type of disability, for those who are disabled, whose disability is expected to last more than a year AND have not worked 20 out of the last 40 quarters, is Title XVI Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  The rules and regulations governing Title XVI SSI are found at 20 CFR Part 416.  There are two essential differences between Title II and Tile XV!.  The first is that the benefits payable under Title II Disability are based on your earnings history and are generally higher than those for Title XVI.  The second is that there are quite a few restrictions and exclusions attached to Tile XVI SSI which are not attached to Title II Disability.  A few examples of these differences include:  If you are married, and your spouse is earning a substantial wage, your benefits for SSI are likely to be reduced to nothing, where as your spouse’s income is not counted at all against your Title II Disability payment.  Another example is that if you are receiving SSI and someone pays your rent and for your food, those payments will reduce the amount of SSI payment you receive.  However, with Title II Disability benefits will not decrease if someone else is paying your rent and food bills    

Tip of the Day: If in doubt, when filing for benefits, file for both Title II Disability and Title XVI Supplemental Security Income.  There is no penalty for doing so, and this will insure you receive the maximum benefits to which you are entitled.

Indianapolis Serious Injury Attorney Discusses Hospital Liens

As we all know a serious car accident, a drunk driving accident, a construction accident can lead to very serious personal injuries.  As Indiana’s Serious Personal Injury Law Firm, representing Hoosier all over the State from our Indianapolis Offices, we have seen those injuries, including broken bones, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, amputation and paralysis.  These injuries lead to lengthy and costly hospital bills. If the injured person does not have health insurance, or if the person depends on Medicare, the hospital has the right to file what is called a Hospital lien.   This lien was authorized by the Indiana legislature, and can be found at the following Indiana Code citation: I.C. 32-33-4-1.  This lien gives the hospital the right to collect all the money for the charges made from the injured persons personal injury claim.  Now, you say, what is wrong with that?  Well, in principal, there is nothing wrong with that, but the reality is much different. 

When a person has private health insurance, the hospital submits the bills to the insurer, which then “writes down” the bill to the “Reasonable” charges for these medical services.  For those of you lucky enough to have private health insurance you have  seen this.  The hospital bill is say, $20,000.00.  The insurance company determines that the reasonable bill is $11,000.00 and the $9,000.00 is written off by the hospital.  Remember what I’m saying, the reasonable bill is only $11,000.00.  Therefore when the hospital writes off the other $9,000.00 they are agreeing the $9,000.00 is not reasonable. Now take the person without insurance, or the person with Medicare.  They are billed, by the hospital, $20,000.00.  There is no write down by an insurance company.  This person is obligated to pay the full $20,000.00 even though if they had private pay insurance, the hospital would have admitted that $9,000.00 of the bill is not reasonable.  That is not fair!!

In addition, when the money is collected through the injury claim, the private pay insurer has to share attorneys fees with the injured person.  Thus out of the $11,000.00 the injured party recovered from their suit, they have to pay the insurer 2/3rds of that amount because the injured party had to pay the attorney and it is only fair that the insurer has to pay also.  The hospital does not have to share the attorneys fees, they get all their money even though a large percentage of the money is  not a reasonable charge.

We say, change I.C. 32-33-4-1 to require that the injured person only has to pay the reasonable amount of charges, and that the hospital must pay their fair share of attorneys fees.

Indiana Serious Personal Injury Lawyer Discusses Personal Responsibility

personal responsibilityWe think that we were all taught as children, by our mothers, is a universal truth.  If you make a mess (or cause a harm, or hurt someone, or break a window, and wreck another’s car etc.) you are responsible to admit what you have done and take responsibility to make it right.  This is PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. I do not know if this is the personal responsibility that all the tort reformer are talking about.  I don’t think it is.  I don’t think it is because the tort reformer’s focus is on making sure the person who is harmed has his rights taken away.  Why do I say this?  Well let’s discuss an example.  In the Indiana Legislature, more and more bills have been introduced over the years to give people who cause others injury immunity for the harm they cause.  What is immunity you ask?  Immunity is a thumb in the eye to your mother’s advice.  Immunity allows a person (or corporation) to cause harm to others and not be responsible for the harm they cause. Last year there were at least thirty bills that sought immunity for various business enterprises.  One such immunity that is now law is for the owners of horse operations.  If you take your child to ride a horse, and the owner puts the saddle on wrong so your child falls, or puts your inexperienced child on a horse that is known to buck off every rider ever placed upon him, and your child falls and breaks a bone, or suffers a brain injury, or is paralyzed, or suffers a wrongful death, your child cannot ask the owner to make up for the harm they caused.  If you ask such a silly question, the horse owner, their insurance company and the insurance company lawyers will first snort, then thumb their nose at you , and if you persist they will threaten you, and you can’t do a thing about it.  You just have to take it.

Of course when someone is allowed to thumb their nose at their own personal responsibility a couple things happen.  First, the incentive to make property, products and other activities safe is reduced.  After all we all know that if there are no consequences, there is little incentive.  Second, the injured child will have to seek Medicare and disability.  So the Taxpayer is now the person responsible for cleaning up the mess.  The mess does not go away, we all now have to make up for what the person who caused the harm refuses to take care of.

We say, NO IMMUNITY!!!   If you cause a harm, be a human being, admit what you have done and be responsible for making it right.  We stand for what our mother knew was right.  We do not need greedy business’s, with political agendas, interfering with the truth.

Serious Personal Injury Lawyer Touts Reduction in Drunk Driving Accidents

Indianapolis Personal Injury AttorenysDrunk driving accidents are a scourge on the Hoosier state and the CountrySerious personal injury, including but not limited to, broken bones, paralysis, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries and wrongful death are what we reap when drunks drive.  Hoosier families are ripped apart on both sides of the steering wheel.  One family either loses a loved one or has to watch as their loved one struggles to pay bills, earn a living and support their children.  On the other side of the steering wheel, a Hoosier family has to watch their loved one go to jail, and struggle to make ends meet while the bread winner is in jail.  It is a no win situation.  It starts with a person’s lack of empathy (the ability to feel and understand the situation of other people), and leads to making decisions that cause death and destruction.

Well, we finally have good news to report.  We are making headway in the fight against drunk driving.  A new federal report (from the Centers for Disease Control) indicates that drunk driving accidents have decreased 30 percent over the last five years.  To put this in perspective, out of every 100 Hoosiers, 30 fewer people suffered serious personal injury or wrongful death in the last five years than was the case in the five years preceding.  This means there are 30 people who are still working, earning a living, caring for their families and being productive members of society.  While this is a great thing, it is still not enough.  For those thirty people who escaped injury, there are 70 who needlessly fell victim to the reckless indifference of a few Hoosiers who do not care enough about themselves and others to avoid driving while drunk.  

Please, designate a driver, call a cab, walk, call a friend.  Do anything, but do not get behind the wheel of that car after you have been drinking.

The Truth About Underinsured Motorist Coverage

If you suffer a serious personal injury, such as a broken neck with paralysis, brain injury, or even a wrongful death in a car accident, drunk driving accident or even a truck accident, there is a good chance that the person who caused your injuries does not have enough insurance to fully and fairly compensate you for all of your injuries.  Serious personal injury can lead to huge medical bills, lost wages and possibly the inability to work in the future.  If you suffer a wrongful death, who will take care of our family.  One way to protect yourself is to buy “Underinsured Motorist Coverage”  when you buy your car insurance.  This type of insurance pays you when another person causes you injury but does not have enough insurance to fairly compensate you for the injuries they cause you. I recommend that you buy as much of this insurance as you can afford.  Your family’s financial well being is worth it.

So let’s say you buy $100,000.00 dollars worth of Underinsured Motorist Coverage.  You suffer a serious personal injury as the result of a drunk drivers negligence.  Your medical bills total more than $75,000.00 and your lost wages total more than $25,000.00.  The drunk driver has the minimum limits of insurance, $25,000.00 dollars.  So you think, I am okay, I have $100,000.00 dollars of insurance and the other guy has $25,000.00 so I will recover $125,000.00 which should get me close, but not quite, to full and fair compensation.  Right?  Wrong!!!!  Indiana, our courts have allowed the insurance companies to put anti stacking language in every policy.  The anti-stacking language says that your insurance company gets a credit for the amount of coverage the drunk driver has.  So in this case, because the drunk driver has $25,000.00 in coverage, your insurance carrier gets a credit for that and only has to pay you $75,000.00 for a total recovery of only $100,000.00 which leaves you with a lot less than full and fair compensation.  You might even have to file bankruptcy or sell your home to pay your bills, while the drunk driver and your insurance companies have no other responsibilities.

The only way to protect you and your family is to buy more underinsured motorist coverage, because the insurance companies won’t sell it to your without the anti stacking language.  For years, I have been involved with trying to get the legislature to protect Hoosiers by changing this law but the insurance lobby is too powerful and no changes have been made.  Just thought you should know.

Indiana Serious Injury Lawyer And The Truth About Caps

If you ever serve as a juror in Indiana and the case is a medical malpractice case, there is a cap on the wrong doers liability. Take, for instance, a  case involving a baby who suffers brain damage during birth, because of the negligence of the health care provider, and the cost of the medical care alone for the rest of the baby’s life totals 10 million dollars.  You and you fellow jurors return a verdict of 10 million dollars, knowing that this is just and fair compensation for the child.  You leave the Court house, not happy about what happened, but at least you know that the child will at least have proper medical care and that the health care provider’s medical malpractice insurance will be responsible for paying that fair amount to the child, right?  Wrong!!!  Indiana, medical malpractice recoveries are capped at $1,250,000.00 dollars.  So you ask, what happens after the $1,250,000.00 is paid?  More likely than not, the child will be forced to go on social security disability and the bills that exceed the $1,250,000.00 will be paid by the tax payer.  That’s right.  In this instance, the cap that protects the doctor’s medical malpractice insurance carrier, causes the rest of us to pay for his mistake.  I ask you, is that fair?

If you suffer serious personal injury in a car accident with a government employee, and you suffer paralysis that prevents you from working, you should not have to worry, as the government’s insurance company will be required to pay you fair compensation for your injuries right?  Wrong!!!  Government liability in Indiana is capped at $700,000.00 dollars.  So if your life time bills exceed that amount, you will be forced to go on social security and Medicare and the taxpayer is forced to pay for you medical bills.  As to recovering your lost wages, sorry, the Government is not responsible for that.

So you see, what your mother taught you does not apply to very select groups within our society.  The legislature has decided it knows better.  The legislature has decided that your mother was wrong when she taught you that if you cause harm to another you are fully responsible for making up for that harm.  The legislature has decided that personal responsibility applies to some but not all of us. I say this is not right.  I say that caps should be eliminated for everyone.  Everyone is responsible to fully make up for the harm they cause.  At the very least, Jurors should be told the truth about these caps at the time of trial.  At this time the jurors are told nothing about these caps.  As my father taught me, a half truth is a whole lie.

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

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