Brain Injury and Social Security Disability

Indianapolis Personal Injuey AttorneyIf you or a loved one has suffered a Brain injury, the law provides two potential remedies for the injury.  The first remedy depends on whether the injury was the result of a negligent act of another person.  Examples of negligent actions which might cause a brain injury a auto mobile collisions, motor cycle crashes, drunk driving accidents, semi tractor-trailer collisions, slips and falls, and many more.  We have been representing Hoosiers coping with brain injury for more than 25 years.  John Young is an Emeritus member of the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of Indiana.  He served as chair of the board of Directors for two years, saving the organization from collapse after fiscal problems became intense.  Mr. Young has a family member who has been living with Brain Injury for 30 years.  He has represented many, many Hoosiers coping with Brain Injury to recover the money necessary to put their lives back in order and deal with the long terms effects of brain injury.

The second legal remedy for Hoosiers dealing with brain injury is Social Security Disability.  Every brain injury has different impacts on the person dealing with the injury.  Some folks are fortunate enough to either return to their former job.  Some folks, although unable to return to their former jobs are fortunate enough to return to another full time employment.  There are, unfortunately, those Hoosiers that , try as they might, cannot get back to any type of gainful employment.  For these folks Social Security Disability is a viable option. As you know, the brain is the central feature of the central nervous system.  Thus, if we represent a person coping with brain injury before the Social Security Administration, we turn first to the listing of Impairment dealing with neurological impairments.  The neurological impairment listing, found in 20 CFR Pt 404, Subpart P. App.1 has a specific listing for brain injury.  The Social Security Administration refers to the listing as Sec 11.18 Cerebral trauma.  The listing deals with the impact of the brain injury on the persons overall ability to function, including a review of the ability to perform the activities of daily living, social function, maintaining persistence, concentration and pace, and Episodes of decompensation. As part of our efforts to serve those coping with brain injury, we have studied these rules and regulations carefully and have had great success in using them to help our clients receive the benefits they deserve.

What is reasonable care in a car crash?

Indianapolis Auto Accident AttorneysYou and your family are in an automobile collision.  You suffer serious personal injury.  Your wife has broken bones, your child might have a spinal cord injury, you might not be able to get back to work.  You go to see your lawyer because you believe the other driver was at fault and caused the harm to your family.  You tell your lawyer that the other car was waiting to turn left into a parking lot, the car began to turn and you could do nothing to prevent the collision.  .  Your lawyer tells you have a good case and because he/she is a good lawyer that lawyer takes immediate steps to get statements from all the witnesses, gets a copy of the police report, puts the other driver’s insurance company on notice of your claim.  Your job, at that point is to let the lawyer worry about the case, and focus on recuperating from your injuries.  However one thing is bothering you.  Your lawyer said that the other driver failed to use “reasonable care” in the operation of their car and caused the collision.  Now what the heck does that mean?

Lawyers sometimes speak in a foreign language.  Reasonable care is generally a simple concept.  In terms of driving, it generally means to follow the rules of the road.  The rules of the road are those rules you learned in drivers education.  In the above circumstance it means that the other driver has the obligation to yield the right of way to approaching cars, letting them pass before turning.  Said another way, if the approaching car is so close as to present an immediate danger if the turning car turns, then the turning car must wait to turn. So why didn’t the lawyer just say that?  Well, lawyers are taught that the words “reasonable care “ are important words, and when we talk among ourselves, it is easy to throw that term around because we are used to it, and know what it means.  I think lawyers need to do a better job using ordinary language to describe what we mean instead of using terms that are difficult for the general public to understand.  The courts also believe this too and are trying to create jury instructions that use plain language, so jurors can do a better job at getting to the truth.

Ask your lawyer, whenever they use terms you do not understand, to tell you what they mean.  That will allow you to fully understand what is happening and it will cause your lawyer to slow down and think about what they are saying and how to say it more clearly.

Holidays Give the Gift of Life Do Not Drink and Drive

Indianapolis Auto Accident AttorneysThe holidays are upon us.  We spend time with friends and family giving thanks for the love of our families and friends and for the bounty we enjoy.  Part of the festivities will probably include alcohol.  We want to take this time to remind you to give the gift of life, Don’t Drink and DriveDrunk driving accidents lead to serious personal injury and wrongful death that ruin families.  The greatest gift you can give another person is to put away the keys and make the choice to avoid drunk driving.  Call a cab, sleep where you are, walk, ask a friend to take you home.  This gift will spare innocent drivers from broken bones, paralysis, spinal cord injuries, brain injury and wrongful death.  This gift will allow other drivers to get home safe to their children and spouses.  This gift will allow you to get home to your spouse, children and or parents.  This gift will keep on giving as it will allow you to walk with your head up, knowing that you did the right thing, and without the guilt associated with causing another human being the suffering caused by serious personal injury.  This gift will keep on  giving because you will not have to answer that question about a felony on the job application in the affirmative and then have to explain how a very bad decision changed the lives of so many fellow Hoosiers.  This gift will keep on giving because your children, and people who look up to you will follow your example and save themselves from the horror caused by drunk driving.  This gift may keep on giving by allowing another to live who might find the cure for cancer who might save one of your loved ones.

There are so many reasons to give the keys way if you have been drinking.  Find the one you can get behind and give those keys away.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

SSDI and SSI Disability Programs

There are 2 different types of disability programs for those who are disabled SSDI and SSI

SSDI has two requirements.  1. You are disabled for at least 12 months or more. 2.  That prior to your disability you worked and paid into the FICA tax system or the self employment tax system.  Think of this contribution as the premium for the disability insurance.  In order to qualify the applicant must have worked 20 out of the last 40 quarters prior to disability.  A quarter is a quarter of the year.  The applicant does not have to work each day of the quarter, but the employment must be substantial. If you are concerned about the number of credits you have, you can obtain a copy o your work history from the Social Security Administration.  I also suggest that you put pencil to paper and record your dates of employment for the last 15 years. You may not have perfect recollection, but do your best.  When you have this complete, I can look at it and help assess whether you really do or do not have enough work credits to qualify.

SSI is for people who have not worked and contributed to the FICA tax system.  SSI has a number of restrictions and exemptions not attached to SSDI.  It also pays less.  If you are married and your spouse is earning more than say $35K a year, you probably will be disqualified for SSI.

If you are 58 and a widow (or widower), you can draw off your spouse’s earnings history.  If you were married for more than 10 years, are divorced and are 62 or older, you may get benefits based on the ex spouse’s earnings history.  Given all these  options, I encourage you to contact me to talk over the issues.

Car Crashes in the Country

Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyers

There are a lot of differences between living in the country and living in the city.  For one, traffic is generally less congested in the country.  This fact alone does not relieve drivers in the country from using due care in the use of their car.  There are just different dangers in the country.  When a car is driving down the road and approaches an intersection, and the corn is high, and there is no stop sign, be careful, the sign might not yet have been placed by the county for either direction of traveler.  As no one approaching the can see anything of the intersecting road until  they are at the intersection, any driver should slow as they approach the intersection to make sure the other direction of travel is clear. Automobile collisions at blind intersections can be violent causing serious personal injury and even wrongful death.

At this time of year, the harvest is being completed.  This necessarily means that farmers, and their employees will be using the country roads to move their oversized equipment from field to field.  These slow moving vehicles generally take up more than just one lane of the road  and are moving slowly.  The farmer operating this equipment have the same obligation to follow the rules of the road as all other vehicular traffic.  The farm equipment must stop at stop signs, yield the right of way and keep a proper look out.  These vehicles are also required to display the slow moving symbols on their vehicles.  A failure to honor these rules of the road can, unfortunately result in serious injury and wrongful death.  In West Point, Indiana, yesterday, a combine being operated on a country road in order to move from one field to another apparently failed to stop at a stop sign and yield the right of way to a minivan transporting a family.  The collision caused the deaths of all three passenger of the van.  Our prayers go out to the family members of the lost family. This is an unfortunate example of how not following the rules of the road.  We implore all operators of equipment on the road to follow the rules of the road for your  own safety and for the safety of all other Hoosiers using those same roads.


Serious Personal Injury Caused by Entering Traffic Blind

Indianapolis Auto Accident AttorneysWe have all seen it.  Traffic is backed up.  A driver wants to turn left into a drive or parking lot. The stopped traffic leaves a space for the turner to turn.  The turner takes this as an indication that traffic in the lane to the right  to the stopped traffic is clear.  Without looking, honking, flashing its lights or slowly moving forward, the turner drives into the lane next to the stopped traffic and hits a car properly in that lane causing serious personal injury to the driver who was properly in that lane and who had the right of way.

Avoiding this common collision is so simple, if you are the turner and you cannot see do not proceed.  It is just like coming to an intersection, closing your eyes and making the turn.   It just is not done.  Reasonably careful drivers see before they proceed.  because it is just as likely as not that there is a car in that lane and if there is a car in that lane, that car has the right of way.  The turner must yield to the traffic in that lane.  Only after that lane is clear may the turner proceed.  If the turner cannot see they must not proceed.  This simple rule serves to keep all users of the road safe from car crashes and the resulting serious personal injury and or wrongful death.  This rule is true even if the driver in the stopped lane waives you out.  This “waive out” cannot be relied upon.  That driver has limited vision, and may simply be indicating that they will wait for the turner,  not being meant as a guarantee that the adjacent lane is clear.  The turner must assure themselves that the other lane is clear before they enter the lane.

If you cannot see do not proceed.

Federal and State Law regarding Trucking

Indiana truck accident attorneysIn many instances, Federal law trumps state law in the regulation of commerce.  For example, if a medical device, such as a prosthetic hip, is approved by a governmental agency for sale under federal law, state law is said to be preempted by the Federal Law.  That is to say that state law cannot impose greater regulation on the manufacture of the product than is required by Federal Law.  This is not true as it pertains to the regulation of trucking on our highways.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCFR) specifically addresses this issue. Under the FMCFR section 390.9  Except as otherwise specifically indicated, subchapter B of this chapter is not intended to preclude States or subdivisions thereof from establishing or enforcing State or local laws relating to safety, the compliance with which would not prevent full compliance with these regulations by the person subject thereto.  The key word in the sentence is safety.  Semi Tractor-Trailers are essential to keeping this country, and our economy humming.  We could not function without them.  However, we could not use our roads safely if semi tractor-trailer accidents were the rule rather than the exception.  These safety regulations keep Hoosier families safer by eliminating poor maintenance which can lead to serious personal injury and wrongful death.  Issues such as speed control, lane control, amount of time a driver can operate and drunk driving are all part of what the safety rules are designed to control in order to make our roads safe.

If you, or a loved one has been seriously injured in a semi tractor-trailer collision and you need help, we understand the rules of the road, and have the experience to ensure that whoever caused the harm to you and your family makes up for that harm.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Designed to Prevent Semi Tractor-Trailer Accidents

We applaud and support the Motor Carrier Industry.  Without responsible owners and operators our economy could not function.  Billions and Billions of dollars worth of goods and supplies are transported back and forth across our great country every day.  The industry supplies us with the food we eat, the materials supporting our homes and the tools of business and commerce.  In order to achieve this wondrous feat, semi tractor-trailers, big rigs, large trucks and small trucks must share the road with passenger cars carrying families and individuals whose missions are essential to the well being and industry of society.   In order to accomplish both missions safely, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration imposes certain obligations on Motor Carriers.  Of the various rules applicable, we are here to talk about the inspection, repair and maintenance of the semi tractor-trailers on the road.  A poorly maintained big rig is a serious danger which likely will cause trucking collisions. Big truck accidents pose danger to the driver of the truck, but also pose significant risk to the small cars on the road resulting in serious injury including paralysis, brain injury, broken bones, and even wrongful death.  In order to help avoid semi tractor-trailer collisions, motor carriers are required to comply with the Inspection Repair and Maintenance regulations.

I set out the  applicable provision below for your ease of reference. As you can see, safety is the primary motivation behind the regulations.  Strict record keeping is also required to ensure compliance with these regulations.

Inspection, repair, and maintenance

§ 396.3Inspection, repair, and maintenance. (a) General. Every motor carrier and intermodal equipment provider must systematically inspect, repair, and maintain, or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained, all motor vehicles and intermodal equipment subject to its control. (1) Parts and accessories shall be in safe and proper operating condition at all times. These include those specified in part 393 of this subchapter and any additional parts and accessories which may affect safety of operation, including but not limited to, frame and frame assemblies, suspension systems, axles and attaching parts, wheels and rims, and steering systems.(2) Pushout windows, emergency doors, and emergency door marking lights in buses shall be inspected at least every 90 days. (b) Required records. Motor carriers, except for a private motor carrier of passengers (nonbusiness), must maintain, or cause to be maintained, records for each motor vehicle they control for 30 consecutive days. Intermodal equipment providers must maintain or cause to be maintained, records for each unit of intermodal equipment they tender or intend to tender to a motor carrier. These records must include: (1) An identification of the vehicle including company number, if so marked, make, serial number, year, and tire size. In addition, if the motor vehicle is not owned by the motor carrier, the record shall identify the name of the person furnishing the vehicle;(2) A means to indicate the nature and due date of the various inspection and maintenance operations to be performed;(3) A record of inspection, repairs, and maintenance indicating their date and nature; and (4) A record of tests conducted on pushout windows, emergency doors, and emergency door marking lights on buses.

Code of Federal Regulations493

(c) Record retention. The records required by this section shall be retained where the vehicle is either housed or maintained for a period of 1 year and for 6 months after the motor vehicle leaves the motor carrier’s control.

We read, study and use these regulations in each and every case we handle for Hoosiers seriously injured in big truck accidents. Let us put our experience (58 years) to work for you.

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