Conventioneer Killed in Indianapolis By Suspected Drunk Driver

A pedestrian who happened to be attending a horror film convention was tragically killed in Indianapolis on Thursday morning. According to police, the victim, a California filmmaker and actor, was run over after an eastbound car swerved out of the traffic lane and struck him in the 7700 block of East 21st Street about 10:30 a.m. The victim died at the scene.

Police arrested the motorist on preliminary charges of DUI causing death and transported him to Wishard Memorial Hospital for a blood test. The test results are  pending, according to local news media. The victim was in Indianapolis for the HorrorHound Weekend convention at the Indianapolis Marriott East.

It is well documented that alcohol slows reaction times, impairs judgment, and leads to accidents, sometimes with fatal consequences. In addition to facing criminal charges, drunk drivers who injure or kill other motorists or passengers–or in this case, allegedly someone merely walking down the street– can also be sued in civil court for money damages. If you or a loved one have been seriously hurt by a driver under the influence, please contact the personal injury lawyers at Young and Young in Indianapolis to obtain full information about your legal rights. Young and Young will keep tabs on the criminal prosecution of drunk drivers, including convictions or plea deals, which forms crucial evidence to help you recover fair compensation for your injuries in civil court.

Reckless, Impaired Driving Create Highway Accident Headlines

In the news: Prosecutors have charged a Hammond, Indiana man with reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident involving death in a March 16 accident that claim the life of a construction worker.  Police say the man took off from the scene of the crash after he allegedly hit and killed a worker who was filling potholes in a construction zone on I-80/94 in the Lake County area. He was arrested the next day after calling his girlfriend on a pay phone. The motorist apparently admitted to police that he had been drinking before the early morning accident although no additional charges have been filed as yet.

Separately, a Lanesville, Indiana, woman recently entered a not guilty plea in a host of charges flowing from a wrong-way, multi-vehicle crash on I-65 in Louisville, Kentucky, back in January. According to toxicology reports, the motorist apparently registered four times the legal blood alcohol limit, and has been charged with charged with DUI, criminal mischief, operating on a suspended license, no insurance, assault, wanton endangerment and careless driving.

In highly dangerous, often tragic incidents of this nature, the legal process operates on a parallel track. Prosecutors bring criminal charges against the offender, while the victim or the victim’s family can hire a private attorney to seek money damages from the offender in civil court. A criminal conviction provides powerful evidence of the offender’s civil liability.

If you or a family member have been injured in a car accident owing to the negligence or recklessness of another driver, or by a driver that operated a vehicle while impaired, it is important to retain legal counsel with the experience and skills needed to obtain full compensation for your injuries. At Young and Young, we have represented thousands of Hoosiers with serious auto accident injuries. We have more than 55 years of experience waiting to help.

Indiana Governor Signs Drew’s Law Expanding Drunk Driver Sanctions

Following up a previous post, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed into law the bill known as “Drew’s Law.” The measure was among 57 bills that the governor approved on March 12.

The law makes it a Class D felony to cause the death of an unborn child in a drunk driving accident. The bill is named in the memory of  Drew Steinberger, the unborn son of Danielle and Dustin Steinberger,  who was tragically killed on New Year’s Eve 2007 when the car his mother was driving was hit head-on by another driver.

The motorist of the other vehicle in this particular case was apparently believed to be drunk. Owing to a mix-up, however, authorities never took a blood sample, so there was no DUI prosecution.

The bill previously sailed through the Indiana Senate and House with no opposition. State Senator Allen Paul, R-Richmond, originally sponsored the bill at the request of the Steinberger family. A similar law is in effect in 36 other states.

Drew’s Law becomes effective in Indiana on July 1, 2010.

In addition to facing criminal charges, drunk drivers who injure other motorists or passengers can also be sued in civil court for money damages. If you or a loved one have been seriously hurt by a driver under the influence, please contact the personal injury lawyers at Young and Young in Indianapolis. We stand ready to assist. As we mentioned in another blog entry, we keep tabs on criminal prosecutions of drunk drivers,  including convictions or plea deals, which forms crucial evidence to help you recover fair compensation for your injuries in civil court.

High-Tech Billboards–A Roadway Safety Risk?

Some highway safety advocates claim that digital highway billboards constitute “weapons of mass distraction” as potentially dangerous as cell conversations or mobile texting.

According to a recent article published in The New York Times, “These high-tech billboards marry the glow of Times Square with the immediacy of the Internet. Images change every six to eight seconds, so advertisers can flash timely messages — like the latest headlines, coffee deals at dawn, a cheeseburger at lunchtime or even the song playing on a radio station at that moment. The billboard industry asserts there is no research indicating they cause crashes, and notes that the signs do not use video or animation.”

Last year’s Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study on mobile texting focused the nation’s attention on distracted driving. Yet the Times notes that an earlier Virginia Tech study, in 2007, apparently found that digital billboards and ordinary billboards had about the same effect on motorist behavior. The lead researcher in the study now says, however, that further investigation is necessary to reach a more definitive conclusion. In the meantime, lawmakers in Michigan and Minnesota are considering temporary bans on new digital billboards.

If you have been injured by distracted motorist regardless of the cause of the distraction, please call Young and Young in Indianapolis for a free
consultation. We have 55 years of experience to help you and your family obtain full compensation for injuries caused by distracted drivers on
Indiana roads.

More Legal Woes For Toyota

The well-publicized runaway Prius in San Diego on Monday afternoon was more bad news for Toyota. As we discussed in a prior posting, if you drive a Toyota vehicle, please go to either Toyota’s website or the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to see if your particular model is the subject of a recall and if it is, what you need to do to protect yourself and your family.

Apart from the wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits that may arise, Toyota must also deal with the potential of a separate, huge legal liability. According to AP, “Toyota owners claiming that massive safety recalls are causing the value of their vehicles to plummet have filed at least 89 class-action lawsuits that could cost the Japanese auto giant $3 billion or more.”

In general, a class-action is a legal process in which a large group of people file their claim collectively in one (or more) cases. Often, class-action complaints are consolidated in a single court jurisdiction for judicial efficiency, and a panel of federal judges is considering such a move for the Toyota cases. AP explains that “After that, a judge will decide whether all claims filed by Toyota owners nationwide can be combined in a single legal action — known as ‘certifying a class’ — and whether the claims have enough merit to move toward either trial or settlement.”

Again, those cases involve disgruntled owners suing for economic damages based on the theory of lost value. The personal injury aspect is a separate matter. If you have been in a collision with your Toyota, and were injured, and the car rapidly accelerated or the braking system failed, give Young and Young in Indianapolis a call. Our firm can help you and your family work through all the issues you are now facing.

State Police Ramp Up Roadway Safety Enforcement Operations

A recent posting at South Bend’s indicates that the Indiana State Police will be increasing their enforcement activities in areas around the state that have been deemed dangerous. Its part of a state-wide crash reduction effort that police say has been very effective in reducing traffic fatalities.

In addition to speed limit enforcement, troopers will target violations such as failure  to yield, and running red lights or stop signs at known dangerous intersections.

The last thing any Hoosier wants is jacked up insurance premiums because of traffic tickets. And most motorists probably have experienced that sinking feeling when suddenly coming upon a speed trap.  But it’s important to consider the big picture of traffic safety when you’re out and about on the roads. As ISP Sgt.  Jim Strong says in the posted article, “Every fatal crash we reduce, we’re saving someone’s life.”

On the other hand, if you’ve been injured in a car accident owing to the negligence of another driver, it is important to retain legal counsel with the experience and skills needed to obtain full compensation for your injuries. At Young and Young, we have represented thousands of Hoosiers with serious auto accident injuries. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident, we have more than 55 years of experience waiting to help.

IU Study: Anti-Drinking Ads Can Backfire

As John Young explained in the blog posting below, alcohol slows reaction times, impairs judgment, and leads to car wrecks with severe injuries. Alcohol abuse is a particularly serious problem among teenage and young adult motorists. But a study from Indiana University suggests that so-called responsible drinking ads produced by public health agencies and marketing firms that target college students can actually have the reverse effect.

According to study co-author Adam Duhachek, an IU marketing professor, “The conventional wisdom from people who design these ads is, ‘If we scare people enough it’s always going to be a good thing.’ We demonstrate circumstances where they [not only] aren’t effective, but they cause a backlash where people actually drink more than if they hadn’t been exposed to the ads.”  Apparently the study findings suggest that the commercials create a defensive mindset that enables viewers to distance themselves from the serious consequences of binge drinking–that it only happens to other people. According to Prof. Duhachek, “If you’re going to communicate a frightening scenario, temper it with the idea that it’s avoidable. It’s best to use the carrot along with the stick.”  The Journal of Marketing Research plans to publish the full study.

A provocative academic study is an interesting conversation starter. It may even lead to important improvements in how media messages about risky behaviors are crafted. However, in the real world right now, drunk drivers of all ages cause all kinds of havoc on Indiana’s roads, including fatal accidents. At Young and Young in Indianapolis, we are a family firm with a legal presence in Indiana for more than 100 consecutive years, and focused solely on injury accidents for the last 55. If you have been injured in a highway accident caused by a drunk driver, we stand ready to help.

Avoid Food Poisoning

We are what we eat.  Unfortunately if we get food that is harmful due to bacteria, toxins, parasites, viruses or chemical contaminants then we feel the effects.  Often the effects can be quite serious as has been seen recently in the outbreaks of E.coli from undercooked ground beef and contaminated leafy green vegetable scare.

Consumers can reduce their risks by taking the following steps:

1. Place raw poultry in plastic bags so meat juices cannot cross contaminate other foods;

2. Do not buy foods past “sell-by” or expiration dates;

3. Cook ground beef and other meats completely and request restaurants to do the same;

4. Wash produce thoroughly;

5. Shop at farmers markets whenever possible; and

6. Drive directly home with groceries or place perishables  in a cooler with ice.

Remember – a little caution can prevent a lot of harm down the road.

Economic Doldrums Have Little Influence on Brain Injury Compensation

An interesting story posted at suggests that there is no let up in money damages awarded for catastrophic personal injuries such as brain trauma despite a precarious economy.

Even a so-called mild head trauma can have far-reaching consequences for the injured person and that person’s family. The article notes that a severe concussion can–among many symptoms–affect the victim’s personality,
judgment, and concentration–which in turn can directly affect his or her ability to continue to earn a normal living.

According to the article, several factors continue to influence large out-of-court settlements or jury awards in favor of those who have suffered brain injuries:

  • – ever higher medical bills, including home care costs
  • – personal injury lawyers with the know-how to demonstrate the extent of brain   
  •   injuries through high-tech evidence and changes in the injured person’s behavior
  •   and moods
  • – jury sympathy for what the injured person is going through

As a lawyer quoted in the article puts it, "All personal injury cases with real objective damages that strike a chord with jurors still have the potential for high damage awards."

If you believe that you (or a family member) have sustained a severe concussion, it is important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney in addition to obtaining expert medical attention. As a result of the potentially devastating nature of a blow to the head, representation by the best possible attorney is crucial for a fair recovery against the responsible party. John P. Young is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of Indiana, serving as its chair for two years. Mr. Young has 20 years of experience helping Hoosiers and their families deal with brain injury. Call him at Young & Young in Indianapolis and let him assist you and your family.

“Drew’s Law” Aimed At Drunk Drivers Sent to Indiana Governor

A bill that would make it a crime to cause the death of an unborn child in a drunk driving accident is close to becoming law in Indiana. The Indiana Senate unanimously approved the measure in January and the House subsequently approved it unanimously in late February. “Drew’s Law,” which would amend IC 9-30-5-5, is now on the desk of Governor Mitch Daniels. Criminal penalties would also apply in the case of reckless driving.

The law is named for Drew Steinberger, who was killed in a horrific accident on New Year’s Eve 2007. Drew’s parents, Dustin and Danielle, championed the new law and set up a special website to publicize the measure. According to Richmond’s “Drew was two weeks from his delivery date when his mother’s car was struck head-on by another vehicle in Richmond. Drew did not survive the accident and her injuries ended Danielle Steinberger’s ability to carry another child.”

It also turned out that the perpetrator had a history of motor vehicle violations including impaired driving but was never charged with DUI because apparently no blood samples were taken a the time of this tragic accident.

In addition to facing criminal charges, drunk drivers who injure other motorists or passengers can also be sued in civil court for money damages. If you or a loved one have been seriously hurt by a driver under the influence, please contact the personal injury lawyers at Young and Young in Indianapolis to obtain full information about your legal rights.

Government Liability For Hazardous Streets or Sidewalks

There’s about a month left in winter, but it’s still too early to put away the snow shovels. That goes for the government too, and not just in connection with ice or snow. Cities, towns, and counties throughout Indiana have a legal duty under the law to keep their streets and sidewalks in a reasonably safe condition all year round. If not, they could be responsible for personal injuries suffered by citizens on those streets or sidewalks. (A separate federal law, the Federal Tort Claims Act, typically applies to personal injuries on property owned by the federal government.) 

Back in 2002, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that Indiana government on the state, county, or local level (i.e., a governmental “entity” or unit) has a common law duty to exercise reasonable care and diligence to keep their streets and sidewalks in a reasonably safe condition for travel. 

To make matters more complicated, a governmental entity is not liable for temporary, weather-related conditions that results in injuries under Indiana law. In fact, the Indiana Supreme Court recently ruled that this form of legal immunity for the temporary weather conditions lasts until the weather condition has stabilized or stopped worsening and the government has had a reasonable opportunity to respond.

 One practical tip in the event of a winter accident: Any Hoosier who gets hurt in a slip-and fall because of icy or snowy conditions should try to take photos of the accident scene promptly. Snow has a habit of melting, even in Indiana! 

A governmental unit must have notice of unsafe conditions before it is considered legally liable, but that knowledge can be in the form of actual knowledge or “constructive” knowledge. Actual knowledge means that the state or local government entity knows about a problem on the road or sidewalk but failed to make repairs. Constructive knowledge in general means that the government should have known about the problem if it was paying attention. As a matter of law, the governmental body will be considered to have constructive knowledge of the problem if it existed long enough that had it exercised reasonable care under the circumstances, it would or should have known/discovered the unsafe defect. 

Bringing a claim, let alone proving one, against the state or federal government for personal injuries can sometimes be more challenging than a personal injury case against a private company or private citizen, so it is important to retain expert legal counsel right away. At Young and Young, we have over 55 years of experiences helping people recover the proper compensation for their injuries.  Please give us a call to set up a free consultation.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

Legislature Considers Texting Ban To Prevent Road Accidents

The Indiana House of Representatives is considering legislation that would prohibit motorists from texting behind the wheel. The bill recently cleared the House Policy Committee and is now before the entire chamber. Some 19 states have already outlawed texting while driving for all age groups; currently, Indiana bans wireless device use including texting by drivers younger than 18.

An AAA Hoosier Motor Club official claims that DWT (driving while texting) is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. “Recent studies show that text messaging decreases a person’s reaction time by 35 percent and their steering control by 91 percent,” the official said. The Indiana law, if enacted, would make texting a Class C infraction punishable by a fine of up to $500. The federal government wants to ban texting in all 50 states. This would require an act of Congress to implement, however.  In an initial step, the U.S. Department of Transportation recently banned bus and truck drivers from texting while operating a commercial vehicle.

As we mentioned in a previous post, although enforcement of these kinds of  well-intentioned laws and regulations may help to improve highway safety to some degree, the best way to avoid a road accident or a highway accident is to not be texting yourself and to keep an eye out for other motorists paying insufficient attention to the road.

If you have been injured by a texting truck or bus driver, or even a person texting in a passenger car, please call Young and Young in Indianapolis for a free consultation.  We have 55 years of experience to help you and your family obtain full compensation for your injuries caused by distracted drivers on Indiana roads.

Drive Safely and Defensively

The Indiana State Police and local law enforcement have been very busy responding to major and minor car crashes related to winter storms and hazardous road conditions in the past several days. Indiana motorists should drive defensively and maintain vigilance-especially when the roads are covered with ice and snow.

As alluded to in previous blog entries, Indiana law establishes various rules of the road for safe driving. Non-compliance and bad driving habits can lead to accidents– even under the best of circumstances. Failure to abide by these safety statutes can also be a basis for a finding of negligence as a matter of law unless there is some reasonable excuse or justification for disregarding those rules. These rules include: keeping a proper lookout, maintaining your car under control, reducing speed for conditions whether they be weather, visibility, or some other cause. Also special precautions are necessary in the presence of and when a driver has awareness of children, impaired persons, or intoxicated persons. Distracted driving, especially as it relates to cell phone use, has also captured local and national attention as one of the common accident causes.

The Indiana State Police remind motorists to avoid unnecessary travel during adverse weather conditions such as those Hoosiers are currently experiencing. If you must travel, reduce your speed, increase the following distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you, leave early for your destination, and be sure to buckle up.

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