Black Box Technology Determines Fault in Auto and Truck Accident Claims

Black box technology serves up evidence

If you are currently driving a car or truck with factory installed airbags, you may already be driving with a Black Box or Event Data Recorder (EDR) under your seat or center console. General Motors has been installing event data recorders in all of their air-bag factory-equipped vehicles since the early 90’s. Their main job is to serve data to other systems, such as air bags, traction control and supplemental seat belt systems.

History of event data recorders

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been using EDR technology for decades to collect and study system data and vehicle safety. In an interview with Wired, GM’s senior manager of field incidents, stated: ‘In the early nineties we could get diagnostic data, seatbelt use and crash severity.’ Currently, we can get crash severity, buckle status, pre-crash data related to how many events the vehicle may have been in and brake application. The newest vehicles also can determine steering input and whether lane departure warning systems were turned on.

Regulation of event data recorders

NHTSAs ruling—NHTSA-2006-25666; 49 CFR Part 563 entitled: Event Data Recorders—will regulate the type of information recorded and the method in which it is stored. This ruling will affect all vehicles manufactured for North American consumers after September 1st, 2012 and will require all manufacturers make their EDR data available to the public. The rule further requires disclosure to new car buyers if an event data recorder has been installed, beginning with model year 2011 cars. The NHTSA ruling, however, permits states to determine how black box data may be used:

“This rule does not address certain other issues generally within the realm of State law, such as whether the vehicle owner owns the EDR data, how EDR data can be used/discovered in civil litigation, how EDR data may be used in criminal proceedings, whether EDR data may be obtained by the police without a warrant, whether EDR data may be developed into a driver-monitoring tool, and the nature and extent that private parties (including insurance companies, car rental companies, and automobile manufacturers) will have or may contract for access to EDR data. These issues are instead being addressed by State legislatures.”

Privacy concerns and legislation

Privacy groups have serious concerns about the use of black box information, i.e. who will be able to access the information and what purposes will that information serve? The National Motorist Association states: “… as is often the case, the personal, legal, and economic ramifications spawned by technological innovations far exceed superficial public explanations.”

In 2004, California became the first state to enact legislation prohibiting the download of data without the owner’s permission or court order. Several other states since have followed suit by addressing issues of ownership.

Data mining

Event data recorder information has consistently been used and evaluated by reconstruction experts in criminal prosecutions and accident-related litigation when the Court has so ordered. But the most concerning aspect of EDRs is data ownership. In an effort to minimize company losses, insurance companies are eager to mine this information and have been downloading the data to determine the degree of comparative fault in accident cases across the country by taking title to totaled vehicles and thereby establishing ownership via claims of property damage.

Future concerns will address how insurance companies will use this proprietary information. Will they require access to the data as a condition of coverage? Or will they use black box technology in conjunction with GPS systems for purposes of tracking driving habits and assessing risk? As with all developing technologies, the ownership and utilization of information will be determined. Ultimately, the Courts will decide these issues and  constitutionality will be challenged.

Personal injury attorneys experienced in accident reconstruction

Charlie Ward is a personal injury attorney with experience using black box data as evidence in wrongful death and personal injury claims.  Call Charlie at 317-639-9501 today if you have been injured or know someone who has died from fatal injuries in an accident caused by a semi tractor-trailer.

By Charlie Ward

[email protected]

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501

 

Insurance Companies Hire Attorney Advocates—Shouldn’t You?

Who represents your interests?

At Ward & Ward, we often meet honest people who’ve been injured in accidents, through no fault of their own, opt to work on their own behalf and in good faith with
their auto insurance carrier to resolve the disputes that naturally arise from an accident. But all too quickly these same sincere folk realize that they have become entangled in a web of self-interested parties including their own healthcare insurer, individual providers who have delivered costly medical services, the negligent party’s insurance company as well as their own automobile insurance company—and each party is looking after
their own competing interests
.

With over eighty-five years of combined experience in personal injury and wrongful death cases, Don and Charlie Ward understand how the well-being of these same people can easily get trampled on the battleground of competing parties attempting to recover costs and minimize losses. Don and Charlie know that insurance companies hire their own attorneys to represent their
‘bottom line’ best interests which may—indirectly—put your welfare secondary to their own.

Indiana has a two-year statute of limitations on personal
injury and wrongful death claims resulting from an auto, motorcycle or trucking
(semi tractor-trailer) accident. Most claims can be amicably settled before the
statute runs. But occasionally extenuating circumstances may require a
long and expensive investigative process before a lawsuit can be filed with the Court. Keeping
in mind that the two-year clock starts running on the date of your accident or
injury, we recommend that you speak with an experienced personal injury attorney
as soon as possible to receive an honest evaluation of your case.

Should we represent you, you will enjoy the full
financial resources of the firm. That means there are no up-front costs to you!
And when you hire the law firm of Ward & Ward, we’ll work on your behalf to make
things right. The insurance companies have lawyers—shouldn’t you enjoy the same
strategic advantage?

 

What is Comparative Fault?

A jury must assign a percentage of fault, if any, to each person involved in the accident

If you are injured by another party, for example, in an auto, trucking, bicycle or motorcycle accident—even as a pedestrian or when acting as a Good Samaritan—under Indiana Code §§ 34-51-2-6; 34-51-2-7; 34-52-2-14, the judge is required to instruct the jury that part of their duty must be to determine which party or parties to the incident bear responsibility for the Plaintiff’s injuries and assign to each, a percentage or degree of their fault. The percentage of liability determines the percentage of the resulting damages each party must pay.

Parties responsible may include the Defendant(s). In some cases, a portion of responsibility can even be assigned to non-parties to the action, i.e. someone unnamed in Plaintiff’s civil suit. Even Plaintiff(s) can bear fault. Under Indiana’s ‘modified’ Comparative Fault law, a claimant’s responsibility cannot exceed 50% of the sum total of all other responsible parties. If the claimant is deemed to be more than 50% responsible for his or her injuries, then that claimant is barred from recovery in a negligence case. The Comparative Fault chapter may vary when applied to medical malpractice, governmental entities or public employees.

Experienced personal injury attorneys help you navigate legislation and the law

It’s challenging for most people to stay knowledgeable of every statute that may affect them at some point in time. That’s why it’s important to seek advice from an attorney who deals with liability issues on a daily basis. Every case is different. Ward & Ward will look at the facts of an issue, dissect them and give you an honest assessment in their free consultation with you. Call Charlie Ward today for a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney.

By Charlie Ward

[email protected]

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501

 

Whiplash Injury Causing Embolism Leads to Death

Embolism from a Whiplash Injury May Cause Death

Hollywood and portrayal of the injured victim

Most diagnosed whiplash injuries result from rear-end car collisions. Hollywood often portrays the whiplash victim as the neurotic personality or the gold-digging opportunist who is represented by the fast-talking, amoral courthouse lawyer. And we all laugh at Hollywood’s depiction—yes, even attorneys have a sense of humor about their profession. But the truth is that some whiplash injuries may go undetected for a period of time after an impact and in the worst case scenario, may result in embolism or even death.

The reality of whiplash is not so funny

Reports have documented deaths up to 8 days after a serious whiplash injury. But one case published in 1995 by the American Heart Association examined the death of a man which happened nearly 2 months after he was injured in a rear-end collision.[stroke.ahajournals.org]

The 50 year-old taxi driver and victim of a rear-end collision complained of headaches and experienced incidents of visual instabilities. Approximately 2 months after the accident, he was found unconscious in his cab and was admitted to the hospital. The initial CT scan was normal but another scan performed a couple of days later revealed abnormalities. On the third day he passed away. An autopsy showed that whiplash was responsible for a lesion to his right vertebral artery which quickly led to an embolism at the base of his skull.

The mechanics of a whiplash injury.

A forward flexion of the neck followed by an immediate swing backward describes what doctors and lawyers call whiplash. Whiplash injuries resulting from rear-end auto accidents can cause injuries to the cervical spine producing severe headaches and a stiff neck. If you or a family member has been rear-ended by another vehicle, no matter how minor the accident seems at the time, you should be followed up by a physician as soon as possible. And because an accident attorney knows that some injuries can bear a delayed manifestation, it is wise to seek legal advice.

Experienced injury lawyers understand the seriousness of whiplash injuries

Whiplash injuries are more serious than many acknowledge. Attorney, Charlie Ward, is experienced in personal injury accidents involving whiplash and would be happy to consult with you about your auto, motorcycle or trucking accident. Call him at 317-639-9501 today for a free consultation.

Charlie Ward

[email protected]

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501

Parents May Receive Compensation for Child’s Death, Attorney Fees & Litigation Costs Under Indiana’s Adult Wrongful Death Statute

Lawyer for personal Injury in Indianapolis INIndiana’s Adult Wrongful Death Statute and Patient’s Compensation Fund – Scope of Damages

After the executor of a young woman’s estate settled a medical malpractice claim for the statutory limit, the executor  petitioned the Patient’s Compensation Fund for additional compensation in excess of the settlement amount for attorney fees, probate administration, loss of services (love and companionship) to the decedent’s parents and litigation costs under Indiana’s Adult Wrongful Death Statute (AWDS). The Superior Court Judge of Marion County rejected the Fund’s contention regarding the scope of damages permitted under the Adult Wrongful Death Statute and awarded the full amount requested by the executor.

Damages Must be Compensatory

The Fund appealed the trial court’s final judgment in the amount of $278,377.55 on grounds that the judgment included sums for expenses of administration, attorney fees and loss of services that are not recoverable under Indiana’s Adult Wrongful Death Statute, Ind. Code § 34-23-1-2. The Court of Appeals rejected the Fund’s arguments and affirmed the trial court ruling. Ind. Patient’s Comp. Fund v. Brown, 934 N.E.2d 168 (Ind.Ct.App.2010). Indiana Supreme Court Justice Dickson, in the majority opinion, affirmed the trial court’s ruling. He writes: “[t]he Court of Appeals correctly noted that damages in actions under Indiana’s wrongful death statutes must be compensatory in nature”. Brown, 934 N.E.2d at 176-77.

The Fund’s argument treated all damages together—as a class—and did not make the distinction between the recoverability of any one item. In Brown, the Court declared, “[A]ttorney fees, probate administration costs, and litigation costs are compensatory damages that remedy actual pecuniary losses [emphasis added]. Therefore, we find no compelling reason why these damages should not be allowed.”

The Fund did not contest that the decedent’s parents suffered a pecuniary loss from the loss of her love and companionship but instead argued that “[s]uch damages are categorically unavailable under the Adult Wrongful Death statute.” The majority disagreed and stated: “[L]oss of services, when proved, would constitute a pecuniary loss of the type contemplated by the AWDS.”

Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyers

The sudden loss of a loved one due to the negligence of another requires a firm grasp of the law and legal skill. Charlie Ward of Ward & Ward Law Firm is experienced in Wrongful Death Claims. If you have suffered a loss of a loved one from an accident or a medical providers negligence, and would like to discuss a wrongful death claim, call Charlie Ward for a free consultation today.

By Charlie Ward

[email protected]

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501

Your Indiana Auto Policy is your Protection from Uninsured Drivers

Sixteen percent of Indiana drivers are uninsured

We’ve all witnessed reckless motorists driving very nearly airborne down the road, anxiously weaving from lane to lane, and gunning their engines in disgust when they finally soar past you. Yes, today everybody’s in a hurry. And I bet you’ve thought, as I have, that most, if not all of these vehemently reckless drivers are driving without an adequate auto insurance policy. In fact, you can usually pick them out of a crowd of many, as if they carry an aura of irresponsibility with them.

Research conducted by the Insurance Research Council in 2011 shows that as many as 16% of Hoosiers are driving without any insurance coverage. And as the downturn in our economy intensifies, I fear that many more people will make the choice not to buy even the minimum amount of auto insurance legislated under Indiana law.

Even today, in some states, uninsured motorist coverage is a required add-on to your automobile policy. But in the state of Indiana, uninsured motorist coverage is an intrinsic part of your personal liability coverage under your automobile policy. Your uninsured motorist coverage automatically protects you from injury, lost wages and other expenses resulting from a serious accident with an uninsured driver.

Increase your policy limits for pennies a day

The value of your uninsured coverage is identical to your existing personal liability coverage under your auto or motorcycle policy. If you have read my other blogs on personal injury liability, then you already know that by increasing your policy limits, you have the advantage of getting considerably more coverage at a small additional rate. And when you consider that you are not only protecting your family from the injuries of others—you are also protecting your family from the negligent acts of uninsured drivers. It’s a win-win. Your
decision to choose the largest amount of personal liability coverage you can afford could be the best financial decision you make for your family.

Experienced lawyers

If you would like to discuss your policy limits with an experienced personal injury lawyer, or have been involved in an accident, call lawyer, Charlie Ward, of Ward & Ward Law Firm today at 317-639-9501.

By Charlie Ward

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501

 

Uninsured Coverage is your Protection from an Accident Caused by Uninsured Driver

It makes sense to carefully choose your auto insurance policy

You probably wouldn’t consider opening an account with a bank that was not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Banking insurance premiums finance this federal insurance program; indirectly you fund this insurance through your deposits, service charges and bank fees. Why would you protect your liquid assets but overlook a protection vital to your family’s personal wealth, health and well-being?

Insurance protection in a bad economy

Research conducted by the Insurance Research Council shows that as many as 16% of Hoosiers are driving without any insurance coverage. During the recession, many people have lost their jobs and have chosen not to pay for the insurance required under Indiana law.

In some states, uninsured motorist coverage is a required add-on to your automobile policy. But in the state of Indiana, uninsured motorist coverage is intrinsic to the personal liability portion of your auto policy. Your uninsured motorist coverage automatically protects you from injury, lost wages and other expenses incurred as a result of a serious accident with an uninsured driver. The amount of coverage afforded you by your policy will be the same amount as the coverage under your personal liability policy. Remember, the price of coverage goes down as the amount of coverage goes up. Your decision to choose the highest amount of coverage you can afford could be the best financial decision you make for your family.

Experienced personal injury lawyer

If you are involved in an accident, call Charlie Ward of Ward & Ward Law Firm. I look forward to meeting with you and would be happy to discuss your automobile insurance coverage with you today.

Charlie Ward

Ward & Ward Law Firm
55 Monument Circle, Ste 1014
Indianapolis, IN 46204
317-639-9501

www.wardlawfirm.com

Our Lawyers Recommend You Buy the Best Auto Liability Policy Coverage You Can Afford

A great automobile or motorcycle policy goes a long way in compensating another driver for medical injuries which may occur as a result of an accident deemed to be your fault.

How does my auto liability insurance protect me and my family?

The Declarations page of your auto or motorcycle policy outlines all of your policy’s coverages as well as your insurance company’s limits of liability. The category entitled Bodily Injury & Property Damage Liability describes a maximum amount per person and a maximum total amount which would be paid per accident. For example: a $100,000/$300,000 policy means a single injured party could potentially receive up to but no more than $100,000 for their injuries—but no more than $300,000 could be recovered by the total number of persons injured in the accident. For example, if two people were severely injured in an accident which was determined to be caused by you, your insurance company would not pay more, in this instance, than $300,000 total for all injuries and/or deaths combined. Considering the high cost of ambulatory, ER care, surgeons, therapeutic and potential long-term rehabilitative expenses, medical bills for two people catastrophically injured could exhaust or even exceed your policy limits of $300,000. Where would injured victims look for compensation after your insurance policy limits were exhausted? Under certain circumstances, plaintiffs involved in litigation might seek reparation in your financial, real or hard assets after your policy runs out. Many learn this lesson the hard way—after the fact.

In the State of Indiana, the minimum amount of liability insurance coverage that will legally put you in the driver’s seat is $25,000. This low-limit legal minimum is barely enough to purchase postage stamps for the many medical bills that can mount up from injuries received in an accident. But lines have to be drawn in legislation and the $25,000 minimum was deemed to be fair and attainable for the greater majority of citizens. However, insurance companies don’t advertise the fact and the majority of citizenry don’t know that the price of coverage per unit goes down as the increase in coverage goes up. In other words, liability insurance is cheaper to buy in quantity.

It’s impossible to predict and prepare for every calamity that could befall you and your family. The next time you review your auto or motorcycle insurance policy, consider how much insurance you need to protect the assets you’ve acquired over your most productive years. Then ask your agent to quote several levels of liability coverage before you make a decision that could potentially expose you to a loss of your assets.

Lawyers Experienced in Cases Involving Bodily Injury

The law firm of Ward & Ward are personal injury lawyers experienced in auto accidents, motorcycle accidents and trucking accidents. Call our firm today! I welcome the opportunity to discuss your potential accident claim and your automobile liability insurance coverage with you.

By Charlie Ward

[email protected]

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501

 

Where do Injured Parties Look When the Limits of Your Motorcycle Policy are Exhausted?

Motorcyclists should carefully assess their motorcycle bodily injury & liability portion of their insurance policy

There’s no doubt that the rising cost in fuel is throttling the motorcycle industry. Sales were up 7.2% in the first quarter of 2011 so says the Motorcycle Industry Council’s Retail Sales Report. These increased motorcycles on the road have resulted in increased injuries and fatalities. According to the Indiana State Police, the total number of collisions involving motorcycles increased in the year 2010 nearly 5% over 2009. Last year there were 3,721 motorcycle accidents reported — 2,712 injuries including operators and passengers—and 110 fatalities (100 operators and 10 passengers.) The average age of motorcycle fatalities—40.9 years old.

These statistics are dismal but as more people take their hogs to the road—as a necessary form of transportation or for the pure pleasure of riding the highway—the enthusiast should have in place a sound motorcycle policy adequate to cover any medical injuries and or deaths that could occur as a result of an accident.

The Declarations page of your motorcycle policy outlines your coverages and the insurance company’s limits of liability. It reads very similar to your automobile policy. Bodily Injury & Property Damage Liability covers a maximum amount per person and a maximum total amount which will be paid per accident. For example: a $100,000/$300,000 policy coverage means an injured party could potentially receive up to but no more than $100,000 for injuries to their person but no more than $300,000 could be recovered by the total number of persons injured in the accident. That is, if a carload of people were injured in an accident which was determined to be caused by you as the operator of your motorcycle, your insurance company would not pay more, in this instance, than $300,000 total for injuries and or deaths which occurred.

If a string of cars and/or motorcycles were involved in an accident, such is often seen in freeway pile-ups, and it was deemed to be a result of your actions, more than likely $300,000 would not be sufficient to cover the medical expenses and wrongful death suits which could follow. That’s why it’s so important to balance your liability needs with your assets. In other words, where would injured victims look for compensation after your insurance policy limits were exhausted? Many learn this lesson the hard way—after the fact. Many consumers don’t realize that the price of coverage per unit goes down as the amount of coverage goes up. In other words, it’s cheaper to buy in bulk.

As more people take to the road using alternative forms of transportation, I think we can unfortunately expect to see motorcycle accidents rise. Get the coverage you need. And discuss your existing policy with your personal injury lawyer. Ward & Ward Law Firm lawyers can help you assess your policy needs.

Charlie Ward

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
(317) 639-9501
(888) 316-3449
www.wardlawfirm.com