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Despite the Risks of Distracted Driving Indiana Lawmakers Lack the Resolve to Ban Handheld Cell Phones

Despite the Risks of Distracted Driving Indiana Lawmakers Lack the Resolve to Ban Handheld Cell Phones

A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in partnership with Virginia Tech shows texting while driving (TWD) is on the rise for the age group between 16 and 24 year olds. Texting and driving personal injury and auto accident lawyer in IndianapolisStatistically, teens are more likely to die in a car accident than by suicide, homicide or cancer. Locally, Sherry Deane of AAA Hoosier Motor Club has reported to The Journal Gazette that the fatality rate for drivers between 18 and 21 is on the rise while the rate has dropped for those younger than 18 ¾ largely crediting the decrease in Indiana’s graduated driving provisions.

The Courage to Ban Cell Phone Use for Indiana’s Minors and Young Adults

A law took effect two years ago that would prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from using a telecommunications device, including a hands-free or Bluetooth device, while operating a motor vehicle, i.e. a ban on cell phone use for young adults under the age of 21. The law stipulated, however, in the case of a bona fide emergency, a call to 911 would be allowed. This implies, although it does not specifically state (see Indiana Code 9-24-11-3.7), that cell phones may be allowed within the motor vehicle for the purpose of a 911 emergency. Licensed drivers under the age of 21 who were previously permitted to use a cell phone or hands-free Bluetooth device prior to July 1, 2015, were not grandfathered in.

Ironically, several lawmakers who voted for House Bill 1394, but did not read or comprehend the cell phone ban for drivers under 21 years old, were stunned when they heard about the contents of the bill on the news. Even the spokesman for the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Josh Gillespie, found the passage of the telecommunications bill was a “shocker” to him.

Whether you agree or disagree with Indiana Code 9-24-11-3.7, it is the law of the land and it is unlikely to be changed as lawmakers are working their way, albeit ever so slowly, toward a bill that would reduce the number and severity of crashes caused by adults who are distracted by their cell phones while operating a motor vehicle.

The Future of Anti-Texting Laws in Indiana

State by state, HandsFreeInfo.com keeps tabs on proposed bills and the passage of laws concerning distracted driving issues and texting while driving. Since 2008, certain Indiana state senators and representatives have submitted bills that would keep pace with the technology by classifying the degree of offenses and discouraging the use of telecommunicative hand-held devices. The most recent effort in 2017, House Bill 1255: requires a person to use hands free or voice operated technology to place or receive a telephone call while operating a moving motor vehicle unless the device is used to call 911 to report a bona fide emergency. In the Fiscal and Management Analysis, it is expected that citations for distracted driving offenses would mainly come as the result of a motor vehicle accident. In other words, officers would be unlikely to issue citations for distracted driving offences prior to the occurrence of an accident. The proposed bill would not address cell phone use for applications other than making a telephone call.

Even though the U.S. Department of Transportation says cell phones are involved in 1.6 million crashes a year, causing half a million injuries and taking 6,000 lives, few lawmakers have submitted bills with a total ban on hand-held cell phone or telecommunication devices. Blue tooth devices are inexpensive and allow every smartphone owner to utilize the hands-free technology to place phone calls and send text messages without ever picking up the device. In 2014, one senator went on the record stating “I don’t think that realistically a handheld ban will ever happen, because of the independence of the Hoosier.”

What is Wrong with our Current “No Texting While Driving” Law?

The current law on texting while driving, IC 9-21-8-59(a), was signed by Governor Mitch Daniels on May 10, 2011. The wording of the law (as of this writing, July, 2017) restricts the offense to the reading, writing and sending of text messages, aka wireless messaging, or electronic mail also known as email, while a vehicle is in motion:

Sec. 59.

(a) A person may not use a telecommunications device to:

(1) type a text message or an electronic mail message;

(2) transmit a text message or an electronic mail message;  or

(3) read a text message or an electronic mail message;

while operating a moving motor vehicle unless the device is used in conjunction with hands free or voice operated technology, or unless the device is used to call 911 to report a bona fide emergency.

The law further reads:

(b) A police officer may not, without the consent of the person:

(1) confiscate a telecommunications device for the purpose of determining compliance with this section;

(2) confiscate a telecommunications device and retain it as evidence pending trial for a violation of this section; or

(3) extract or otherwise download information from a telecommunications device for a violation of this section unless:

(A) the police officer has probable cause to believe that the telecommunications device has been used in the commission of a crime;

(B) the information is extracted or otherwise downloaded under a valid search warrant;or

(C) otherwise authorized by law.

It should come as no surprise that few tickets have been written by law enforcement for the offense of texting while driving because of the difficulty in determining what the driver is actually doing on his or her phone. As the law stands now, there are thousands of applications besides texting that people may legally pursue while operating a motor vehicle in the state of Indiana. Under the current law, setting GPS, retrieving and playing music, playing video games, watching movies and surfing the Internet are all within the boundaries of the law.

Although Indiana jumped on the nationwide bandwagon in 2011 by passing legislation banning texting and driving, the Indiana assembly has yet to exercise their will barring the use of hand-held devices. In 2016, it became clear to both Indiana lawmakers and law enforcement officers where the Court of Appeals stood on Indiana’s TWD law.

Of What Use is Indiana’s No Texting Law if it has No Teeth?

In the case of United States of America v Gregorio Paniagua-Garcia, a police officer stopped Mr. P-G (for brevity) after passing him on the interstate highway. The officer described Mr. P-G’s head as being close to the phone; the officer thought he was texting while driving. Mr. P-G told the officer he was searching for music. After questioning the driver of the vehicle for a few minutes, the officer asked if he could search the car and permission to do so was granted. Five pounds of heroin were discovered in the spare tire of the car’s trunk.

Mr. P-G was charged and tried in federal court. When the defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence (heroin) was denied, the defendant reserved his right to appeal by claiming the evidence was obtained during an illegal stop. On appeal, the United States government conceded a stop is legal “only if the officer has probable cause to believe that a traffic violation has occurred or reasonable suspicion that a crime was about to be or has been committed,” United States of America v Gregorio Paniagua-Garcia.

The government was unable to establish that the officer had probable cause to stop the defendant or a reasonable suspicion that he had violated the no-texting law. Why? Because the officer had not seen Mr. P-G texting; the officer testified that he thought he was texting while driving. And what he did see (Mr. P-G’s head close to the phone) was consistent with many other lawful uses of cell phones. On a side note, it was revealed at trial and conceded by the government that the defendant had not been texting when the officer saw him on the interstate highway; he was indeed searching for music.

This case is a complex illustration of the ineffectiveness of our current no-texting laws. Because our laws do not address the use of other smart phone apps, and because law enforcement is explicitly prohibited from downloading cell phone information or confiscating cell phones for purposes of evidence, their hands are bound and little more can be done but rely upon the truthfulness of the driver when asked, or hand out warning tickets to those drivers suspected of texting behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.

In the opinion of the 3-judge appeals panel, for the above-referenced case, it states:

“Indiana is right to be worried about the dangers created by persons who fiddle with their cellphones while driving, but probably wrong to outlaw such fiddling only with respect to texting…”

Go with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney to Handle Your Claim for Injuries or Wrongful Death

A ticket for violating Indiana’s anti-texting law may cost the offender up to $500. On the other hand, in a civil claim for personal injuries or wrongful death due to the negligence of an individual, small business or corporate entity, a discovery request to obtain cell phone records may firmly establish liability on the part of the other driver when he or she failed to yield or otherwise caused the accident responsible for the injuries or death of you or your loved one.

Ward & Ward Law Firm has more in 85 years of experience in the successful litigation of claims for personal injury and wrongful death. We agressively pursue the compensation you or your loved one deserves.

If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in an accident involving a car, truck, bus, bicycle or motorcycle, call attorneys with experience in personal injury accident claims and an up-to-date working knowledge of the laws and legal opinions of the higher courts, all of which may affect your lawsuit, settlement or trial.

Read our reviews on Google then call me, Charlie Ward, today for a free consultation and evaluation of your potential claim at (317) 639-9501 or toll free at (888) 639-9501. I look forward to talking with you.

Charlie Ward

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501 or  toll free at 1 (888) 639-9501
Published 7-21-17

 

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

According to statistics, incidents of motorcycle accidents have been on the rise since 2006. Cycling accidents may cause serious injury or death and are often the result of one of the following circumstances:

Car operator turns in front of the bike

If the operator of a motorized vehicle fails to accurately judge a cyclist’s speed or fails to see the motorcyclist all together, the motorist may turn in front of the motorcyclist, either at an intersection, or while pulling out into traffic.

Obstacles in the Roadway of a Blind Corner

While winding on twisties, motorcyclists turning into a blind corner suddenly encounter obstacles in their path and they may be unable to bring their bike to a safe stop. Common obstacles include sand, gravel, leaves, or even a dead animal. Motorcyclists are advised to only ride as fast as they can properly judge and easily come to a stop.

Blind Spots

A collision may occur when the operator of an oncoming car moves into the lane of a motorcyclist at a blind spot.

Read-end Collisions

A motor vehicle trailing a cyclist may misread the intentions of the cyclist and attempt to eke through the intersection before a signal change.

Rogue Cyclist

A single cyclist slowing down or stopping without signaling the group, may be hit from behind when the attention of the driver trailing the rogue cyclist is focused only on the group– not the individual that has come to a stop.

Sudden Brake Lock

A motorcyclist’s front brakes may lock in a sudden attempt to avoid the unpredictable interruption of an animal in the road. The extreme loss of control combined with the weight of the bike may cause catastrophic injuries or even death to the cyclist.

A car opens its door unexpectedly

A motorcyclist may crash when the driver’s door of a car parked on the shoulder of the road unexpectedly swings open.

Road Hazards

Slippery roads, oil-slick roads, loose gravel and other road hazards are common causes of motorcycle injuries.

Distracted Driving

A motorist driving at the speed limit on the interstate may easily travel the length of a football field while their attention is focused on their smart phone.

Drunk or impaired driving

Driving a car or truck while drunk and/or under the influence of drugs may impair the driver’s cognition, reducing the reaction time necessary to avoid a motorcycle accident.

Experienced Indiana Motorcycle Attorney

Motorcyclists are advised to be aware of their surroundings and to anticipate the unanticipated. But if you or someone you know has been in a motorcycle accident within the state of Indiana, contact an Indiana motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible before evidence is destroyed.

Charlie Ward

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501 or  toll free at 1 (888) 639-9501
Published 04/19/17

 

Cell Phone Manufacturers Walk a Fine Line between Social and Personal Responsibility – Car accident lawyers

 Cell Phone Manufacturers Walk a Fine Line between Social and Personal Responsibility – Car Accident Lawyers Ward & Ward Law Firm

Pressure is being put on cell phone manufacturers to include “lock-out” technology in their mobile devices to prevent drivers from accessing certain features while driving. Who bears the responsibility for car accident injuries and fatalities caused by distracted drivers? What are the options parents can employ to keep their children safe when driving?

 The product liability case against Apple – a result of a catastrophic car accident

Several years ago, on a summer day in East Texas, 21 year old Ashley Kubiak caused a catastrophic car accident while driving her pickup and checking for messages on her iPhone. The collision left a boy of seven who loved playing team baseball, a paraplegic. The young boy, Sammy Lane Meador, was told by physicians he would never walk again as his spine had snapped in the collision. His grandmother and great aunt perished in the accident. The families of the accident victims joined together to bring a product liability case against Apple, entitled Meador, et al vs. Apple, Inc.

Discovery revealed…

Personal injury lawyers, Don and Charlie WardDuring the discovery process it was revealed that in 2008 Apple had petitioned for and later received a technology patent called “Driver Handheld Computing Device Lock-Out.” In the documentation submitted to the patent office, a description of the technology read, “a lock-out mechanism to prevent operation of one or more functions of handheld computing devices by drivers when operating vehicles.”

The plaintiffs argue that while Apple was fully aware their phones would be used for text messaging while driving, and even used this reasoning in their patent application, Apple did nothing to prevent Ms. Kubiak, an iPhone consumer, from illegally texting behind the wheel. Plaintiffs’ attorneys argue Apple has a moral obligation to society to employ the patented technology in their cell phones. Plaintiffs’ attorney, Greg Love, states “When companies are faced with the choice of doing the right thing or doing the cheaper thing, they tend to do the cheaper thing until they’re forced to do the right thing.”

In 2014, Apple received the patent which uses sensors to determine if the phone is moving and in use by a driver, and employs the lock-out features for such functions as sending and receiving texts, email, social media posts and notifications. However, since 2014 (the year Apple was granted the patent), the company has distributed the iPhone 5s, 5c, 6, 6+, 7, 7+ and a number of IOS software updates. Yet, the technology has never been deployed. Nor has any other cell phone manufacturer incorporated the technology into their phones.

Car accident lawyers are disturbed by this survey

Distracted driving includes any behavior that takes your attention away from the operation of the vehicle. In 2015, Erie Insurance conducted an online survey consisting of 2,019 respondents 18 years and older. Their motive? To learn the kind of distracted behaviors their clients had engaged while driving their vehicle. You won’t believe what respondents admitted to:

  • Styling hair (15%)
  • Romantic interlude (15%)
  • Changing clothes (9%)
  • Changing drivers (3%)
  • Taking selfies (4%)
  • Flossing / brushing teeth (4%)
  • Going to the bathroom (3%)
  • Texting while driving (30%)

Disturbing statistics, all! But note that nearly 1/3 of adults taking this survey admitted to texting while driving. This is especially alarming because text messaging behind the wheel diverts four primary modalities necessary for a focused driving experience:

  • Vision
  • Auditory
  • Cognitive thinking, reasoning skills
  • Manual/tactile cell phone use

In 2014, three thousand one hundred seventy nine teen  fatalities in the U.S. were caused by drivers who momentarily diverted their attention from the safe operation of their motor vehicle; 3,179 needless fatalities – 6,358 grieving parents, in addition to siblings, grandparents and other grievous kin.

Texting fatalities have surpassed fatalities caused by alcohol

Between 2011, when no state bans existed for texting, and 2013, after 14 states passed legislation banning texting while driving, texting rates declined from 43% to 30%. Today, 46 continental states have banned text messaging for all drivers. But in reviewing data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, approximately 1 in 3 teens readily admits to texting behind the wheel. And while fatalities resulting from drunk driving have decreased, teen deaths attributed to texting while driving have surpassed teen fatalities caused by drinking and driving.

Did you know?

  • On average, the amount of time eyes are off the road when texting is 5 seconds
  • The distance covered in 5 seconds at 55 mph is the length of a football field

One in three teens admits to texting and driving

Understanding the myths that fuel texting and driving

Myth No. 1 – The fear of missing out (FOMO)

In 2016, FOMO, an acronym for “the fear of missing out,” was ushered into the Merriam-Webster dictionary along with other words and acronyms implying social disconnect such as nomophobia (fear of being without a cell phone) and ICYMI (in case you missed it.) FOMO demonstrates an anxiety of epidemic proportions that keeps smart phone users continuously checking their phone for messages, news, announcements, tweets or feeds. The underlying principle of FOMO hints that the current moment in time is never good enough and can always be improved by hooking up with friends, making an announcement on Twitter, posting a response to Facebook, uploading a photo of your present activity, announcing your location or commenting on developments. The fear of missing out is a compulsive and addictive behavioral response.

In an interview with media, Jack Walker, attorney for the plaintiffs in the above-mentioned case, echoed scientific findings when he stated a person’s response to a cell phone notification is a “neurobiological response from the brain, it basically triggers the pleasure centers of the brain with a shot of dopamine… people do it so frequently, they don’t even realize it’s happening.”

Myth No. 2 – Multi-tasking

How many times have you heard someone say, I’m multi-tasking? This meme endorses the lie that self-esteem and social worthiness are awarded to those who can split tasks and perform double the work in half the time. In fact, multi-tasking is the antagonist of deep intellectual thinking. The belief that we can focus our attention on multiple, simultaneous tasks, each involving conscious control — is fiction. Our brains are not wired to focus intently on multiple concurrent thoughts. What we typically call multi-tasking actually involves a cerebral interruption and restart between tasks. Best selling author, Dr. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant states “The brain naturally focuses on concepts sequentially, one at a time.”

From an article published in The Scientific American: “Some commonplace activities, such as driving and talking on a cell phone frequently go hand-in-hand, but the brain is likely switching its main focus quickly between the two activities, perhaps a reason the pairing has been so dangerous.”

Personal responsibility v social responsibility – The motion to dismiss the product liability lawsuit

In 2015, Apple filed a motion to dismiss the product liability claim. Defendant Apple stated in court documents that it was not the iPhone that caused the accident but the lack of personal responsibility shown by Ms. Kubiak. Apple further claims, eating while driving would encourage future product liability suits against fast food manufacturers as a result of plaintiffs’ argument. The Federal judge assigned to the case signed a recommendation to dismiss the case. The recommendation states in part: “…Apple’s failure to configure the iPhone to automatically disable did nothing more than create the condition that made Plaintiffs’ injuries possible.” Nevertheless, the case is still pending in United States District Court.

At this time, there isn’t a cell phone manufacturer or mobile service provider that wants to market the first mobile phone that clamps down on distracted driving behaviors. Similar to change through legislation, modifications in the free market are slowly evolving and will require pressure from consumers, special interest groups and the success of product liability lawsuits brought against cell phone manufacturers going forward.

Apps for restoring peace of mind

Following is a short list of Apps that may help curb the temptation to initiate, read and respond to text messages and social network posts and notifications. They are in no particular order; what works for one family, may not be effective for another. Browse through the apps to determine what works best to protect you and your family or try them all until you find the app that suits your lifestyle. Most apps are available for download at Google Play for Android devices or the App store for iPhones. I have noted when the applications are downloadable from the developer’s website.

AT&T DriveMode (Free)
Available for IPhone and Android devices. Full features are available to AT&T Mobile customers; limited features for all other users.

  • Turns on when the vehicle is moving
  • Access music and navigation with one touch
  • Silences text message alerts
  • Automatically replies to text messages

Parents are alerted if:

  • AT&T DriveMode is turned off
  • Auto-Mode is disabled
  • New speed-dial number is added

Life Saver – Distracted Driving (Free)
Available for IPhone and Android devices. Optional rewards based technology. Sponsor sets guidelines and monitors behavior. App is endorsed by a number of safe driving organizations.

  • Blocks phone use while driving
  • gets driver’s last known location
  • Safe arrival notifications
  • Can share with others
Video – How Life Saver works
Video – Life Saver screen – is it user friendly?

True Motion Family (Formerly The Canary Project – Free)
Available for IPhone and Android. Score based, includes location sharing and roadside assistance.

Wonder (Available at developer website)
The message center displays either a “driving” or “safe to text” icon next to each person’s name.

Drive Beehive (Free)
Available for IPhone and Android devices. Rewards safe driving miles; requires a sponsor.

Experienced car accident lawyers and wrongful death attorneys

Our experienced car accident lawyers and wrongful death attorneys use their knowledge of the law, legislation and judicial opinions to employ strategies that maximize our clients’ financial recovery after they have experienced a life-altering accident or event caused by another person or entity. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident, injured by the negligence of a medical professional, or the victim of nursing home neglect or wrongful death, call personal injury attorney, Charlie Ward, today at (317) 639-9501 for a free consultation.

Charlie Ward
Personal Injury Attorney
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
(317) 639-9501
[email protected]

Indiana Personal Injury Attorney Selected for Inclusion in Best Lawyers in America©

Ward & Ward Law Firm Announces Partner in Personal Injury Law Firm is Selected for Inclusion in Best Lawyers in America

Indianapolis personal injury attorney, wrongful death attorney and medical malpractice attorney, Charlie Ward, has been selected by his peers for inclusion into the 23rd annual edition of The Best Lawyers in America©

Indianapolis, Indiana (PRWEB) September 29, 2016

Indianapolis best personal injury lawyerWard & Ward Law Firm of Indianapolis, Indiana, announces partner and Indianapolis personal injury attorney, Charlie Ward, has been selected by his peers for inclusion into the 23rd annual edition of The Best Lawyers in America© under the heading of Plaintiffs Personal Injury Litigation. Ward, a 27-year career advocate for citizens harmed by the negligent acts of individuals and entities, received his Bachelor of Arts Degree, cum laude, from Butler University in Indianapolis before attending the Robert H. McKinney School of Law, where he earned his law degree in 1989.

Best Lawyers® is regarded by members of the legal profession as a trustworthy resource for attorney-client and attorney-to-attorney referrals. Attorneys currently listed in Best Lawyers® are asked to rate local nominees in like practices. Each voting attorney is asked the question: “If you were unable to take a case yourself, how likely would you be to refer it to this nominee?” Voters rate the candidate on a scale from 1 to 5 and are encouraged to add comments to the nominee’s voting form. A voter may select “Do not know” if they have no knowledge of the nominee. Lawyers are not allowed to vote for themselves, nor can they complete ballots for lawyers within their own firm. When the voting ballots have been received by the decision-makers at Best Lawyers, each nominee is reviewed and their standing with the bar association is verified before a final determination of inclusion is made.

Personal injury and wrongful death attorney Ward was admitted to the Indiana Bar Association in 1989. From 1990 to 1991 he clerked for the Honorable Indiana Supreme Court Justice Richard M. Givan. In August, 1992, he co-authored the article entitled “Journey’s Account Statute: Litigator’s Little-Known Friend,” 35 Res Gestae 60 (1991), the Indiana State Bar Association’s bar journal. Shortly after graduation from Indiana University’s school of law, Ward and his father, Donald W. Ward, a former recipient of the prestigious 2015 Indiana Bar Foundation’s Legendary Lawyer Award and prominent wrongful death attorney in Indianapolis, formed a partnership under the name of Ward & Ward Law Firm.

Charlie Ward concentrates on earning maximum financial reparations for his clients who have been severely injured or killed by the negligence of another person or entity. “Staying on top of judicial opinions and legislation is critical to obtain the best possible outcome for our injury and wrongful death clients,” states Ward. His personal injury and wrongful death areas of experience include commercial trucking accident claims, car, motorcycle and bicycle accident claims, nursing home neglect and medical malpractice claims.

If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in an accident caused by the negligence of another person or entity, call 2017 Best Lawyer® recipient and Indianapolis personal injury lawyer, Charlie Ward of Ward & Ward Law Firm at 317-639-9501 or toll free at 888-639-9501 for a free analysis of your claim.

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/09/prweb13723357.htm

Indiana Legislation Relating to Asbestos and Mesothelioma Claims Declared Unconstitutional

asbestos product liability lawsuits in indiana

Victims of latent asbestos related diseases have reason for hope after Indiana’s State Supreme Court Ruling

asbestos product liability lawsuits in indianaWhat is a product liability claim?

A product liability claim seeks to hold miners, manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, retailers, and others along the commerce and distribution chain, responsible for the personal injury and wrongful death caused by dangerous and defective products, including, but not limited to asbestos-related injuries. Read Indiana’s Product Liability Act (IPLA).

Plaintiffs seek relief in lawsuit involving latent Mesothelioma diagnoses

Both plaintiffs were exposed to materials containing asbestos during their employment. One plaintiff, an electrician, was exposed for approximately 40 years and diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma 15 years after leaving his employment. The other plaintiff was employed by an electric utility company where he worked on and around asbestos-containing products for 15 years; he was diagnosed with mesothelioma nearly 37 years after terminating his employment.  Both defendants filed separate suits naming multiple defendants. When the cases were brought before the Indiana State Supreme Court, they argued that the following provisions in Article 1 (The Bill of Rights) of the Indiana Constitution had been violated:

Section 12 of the Indiana Constitution, commonly referred to as Rights to Remedy states:

All courts shall be open; and every person, for injury done to him in his person, property, or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law. Justice shall be administered freely, and without purchase; completely, and without denial; speedily, and without delay.

Section 23 of the constitution, commonly referred to as the Equal Privilege and Immunity Clause, states:

The General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens.

The argument and the ruling

Two sections (Section 1 and Section 2) in Chapter 3 of the Indiana Products Liability Act (IPLA) are at the center of the instant case.

Section 2, written by the Indiana General Assembly specifically for those with asbestos-related injuries , limits actions to those brought against persons or entities who both mined and sold commercial asbestos. Since plaintiffs sought damages from defendants who neither sold nor mined raw asbestos, they were barred from recovering damages under Section 2 and were therefore subject to the limits expressed in Section 1 of the IPLA.

Section 1 of the Indiana Product Liability Act, imposes a 10-year statute of repose upon persons exposed to dangerous and defective products. The Statute of Repose, as it is commonly called, states the product liability action must be commenced within ten years after the delivery of the product to the initial user or consumer. Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma is a disease which sometimes manifests many years after initial exposure to asbestos. Both plaintiffs were exposed to asbestos products and both developed asbestos-related diseases over a protracted period of time, greater than the 10-year statute of repose provided for in Section 1 of the IPLA.

In March of 2016 in a 3-2 split decision, the Indiana State Supreme Court, joining 3 appeals under one ruling, looked primarily at the Equal Privilege and Immunity Clause and held Section 2 of the IPLA created an impermissible disparity between classes of plaintiffs (those with claims against defendants who both mined and sold raw asbestos, and those with claims against defendants that sold asbestos-containing products) which violated Section 23 of the Indiana State Constitution, the Equal Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Indiana Constitution. And since Section 2 of the IPLA contained special verbiage which voided the entire section if any part of the section was held invalid, all of Section 2 was deemed unconstitutional. It was further decided that the ten-year statute of repose contained in Section 1 of the Indiana Product Liability Act did not apply to claims arising out of long-term exposure to products containing asbestos. Justice Brent Dickson wrote the opinion for the majority; Chief Justice Rush and Justice Massa wrote the dissenting opinions.

Petition for Re-Hearing

Shortly after the cases were decided, defendants submitted a petition to the court requesting a re-hearing. But in a 3-2 split, on April 28, 2016, a re-hearing was denied.

Indiana Product Liability Lawyers with Experience

Don and Charlie Ward, of Ward & Ward Law Firm in Indianapolis, have more than 86 combined years successfully litigating cases against corporations both large and small for bringing dangerous products into the marketplace that may harm individuals.

Our experienced personal injury lawyers and wrongful death lawyers use their knowledge of the law, legislation and judicial opinions to employ strategies that maximize our clients’ financial recovery after they have experienced a life-altering accident or event caused by another person or entity. If you or someone you know has been injured by an unsafe product, involved in an accident, injured by the negligence of a medical professional, or were the victim of nursing home neglect or wrongful death, call personal injury attorney, Charlie Ward, today at (317) 639-9501 or toll free at 1 (888) 639-9501 for a free consultation.

Charlie Ward

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501 or  toll free at 1 (888) 639-9501
Published 09/24/2016

 

Ward & Ward Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys Receive Award from Expertise.com

Ward & Ward Law Firm Personal Injury Lawyers Receive Prestigious Award from Expertise.com


Best Personal
Injury Lawyers
in Indianapolis
2016

The attorneys at Ward & Ward Law Firm have been recognized by Expertise.com as 2016Best Personal Injury Lawyers in Indianapolis. Expertise.com connects people in every U.S. city with qualified experts from their own communities. The Seattle based corporation researches every business in the city, then filters out the businesses and professional services that don’t meet the company’s standards of excellence. Businesses that survive the cut are scored on twenty-five criteria across six categories. The categories include reputation, credibility, experience, availability, professionalism and engagement with the community. After the businesses are ranked, the Expertise team personally reviews the highest scoring results and the list of top local professionals are published on their website. Expertise ranked 261 personal injury attorneys in Indianapolis and hand-picked twenty lawyers and their firms to spotlight as the best local experts in personal injury law.

Attorney Don Ward, a graduate of Notre Dame’s Law School, has practiced personal injury and wrongful death law in Indianapolis for more than sixty years. In 1978 and 1979, Ward served as President of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, an organization committed to protecting the constitutional rights of open access to the courts and equal protection under the law for all persons in Indiana. In 1975, Ward was elected Vice-President of the Indianapolis Bar Association. He was privileged to serve a number of terms on the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission and Indiana Judicial Qualification Commission. In 2015, he was presented with the Indiana Bar Foundation’s highest career award as Indiana’s Legendary Lawyer.

Since 2005, Ward’s son, Charlie Ward, an Indianapolis, Indiana personal injury lawyer, has received continuous annual recognition in the Super Lawyers publication. Ward holds the prestigious Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer-Review Rating, is Lead Counsel Rated and is ranked by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney. Indiana State Bar Association member Ward is an advocate for equal access to the courts.

If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in an accident cause by another person’s negligence, call Indianapolis personal injury attorneys, Don or Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501 or 1-888-639-9501 today for a free consultation.

Read more in the press release at PRWeb.

 

Are you paying too much for hospital care? | Indianapolis Car Accident Lawyers

Are You Paying Too Much for Hospital Care? | Indianapolis Personal Injury, Car Accident Lawyers and Personal Injury Attorneys

This article defines the Hospital Charge Master—the mysterious menu of hospital prices for products and services. A link has been provided that allows you to compare prices for every participating Indiana hospital.

The Charge Master

Every hospital is responsible for setting their retail prices for the products and services they offer. Medical goods and services are priced and coded in an internal hospital database called a Charge Master. Since hospitals do not function as free-market competitors, hospital Charge Masters are veiled in secrecy in all but 13 states* where state law requires disclosure of Charge Master prices upon patient request. Although Indiana hospitals are not required to make their Charge Master public, the Indiana Hospital Association publishes an enlightening website that discloses certain hospital data provided to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Indiana State Department of Health including measures of care provided in each hospital, patient satisfaction, readmissions, infections, deaths, birthing outcomes and some basic hospital procedure charges. The Indiana Hospital Association’s website is a respectable first step toward public disclosure. But in light of a staggering disparity in hospital Charge Master rates and the perception that the deepest discounts are granted to the largest third-party payers, forces are pushing for greater transparency.

The Hospital Lien Statute  | Ward & Ward Law Firm, Car Accident Lawyers

For example, Indiana’s Hospital Lien Act provides hospitals may file a Is your hospital costing too much? The Charge Masterlien for hospital charges against an action or claim brought by a patient against the parties responsible for their injuries. In Parkview Hospital v. Thomas E. Frost, Frost’s car accident lawyers alleged Parkview Hospital’s charges were unreasonable and requested Parkview Hospital provide information about discounts given to other patients with private health insurance and government healthcare reimbursement programs.

A recent opinion from the Indiana Court of Appeals stated:

“… evidence of discounts provided to patients who either have private health insurance or are covered by government healthcare reimbursement programs is relevant to the determination of reasonable charges under the [Indiana Hospital Lien] Act…”

Hospital costs and reimbursements

The Charge Master balances hospital costs, including inventory, staff, facility, insurance and permits with the less predictable estimate of account receivables from patients and third-party payers who reimburse hospital providers at diverse rates.

A hospital’s Charge Master for a procedure or product may be as little as 150% or as much as 1000% over Medicare, which reimburses only a small fraction of the Charge Master rate. Private and group health insurance providers contract separately with hospitals to discount the Charge Master rate by negotiating a Fee Schedule, a percentage of charges or by agreement of ‘usual, customary & reasonable fees’. Insurers generally reimburse at an amount greater than Medicare but substantially less than Charge Master. In an article written by Steven I. Weissman for the Florida Bar Journal, it is estimated that average Charge Master pricing at Florida’s hospitals would be 300% – 400% over the amount negotiated with major health insurance providers. Although Indiana hospital procedure rates may vary somewhat from Florida, the national trend toward deep discounts for government and contracting insurers remains the same.

Compensating for the reimbursement deficit

Automobile Insurers frequently pay hospital expenses resulting from an accident up to the policy limits of their clients’ Medical Payment automobile insurance coverage. Because Medical Payment insurance is considered primary to health insurance, hospitals bill auto insurance carriers the full Charge Master rate before balance-billing the patient’s health insurance—offsetting the deficit incurred from discounted health insurance and fractional Medicare reimbursements. *Note: Car accident lawyers would prefer patient’s health insurance pay the rate contracted between health insurance provider and the hospital.

Workman’s Compensation Insurance, out-of-network patients and uninsured patients are also billed Charge Master although out-of-network patients often pay a percentage of the Charge Master. Uninsured patients may qualify for free or reduced fee medical care.

Is there a better way?

In the last decade, we have seen some striking changes to the medical industry. But it can’t be overlooked that third-party payers have successfully exerted their influence to sustain the status quo. In a healthcare system that categorizes patientsfavoring some, penalizing othersit’s of no surprise that the current structure of “reasonable charges” and “acceptable reimbursements” imposed on patient classes, is coming under scrutiny by a citizenry increasingly burdened by the high cost of health care, public servants, members of the legal community and medical professionals that would like to see a transparent and equitable hospital marketplace—one that implements predictability, consistency and fairness in hospital billing and discounts applied—all while maintaining quality hospital services indispensable to our communities and the well-being of our families.

Experienced car accident lawyers and personal injury attorneys

Our experienced personal injury attorneys and wrongful death lawyers use their knowledge of the law, legislation and judicial opinions to employ strategies that maximize our clients’ financial recovery after they have experienced a life-altering accident or event caused by another person or entity. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident, injured by the negligence of a medical professional, or the victim of nursing home neglect or wrongful death, call car accident lawyers, Ward & Ward Law Firm, today at (888) 639-9501 for a free consultation.

Charlie Ward

Ward & Ward Law Firm | Car Accident Lawyers
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501 or 888-639-9501

Website recommendation: My Care Insight.


*Figure obtained as of this writing, June, 2016

Ward & Ward Law Firm has been chosen by Three Best Rated as one of Top Three Personal Injury Lawyer firms in Indianapolis

Tractor Trailer and Wrongful Death Attorneys, Don and Charlie Ward of Ward & Ward Law Firm, have been chosen by Three Best Rated as one of Top Three Personal Injury Lawyer firms in Indianapolis, Indiana

“Ward & Ward Law Firm personal injury and wrongful death attorneys have been selected as Top 3 Personal Injury Lawyers in Indianapolis, Indiana by Three Best Rated. The top 3 local businesses are chosen by category and community. The criteria used for the selection process utilizes the business’ reviews, history, complaints, ratings, satisfaction, trust, cost and general excellence. Categories include doctors, lawyers, restaurants and other professional services in Indianapolis.”

Read the full  press release.

 

Dead Red Law Offers Alternative for Motorcycle and Bicycle Enthusiasts|Personal Injury Attorneys

Dead Red Indiana Law Give Motorcyclists and Bicyclists Alternative to Breaking the Law

In March of 2014, Indiana became the 15th state to add the “Dead Red” law to their books. Indiana Representative, Mike Karickhoff of Kokomo, wrote House Bill No. 1080 that provides:

“…the operator [of a motorcycle, motorized bicycle, motor scooter, or bicycle] may proceed through the intersection on a steady red signal only if the operator:

    (i) comes to a complete stop at the intersection for at least one hundred twenty (120) seconds; and
    (ii) exercises due caution as provided by law, otherwise treats the traffic control signal as a stop sign, and determines that it is safe to proceed.”

The Indiana General Assembly passed the law 84-10.

Few Options for Cyclists Prior to Dead Red Law

Prior to the “dead red” law, when lightweight motorized and non-motorized vehicles failed to trigger a left-turn signal, the operator had one of three choices: 1) wait until a larger vehicle pulled behind them, tripping the scale; 2) make a right-hand turn and return to proceed through the intersection; or 3) ignore the traffic signal altogether and turn left on a red.

An Educated Public May Reduce Motorcycle Accidents in Indiana

ABATE of Indiana (The American Bikers Aimed Toward Education) strives to educate responsible cyclists on motorcycle safety. And because accidents involving motorcycles are often caused by other drivers who admittedly fail to see the cyclist, ABATE seeks to educate all drivers about motorcycle awareness. May is Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month. On May 5, ABATE of Indiana, along with many other civic organizations, will kick off Motorcycle Awareness Month by hosting an event on the Circle to bring attention to motorcycle awareness.

Personal Injury, Motorcycle and Bicycle Accident Attorneys with Experience

The defenses used by defendant insurance companies to minimize their financial loss and the potential jury bias that occurs when litigating a motorcycle or bicycle injury claim is good reason to seek the assistance of an attorney experienced in motorcycle and bicycle injury cases. If you, or someone you know has been injured or killed in an accident involving a motorcycle, moped or bicycle, call Charlie Ward, an attorney with experience in pursuing claims on behalf of cyclists, at 317-639-9501 today for a free analysis of your claim.

[email protected]

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

2016 Update on Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Reform Legislation | Indiana Medical Malpractice Attorneys and Wrongful Death Lawyers

2016 Update on Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Reform Legislation | Indiana Medical Malpractice Attorneys and Wrongful Death Lawyers

Indiana 2016 updated Medical Malpractice ActAs lay people, we put our faith in physicians, nurses,  hospital facilities and other medical providers whom we trust to exercise sound professional decisions, provide quality care and abide by “best practice” standards in their field(s) of medicine. Most healthcare professionals meet or exceed the benchmark of quality health care we have come to expect. But when medical experts fail to meet a reasonable standard of care that results in your bodily injury or the death of a family member, you need an experienced Indiana medical malpractice attorney to represent you and your family’s interests in a legal action against a negligent medical practitioner(s ).

History of Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act

In 1975, to avert an exodus of medical professionals from the state of Indiana, lawmakers enacted the Medical Malpractice Act which would bring stringent reform to civil actions for medical negligence and place caps on liability payouts. Caps for acts of medical negligence had been raised only twice since the initial legislation was enacted 41 years ago. Periodically, lawmakers should revisit the caps imposed by the Malpractice Act and make fair, economic adjustments that reflect inflation and soaring healthcare costs.

The Medical Malpractice Act as Amended in 2016


Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501Currently, Indiana has one of the lowest caps in the nation. In 2016, Senator Brent Steele from Bedford, Indiana authored and introduced Senate Bill 28 (SB 28) which would not only increase the caps imposed upon injured persons and the families of persons deceased by an act of medical negligence, but would hasten payments made by the Patient’s Compensation Fund for a court approved settlement or final non-appealable judgment. The Indiana Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA),  one of the most respected lobbies serving the interests of Hoosiers, backed Steele’s bill and worked diligently with lawmakers and healthcare providers alike, to amend and improve on certain aspects of Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act. Although ITLA does not favor caps on tort claims, the political climate was ripe for all interested parties, including the Indiana Medical Association which represents physicians, to strike a compromise with lawmakers that would benefit individual citizens and continue to attract accomplished physicians and talented healthcare professionals to the state of Indiana.

After SB 28 was heavily amended by both the house and the senate, lawmakers voted unanimously on March 8, 2016, to send the bill to Governor Mike Pence for his signature. Several of the bill’s key changes to Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act are shown on the right hand column in the chart below. Read SB 28.

Medical Malpractice Act

Prior to

July 1, 2017

 Medical Malpractice Act

Effective July 1, 2017

Liability Caps

Patients can only receive up to $1.25 million in damages from an act of malpractice.

Liability Caps

Effective, July 1, 2017, patients injured or killed by a negligent act of malpractice on or after July 1, 2017, may receive an amount no greater than $1.65 million in damages.

Effective July 1, 2019,  lawmakers have approved an additional raise of $150,000 for patients injured or killed by a negligent act of malpractice on or after July 1, 2019. Patients may receive an amount no greater than $1.8 million in damages.

(PCF) Patient’s Compensation Fund

Physicians and Providers are responsible for the first $250,000 in damages owed to one patient for one act of malpractice, and no more than $750,000 combined annually. The PCF covers the rest of a patient’s damages, which allows patients a guarantee of full compensation by excluding physicians’ insurance plans as a factor in the ability to cover damages awards.

 (PCF) Patient’s Compensation Fund

Effective, July 1, 2017,
Physicians and Providers are responsible for the first $400,000 in damages owed to one patient for one act of malpractice. The PCF is responsible for $1.25 million.

Effective, July 1, 2019,
Physicians and Providers are responsible for the first $500,000 in damages owed to one patient for one act of malpractice. The PCF is responsible for $1.3 million.

Time Limits

The statute of limitations for filing a complaint is two years from the act of malpractice. Children less than six years-old have until their eighth birthday to file a complaint.

Time Limits

No change.

Filing Complaints

Before taking a case to court, patients must file a complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance, where a three-physician medical review panel reviews the claim. If there is one defendant, two of the three panel members must be from the accused physician’s specialty. The panel gives a non-conclusive, non-binding report, but they can be called as experts if the defendant chooses to take the case to court.

Filing Complaints

No change.

Payment from PCF

Claims for payment from the Patient’s Compensation Fund are paid quarterly

Payment from PCF

Effective July 1, 2017
Claims from the patient’s compensation fund must be paid not later than 60 days after the issuance of a court approved settlement or final non-appealable judgment.

 

Experienced Indiana Medical Malpractice Lawyers and Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys

Our experienced Indiana medical malpractice lawyers are here to navigate the complexities of the medical malpractice claims process for you and your loved ones. Call Ward & Ward Law Firm today at 317-639-9501 and ask for “Charlie” for a free, no obligation, consultation.

By Charlie Ward
[email protected]

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

 

Read more about medical malpractice lawyers in Indiana:

Medical Malpractice and Related Injuries

Understanding Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Law