Category Archives: Legislation

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
cpw@wardlawfirm.com

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

 

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.

cpw@wardlawfirm.com

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
cpw@wardlawfirm.com

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

 

 

Accident Victims Benefit from The Affordable Health Care Act

Accident Victims Benefit from The Affordable Health Care Act

How do I pay my medical bills?Prior to 2010, a young adult without healthcare insurance who was injured by another driver would risk, at the very least, a lowered credit score and face possible bankruptcy if they and the defendant driver (the person responsible for the accident) were operating their motor vehicles with insufficient or no automobile insurance coverage. A recent study shows that young adults have benefited from the law allowing them to obtain health insurance on their parent’s healthcare policy up to the age of 26.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act has reduced the number of uninsured persons

Since The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act was enacted, approximately 16.4 million additional people have acquired health insurance coverage, according to a study published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This equates to a 35% reduction rate of uninsured. The majority of these newly insureds have been brought in through the healthcare Marketplace (a local, online healthcare shopping website), expansions in Medicare and young adults who are covered by their parent’s health insurance policies.

Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), most young people were separated from their parent’s health insurance policies after graduation from high school or completion of college. In 2010, the ACA provided for coverage of young people 19-25, by enabling them to stay on their parents’ policy. From the baseline in 2010 through the start of open enrollment in 2013, the uninsured rate of young people dropped from 34.1% to 26.7%, i.e. approximately 2,300,000 young adults ages 19-25 secured coverage through their parent’s policy. Through March 4, 2015, an additional 3.4 million young adults benefited from the ACA provision thereby totaling 5,700,000. These young adults may lawfully ride their parent’s policy regardless of marital status, residence, employer plan availability, financial independence and school status until they reach the age of 26.

Best Lawyers® Ward &  Ward Law Firm -Experienced in Accidents and Wrongful Death Claims

Charlie Ward is a personal injury attorney in Indianapolis, Indiana and represents people who have been injured in auto, motorcycle and truck accidents as well as pedestrian and bicycling accidents, medical malpractice and nursing home negligence claims. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, the attorneys at Ward & Ward Law Firm will help you navigate the subrogation matters that arise as a result of the claim. Call Indiana personal injury attorney Charlie Ward today for a free consultation at 317-639-9501.

By Charlie Ward

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

Why personal injury attorneys and car accident lawyers may refuse your case – Statute of Limitations

Why car accident lawyers and personal injury attorneys may refuse your case – Indiana Statute of Limitations

Personal injury lawyers and the Indiana statute of limitations

Every so often, I receive a call from someone who has been unsuccessful in securing legal representation for their personal injury claim. There are as many reasons why an injury lawyer will turn down a claim, as there are facts and circumstances surrounding the claim. In part 1 of this series, I’ll explain why attorneys may turn down a case nearing the statute of limitations.

Consultation – The Groundwork – Personal Injury Attorney and Car Accident Lawyers

Before a personal injury lawyer agrees to represent a claimant, both parties will meet face-to-face to discuss the potential claim. The attorney will want to study the police report and accompanying eyewitness testimony, review medical records and provider billings incurred to date and examine any other evidence available at this early stage of the process. If liability or collectability is in question, a deeper investigation may be necessary. When an attorney believes a claim has value and has faith in the honesty and integrity of the claimant, they will enter into a contingency agreement whereby the attorney agrees to advance the firm’s monetary and staff resources to pursue the “win” for their client. It is costly to litigate a case. Expenditures made on behalf of the client and their claim may include but are not limited to investigation, research, document preparation, court costs, exhibits, reports, expert witness fees, court reporters, professional fees and costs of mediation.

The Statute of Limitations – Personal Injury Cases

The statute of limitations is a time limit imposed upon a claimant or representative of a deceased person to notice defendants and file a claim with the court against the person(s), entity or entities responsible for their damages. Indiana has a 2-year statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim against parties responsible for their economic, non-economic   and punitive damages. In claims involving a governmental entity, the claimant must file a Notice of Tort Claim within 180 days of the accident. These deadlines begin to run from the date the claimant received the injuries or the claimant’s date of death. Exceptions may be found at IC 34-11-2-4. It is unfortunate when people wait to pursue their claim against the wrongdoer until days or even weeks before the statute of limitations has run. It takes time to review a claim and to mount an effective case. Many lawyers are reluctant to commit their professional time, services and financial resources to a claim filed in haste.

Experienced Car Accident Lawyers | Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident, our firm recommends you consult with an attorney experienced in personal injury matters as soon as possible. The attorneys at Ward & Ward Law Firm have more than 85 combined years of experience practicing personal injury, wrongful death and medical malpractice law. Call Charlie Ward today at 317-639-9501 for a free consultation.

Charlie Ward
Ward & Ward Law Firm, Car Accident Lawyers
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46228
cpw@wardlawfirm.com
Phone: 317-639-9501

Unjust Law Strengthened Aspirations of 2015 Legendary Personal Injury Lawyer | Car Accident Lawyers and Personal Injury Attorneys

Unjust Law Strengthened Aspirations of 2015 Legendary Personal Injury Lawyer | Car Accident Lawyers and Personal Injury Attorneys

20155 Legendary Personal Injury Lawyer, Don WardWhen Indiana personal injury attorney, Donald W. Ward, was a first year law student, he learned through personal experience that “a lot of injustices have been legislatively induced.” To counter the power structure favoring insurance companies and special interests, the former President of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association has worked alongside like-minded, dedicated trial lawyers with members of the Indiana General Assembly to amend and pass legislation that would protect the trial court “wins” for injured clients.

Ward recalls one peculiar aspect of the Indiana Guest Statute that directly influenced his professional aspirations. During the fifties and prior to its amendment in 1998, the Indiana Guest Statute favored insurance companies by preventing an injured or deceased passenger from filing suit against a negligent owner or operator of the vehicle in which they were riding, except under narrowly defined circumstances. “Because you were a guest in my car,” Ward said, “my negligent driving did not entitle you to sue me for injuries caused by my negligent driving unless you could prove that I willfully or wantonly ran that red light.” Willful intent was key to overcoming the restrictions of the unjust law.

The early Guest Statute personally affected the Notre Dame Law Student

Jurisprudence was Ward’s calling. But it became personal after his sixteen-year old sister sustained life-threatening injuries when the vehicle in which she was riding crashed due to driver’s negligence. Upon learning of her accident and the injuries she suffered, he immediately left the law school he was attending to take his place with the family alongside her bed.

While in a prolonged state of unconsciousness, witnesses to the crash misled authorities by withholding facts. There was little hope her body could survive the excessive traumas and because of the restrictions placed in Indiana’s Guest Statute, little expectation that the driver’s insurance company would be financially accountable for the mounting medical bills.

Sometime later―her jaw wired shut―she awoke from a comatose state. When she finally regained the ability to form words, she stunned family members when she communicated to them that the driver of the vehicle in which she was riding had been drag racing on the road leading into the small town of Osgood when the accident occurred. She further articulated that prior to the crash, she and other passengers in the car firmly told the driver to “slow down.” Although latent, the adolescent eyewitnesses eventually corroborated the illuminating statement made from the hospital bed.

When the authorities determined the cause of the accident; that the driver of the car had “willfully” engaged in risky driving behavior; and the victim’s request to “slow down” had gone unheeded, this was the break family attorney and Ward’s mentor needed to proceed with a claim that would fall within the strict interpretation of the law. This incident and the bond formed between Ward and the late Howard S. Young Jr., served to strengthen Ward’s resolve to become a practicing plaintiff’s lawyer and to use his skills to affect changes in laws that were unjust and denied citizens equal access to trial by jury.

Former President of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association

Since those days back in the fifties, members of the Indiana Trial Lawyer Association have worked diligently to protect the rights of Hoosier citizens in the legislative process. Ward says, “It is my belief that the voices of individual citizens are heard in the legislative process through the members of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association.” When asked about his career as a trial lawyer, he said “The law profession is a very noble profession and I am very proud to have been a small part of it.”

Indiana’s Guest Statute, also known as the “Hitchhiker’s Law,” was eventually amended and implemented in 1998 reducing its scope to include parents, spouses, children, stepchildren, siblings, and hitchhikers. To learn more about the current Guest Statute in Indiana, visit the Ward & Ward Law Firm blog.

On August 19, 2015, Donald W. Ward of Ward & Ward Law Firm in Indianapolis, received the 2015 Legendary Lawyer Award presented by the Indiana Bar Foundation, a charity comprised of lawyers and judges who are dedicated to strengthening access to justice and an appreciation for the rule of law in Indiana. The committee that selected Ward was composed of Bar Foundation Fellows practicing law across the state of Indiana. Today, Ward is a diligent advocate for his firm’s injured clients and the families of wrongful death victims. Ward says he has no intention of retiring and will continue his work as a practicing personal injury lawyer.

Experienced Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorneys and Car Accident Lawyers

Call personal injury and accident lawyer Charlie Ward today for a free consultationIf you, or someone you know, has been injured in an accident, call personal injury attorneys and car accident lawyers,  Don and Charlie Ward, today at 317-639-9501 or 888-639-9501 for an evaluation of your claim.

Ward & Ward Law Firm
Car Accident Lawyers and Personal Injury Attorneys
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501
888-639-9501

What You Should Know About Structured Settlements | Car Accident Lawyers

How does a structured settlement for personal injury differ from a settlement or award? | Indianapolis Car Accident Lawyers

Call personal injury attorney Charlie Ward today at 317-639-9501 if you were involved in an Indiana accidentA settlement or judgment for a personal injury claim may be paid to the claimant by the defendant or the defendant’s insurance company in a single lump sum payment. The majority of settlements are paid in this way.

But in cases where the claimant (plaintiff) settles or is awarded a large sum of money, they may elect to receive all settlement funds in steady payments or a one-time partial disbursement of the settlement funds with recurring payments disbursed over a period of years or decades. This is called a structured settlement.

An initial partial disbursement of a structured settlement can and should be used for immediate expenses including, but not limited to medical bills, medical devices, convalescence, therapy, career training, special housing and transportation requirements or any other necessities unique to the injured person. The remainder of the partial disbursement may be invested or posted to a banking account to be used for living expenses or unforeseen future necessary expenditures. After the bills are met, the claimant is free to decide what to do with the remaining partial disbursement of funds.

Advantages of a structured settlement

Some studies indicate that recipients of very large lump sum settlements or “windfall” awards frequently run out of the funds necessary to sustain their disabilities throughout the remainder of their lives. Sadly, this scenario may occur when the parent or guardian of an injured child lacks the experience of managing a large sum of money. One of the advantages to a structured settlement distributed over a period of years is the economic security and well-being of the disabled or partially disabled person.

There are also tax advantages to structuring a settlement. Although settlements and awards for physical injuries are generally tax exempt, interest and dividends earned on the investment of a single lump sum asset is taxable. Even if all of the funds received in a structured settlement are invested, the annual tax obligation would likely be lessened due to a reduced investment stream.

Will I make decisions regarding the distribution of my structured settlement?Call car accident lawyer Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

A structured settlement is funded by way of an annuity purchased on behalf of the claimant. When you agree to settle your lawsuit using a structured settlement, your personal injury lawyer will facilitate a consultation with a qualified economic and financial analyst who will calculate your monthly or annual financial needs against mortality and inflationary tables. A qualified and trusted financial advisor will discuss your goals and the options available to you, i.e. the sums you wish to receive and the length of time over which you may extend your payments. You may choose to end disbursement of your settlement at a designated age, terminate payments upon your death or continue with payments made to your heirs through the remaining life of the financial instrument. You may even elect to withhold regular payments until you reach a certain age to fund your retirement.

Why do insurance companies offer structured settlements?

Because structured funds are invested in an annuity—a financial instrument that is expected to grow over time—the initial investment made by defendant or defendant’s insurance company is significantly less than the totality of the expected future income stream received by the claimant. Unless the claimant wishes to make a large purchase, such as a home, from a lesser settlement—say, for example, a settlement of $100,000., a structured settlement can be a win-win situation for both parties.

The Structured Settlement Purchasing Industry

The Washington Post recently published a story exposing a predatory structured settlement purchasing company that took advantage of a young adult woman with brain damage and limited mental capacity due to lead paint poisoning as a child. The Baltimore woman had prevailed in a suit filed on her behalf and was tricked into transferring her monthly checks, 420 payments through the year 2052. The estimated value of her annuity was more than a half a million dollars but she transferred her future security for a mere $63,000.

Although most settlement purchasing companies operate legally and within the boundaries of the law, you should understand that the players within the industry will only offer pennies on the dollar for the transfer of a structured annuity. People who have fallen on hard times or who need a chunk of money to purchase a car or make a down payment on a home may be more easily persuaded to sell the remaining life of their structured settlement. However, Indiana Code 34-50-2 entitled Annuity Structured Settlements regulates structured settlements in Indiana with a level of oversight requiring approval by the court for a legal transfer of the annuity. Section 7 of Chapter 2 states:

Sec. 7. An Indiana court of competent jurisdiction may approve a transfer of structured settlement payment rights only in a final order that is based on the express findings of the court. The express findings must include all of the following:

(1) The consideration that the payee will receive for the transfer reasonably reflects the present fair market value of the future Indiana Code 2015 periodic payments under the structured settlement agreement.

(2) The transfer is in the best interest of the payee.

(3) The transfer will not materially impair the payee’s ability to discharge the payee’s obligations to the payee’s dependents.

(4) If the transferee is the applicant, the transferee has provided to the payee a disclosure statement in accordance with Section 6 of this chapter.

Section 8 of the above-referenced statute goes on to describe the process of filing an application for the legal transfer of a structured settlement annuity with the court of jurisdiction. After application has been made, the court will notify the applicant of the date, time and place of the hearing but it will not be heard earlier than 20 days after the application has been filed with the court.

Personal injury attorneys and car accident lawyers experienced with structured settlements

Our attorneys have more than 85 years of combined experience in personal injury law including wrongful death, nursing home neglect and medical malpractice claims. Many of our clients have elected to receive structured settlements and awards. Although structured settlements are not always the right solution, they can be a valuable source of future income, particularly for clients concerned with future income or loss of wages.

If you have a claim for injuries you received in an Indiana accident caused by another party’s negligence, call the Indianapolis car accident lawyers at Ward & Ward Law Firm today for a free consultation! Call 317-639-9501 or toll free at 888-639-9501.

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Driving through Indiana school zones | Indiana Work Zone and School Zone Injury Lawyers

Driving Legally in an Indiana School Zone

School zone and construction zone accidents in Indiana can be reduced when the laws for driving within the school zones are understood and obeyedThere are more than thirteen-thousand clauses in Indiana code—a plethora of laws to govern our daily lives. People generally want to obey the laws but in certain rare instances, how people go about the business of complying with motoring laws differs from one day to the next and from driver to driver.
On my way to work in the mornings, I usually drive through several school zones, each clearly marked with signs reducing the speed limits to 25 mph or less. And nearly every day drivers demonstrate their own unique interpretation of school zone laws, although the lead car in the school zone often sets the standard for group compliance.

Reduced speeds protect children from accidents caused by motorists and cyclists

It’s reported that Indiana bipartisan legislators have recognized the need to enforce our school and work zone speeds by renewing their push for installation of speed-detecting cameras that would sense and record license plates of drivers exceeding posted speeds in work or school zones. *Read House Bill 1404. Penalties for exceeding the posted reduced speed would include a $300 fine for the first violation. A repeat violation within five years could lead to a $750 fine and further offenses could be fined up to $1,000.

Senate Bill 398, filed by Senator E. Bassler would allow police to issue tickets if they have probable cause to believe a driver illegally overtook a school bus during engagement of the school bus stop arm. This bill passed committee in February, 2015. Read more here.

*Note: HB 1404 was not passed by the 2015 Indiana General Assembly.

How should you drive through a school zone?

Chapter 5 of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles driving manual has only this to say on the topic of driving through school zones:

School Zone Speed Limits

If you are driving near a school, you must slow down to the lower posted speed limit for the school zone. Common hours for school zone speed limits are 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. However, local authorities may establish lower speed limits for school zones when children are present.

Here are the facts you should know, in question & answer form, when driving through an Indiana school zone:

Where does the restricted speed of the school zone end?

The sign located at the end of the school zone indicates where you may begin acceleration of the new posted lawful speed. Acceleration should not begin prior to the sign signaling the end of the school zone or the new speed limit sign.

Is a reduction in speed required during school holidays?

Indiana Code Section 9-21-5-6 (f)(3) states:

(f) …a speed limit established under this subsection is valid only if the following conditions exist…

(3) Children are present.

City, township, private, parochial, and year-round school schedules operate on unique calendars. Unless a motorist has children attending the school within the immediate school zone or some knowledge of the school’s calendar, how should the driver proceed through the zone?

Unless you have specific knowledge the school within the zone is not in session, maintain the reduced mandated speed. Ignorance is not a defense recognized by the court. However, IC 9-21-5-6(f)(4) states:

(B) June 30, 2012, if the school operates on a twelve (12) month schedule, there must be a sign indicating that the school is an all year school.

What are the fines and/or penalties for failure to obey the laws?

At the time of this writing, exceeding the speed limit through an Indiana school zone is a Class B Infraction, a civil offense punishable with a fine up to $1,000.00.

Plaintiff personal injury lawyers helping people injured or killed in an accident

Ward & Ward Law Firm has spent more than 85 years representing people and family members who have been killed or injured in an accident caused by another driver’s negligence. Our experienced personal injury lawyers have settled and litigated a diversity of plaintiff claims involving:

  • Speed Zone Accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Pedestrian Accidents
  • Bicycle Accidents
  • Automobile Accidents
  • Bus Accidents
  • Taxi Accidents
  • Ambulance Accidents
  • Truck and Semi Truck Accidents

Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501If you or someone you know has been injured or has died in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, give Charlie Ward a call at 317-639-9501 for a free evaluation of your potential legal claim.

By Charlie Ward
Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501
Published 03/06/2015

Auto Accident Lawyer in Indianapolis | Texting While Driving

Young businessman on the phone
Personal injury attorneys see rise in accidents caused by distracted drivers | The auto accident lawyer

In 2012, approximately 420,000 people were injured and 3,300 killed as a result of distracted drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), that was about 10% higher than the year before.Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

Texting while driving is becoming the most common cause of distracted driving and these numbers will continue to rise. Although to date, 44 states have banned texting while driving, resulting accidents have not diminished.  A Pew Research study shows that younger women are more likely to be involved in an accident because of texting while driving:

“In a study comparing boys texting behaviors to girls, Pew Research found, on average, girls typically send and receive 80 texts a day while boys send and receive 30.”

And these numbers are not on the decline.

A few states (Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas) have banned inexperienced drivers from texting. In January, 2017, a senate committee in Arizona proposed a 6-month ban on the use of communication electronic devices for teen licensees.  As reported by The Arizona Republic: “The bill calls for a $75 fine and a 30-day extension of the six-month limit on a teen’s graduated driver’s license for the first offense.”  There are no such restrictions in Montana.

It is estimated that 660,000 drivers use their cell phones and/or manipulate electronic devices at any given daylight moment while driving according to the NHTSA. Distracted drivers in many instances run red lights, cross center lines in the roadway and rear end vehicles in front of them. Young drivers do NOT understand the concept of time and distance.  It only takes a few seconds – eyes off the road –  and it is too late to avoid an accident.

Early education may reduce auto accidents, injuries and deaths

Teaching young and inexperienced drivers about the dangers of texting while driving will minimize accidents and prevent serious injuries as well as loss of lives.  Placing the cell phone out of reach or turning off the cell phone while driving is recommended.  In addition, passengers should be made aware of the dangers and try to prevent texting while driving by assisting the driver with any necessary cell phone use.  If you are a passenger, remind the driver not to reach for the cell phone – it can wait until later.

Experienced personal injury attorneys and auto accident lawyer litigate distracted driver cases

It is apparent after some accidents that the cause of the crash was a driver distracted by a cell phone and possibly texting while driving. Officers may include this information in their police report as the official cause of the collision. But if it has not been determined at the scene of the accident, a good private investigator employed by your attorney may be able to uncover this information on your behalf. Further, your experienced personal injury lawyer  might reveal this relevant fact during the discovery process when cell phone records may be obtained. In addition, witnesses to the accident may be of help in their eye-witness testimony.

If there is reason to believe the defendant driver was distracted by their cell phone and possibly texting, a lawyer experienced in personal injury cases will use every resource to investigate. Indiana has a law that bans texting while driving and the personal injury attorneys at Ward & Ward Law Firm  will leverage the law on your behalf.

Call Charlie Ward today at 317-639-9501 if you or someone you know was injured or killed in a collision caused by a texting driver.

By Charlie Ward

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