Category Archives: Settlements and Awards

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

Why personal injury lawyers may refuse your case – Uncollectability | Indianapolis Car Accident Lawyers

Why Personal Injury Lawyers May Refuse Your Case – Uncollectability | Car Accident Lawyers, Auto Accident Attorneys, Ward & Ward Law Firm

Collectability is the ability to put money into the hands of an injured party and creditors who have extended treatment on their behalf resulting from an accident. It is an essential component of any personal injury claim. The following are examples of uncollectable claims frequently turned down by personal injury lawyers:

  • Neither party has automobile insurance and the driver responsible for the injuries has no real or personal assets
  • Liability cannot be ascertained through evidence or credible eyewitness testimony
  • Damages are negligible and/or frivolous
  • Injured party(ies) did not receive treatment immediately following the accident and did not follow up with a physician in a timely manner

It falls on you to protect your injured self from another person’s negligence | Indianapolis Car Accident Lawyers

The recession and suspended licenses have thrust an increase in uninsured drivers in Indiana. Of the approximately 4 million driver’s licenses issued in the state of Indiana, approximately 12% are suspended. According to the most recent estimate obtained by the Insurance Information Institute, approximately 1 in every 7 drivers or 14.2% take to the roads without any automobile insurance.

Uninsured/Underinsured Bodily Injury and Liability* coverage is included as a part of your policy unless you express in writing a desire to omit this coverage. UIM protects you, your family’s assets and financial exposure from reckless uninsured and underinsured drivers that may cause harm to you and others riding in your vehicle. Your uninsured coverage may also protect you from defendants fleeing a judgment through the protection of bankruptcy.

Experienced Indiana Car Accident Lawyers and Wrongful Death Attorneys

The personal injury and car accident lawyers of Ward & Ward Law Firm recommend increasing your insurance policy to reduce and protect your personal exposure in an accident you may or may not cause. A robust bodily injury and liability policy may cost only pennies a day more than the minimum policy required to drive in Indiana. Before you call an agent, learn more about automobile insurance coverage in Indiana at our attorney blog.

The auto accident attorneys at Ward & Ward Law Firm have more than 85 combined years of experience practicing  personal injury, wrongful death and medical malpractice law.  If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident, call personal injury lawyer, Charlie Ward, today at 317-639-9501 or toll free at 888-639-9501 for a free consultation.

Charlie Ward
Personal Injury Attorney

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

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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Elements of a Truck Accident Claim for Damages

 

The damages involved in a truck accident claim | The Truck Accident Lawyers

Truck Accident Claims | The Elements of Damages

When a  personal injury case is filed with the court, your  attorney will list the damages you received from the accident on the Complaint. Due to size and weight variables, vehicular impact with a commercial van, refrigerated truck, load hauling semi tractor or armored vehicle may cause serious harm, severe injuries and even death to those persons who experience an unfortunate commercial vehicular crash.

Generally speaking, an accidental encounter with a commercial vehicle may have, but is not limited to the following elements in a civil suit for damages:Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

  1. Physical injuries –  Bodily injuries are often multiple and severe and may include, but are not limited to internal injuries, catastrophic brain injury, spinal cord damage, broken or severed limbs, temporary and/or permanent physical limitations and/or disabilities.
  2. Medical bills –   including emergency room and hospital services, medical treatment, medical providers, physical therapy, rehabilitation facility, blood work, radiology and medical devices.
  3. Pain & suffering – This may include severe and chronic pain
  4. Permanent impairment rating – May preclude you from returning to your job in the same capacity as before the accident or a reduced wage-earning capacity
  5. Wage loss / loss of earning capacity – past, present and future
  6. Loss of consortium – a claim for loss of companionship which may be made by your spouse
  7. Property damages – includes vehicle and personal property

 Experience negotiating with trucking industry defendant insurance companies | The truck accident lawyers

If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident involving a truck, semi tractor-trailer or commercial trucking van, you want an experienced negotiator or trial attorney working on your behalf. The truck accident lawyers at Ward & Ward Law Firm treat every claim as if it will be going to trial. What does that mean?

Our legal team prepares every case thoroughly from the initial investigation, through the discovery process,call Charlie Ward at 317–639-9501 for a free consultation.

By Charlie Ward

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

Five things you should do after an auto, motorcycle, bicycle or truck accident to increase your settlement

How to increase your settlement or jury award after an accident

The steps you take immediately following an accident will help you and your attorney achieve the best possible results from your personal injury settlement or trial. When you hire a lawyer, he or she will thoroughly investigate the facts of the accident based upon the information you are able to provide as follows:

  1. Obtain an accident report from the police or sheriff within the jurisdiction where the accident occurred;
  2. Obtain eye witness information: name,  phone number and address, if possible;
  3. Take photos of all vehicles at the scene of the accident;
  4. Get medical treatment and follow-up on your doctor’s treatment plan;
  5. Do not give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company without your lawyer’s knowledge and/or presence.

In many cases, a private investigator may be employed by your attorney to further delve into the details of the accident, particularly when there is a question of liability. But the information listed above will give everyone involved in your case a good start on the facts and provide some very necessary information.

Experienced personal injury lawyers

Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501If you, or someone you know, has been injured or killed in an accident caused by another person’s negligence, give Charlie Ward a call today at 317-639-9501 to discuss the facts and obtain a free evaluation of your claim.

By Charlie Ward

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

Car Accident Attorney in Indianapolis | Black Box As Evidence

Preservation of black box evidence may be critical in supporting your accident claim
Event data recorders log vehicular speeds

 

Can black box technology be used as evidence in criminal and civil courts?

If you have ever been in an automobile accident, it is likely that the events leading up to the collision were captured by a device known as a “black box”. The lay term is “black box” but the technical term which you will see in official documents and court records is “Event Data Recorder” or EDR.

Does my car have a black box installed?

History shows that in the early 1990’s, automobile manufacturers  from Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick and Pontiac used the EDR as a way to understand how vehicles performed in accidents.  Since 2000,  the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has collected data involving car accidents as well.  Today every vehicle sold in the United States must have an EDR.

Since 2012, automobiles equipped with EDR are required by the NHTSA to track 15 different data points including speed, steering, braking, acceleration, seat belt use, and if in an accident, force of impact and air bag deployment.  To find out if an older car has an EDR check Harris Technical Services or Accident Reconstruction Network.

Will the download of my car’s black box data help my accident lawsuit?

With all this information stored in an EDR, the question becomes whether the data download is admissible in a court of law.  Fifteen states have passed laws that give criminal law enforcement and others involved in civil litigation, the ability to retrieve the data with a court order even though the data belongs to the owner of the vehicle.   Some argue that the privacy issue should be taken up with Congress when dealing with the issue of crash data.

Lawyers with experience in retrieval and interpretation of black box information

Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501Regardless, the EDR in every car crash has relevant evidence and will likely be retrieved and used as evidence in all civil litigation cases. Lawyers, Charlie and Don Ward have experience in protecting and preserving black block technology data and working with reconstruction experts in the interpretation of the evidence. If you’ve been injured in an accident, call Charlie Ward today at 317-639-9501 for a free evaluation of your claim.

By Charlie Ward

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

Data Tracking Device Used as Evidence | Motorcycle Accident Attorney in Indianapolis

Indiana Lawyer For Personal Injury Settlements and Claims - Indianapolis Attorney Wearable ‘Black Box’ Technology Used as Evidence in Accident Claims

A self-tracking wearable device known as ‘Fitbit’  is technologically similar to the “black box” technology found on a vehicle.  Fitbits and other wearable data tracking devices can monitor and track just about everything including exercise, sleep patterns and daily activities such as the amount of time one spends standing or the number of steps taken by an individual per day.  Since black box generated reports can be downloaded and used as evidence in lawsuits and accident claims by either side to support allegations or defenses, it will come as no surprise that  the data received by wearable tracking devices may soon also be used as evidence for settlement negotiations or in courtroom cases.

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Who will interpret the individual’s data?

An outside analytics company will be used to crunch numbers and define statistical norms from raw data uploaded by the general population. The individual injured person’s data will then be analyzed and compared with the mean of the general population and possibly used as evidence in personal injury cases.  If you are seriously injured in an automobile, motorcycle or trucking accident, the evidence from these wearable devices will confirm a daily lifestyle of restricted activities. Thus, your wearable data tracking device may serve as your own expert witness in your accident case.

Over the past few years more and more wearable devices are coming to the market.  Apple has a product known as HealthKit and Google has one similar for Android users called Google Fit.  It is estimated that 19 million wearable devices will be purchased in 2014. The general rule will dictate if you wear a device which collects personal data, then the production of that data will be requested by the opposing side and required by a court of law if you claim a personal injury.

Technology’s Influence

Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501This general rule is similar to evidence that is produced from a cell phone (text) or on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Linked In. The technology is here and easier to trace than ever before.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, call Charlie Ward today at 317-639-9501 for a free evaluation of your claim.

By Charlie Ward

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