Tag Archives: accidents

Basics Of A Negligence Action in Indianapolis and Greater Indiana

Indianapolis Auto Accident Injury Lawyer‘Negligence’ Pertaining to a Personal Injury Claim

You were involved in an accident. Now you are entangled in insurance paperwork and solicitations by lawyers to handle your case. You are bound to hear a bevy of unfamiliar legal terms related to your case. One of those common terms is “negligence.” What is negligence, and what exactly does it mean?Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

According to Cornell.edu, negligence is the failure to take reasonable care that a prudent person would take under the same circumstances. Basically, it refers to a person’s careless or reckless actions that led to another person’s injuries or damages.

Negligence occurs in many forms, from car crashes to professional malpractice. Regardless of the specific type of case, ever since colonial times, a negligence action in the United States has had the same basic components:

  • Duty: Reasonable care, which is an objective standard, is the duty that most people owe to other people. Sometimes, there is a higher duty, such as in an attorney-client matter, and sometimes there is a lower duty, such as when a trespasser is injured on another person’s land.
  • Breach: If defendants fail to meet the applicable standard of care, then they have breached the legal duty. Often, as in Blyth v. Birmingham Water Works, there is an element of foreseeability: The defendant must understand that the breach of duty may result in damages.
  • Cause: Causation, the link between the breach of duty and the plaintiff’s damages, is actually a two-step inquiry:
    • Cause in fact: In legal terms, the plaintiff must show “but for” causation, i.e., that the injury would not have occurred “but for” the defendant’s negligence.
    • Proximate cause: Proximate cause goes back to foreseeability. In one famous case, Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad, the defendant railroad company was not liable for the plaintiff’s injury that occurred when two porters pushed a man onto a moving train car, causing the man to drop a package of fireworks. The shockwave from the fireworks pushed over a pair of scales, which fell on the plaintiff. The court found that the injury was not foreseeable and the connection was too remote.
  • Damages: There is no action for negligence unless the plaintiff is damaged. Damages can include both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages would be easily quantifiable numbers, such as medical expenses and property damage. Non-economic damages are harder to assign value to, such as pain and suffering. Punitive damages are also available in some cases.

If you have questions about your personal injury case or need hard-hitting representation, contact an Indianapolis accident attorney today.

Air Bag Recalls | Personal Injury Lawyers in Indianapolis

To check and see if your vehicle is covered in the airbag recall, check out the following link.

Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorney - Auto Air Bag Accidents The federal government increased the number of vehicles in a safety recall involving airbags from five million to eight million.  Vehicles in the recall include Toyotas, Hondas, Nissans and others. Call personal injury and accident lawyer Charlie Ward today for a free consultationThe government is urging owners to have the vehicles repaired as soon as possible because the airbags pose the risk of death and/or serious injury in a vehicle accident.  Investigators are also concerned that hot, humid air could potentially cause the air bag to explode unexpectedly.  Should this occur, it could cause metal shrapnel flying, causing death or serious injury.  General Motors and other manufacturers have also recently recalled vehicles for safety issues regarding airbags.  In total worldwide over 16 million vehicles have been recalled for safety issues involving airbags since 2002.  David Friedman with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration urges all consumers with these vehicles to immediately have them repaired to prevent any deaths or injuries.

Safety groups allege that four people have been killed and numerous others seriously injured from the sudden airbag deployment.  Airbags have been required on new vehicles since 1999.   The airbag devices are made by Tokyo based, Takata Corporation.

 

GM and Ignition Switches | Wrongful Death Attorney in Indianapolis

29 people have died and 27 people have been seriously injured in accidents as a result of the defective ignition switches involving General Motors vehicles.

184 death claims have been filed with Ken Feinberg, an attorney hired by General Motors to compensate victims.  However, only 29 have been deemed eligible to date to receive compensation.  In addition, 1333 personal injury claims have been filed to date with 27 receiving offers of compensation.

Medication Mistakes with Children | Personal Injury Lawyers in Indianapolis

A recent study showed that medication errors involving children are growing, with some errors causing serious injuries and even death.Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

Most of the data was obtained through the National Poison Database System.  It records information to the 55 U.S. poison control hotlines.  Approximately 25% of all errors occurred by giving a child the same medicine twice.

Teenage driving safety and accident prevention | Indiana auto accidents

Educating teenage drivers on the dangers of the roadway and getting hands on lessons in driver safety.Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

The Street Survival Foundation and Hoosier BMW came together to educate teenage drivers on the dangers associated with driving vehicles on the roadway and learn how to drive in the rain as well as what to do what a vehicle suddenly breaks.

Education is the key to accident prevention. Please take a moment to watch this powerful video and share with your friends and family.

Everything you can do now to educate your teenager will help them as they grow older.

A Single Text Changes Lives Forever | Car Accident Lawyer in Indiana

A single bad decision can change your life and the life of others – forever!Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

One Text… One simple distraction has the power to cut a long, full life ….. Short. Everyday our lives are filled with distractions! It’s up to each of us to set boundaries, that keep both the roads and our futures safe. Too much life to live, to risk cutting it short from a preventable mistake. #stopthetextsstopthewrecks #wardlawfirm

Indiana State Supreme Court Rules on Wrongful Death Trial Court Order Balancing Conflicting Constitutional Interests

Indianapolis IN Accident Attorney By Charlie Ward

In Estate of Meux v. Cozmanoff, the Supreme Court upheld the trial court order that Defendant be required to answer Plaintiff’s Complaint in an effort to balance conflicting constitutional interests.

On March 6, 2012 Britney Meux was struck by a car operated by Jason R. Cozmanoff while jogging with three co-workers. Mr. Cozmanoff fled the scene of the accident and Britney later died from her injuries. Mr. Cozmanoff was criminally charged with thirteen crimes.

Weeks later a civil suit was filed against Mr. Cozmanoff by the administrators of Ms. Meux’s estate for gross negligence and/or willful and wanton misconduct.

Adverse parties assert different constitutional interests

Cozmanoff was conflicted as information and testimony given to Plaintiffs during discovery could be used against him by the prosecutor in his criminal trial. But if he were to invoke the Fifth Amendment guaranteeing protection from being called as a witness against himself in the civil suit, the trier of fact could have inferred Defendant’s responsibility for the wrongful death of Britney Meux.

Defendant Cozmanoff moved the trial court for a stay of all civil proceedings pending a resolution of his criminal prosecution citing the Fifth Amendment privilege.

“The Fifth Amendment, incorporated to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U.S. 1, 6 (1964)” states as follows:

“…protects the individual against being involuntarily called as a witness against himself in a criminal prosecution but also privileges him not to answer official questions put to him in any other proceeding, civil or criminal, formal or informal, where the answers might incriminate him in future criminal proceedings.”

U.S.C.A. Const. Amends. 5, 14

 

The Plaintiff opposed his motion arguing the following:

  1. Defendant Cozmanoff’s criminal case might not be resolved for years;
  2. Discovery was necessary to identify other potential tortfeasors who must be joined to the case before the two-year statute of limitations ran; and
  3. The stay would offend Article 1, Section 12 of the Indiana State Constitution guaranteeing “Justice shall be administered freely…and without delay.” [Emphasis Added]

The civil trial court granted a limited stay of discovery as to Cozmanoff only but having done so ordered the Defendant to respond to Plaintiffs’ Complaint. Plaintiffs would still be free to investigate “outside the context of formal discovery.”

Opinion

On March 12, 2014, The Indiana State Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling, finding reasoning to support the trial court’s decision in the matter of The Estate of Meux v. Cozmanoff as follows:

“When two adverse parties each assert different constitutional interests, the court must consider each interest ‘in the light of the other, and in the context of the issues and interests at stake.’ Hostetter v. Idlewild Bon Voyage Liquor Corp., 377 U.S. 324, 332 (1964).”

The opinion further states:

“Our ruling today does not mean the trial court was constitutionally required to impose the stay;simply that it did not abuse its discretion by so doing.”

A Law Firm With Over 85 Years of Combined Experience

The attorneys at Ward & Ward Law Firm have over 85 years of combined experience in wrongful death litigation. Often, person’s alleged to be responsible for the wrongful death of another, must face criminal prosecution while simultaneously undergoing civil suit. Our attorneys maintain an up-to-date working knowledge of legislation and rulings and utilize every legal tool at our disposal to uncover the truth and analyze the facts of a case including private investigators, witness interviews, testimony undertaken by deposition and discovery of physical evidence and documentation through the Freedom of Information Act.
If you are looking for a wrongful death attorney, attorney, Charlie Ward, would like to offer you a free consultation with no obligation. Call 317-639-9501 today and ask for Charlie..

Charlie Ward, Personal Injury Attorney

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501
888-639-9501

Where does Indiana stand on red-light texting, emailing and reading from telecommunications devices? – Your car, motorcycle, bicycle, trucking accident and injury lawyer advocating for you!

Distracted driving while waiting at stop lights

So much has been written about the risks of distracted driving and the numbers of accidents caused by typing, sending and reading on electronic devices. Indiana Legislators have addressed texting, emailing and reading while driving in Indiana Code 9-21-8-59. The language used in the statute makes clear that texting, emailing and reading of the same applies to a “moving vehicle” only. It reads in part as follows:

     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.

Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501By omission in statute, it is clearly legal at this time to text, send or read an email or text from a telecommunications device if you are not operating a “moving motor vehicle”, the keyword here being “moving.”

*Not from Indiana? Find out where your State stands on distracted driving.

In an article written by David MacAnally and published at wthr.com, Dr. Fred Mannering, a traffic expert at Purdue University, believes that “red light texters may be sparking problems, including road rage.” When a red light texter delays or entirely misses a green light, drivers in cars backed up in the queue can become explosive…enraged. Mr. Mannering goes on to say that a gap in traffic that is greater than 2 ½ to 3 seconds will cause detectors (in the pavement) to shut off the green to that signal.

Can an officer of the law confiscate the driver’s device to determine compliance with the law?

Section 59. (b) of Indiana Code 9-21-8-59 adds:

  (b) A police officer may not confiscate a telecommunications device for the purpose of determining compliance with this section or confiscate a telecommunications device and retain it as evidence pending trial for a violation of this section.
As added by P.L.185-2011, SEC.4.

Since the law took effect on July 1, 2011, very few tickets have been written for violation of Indiana Code 9-21-8-59. Unless a driver admits to having broken the law, it would be difficult to prove as access to the phone by law enforcement is denied without a Court Order. Whiteland Town Marshal Rick Shipp told 24-hour News 8 partner, The Daily Journal, that police departments can get cellphone records only by court order and wouldn’t have the time to do so during a typical traffic stop.

So while the law as written has made it difficult to enforce, it has brought the issue of texting and driving to the forefront. Most drivers are aware of the dangers inherent in distracted driving. Many will wait until they have arrived at their destination or at the very least until they are stopped in traffic. But the best solution would be to wear a Bluetooth device compatible with your cell phone, become comfortable using the device and routinely sync it with your cell phone before leaving home.

Attorneys experienced in litigation of texting and driving crashes

The law firm of Ward & Ward is experienced in personal injury laws that may govern your financial recovery as a party injured by a negligent driver. If you or someone you know has been injured due to someone else’s negligent behavior, contact the law firm of Ward & Ward for a free analysis.

Charlie Ward

317-639-9501

The Indiana Hospital Lien Statute May Affect the Compensation You Receive for Your Auto, Motorcycle, Semi Tractor-Trailer Accident or Personal Injury Claim for Damages

History of Hospital Lien StatuteCall Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

Indiana’s Hospital Lien Statute, IC 32-33-4, is designed to legislatively protect the financial interests of treating hospitals in accidents involving injury. When an injured party is taken to the hospital following a car, motorcycle, pedestrian or trucking accident, hospital administrators may instruct their attorneys to file a lien for hospital charges against any action, suit or claim which may be brought by the patient against the party or parties responsible for their injuries. The hospital is given a period of 180 days after patient discharge to file the lien with the county recorder’s office and an additional 10 days to serve notice by registered mail upon the Indiana Department of Insurance, claimant and claimant’s attorneys.There are several exceptions to Indiana’s Hospital Lien Statute including distributions paid from the supplemental state fair relief fund. For a list of others, see IC 32-33-4-3(b)(3).

How does the hospital statute affect your claim?

  1. Hospitals are given up to 180 days to “perfect” or file a hospital lien. An experienced personal injury attorney will not begin negotiating a claim until the hospital has asserted their lien or 180 days have lapsed without the hospital perfecting its lien.
  2. The statute provides that the claimant shall receive no less than 20% of their settlement. However, the hospital may pursue recovery of any remaining unsatisfied balance by any other legal means necessary.
  3. Payments made by health insurance shall be deducted from the total amount due. However, the hospital may assert a claim over and above payments received notwithstanding applied discounts contracted with health insurance carriers. If the hospital lien has not been fully satisfied after disbursement from proceeds of the settlement, the hospital may use any legal means necessary to recover the outstanding balance.

Update on Hospital Lien Statute

Since this article was written, the Hospital Lien Statute has been changed by legislators with the help of dedicated attorneys and the Indiana Bar Association. Medicare recipients have also benefitted under the new legislation.

Financial Effects of Hospital Lien Statute and Your Lawyer

An outstanding hospital lien, the result of a catastrophic injury, can bring about financial ruin at a time when wits are required to piece lives back together emotionally and physically. An experienced personal injury attorney will negotiate with all parties involved to secure a full hospital release before settlement is made. The attorneys of Ward & Ward, Charlie Ward and Don Ward, have over 80 years of combined experience in dealing with personal injury and wrongful death claims. We understand personal injury law and work on behalf of our clients to successfully resolve their legal claims.

Call Charlie Ward today for a free consultation at 317-639-9501.

Charlie Ward

 

Protect your Personal Injury, Wrongful Death Claim – Refrain from Social Networking Activity

Personal injury lawyer in Indianapolis IN Protect Your Accident Claim by Refraining from Posting on Social Media

If you have hired a personal injury lawyer to protect your interests in a claim for injuries and damages involving a car, motorcycle, truck or semi tractor-trailer accident, your attorney will likely ask you to refrain from posting photos or messages of any kind to social networking sites, no matter how harmless or irrelevant your posts may seem to your case. Insurance company defendants can infer a great deal of information — and misinformation —from ‘harmless’ photographs that are taken out of the context of your daily life.

The legal term “discovery” means a formal pre-trial investigation. Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501Attorneys for claimants and defendants use the discovery approach to build their claim or make their defense. Vehicles used by attorneys for the discovery process may include, but are not limited to, Interrogatories, Request for Admissions and Request for Production of Documents. Despite privacy concerns, several state and federal courts have ruled that pictures, postings and messages transmitted via social media, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and many other online networking sites, may be compelled in the discovery process. You may be asked to turn over personal or professional profiles (both private and public), posts and images that you or your “friends” have posted online, even those postings made prior to your accident if defense can make the case that previous posts could be relevant to the case at hand.

Penalties for Spoliation of Evidence

I should caution you about ‘cleaning up’ or deactivating your social networking sites. In a wrongful death case in Virginia, a plaintiff received monetary sanctions from the Court in the amount of $180,000 for “spoliation” or tampering with the evidence by removing 16 photos from his Facebook account. Although the jury ultimately found on behalf of the Plaintiff, his monetary award was greatly reduced by that amount and his attorney was sanctioned $522,000 for instructing his client to destroy his page.

Lawyers practicing in the state of Indiana must abide by the Indiana Rule of Professional Conduct. Section 3.4 of the rules states:

 “a lawyer shall not unlawfully obstruct another party’s access to evidence or unlawfully alter, destroy or conceal a document or other material having potential evidentiary value. A lawyer shall not counsel or assist another person to do any such act.”

Sound Rules for Social Media Posts

An experienced personal injury or wrongful death lawyer may ask you to refrain from further online posting but should never ask you to hide, clean-up or remove posts, messages or photos which you or someone you know has already posted. The following are a few good common sense rules to abide by if you are involved in a personal injury claim:

  1. Do not talk about your case to anyone except your attorney;
  2. Do not accept any “friend” requests from people you don’t personally know;
  3. Do not post any photos of yourself online; and
  4. Do not hide, remove or in any way destroy any online postings that were made by or about you until your case has been disposed.

Lawyers experienced in accident with injury cases

The law firm of Ward & Ward has over eighty-five years of legal experience with personal injury and wrongful death claims. Our firm receives no legal fees or expenses unless we collect damages on your behalf. Call Charlie Ward today for a free evaluation of your claim.

By Charlie Ward

[email protected]

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