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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

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.

A Robust Auto Liability Policy Means Better Protection for Your Family in Indiana

The best auto insurance coverage costs less than the state required minimum amount of insurance protection

Here’s why you should choose the best automobile insurance policy for you and your family’s protection.

Did you know that:Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

  1. One in five Indiana drivers are on the road without insurance (WRTV.com)
  2. There are nearly 350,000 suspended drivers in Indiana
  3. Suspended drivers are almost four times as likely to be involved in a fatal crash
  4. Over 50 % of court cases in Johnson County are for driving while suspended
  5. Over ⅓ of unlicensed drivers leave the scene of a fatal crash (AAAFoundation.org)

Consider this — 1 in 5 Indiana drivers are uninsured.

Indianapols Personal Injury Attorney - Auto Accidents

Indiana law requires licensed drivers to purchase a minimum amount ($25,000/$50,000) of auto liability insurance coverage. The penalty for not obtaining the policy is license suspension. A report from the Insurance Research Council estimates that in 2009, 16 percent of Indiana drivers were uninsured, that’s approximately 1 in every 6.25 drivers. Today, 20% of Indiana drivers, or 1 out of every 5 cars on the road, is being operated without any kind of automobile liability insurance coverage. The growth of uninsured drivers may be due in large part to the economic downturn and sadly, we may see a further increase in the future. With that in mind, it’s a pretty safe bet that insuring yourself and your family for a potential automobile injury caused solely by an uninsured driver is as important as putting your savings in an FDIC insured bank or buying a homeowners insurance policy that will pay full-replacement-value in case of a total loss.  

Is a minimum policy enough to protect my family after an accident with a negligent driver?

Under minimum coverage, the first figure ($25,000) represents the limits a single party who was not-at-fault may potentially recover from defendant’s insurance company; the latter denotes the total amount defendant’s insurance company might pay to all injured parties combined when more than one party has been injured, excluding the policy holder/negligent driver. All automobile liability policies sold in Indiana must also include uninsured/underinsured coverage equal to the amount of liability coverage — unless the insured rejects this coverage in writing.

The following examples demonstrates how a claim for damages and losses might be made against your underinsurance policy if the negligent driver has only the minimum amount of liability insurance.

Example1: If you alone sustain severe or catastrophic injuries in a vehicular accident, through no fault of your own, and the other solely responsible driver has minimal coverage, your attorney will initially demand to settle your claim for the limits of defendant’s policy — in this case, $25,000. If your losses and damages are greater than defendant’s minimal policy and you have underinsurance coverage greater than defendant’s liability policy, your attorney may seek as much as the difference between your policy limits and the limits paid by defendant’s insurance. The difference is the maximum amount you might potentially obtain. You may never receive, in total, more than the limits of your own policy in a claim involving underinsurance.

Example2: If you are injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver, and you yourself have the minimal legal insurance, the highest amount of compensation you may receive for your personal injuries under your policy’s uninsured motorist coverage, is $25,000. According to New Choice Health.com, a single spinal MRI can cost as much as $8,500.00. How far will the limits of your uninsured liability policy stretch when a single standard procedure costs more than one-third of your uninsured settlement?

Protect your family by purchasing the largest amount of liability insurance you can afford.

After the $25,000 limits of defendant’s policy have been met and payment has been made solely for your injuries, damages and losses, your attorney may seek additional compensation if your situation warrants, from the underinsured portion of your automobile liability policy. Remember, your attorney is only able to seek further compensation if your liability policy is greater than defendant’s policy limits.

For example, from your $100,000/$300,000 underinsured policy limits, you may be eligible to recover as much as $75,000 ($100,000 less $25,000 paid by defendant insurance.)

How much does insurance cost?

Not so surprisingly, the cost per unit of insurance goes down as you purchase more units. Many agents will quote a policy price by inquiring as to how much insurance you carry at this time. I recommend you do a cost comparison of several policies, i.e. 25/50, 100/300 or 250/500. See Ward & Ward Law Firm’s cost analysis for units of insurance.

Your personal injury attorney is here to help you.

Ward & Ward Law Firm has more than 85 years of combined experience helping injured people put back together the pieces of their lives after a traumatic accident involving a motorized vehicle or the loss of a loved one due to the negligence of another. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident, please call today for a free consultation at 800-639-9501.

By Charlie Ward

317-639-9501

www.wardlawfirm.com

 

Is a Dog Owner Responsible for Dog Bite Injuries and Death Claims in Indiana?

Written by Injury Attorney Charlie Ward

Indianapolis IN Personal Injury Attorney Dog Bite This morning we learned from WRTV.com that on Sunday, July 20, 2014, an Indianapolis infant was killed by his Ohio’s step-grandmother’s American Staffordshire Terrier.Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

Mail Online reported the step-grandmother was caring for the boy when the dog jumped a gate in her Dayton, Ohio home and attacked the infant boy. The grandmother failed in a desperate attempt to stop the attack. The child suffered multiple injuries. An autopsy performed on Monday revealed his death was caused by blunt force trauma.

A complaint had been previously filed against the dog’s owner for an unprovoked attack upon a beagle in June. The pretrial hearing for the June complaint was continued days before the child’s death.

What makes this tragedy so heartbreaking is that it could have been averted had the owner taken immediate action to remove the dog from her home once she became aware of the dog’s aggressive act toward the beagle.

How is liability determined in Indiana dog bite cases?

In Indiana, a dog owner may be held liable for an unprovoked attack if the dog bites an individual while the owner knowingly allows the dog to run free of restraint. A dog owner may also be liable if the dog has a propensity for aggressive behavior that has manifested in the past. More often than not, the owner of the dog will have prior knowledge if the dog has shown a previous inclination of aggressive behaviors such as growling, barring of the teeth or biting. Medical records or eye witness testimony may bear this out during discovery. If the case goes to trial, the judge or jury will ultimately determine liability based upon the evidence.

Strict liability imposes liability on a party without taking fault into account. The owner of the dog is responsible for all damages suffered by a person charged to carry out a duty imposed by state law, federal law or the US Postal Service on the grounds of strict liability. See Indiana Code 15-20-1-3

A conscious reduction of co-contributing factors may alter the number of dog bite related deaths

In December, 2013, The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) published the first comprehensive study on dog bite related fatalities (DBRF) performed since 1970. The sample taken from 256 fatalities over a 9-year period showed a combination of four (4) or more of the following factors were present in 80.5 % of the deaths:

  • No able-bodied person being present to intervene (87.1%)
  • The victim having no familiar relationship with the dog(s) (85.2%)
  • The dog(s) owner failing to neuter/spay the dog(s)(84.4%)
  • A victim’s compromised ability, whether based on age or physical condition, to manage their interactions with the dog(s) (77.4%)
  • The owner keeping dog(s) as resident dog(s), rather than as family pet(s) (76.2%)
  • The owner’s prior mismanagement of the dog(s) (37.5%)
  • The owner’s abuse or neglect of dog(s) (21.1%)

The National Canine Research Council has published an in depth white paper on the above-referenced study entitled Potentially Preventable Husbandry Factors Co-occur in Most Dog Bite Related Fatalities.

Call Ward & Ward Law Firm for a free consultation today

Our attorneys are experienced in handling dog bite injury claims caused by negligent dog owners. If you or a loved one has a potential dog bite claim, we would be happy to discuss your case with you.

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

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, Charlie and Don Ward would like to offer you a free consultation. Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501 or visit our website at www.wardlawfirm.com/our-attorneys.

Injured in an accident? You may benefit from knowing about the RAP Clause! – Your Auto, Motorcycle, Trucking and Bicycle Personal Injury Indiana Attorney

Your health insurance contract may have a RAP Clause that can save you moneyCall Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

A serious injury from an auto, motorcycle, trucking or bicycle accident may necessitate a surgical procedure to make the patient whole again. Under the best of these circumstances, a non-life threatening injury would give the injured party an opportunity to seek a consultation with a surgeon “in-network” under their health insurance plan. When a course of treatment was agreed upon, the surgeon would schedule the operation with an in-network facility. But how many other physicians and healthcare professionals are performing services on your behalf while you are under anesthesia? You may be surprised when the bills start rolling in.

It takes a team of physicians and healthcare professionals

While you are in the operating room and during your hospital stay, a team of professionals work side-by-side with your surgeon providing supplemental services that make a successful surgery possible.

Your anesthesiologist has probably been hand-picked by your surgeon who chose him/her because of a good working relationship and his/her availability on the date of surgery. Many anesthesiologists do not contract with health insurance carriers because they are not usually chosen by the patient and therefore “in-network” status is not a consideration. The same holds true for assisting radiologists (the physician reading and interpreting your images) and pathologists (one who checks organs, tissues and bodily fluids).

Many, though not all health insurance policies, have a clause within the policy that pays “in-network” rates for “uncontrollable” out-of-network providers, meaning you can’t control who comes in to perform the service. The RAP (Radiologist – Anesthesiologist – Pathologist) Clause within many health insurance policy descriptions may also be called the PARE (Pathologist – Anesthesiologist – Radiologist – Emergency Providers) Clause. Under the PARE clause, you may be additionally covered for emergency services and trauma providers as in the case of life-threatening injuries resulting from an accident.

If your surgeon and hospital facility are in-network, and your surgeon has received pre-approval under your health insurance plan, you have every reason to expect you are within policy coverage. If an “uncontrollable out-of-network provider” bills your health insurance company before your insurance carrier has received your hospital bill, your insurer will probably decline or pay their bill at out-of-network rates. In this case, it is important that you file an appeal under the RAP or PARE clause with your insurance provider and immediately notify the “uncontrollable provider” that an appeal has been filed.

Experienced Accident Attorneys Helping You

An experienced personal injury attorney will negotiate to secure a full 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 stay on top of Court decisions to successfully resolve our client’s legal claims.

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

Charlie Ward

Roundabouts Safer for Pedestrians, Bicycles in Indiana

Roundabouts Mean Fewer Accidents for Cars, Pedestrians and BicyclistsCall Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

Long ago Europe embraced and adopted the roundabout as a key part of their transportation system. Their statistics show that accidents involving pedestrians have been reduced by approximately seventy-five percent and attribute that reduction to the vast number of roundabouts populating much of Europe’s highways. The IIHS states regardless of age, pedestrians involved in crashes are more likely to be killed as vehicle speeds increase. In a report on pedestrian injuries recently prepared by the Preusser Research Group for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the authors cite *research concluding

“about 5 percent of pedestrians hit by a vehicle traveling 20 mph will die. The fatality jumps to 40 percent for cars traveling 30 mph, 80 percent for cars going 40 mph, and 100 percent for cars going 50 mph

Roundabouts engineered to reduce speed

Roundabouts are becoming the standard in commuting. Carmel, Indiana is known for its more than 60 roundabouts. Their pedestrian crossing signs and line markings advise the pedestrian of the crosswalks. (Learn more about Carmel’s roundabouts here.) And in 2012, the city of Indianapolis developed plans to add four new roundabouts to the metro transportation grid. Each year, as funds become available, this number will grow.

Bicyclists and Pedestrian Recommendations

Roundabouts can be made safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.The Institute for Highway Safety recommends pedestrians walk the perimeter sidewalk using line markings to cross where necessary. Make yourself visible by wearing brightly colored clothing and make use of eye contact with approaching drivers’ who are intent on getting to their destination. Cyclists are recommended to ride the “middle” of the lane, not on the edge. This reduces confusion among drivers of motor vehicles. Cyclists should signal their turn for as long as possible and also try to make eye contact with drivers if possible. If traffic seems erratic and is overtaking you, pull off on the side and walk your cycle around the roundabout.

Lawyers with Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents

The law firm of Ward & Ward has over 85 years of combined experience in personal injury law. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident as a pedestrian or while riding a bicycle, call Charlie Ward for a free consultation.
By Charlie Ward

[email protected]

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

* To learn most about the Preusser study, visit http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/research/pub/

Understanding Your Accident-Related Medical Bills | Indianapolis Personal Injury Claim Attorney

An experienced personal injury lawyer will advise you about your medical billsCall Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

When you’re injured in an auto, motorcycle or trucking accident, a run to the hospital by ambulance, follow-up medical care and therapy can wreak chaos on your finances. An injury requiring a single trip to the hospital will likely generate separate billings from a number of unique healthcare providers as follows:

  • Ambulance
  • Hospital – ER/room charges, tests, blood work, drugs and supplies; may also include x-rays / imaging
  • ER Doctor – Diagnosis and recommendations
  • Radiology – Radiologist charges for reading films / images

Since every accident with injury requires a customized medical approach, your bills may not mirror the sample charges listed above.

As the bills begin to arrive in the mail, the first statement you’ll probably receive will come from the hospital provider and will reflect the total charges to date. If you have health insurance, you may be instructed “not to pay” from the first statement. This is an indication that they have forwarded the statement of charges to your health insurance company and together they will hash out the final charges based upon the contract between the provider and your insurance company.

Shortly thereafter you will either receive an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from your insurance company in the mail or one will be made available to you online. Your EOB will reflect the original provider charges minus a negotiated “discount” from your health insurance company. This reflects the amount reduced from your bill based upon the insurance company’s contracted rates for the unique services you received. At this time, your deductions will be reflected on your EOB as well as any split, you may have with your insurance provider, i.e. 80/20; 90/10, leaving you with the out-of-pocket charges owed to the medical provider.

It is important that you give your personal injury lawyer all EOB’s from your insurance company that reflect medical charges pertaining to the accident.

Your attorney will work to recover your out-of-pocket expenses on your behalf through the Collateral Source Statute, IC 34-44-1, allowing proof of the amount of money Plaintiff is required to repay into evidence. Your explanation of benefits will outline the amounts owed by you personally to the providers after all amounts have paid on your behalf and all discounts taken.

Experienced injury lawyers will advise you about your medical bills

The law firm of Ward & Ward has over 85 years of combined experience in breaking down the facts of a personal injury claim and working with insurance companies on behalf of their clients. If you have been injured in an automobile, trucking, motorcycle, or bicycle accident, please feel free to call me at
317-639-9501 for a free consultation.

Personal Injury Attorney’s Perspective on Summertime Safety for Children

Child Safety During Warm Weather MonthsCall Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

Unlike children who are raised in the southern and western parts of the country, Midwestern children have the majority of their out-of-doors experiences during the months when the corn grows. Recently, my wife and I welcomed our third grandchild into the world and I couldn’t help but think once again about the risks that children must take to grow and understand the environment around them. In a poem attributed to the writings of Abraham Lincoln, he writes in part to his son’s teacher: Treat him gently, but do not cuddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel.” Children require experiences rich in variety but, as responsible and worthy caretakers, we have to offer these experiences to our youth under supervision and an ever watchful eye. The next several articles in this series will cover the challenges and experiences that children are most likely to encounter during warm weather months.

Bicycle, Skateboarding and Scooter Safety

Nearly half of children ages 14 and under hospitalized for bicycle-related injuries are diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. Approximately 75% of all bicycle related head injuries occur among children age 14 and under. The use of a helmet reduces the severity of a bicycle injury. Unfortunately national estimates report that bicycle helmet use among child bicyclists ranges only from 15 to 25 percent. [Statistics found at: http://www.preventinjury.org/PDFs/BICYCLE_INJURY.pdf]

Lots of Hoosier kids get tricycles and bicycles for Christmas. But before youthful desires turn to mobility on wheels, use the time in-between Christmas and spring to educate your youngsters on cycling safety and the rules of the road. Then take your children on outings to purchase helmets for all riding family members as well as other protective riding gear.

Your child should have a helmet that fits securely and comfortably. If your child is not relaxed or at ease with a helmet, most likely he/she will make a fuss when it comes time to don the helmet. Check the fit and comfort ability and if in doubt, ask a cycling specialist to fit your child. Make sure it’s worn every time he/she cycles, skates or rides a scooter. There are several techniques a parent can use to encourage their child in this arena:

  1. Start your child with a helmet from day one;
  2. Allow the child to participate in selecting the helmet, reflector clothing and stickers;
  3. Set a good example by wearing a helmet yourself;
  4. Take your child to biking events where he/she can see that everyone competing wears a helmet; and
  5. Educate your child about their brain and the importance of protecting the brain from head injuries.

Before allowing your child to ride his/her bicycle, check the components of the bicycle for safety by checking the brakes and pedals. Do this on a regular basis. Make sure the gears shift smoothly and that the tires are secured and properly inflated. [For more information on bicycle safety for kids visit www.safekids.org/safety-basics/big-kids/at-play/bike-and-wheels-safety.html]

While a child may faithfully practice every point of safety taught to him by responsible and loving parents, a negligent auto or truck driver can cause a catastrophic accident to occur which may involve a child and a bicycle. The personal injury attorneys at Ward & Ward are experienced in litigation involving traumatic brain injury. If you or someone you know has been injured by the negligence of the driver of an automobile, motorcycle or truck, give Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501 for a FREE consultation.