Tag Archives: Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer

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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What is a Subrogation Lien and Why Do I Need to Reimburse My Insurance Company From My Settlement?

What is a Subrogation Lien and Why Do I Need to Reimburse My Insurance Company From My Settlement?

Personal Injury Claim and SubrogationInsurance companies enter into a contract with their insureds. In this contractual relationship, both parties benefit and rightly so. But when your insurance company pays for your loss, they may legally recover a portion, or all of their losses paid on your behalf by way of subrogation.

A subrogation lien is the process an insurance company uses to seek reimbursement from the responsible third party for money it has paid on the behalf of the insured. However, the English common law “Made Whole” doctrine provides that insurers and creditors shall not be made whole prior to their insured being made whole.

Indiana statute IC 34-51-2-19, commonly known as the Lien Reduction Statute, adds teeth and parameters to the common law doctrine. It states in part:

If a subrogation claim or other lien or claim that arose out of the payment of medical expenses or other benefits exists in respect to a claim for personal injuries or death and the claimant’s recovery is diminished:

(1) by comparative fault; or

(2) by reason of the uncollectibility of the full value of the claim for personal injuries or death resulting from limited liability insurance or from any other cause; the lien or claim shall be diminished in the same proportion as the claimant’s recovery is diminished.

Lien Reduction Statute: Recovery Lessened by Comparative FaultCall Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

If the tortfeasor (party responsible for your damages) proves or is able to prove that you were, for example, 20% at fault for your damages, and your automobile insurance company paid the limits of your medical payment portion of your policy, totaling $10,000, your insurance company would be required under Indiana statute to reduce their medical payment subrogation lien by a minimum of 20% or $2,000. Based on the facts and the full set of circumstances surrounding your claim, a further reduction may be requested by your experienced personal injury attorney.

Lien Reduction Statute: Recovery Lessened by Uncollectibility of Injury or Death Claim

When you have finished treatment with your providers and it is felt that your condition cannot be improved further, you and your attorney will discuss and assign a reasonable value to your claim for damages based upon medical billings, loss of wages (past and future), future surgeries and treatments, impairment rating, pain and suffering and all other losses you may have incurred.

The following is an example of Uncollectibility:

Your claim is reasonably valued at $500,000. You settle for the limits of the responsible party’s liability insurance of $100,000. Therefore, 80% of your claim is uncollectible. In this example, both your auto insurance company and your health insurance company would be required by statute to reduce their lien by 80%. Under extreme circumstances, an experienced personal injury lawyer may be able to negotiate a further reduction of the lien amount or request waiving of the lien.

A Person Who Acts As His Own Lawyer…

In most circumstances it would be imprudent to endeavor to settle a claim for injuries without the advice and counsel of an experienced personal injury and wrongful death lawyer. Attorneys who represent injured or deceased persons on a daily basis are knowledgeable of current legislation, amended statutes, federal codes, and case law that will affect their client’s case and financial recovery.

Don and Charlie Ward have more than 85 years of combined experience in personal injury law involving motorcycle, automobile, bus, trucking and pedestrian accidents and wrongful death claims. Call Charlie Ward today at 317-639-9501 for a free consultation and evaluation of your claim.

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

Learn more about Indiana’s Comparative Fault Law.

Injured in an Indiana Bus Accident? | Call Indianapolis Bus Accident Lawyers

How does a law firm begin an investigation into a bus accident involving injuries and wrongful death?

How do you investigate a bus that caught fire after an accident?Determining cause in an accident involving a bus is vital to a claim but it may not always be as easy as it sounds. In a situation where multiple vehicles are involved in a single collision, it is not uncommon for the defendant driver to place fault, in whole or in part, on other drivers involved in the crash. And because every eyewitness to an accident sees the crash from a different perspective, position and point on a timeline, it’s reasonable to assume that eyewitness testimonies will collide. Like airline and semi tractor-trailer accidents, a thorough investigation of the accident scene, named responsible parties, environmental conditions at the time of the accident, vehicles involved, eyewitness testimony and the employment of an expert in accident reconstruction may ultimately reveal the cause or combination of causes responsible for the accident and the injuries received.

Talk with the law enforcement investigative team

In depth interviews with State Police or investigating law enforcement officers by lawyers representing the injured or deceased persons, may reveal the preliminary facts of the accident as determined by the investigating authorities who were at the scene only minutes after the accident occurred.

Download data from the black box and thoroughly inspect the bus and it’s components

Attorneys representing plaintiffs injured in a bus crash will immediately put on notice the owner-operator of the bus to refrain from making any repairs to the vehicle before it has received a thorough inspection by impartial experts, thus preventing spoliation of evidence including the on-board data recorder. The data recorder chronicles the final moments of the bus before impact, i.e. velocity and rpms or revolutions per minute over a specific period of time, usually a matter of seconds. Think of the “black box” as an accurate and impartial observer of what went down moments before the accident.

Engage a private investigator

Meanwhile, a private investigator will search the driving records and public court records including any criminal prosecutions against the defendant driver. The investigator, hired by the plaintiffs’ attorney, will make contact and record conversations with eyewitnesses and others involved in the crash. Each person will be examined about road and weather conditions at the time of the crash, their position relative to other vehicles involved in the accident and asked to give their best accounting of what occurred relative to their perspective at the time of the accident. They will also be asked to recall conversations with others at the scene and events that may have taken place after the accident.

Call Bus Accident Lawyer Charlie Ward at 1-888-639-9501

Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in an accident involving a bus, you should speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The lawyers at Ward & Ward Law Firm have more than 85 years of combined experience in personal injury law involving bus accidents, motorcycle, car and trucking accidents. Give Charlie a call today at 317-639-9501 for a free evaluation of your claim.

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

Read about Indiana’s Comparative Fault Law here.

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

Indianapolis Auto Accident Lawyer | Lane Departure Warning

Lawyer for personal injury claims and settlements in Indiana Newer automobiles have advancements in technology making cars and SUVs safer to drive

One such advancement is Lane Departure Warning (LDW). LDW has been available to American drivers in a number of vehicles since 1994. Volvo and Nissan were the first manufacturers using LDW technology. As of this year, Lexus, BMW, Nissan Infiniti, Honda, Mercedes, KIA and GM all offer this technology.

What is LDW and how does it work to help make vehicles safer reducing personal injury?

LDW uses cameras generally mounted on rearview mirror to watch for lane markings in the roadway.  When the driver drifts out of his/her lane of traffic, a warning of some type will occur. The warning may be a type of light, vibration in the steering wheel or an audible alarm. Regardless, the warning is a notice to the driver that the car is drifting out of the lane of traffic.

In addition, the warning will not go off when the driver uses a turn signal as it assumes the driver is intentionally crossing over the lane markings. This type of advancement in safety technology in vehicles will assist a driver who may be falling asleep behind the wheel or distracted by something in the vehicle. However, where the lane markings are worn off or covered by dirt (or just plain missing), the LDW systems may not work. Regardless, the LDW systems are valuable to all drivers today and the cost is minimal compared to loss of life or serious injuries.

You may also watch this video which explains Lane Departure Warning Systems

Learn more about blind spot monitors here

Lawyers experienced in personal injury settlements and law suits with trial by jury

Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501Lawyer, Charlie Ward, has successfully settled and litigated a number of cases involving negligent drivers that have either fallen asleep at the wheel or were driving under the influence. Call Charlie today at 317-639-9501 if you or someone you know has been injured or killed in a vehicular collision involving the negligence of another driver for an honest evaluation of your claim.

Charlie Ward

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501
12/22/2014

Distracted Driving | Personal Injury Attorneys in Indianapolis

Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorney - Texting DriverWhat are the 3 largest causes of vehicular fatalities ?

According to the National Safety Council, a new report shows that leading causes of death from a vehicle are:

  • Alcohol 30.8%
  • Speeding 30% and
  • Distracted driving 26%

Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501The new and surprising category that is catching the most attention is the distracted driving statistics–especially in teenage drivers. This category is on-the-rise at an alarming rate.  Advancement in technology, i.e., mobile phone use (texting), is the primary cause for this generational phenomenon.  According to the recent survey, 80% of the public incorrectly believes that hands-free devices are safer than a handheld phone.

Surprising accident-related fatality statistic

The #1 cause of death in teenagers is from an auto-car accident. Much of the blame can be placed on driving inexperience.  Statistics show that graduated driver’s license systems across the country reduce crashes involving teenagers by 40%.  But the question remains how to minimize the potential risks of an accident?  Clearly one way is to limit passenger distraction and the use of a cell phone and texting-messaging.Teenagers need to understand that accidents happen very quickly and the time-distance factor is not in their favor.

It is critically important for all teenage drivers to understand the dangers of the road and potential hazards that exist.  One way to educate our teens to the hazards and risks is to take a defensive driving course.   Education is the answer.   Finally, getting teenagers in a buckling-up routine upon entering a vehicle is critical. This should begin at a very early age. Seat belts save lives–it is just that plain and simple.

By Charlie Ward

[email protected]

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

Airplane Fires | Wrongful Death Attorney in Indianapolis

Airplane Crash Attorney in Indianapolis - Wrongful Death

Since 1993, at least 600 individuals have died as a result of being burned alive or smoke inhalation following small airplane crashes.

Results show that many victims who died from fire or smoke inhalation sustained very few broken bones or other injuries.  In some instances the fire occurred following a minor crash.  While in other instances the impact was greater.  What the crashes have in common is fuel line ruptures or fuel tank ruptures causing an instant fire.Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

The Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, has taken no action regarding the fuel line/tank rupture issue.   In 1990, the FAA proposed changes for small airplanes to have equipment and design changes to prevent such fires.  However, the FAA withdrew the proposal facing criticism from airplane manufacturers.  The reason for the withdrawal–not worth the additional cost.

The National Transportation Safety Board, NTSB, criticized the FAA’s decision for rejecting fire prevention recommendations.  A Canadian safety agency likewise criticized the FAA’s decision. Investigations show that in several crashes, some deaths and serious burns from fires and/or smoke inhalation could have easily been prevented had the airplanes been equipped with commercially available fuel systems.  These systems have better resistance to ruptures following a crash.

In 1978, the FAA noted itself that fuel line/tanks “would undoubtedly result in the saving of lives which otherwise would be lost in post-crash fires.”  Again in 1990, the FAA noted “Improved crash resistance is necessary to prevent thermal deaths and injuries in survivable crashes.”  Finally in 1994, the FAA started requiring crash resistant fuel systems in some helicopters.

Additional costs vs. saving lives/injuries.  That is the ultimate question.

 

Broken Bones | Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Indianapolis

Many children who sustain a fracture to an arm or leg as a result of an accident have a good chance of having the fracture improperly splinted.

Personal Injury Lawyer - Medical Malpractice Statistics show that almost half of all boys and a quarter of all girls will fracture an arm or leg before 16.  Properly set, the fracture heals rather quickly with little residual problems.  However, in a recent study from the University of Maryland (pediatric bone specialists) more than 90% of children with fractures had their bone improperly splinted.  As a result, further complications such as loss of motion or skin grafts can occur.Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

Dr. Josh Abzug, who directs pediatric orthopedics at University of Maryland believes that improper splinting occurs from a lack of education in some situations and a lack of attention to detail in others.  In addition, in many situations a doctor or health care worker splints a fracture with instructions for the parent to follow-up with an orthopedic the next day.  However, the follow-up does not occur right away and complications set in.

Dr. Abzug believes that posters or flashcards in an emergency room or urgent care center outlining proper splinting can minimize the problem.  He further advises parents to listen to their children. Should a child complain of lots of pain (crying) or major swelling/discoloration occur in the split area, Dr. Abzug advises to immediately proceed to the emergency room.  Time is of the utmost importance.

 

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.

Refrain from Social Networking Activity and Protect Your Personal Injury Claim | Indianapolis Attorney

Protect your injury case. Refrain from using social media.Call personal injury and accident lawyer Charlie Ward today for a free consultation

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.

What is the discovery process?

The legal term “discovery” means a formal pre-trial investigation. Attorneys 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.

There is no expectation of privacy

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. 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.” 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.

Posting rules for personal injury claimants

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.

The law firm of WARD & WARD has over eighty-five years of combined 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. Charlie Ward (317) 639-9501 http://www.wardlawfirm.com/