Tag Archives: motorcycle

Motorcycles – Helmets saves lives | motorcycle accident attorney in Indianapolis

Motorcycle Helmets Reduce Injuries and Save Lives | Motorcycle Accident Lawyers in Indiana

May is ‘Motorcycle Awareness’ month. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encourages everyone to share the road and urges cyclists to make themselves visible to others.

A brief history of helmet laws and why they vary from state to state

People injured in motorcycle accidents require aggressive legal representation to overcome jury biasIn 1966, the national Highway Safety Act mandated each state enact universal helmet laws in order to receive federal highway construction funding. In 1975, under the authority of HSA, the Secretary of Transportation was about to impose penalties upon the states of California, Illinois and Utah for non-compliance, when lobbyists successfully pressured congress to stop the assessment of penalties on states lacking universal helmet laws. By 1980, a majority of states had repealed the universal mandated laws, favoring a unilateral approach to legislation.

As of 2016, three states, Illinois, Iowa and New  Hampshire, are without legislation regulating helmets. Nineteen states, along with the District of Columbia,  have statutes mandating helmets for all cyclists. The states and districts include:

Alabama, Mississippi, Oregon, California, Missouri, Tennessee, District of Columbia, Nebraska, Vermont, Georgia, Nevada, Virginia, Louisiana, New Jersey, Washington, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, Massachusetts, and North Carolina

The remaining states have passed legislation  that takes one or more of the following factors into account:

  • operator experience
  • operator age
  • passenger age
  • proof of medical insurance
  • cycling horsepower

States laws for helmet use as they stand currently in 2016, can be found at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Statistics favor ‘gearing up’ with helmets and bright clothing

Statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimate:

  • Helmets saved the lives of more than 1,600 motorcyclists in 2013
  • 4,668 motorcyclists lost their lives in accidents while over 88,000 suffered personal injuries in 2013.
  • Since 1997, motorcycle deaths have more than doubled
  • Motorcycles are only 2 percent of the registered vehicles nationally, but motorcyclist fatalities are 5 percent of traffic fatalities each year.
  • The percentage of intoxicated motorcycle riders involving fatal accidents is higher than intoxicated drivers.

Helmets minimize injuries and reduce the likelihood of long term brain trauma.

The extent of Indiana’s helmet law requires passengers and motorcycle operators seventeen and younger wear a helmet. However, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) advocates protective clothing as the only defense a cyclist has against injury. Reccomendations include a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218 compliant helmet, heavy-duty jacket and pants, boots, gloves, and eye protection.

Experienced Motorcycle and Bicycle Accident Attorneys and Wrongful Death Lawyers

Motorcycle enthusiasts and bicyclists enjoy the same legal rights as every driver on the road, i.e. the right to compensation for injuries, loss of wages, impairment, pain and suffering and all other remedies available by law. (Learn more about jury bias) For more than 85 combined years, motorcycle accident attorneys and wrongful death lawyers, Don and Charlie Ward, have represented plaintiffs injured in motorcycle accidents and the families of cyclists killed because of another driver’s negligence.

The personal injury attorneys at Ward & Ward Law Firm receive no legal fees or expenses unless we collect damages on your behalf. Call Charlie Ward today at 317-639-9501 to discuss your accident and receive a free analysis of your claim.

By Charlie Ward

cpw@wardlawfirm.com

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

 

Indiana Supreme Court Upholds Trial Court Discretion in No Contact Motorcycle Accident

personal-injury-attorney-web-logoNo Contact Motorcycle Accident with Extensive Personal Injuries

On September 3, 2008, Mr. Earl was thrown from his motorcycle at a speed of 65 mph when he took evasive action to protect himself from the sudden and unexpected lane change by a semi tractor-trailer driver. Although there was no contact that occurred between Mr. Earl’s motorcycle and the semi, an observant witness confirmed the accident and resulting injuries sustained by Mr. Earl were caused by the unidentified semi-truck.
Prior to the accident he enjoyed an active outdoor lifestyle: hunting, fishing and playing league basketball. He was the co-owner of a small construction business; his expertise and job responsibilities were in excavation and sewer work. And he enjoyed spending time with his wife and playing with his grandchildren.

Economic Damages

Mr. Earl was hospitalized immediately following the accident. His injuries included a fractured collarbone, fractured shoulder blade, and multiple fractures in his left ribs. He also suffered a collapsed lung, laceration of the liver, multiple abrasions, a blood clot in his left leg and a permanent structural change of his left shoulder joint.

Eventually Mr. Earl returned to light-duty office work but he was unable to perform the heavy equipment and excavation duties required of him in his business. His income suffered as a result.

Non-Economic Damages

After Mr. Earl’s medical treatment concluded, every action in his life was executed in pain―from playing with his grandchildren to driving a car. Even lying in bed was problematic. In addition, his wife reported her husband’s pain affected their marriage.

A Claim for Damages – Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage

At the time of the accident, Mr. and Mrs. Earl had uninsured motorist insurance coverage for $250,000 per person/$500,000 per accident. When their insurance company refused to pay the full amount of $250,000 for his damages, they brought a claim for damages based on the terms of their contract with their insurance company. While the case was pending, Mr. Earl died from an unrelated illness. When their insurance company admitted liability, the case proceeded to a jury on the question of damages only.

Despite their insurance company’s unsuccessful motion to exclude the policy limits from evidence, the trial court admitted plaintiffs’ insurance policy into evidence. The jury returned with a verdict of $175,000 for Mr. Earl’s damages and $75,000 for Mrs. Earl’s damages totaling $250,000―the exact limits of the policy.

After their insurance company successfully appealed on the grounds that the trial court abused its discretion by allowing the $250,000 limits into evidence and that the jury’s verdict was affected by their knowledge of the policy limits, the Earl’s petitioned to the Indiana Supreme Court. The appellate ruling was vacated.

In the Indiana Supreme Court Conclusion, Justice Massa writes:

“…we cannot say the trial court abused its discretion in finding that probative value was not outweighed by substantial prejudice.”

The Indiana Supreme Court took the position that there is not a bright-line rule for admitting insurance coverage but instead it is in the trial court’s discretion to determine what evidence is probative in each case.

Experienced Personal Injury LawyersCall personal injury and accident lawyer Charlie Ward today for a free consultation

If you have any questions about your automobile insurance policy or your motorcycle insurance coverage, call us today at 317-639-9501 and ask for Charlie Ward.

Charlie Ward

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

New Indiana Scooter Regulation | Motorcycle Accident Attorney in Indianapolis

New Scooter Regulations in Indiana.

Indiana Motor Scooter Registration lawEffective January 1, 2015, Indiana has adopted new regulations covering motor scooters.  License plates will be required on all scooters.  In addition, scooters with engines of 50 cubic centimeters or less will also need to pass a Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) test involving road signals and signs.  Scooters above the 50 cubic centimeters will need to follow all motorcycle requirements, that is, hold a valid driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement or valid motorcycle learner’s permit.  Currently the Bureau of Motor Vehicles has no idea how many scooters are on the roadway.  The Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) released an online video discussing documents needed to obtain the scooter license and the types of licenses needed. Currently the Bureau of Motor Vehicles has no record of all the scooters on the roadway.  Some argue that the new legislation merely allows individuals who have lost their license due to drunk driving to travel on the roadway without a license and insuring their scooter.  Others argue that the law is to help individuals to get to work who have lost their license due to drunk driving.  It is not known how the individual police agencies will enforce the new law.  Registration for the scooters will cost $26.35 each with a $10 excise tax.Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

Why you Need an Experienced Indiana Motorcycle Injury Accident Lawyer

Attorneys Use Contributory Negligence as Affirmative Defense in Motorcycle Accident ClaimsCall Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

A person injured in a motorcycle accident that is a direct result of another driver’s negligence, requires legal representation by a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney that understands and can counter the defenses employed by defendant’s counsel. Defendant will likely attempt to portray the cyclist as a “risk-taker” who is in whole or part to blame for his or her own injuries. Why? Because Indiana’s comparative fault law proclaims that a Plaintiff who is more than 50% at fault for his or her own injuries cannot recover for damages.

Contributory negligence in motorcycle accidents claims

Indiana Code 34-51-2-6 states:

“…the claimant is barred from recovery if the claimant’s contributory fault is greater than the fault of all persons whose fault proximately contributed to the claimant’s damages.”

From a defense perspective, proving plaintiff’s contributory negligence would reduce or even eliminate the defendant’s financial exposure in the claim.

In an affirmative defense strategy, defendant’s counsel may attempt to plant the seed of negligence and portray cycling as an inherently risky behavior. Asking the jury to consider that the cyclist failed to mitigate their damages by opting not to wear a helmet is a very common defense. However, an experienced lawyer representing motorcycle claimants will petition the Court early on to disallow any speculation about Plaintiff’s failure to wear protective headgear. In State v. Eaton, 659N.E.2d232 (Ind. Ct. App. 1996) establishes that Indiana motorcyclists have no common law duty to wear a helmet or protective eyewear. Therefore absent any protective head gear or eyewear, defendant may not hold cyclist accountable for failing to do so and a jury may not speculate how the injured party’s damages might have been lessened if a helmet had been worn.

Motorcycle claims are very different from auto accident claims and require help from an experienced lawyer

Motorcycle lawsuits require counsel experienced in litigating cyclist’s claims. Call Charlie Ward today at 317-639-9501 for a free evaluation of your claim.