Tag Archives: negligence

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.

Personal Injury Claim Against Government Entity or Public Employee Requires Notice of Tort Claim be Filed Within a Restricted Period of Time

Statute of Limitations Against a Governmental Entity or EmployeeCall Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

Generally speaking, a person injured in an accident due to the negligence of another driver, has only two years in which to file a claim against the responsible party according to the Indiana Statute of Limitations. [See IC 34-11-2-4 Specific Statutes of Limitation] However, when the responsible party, in whole or part, is a governmental entity, a Tort Claim Notice must be filed within 180 or 270 days, depending upon the government branch, i.e. State or local. [See IC 34-13-3 Tort Claims Against Governmental Entities or Public Employees] If the Notice of Tort Claim is not filed within this period of time, the injured party forfeits their right to file a claim against the entity even though the two-year Statute of Limitations has not expired.

Speak with an attorney immediately after the accident or injury

If you have been injured in an accident caused by the negligence of a patrolling police officer, ambulance, fire truck, taxi, city bus or otherwise obvious governmental vehicle, an attorney experienced in personal injury law would file a Notice of Tort Claim with the proper agency within the period appropriate to the Statute of Limitations. However, if the negligent party is a state or local public employee in a private vehicle and is performing the business of the government at the time of the accident, it is unlikely that you would learn that information without the work of a private investigator hired by your attorney or through the discovery process brought about through litigation.

It’s not unusual for an attorney to be contacted months after an accident occurs. With the best of intentions, some people will deal directly with an insurance company until the process develops in complexity. But if too much time has elapsed and the public agencies have not been put on Notice within the respective 6 or 9 month period of time, the injured person may lose their ability to recover for medical bills and disabilities.

Contact Experienced Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation

If you suffer injuries due to the negligence of other parties, it costs nothing to obtain an accurate assessment of your legal options. To discuss your personal injury, auto accident, or wrongful death matter, contact the knowledgeable Indianapolis personal injury lawyers at Ward & Ward. They offer free initial consultations and are available to speak with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Charlie Ward

[email protected]

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

Mobile Devices Responsible for One Quarter of all Car, Truck and Semi Tractor-Trailer Accident Mishaps

“Distracted Driving,” The Use of any electronic device while drivingCall Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

Distracted driving is an umbrella term which defines the use of an electronic devise of any kind while driving, including but not limited to hand-held and hands-free cell phone use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that at any moment in time the prevalence of drivers talking on their cellphones is 11%. According to The National Safety Council (NSC), approximately 25% of all auto and trucking accidents in 2008 involved a driver talking on the cell phone.

Unconscious Driving

It would seem that innovative technologies designed to make our lives easier have instead stepped-up the pressure to increase productivity, making it tempting to use our cell phones while driving from place to place. We call this multi-tasking. But in fact, science shows that the brain is not wired to process more than one task at a time. Instead, thought activities are handled in sequence or succession. Incoming information to the brain is filtered for action and encoding; too much information, i.e. more than can be processed, is filtered out. Since we cannot consciously choose which information is encoded and which is filtered out, this becomes of greatest concern when “multi-tasking” behind the wheel of a car or a commercial truck in motion. In other words, a natural lapse in critical data may be the impetus for a tragic accident or fatality. According to the National Safety Council, estimates indicate drivers using cell phones look, but fail to see, up to 50% of the information in their driving environment. Have you ever had a conversation while driving and after arriving at your destination, you don’t remember the drive at all?

Fatality Statistics for Distracted Drivers

The official U.S. Government website for distracted driving states:  “In 2009 alone, nearly 5,500 people were killed and 450,000 more were injured in distracted driving crashes.”

Texting While Driving

Many states have enacted laws against texting behind the wheel. Effective July 1st, 2011, Indiana passed legislation (IC 9-21-8-59) making it illegal to text, receive a text or read a text while driving a motorized vehicle unless the device is equipped with voice-operated technology; an emergency call to 911 being the exception. However, a sub-section of the same legislation forbids officers to confiscate the texting device to determine compliance or as evidence to be used against the driver in Court; the latter section making it difficult, if not impossible, to enforce the ban on texting.

Commercial Motor Vehicles, Trucks are Regulated

Under the commerce clause of the Constitution, legislators recently passed federal laws banning commercial truck and bus drivers from using hand-held devices while driving. It is likely that in the future commercial carriers will be equipped with devices that can read incoming texts aloud and send out voice-activated texts.

 

The National Safety Council sees the ban on hand-held devices as only a partial cure to the existing problem since hand’s free devices do not remove the issue of cognitive distraction. How does phone conversation differ from conversation with a passenger? NSC believes that a passenger shares the driving experience and can suppress conversation under challenging conditions whereas the suppression of conversation on a cell phone may be considered rude. In an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey, 83 percent of respondents said drivers using cell phones are a “serious” or “extremely serious” problem, yet
more than half of the respondents stated they had engaged in this behavior in the last 30 days. Participants to the survey saw the problem of cell phone use as only slightly less of an issue than driving under the influence of alcohol.

 

At this time, the NSC seeks to inform and change behavior voluntarily through education and self-discipline. But in the future I would anticipate that as support grows for legislation banning the use of hands-free devices, states will begin to fall in line on this issue.

Wrongful Death Attorneys Subpoena Phone Records from Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies

Accidents involving commercial trucks or semi tractor-trailers require an extensive knowledge of commercial codes, federal legislation and state laws. If you’ve recently lost a loved one due to a commercial driver’s negligence, the compassionate wrongful death attorneys at Ward & Ward have extensive experience in commercial carrier claims and can help ensure that you do not suffer needless financial distress in addition to mourning your tragic loss. The law firm of Ward & Ward has over 80 years of combined experience in wrongful death claims, auto accident, motorcycle accident, trucking accident, and injuries associated with semi tractor-trailer accidents. Ward & Ward invite you to contact them as soon as possible to arrange a FREE initial consultation about your case, by phone at 317-639-9501, through their website at wardlawfirm.com, or simply by visiting their conveniently-located downtown Indianapolis office. If we decide your case has merit, you won’t be charged unless we recover damages on your behalf.

 

Charlie Ward

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

[email protected]

Website: http://www.wardlawfirm.com

What Does Negligence Mean in a Lawsuit?

‘Negligence’ Defined

Call personal injury and accident lawyer Charlie Ward today for a free consultation

We all have an idea of what negligence means. For example, we know a neglected child when we see one, we can all identify that one neglected house on our street, and we know what happens when we neglect our health or our finances.  But what does negligence mean in the legal sense?

Negligence and its elements

Legal negligence constitutes more than simply not taking adequate care of something.  It means failing to adhere to a minimum standard of conduct in a way that causes measurable harm to another person.  Lawyers and judges look for four elements of negligence:

  • Duty. In legal theory, everyone owes a duty to everyone else.  At base, everyone has the duty to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances.  For example, while it may seem sensible to you to speed home to feed the dog before you call AAA because your power steering and brakes have just failed, a reasonable person in the same circumstances would probably get off the road right away to avoid endangering himself and other drivers.
  • Breach. Breach is a violation of the duty owed.  To continue the example from above, your duty as driver of a vehicle that has suddenly lost its power steering and brakes is probably to move your vehicle out of traffic as quickly and safely as possible.  Failing to do this constitutes a breach of your duty to the other drivers on the road.
  • Cause. Legal cause encompasses two concepts. Factual causation means that your breach of duty set in motion a chain of events that otherwise would not have occurred. Proximate cause assumes factual causation and examines whether your breach was closely related enough to the resultant injury.  For example, if your reckless driving compels another driver to leave his or her usual route and take a detour through a bad neighborhood where he or she suffers an assault and carjacking, there may be factual causation—she would never have taken that detour if you stopped driving when you should have—but no proximate cause.
  • Damage. Finally, legal negligence requires a showing of damages.  If your poor driving merely frightens the other drivers on the road, but does not cause any accidents or injuries, the final element of negligence is missing—except under very special and limited circumstances, the law does not consider merely being afraid of something a measurable injury.

Experienced Indianapolis personal injury lawyers working for you

If you have a negligence case in Indiana, you need to work with an attorney who knows Indiana personal injury law inside and out.  The Indianapolis personal injury attorneys at Ward & Ward have nearly 80 years of combined experience working to ensure that personal injury victims in Indiana get the attention they deserve and the financial security they need.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury because of another’s negligence or recklessness, Ward & Ward, Attorneys invite you to contact them as soon as possible to arrange a free initial consultation about your case, by phone at 888-316-3449, through their website, or simply by visiting their conveniently located Indianapolis office.

If You Think Your Auto Insurance Protects Your Family From Personal Injury Damages—Think Again!

If you drive children to school, you should know about Indiana’s Guest Statute and how it may affect your family

Call personal injury and accident lawyer Charlie Ward today for a free consultation

I would like to explain how the Guest Statute law leaves you and your family unprotected from personal injury damages—not to panic you—but to inform you, your family and your friends. My hope is that you’ll take the information to heart, make thoughtful driving decisions, and then pass the information on. The erroneous assumption that you, your children and other family members are fully covered for personal injuries by your auto insurance policy gives you a false sense of peace. When you purchased your automobile policy, I doubt very much that your agent informed you of Indiana’s Guest law.  Read the statute at Indiana Code 34-30-11 and you’ll get the impression that the legislators are doing you a great favor by granting you—as owner/operator of your vehicle—immunity from injuries sustained by family members. As a matter of fact, the statute favors the far more powerful insurance industry.

What is the Guest Statute?

In essence, the Guest Statute states that a driving error on your part and the resulting damages, personal injuries and possible loss of life will not be covered by your automobile insurance policy if the injured passenger(s) is a family member, riding as a ‘guest’ —specifically a spouse, child, step-child, a sibling or a parent unless the owner, operator or person responsible for the operation of a motor vehicle is willfully or wantonly reckless in their driving conduct.

If you make an error in judgment

For example, you’re driving your son to school. The bell is about to ring, another late slip and your son serves a Saturday detention. Under pressure to get him to school on time, you’re resolved to make the left turn arrow—this time. Poor timing and a lapse of judgment causes a tragic accident by an oncoming car wherein both you and your son suffer catastrophic personal injuries. Your health insurance company may pick up the medicals. But if you don’t have health insurance… well, unfortunately hospitals are not charitable institutions. If you were solely responsible for the accident, the injuries suffered by the other driver, of course, would be covered by your own automobile insurance, perhaps to the policy limits. But your son’s injuries, possible future medicals, wage and loss damages, pain and suffering will not be honored under the same automobile liability policy that will protect the stranger. Good drivers occasionally make errors in judgment. The scenario described above could happen to any one of us at any time. Who do you think stands to benefit from the Indiana Guest Statute?

Collusion?

The insurance companies argue that the opportunity for you and your ‘guest’ passenger to join in collusion against the insurance company is too great a risk.  But the possibility of collusion and false claims should not preclude the substantive right of individual personal injury litigants to have a voice in a court of law, a right granted under the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution. Did the boy used in our example make that driving decision? Was he given a choice between a Saturday detention and the unintended consequence? The insurance companies have been heard—loud and clear. This law is tipped in their favor. Are your state representatives really looking after your family’s best interests?

Experienced personal injury attorneys

The law firm of Ward & Ward has over eighty 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.  

Defendant Insurance Companies May Fault Motorcyclists

Defendant Insurance Companies Put Blame on Motorcyclists

Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

Injuries suffered by victims of motorcycle accidents are—by nature—more serious than injuries received by motorists in similar accidents. Insurance companies have potentially greater financial exposure at stake and must work that much harder to mitigate what can be greater financial awards for damages including greater past and future medical expenses, loss of wages, pain and suffering, loss of life, and many other remedies available to plaintiff.

Negligence governs liability in most motorcycle accidents. Under the law of negligence, motorists have the responsibility to exercise reasonable care to avoid injuring another pedestrian, cyclist or motorist.  The law evaluates the defendant’s conduct and compares it to that of a “reasonable person.”

In motorcycle accident studies, it has been found that in multiple vehicle accidents the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcyclist’s right-of-way, causing the accident in two-thirds of the cases. When a driver of a car, truck, or semi-tractor trailer acts in a negligent manner and is determined to be the single proximate cause of the collision involving the motorcycle, the offending driver may be found fully responsible for plaintiff’s injuries. But in cases where the cyclist bears some responsibility for the collision, a percentage of responsibility may be assigned to both plaintiff and defendant. You may remember a previous blog where I discussed “comparative fault”. In the case of comparative fault, if the cyclist was found to be more than 50% responsible for the accident, he or she may be unable to recover any damages because of the comparative fault law. For that reason, the defendant insurance company will strive to deflect their client’s complete responsibility and assign a significant portion of blame on the plaintiff.

A vast amount of plaintiff attorney’s time and financial resources must be allotted to the investigation process in accidents involving motorcycles. Charlie Ward, a personal injury attorney experienced in litigating accidents and wrongful death claims involving motorcycles, trucks and semi-tractor trailers, understands how to investigate a motorcycle accident and confront the defenses used by Defendant insurance companies. Ward & Ward Law Office receives no legal fees or expenses unless we collect damages on your behalf. Call Charlie today at 317-639-9501 to discuss your motorcycle accident and receive a free analysis of your claim.

By Charlie Ward

[email protected]

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

 

What is Comparative Fault?

A jury must assign a percentage of fault, if any, to each person involved in the accident

If you are injured by another party, for example, in an auto, trucking, bicycle or motorcycle accident—even as a pedestrian or when acting as a Good Samaritan—under Indiana Code §§ 34-51-2-6; 34-51-2-7; 34-52-2-14, the judge is required to instruct the jury that part of their duty must be to determine which party or parties to the incident bear responsibility for the Plaintiff’s injuries and assign to each, a percentage or degree of their fault. The percentage of liability determines the percentage of the resulting damages each party must pay.

Parties responsible may include the Defendant(s). In some cases, a portion of responsibility can even be assigned to non-parties to the action, i.e. someone unnamed in Plaintiff’s civil suit. Even Plaintiff(s) can bear fault. Under Indiana’s ‘modified’ Comparative Fault law, a claimant’s responsibility cannot exceed 50% of the sum total of all other responsible parties. If the claimant is deemed to be more than 50% responsible for his or her injuries, then that claimant is barred from recovery in a negligence case. The Comparative Fault chapter may vary when applied to medical malpractice, governmental entities or public employees.

Experienced personal injury attorneys help you navigate legislation and the law

It’s challenging for most people to stay knowledgeable of every statute that may affect them at some point in time. That’s why it’s important to seek advice from an attorney who deals with liability issues on a daily basis. Every case is different. Ward & Ward will look at the facts of an issue, dissect them and give you an honest assessment in their free consultation with you. Call Charlie Ward today for a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney.

By Charlie Ward

[email protected]

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