Tag Archives: bodily injuries

Seat Belts Saves Lives | Auto Accident Attorney Indianapolis

Indianapolis IN Personal Injury Lawyer - Seat Belts and Car Accidents Seat Belts Reduce Injuries and Deaths

Approximately 33,000 (AAA article) individuals  are killed in auto accidents each year in the United States.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the leading cause of death for individuals ages 4, and 11 through 27 is from an auto accident.  Why??  Failure to wear a seat belt.Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

Statistics show that seat belts reduce the probability of death from an auto accident by over 50%.  In 2012, more than 2.2 million (CDC article) adults and passengers were treated at an emergency room for injuries as a result of an auto accident.  Again statistics show that many of the serious injuries sustained in these accidents could have been minimized with the use of a seat belt.  The cost to society is staggering–it is estimated in 2012 that non fatal injuries cost society over 50 BILLION dollars for lifetime medical costs and loss of work productivity.   Teenage drivers who survive accidents give the main reason for failing to wear a seat belt as follows:

  1. Simply forgot to wear the seat belt.
  2. Driving just a short distance.

Research further shows that seat belts reduce the risk of death to a front seat passenger by 45% and the risk of a critical injury by 50%.   Ejection is the main injurious event from failing to wear a seat belt to a front seat passenger.  In addition, 77% of passengers ejected from the vehicle were killed.

The mechanics of seal belt use

In order to understand what happens in an accident where a person fails to wear a seat belt, one must understand the work energy principle, kinetic energy and stopping distances. Read about the mechanics of seat belt use. This is all very technical but least to say that all literature shows that value of wearing a seat belts reduce the probability of death and the severity of a serious injury by approximately 50%.

Recently Cam Newton, quarterback for the Carolina Panthers was in a serious accident where his vehicle flipped several times. Because he wore his seat belt at the time of the accident, he walked away with less serious injuries.

Indianapolis lawyers with experience in auto accidents involving injuries and wrongful death cases

Conclusion–It is a fact–seat belts saves lives and minimize serious injuries. If you have been injured or know someone that has died as a result of another person’s negligence, call Charlie today at 317-639-9501 for a free consultation.

By Charlie Ward

[email protected]

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225

How Does Indiana’s “Guest” Statute Affect You and Your Family?

The Indiana Guest Statute prohibits family members and hitchhikers from receiving compensation for injuries

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

Indiana’s ‘Guest’ statute, Indiana Code 34-30-11 makes it clear that unless the owner, operator or person responsible for the operation of a motor vehicle is willfully or wantonly reckless in their driving conduct, a passenger family member may not hold their host-driver spouse, sibling, parent, step parent or child responsible for bodily injuries or death resulting from the driver’s negligence.

In addition, a hitchhiker may not hold the host-driver responsible for loss or damage arising from injuries or death resulting from the operation of the motor vehicle unless the injuries or death are caused by the wanton or willfull misconduct of the operator, owner or person responsible for the operation of the motor vehicle. Immunity does not apply when passengers make payment for transportation.

How does the Court define willful or wanton behavior?

Willful or wanton behavior is defined by the Indiana Supreme Court as either “1) an intentional act done with reckless disregard of the natural and probable consequence of injury to a known person under the circumstances known to the actor at the time; or 2)an omission or failure to act when the actor has actual knowledge of the natural and probable consequence of injury and his opportunity to avoid the risk”[McKeown v. Calusa, 172 Ind. App. 1, 5, 359 N.E.2nd 550, 553-54 (1977)].

The Guest Statute IC 34-30-11-1

Indiana Title 34 – Civil Code and Procedure reads as follows:

IC 34-30-11-1

Guest statute

Sec. 1. The owner, operator, or person responsible for the operation of a motor vehicle is not liable for loss or damage arising from injuries to or the death of:

  1. the person’s parent;
  2. the person’s spouse;
  3. the person’s child or stepchild;
  4. the person’s brother;
  5. the person’s sister; or
  6. a hitchhiker;

resulting from the operation of the motor vehicle while the parent,spouse, child or stepchild, brother, sister, or hitchhiker was being transported without payment in or upon the motor vehicle unless the injuries or death are caused by the wanton or willful misconduct of the operator, owner, or person responsible for the operation of the motor vehicle.As added by P.L.1-1998, SEC.26.

Purposes of the Guest Statute

The opinion of the Indiana Court of Appeals, KLLM, Inc. v. Legg, states:

“…we recognized that the purposes of Indiana’s Guest Statute are threefold: first, it reduces the threat of “collusive” lawsuits, whose likelihood would be greater between family members than mere acquaintances; second, it reduces the threat of “Robin Hood” proclivities of juries where juries would be more eager to take from the “rich” liability insurance companies and give to the “poor” victims, especially where the victims were members of the same family; and three, it fosters family harmony by not allowing family members to sue and recover for injuries caused by another family member’s negligence. Davidson, 558 N.E.2d at 851. With respect to hitchhikers, we recognized a fourth purpose for Indiana’s Guest Statute: it deters the illegal act of hitchhiking by not allowing hitchhikers to recover for their injuries caused by a driver’s negligence. Id.
Thus, under the Guest Statute, KLLM would not be liable for any loss or damage arising from the death of Hanna if Hanna was a hitchhiker who was being transported without payment in or upon the motor vehicle at the time of his death.”

What’s the risk when you ride with a relative at the wheel?

In a real world scenario, let’s take a look at how the statute might affect you.

Your car breaks down. You have an important meeting and ask your brother to drive you. To get you there on time, he ekes through a red light and you’re catastrophically injured by an oncoming car. Your brother is at fault for the accident and the personal injuries you’ve incurred because, in his haste, he ran the red light. Your brother has an auto insurance policy and has paid his premiums in good faith. But under Indiana’s Guest Statute, you cannot file a claim against his insurance company for the injuries or disabilities you’ve suffered. Your health insurance policy  may pick-up the majority of medical bills incurred but a high deductible could significantly set you back, possibly even bankrupt your future. A permanent disability resulting from your brother’s momentarily poor judgment could leave you unable to adequately provide for yourself or your family in the future.

Common law requires the host-driver to exercise ordinary care for the safety of his non-paying as well as paying passengers. Yet, Indiana insurance companies have asserted that personal injuries received by a relative of an insured driver invite collusion and false claims. The possibility of collusion should not preclude the substantive right of individual litigants to their day in court. To assert that untruths may be told undermines the judicial system our society lives by. It is not unreasonable to assume that accidents requiring snap decisions result in personal injuries or death to loved ones.  How often do you drive a family member to an event?

Trial lawyers with experience

The law firm of Ward & Ward has over eighty five years of legal experience with personal injury and wrongful death claims and continues to seek justice for clients that have been harmed by the negligence of others. Our firm receives no legal fees or expenses unless we collect damages on your behalf. Call Ward & Ward Law Firm today at 317-639-9501 and ask for “Charlie” for a free evaluation of your claim.

Charlie Ward

(317) 639-9501


Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225