Tag Archives: insurance company

A Medical Exam After an Accident Can Protect Your Rights

Have you seen a physician following an accident?

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

In the daily practice of law, I frequently receive telephone calls from people who were involved in a motor vehicle accident in need of advice. After the caller has detailed the events of the crash and described their physical pain, I go on to inquire if a medical exam was sought either at the scene of the accident or shortly thereafter. Why is that important?

Shock and the Adrenaline Rush

Immediately following an accident, the body swings into defensive response. A minor shock to the system can begin fueling the natural production of the powerful neutralizing hormone called adrenaline. People have been known to accomplish fantastic feats of strength and endurance during these hormonal bursts.  An adrenaline rush can even precipitate a loss of ordinary time reference. Think back on a stressful situation and I’ll bet you can recall the trauma in great detail frame-by-frame using the time delay of a slow motion sequence of events.

About 20% of adrenaline is composed of the hormone norepinephrine. Produced in normal amounts, norepinephrine (manufactured in part from dopamine) can create a sense of well-being and euphoria. The involuntary release of adrenaline throughout your system increases your heart rate and blood-sugar levels, improving the body’s performance in the short term. Those experiencing adrenaline rushes typically feel temporarily stronger, faster and more tolerant of pain.

Is your injury attributed solely to the accident?

It’s especially important to receive a medical exam as soon as possible after a trauma or accident since it may be days before an auto, motorcycle, bicycle or trucking accident victim begins to experience an onset of symptoms. The more time passes, insurance companies become less and less persuaded that a latent onset injury can be directly attributed solely to the accident. Seeking a medical examination either at the scene of the accident or immediately following, will establish your desire to follow through with a physician recommended treatment or follow-up plan and places you under the monitor and care of an accepted medical authority.

Experienced lawyers

Charlie Ward is a personal injury attorney experienced in litigating accidents and wrongful death claims involving cars, motorcycles and semi tractor-trailers. The law office of Ward & Ward receives no legal fees or expenses unless we collect damages on your behalf. Call Charlie today at 317-639-9501 to discuss your accident and receive a free analysis of your claim.

Charlie Ward

728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501

 

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

www.wardlawfirm.com

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

Trying the Motorcycle Accident Case Before a Jury, Part III — Common Defenses Used by Insurance Companies in Motorcycle Accident Cases

Was defendant driver’s conduct reasonable?

Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

Liability in most motorcycle and auto accidents is established by fault or negligence. By law it is the duty and responsibility of all motorists to use due diligence of care not to harm or injure another while driving or riding. In determining whether a defendant to an accident claim exercised due care, the law compares the driver’s conduct to that of a “reasonable person.”

Has defendant driver violated cyclist’s right-of-way?

Findings from The Hurt Study—Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures, conducted by the University of Southern California— have demonstrated that in multiple vehicle accidents, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcyclist’s right-of-way, thereby causing the accident in two-thirds of accidents studied. The study further shows that 92% of motorcycle riders involved in an accident have received no formal training. Since motorcycles have only two wheels, forward motion is necessary to achieve stability. It takes skill and experience to bring a motorcycle safely through a situation where the cyclist’s right-of-way has been violated by another motorist.

Due to exposure, motorcyclists’ injuries are more serious

Injuries sustained by cyclists involved in motorcycle accidents are by nature more serious than injuries suffered by other motorists in similar crashes. Motorcycles are smaller, lighter and lack the framework necessary to mitigate injuries of impact. Defendants to a motorcycle accident claim and their insurance companies have a great deal of potential financial exposure at stake and so their insurance carrier’s defense team needs work that much harder to deflect liability and minimize financial awards for injuries to plaintiff. These awards may include past and future medical expenses, loss of wages, pain and suffering and all other remedies available by the law.

Insurance company defense strategies

When a motorist acts in a negligent manner and their negligence is the sole and single cause of a motorcycle accident, the motorist (defendant) may be found solely liable for claimant’s injuries. The jury’s award could potentially meet or even exceed defendant’s insurance policy limits depending upon the amount of coverage defendant has. The insurance carrier’s strategy against a judgment of liability might include the defense crash team’s search for evidence to establish plaintiff’s negligence through eyewitness statements and expert discovery. The defense team will often criticize the excessive speed of the rider. Or in a case involving a rear-end collision, defense will usually allege that the speed plaintiff was traveling was unreasonably slow or that plaintiff suddenly or improperly stopped.

Another strategy used by defense would place some “degree” of fault upon the plaintiff. In Indiana, a claimant who is found to be greater than 50% responsible for their own injuries cannot receive compensation for their claim under the comparative fault law. Defense may declare that their client was unable to see claimant and that claimant acted irresponsibly by not wearing apparel that would increase their visibility on the road. By convincing the jury that plaintiff had a significant amount of contributory negligence in the actions shaping the accident, defense could significantly reduce or even eliminate financial awards to the plaintiff.

Experienced attorneys mount a proper investigation of the accident

To prepare an adequate case on behalf of motorcycle injury victims, a vast amount of attorney’s time and resources must be allocated to the investigation process. Charlie Ward is a personal injury attorney experienced in representing injured motorcyclists and families of those who have lost their lives in accidents involving motorcycle, auto and trucking accidents. The law office of Ward & Ward receives no legal fees or expenses unless we collect damages on our client’s behalf. Call Charlie today at 317-639-9501 to discuss your motorcycle accident and receive a free analysis of your claim.

Email: Charlie Ward

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

https://www.wardlawfirm.com