Tag Archives: insurance policy

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

How does your auto insurance company measure up?

Understand Your Insurance PolicyCall Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

When your employer offers you a health insurance policy as a part of your benefits package, I’ll bet you study the policy and understand the terms of deductibility, become acquainted with the tiers of prescription coverage and fully understand how much you will pay in out-of-pocket for your prescriptions and office visit co-pays. Why? Because you know that someone in your family is probably going to see a doctor at some point in time and you want to understand how your health insurance carrier will be handling the billings for doctors, tests and prescriptions prior to using your benefits.

Insurance companies are not created equally.

Although it’s unlikely that you will be given a list of health insurance companies to select from, you still have the power of choice when it comes to purchasing auto or homeowners insurance. Why not review those companies with the same scrutiny that you would apply to your health insurance carrier?

At their website, the Indiana Department of Insurance offers an annual index of complaints lodged and closed against insurance companies doing business in the state of Indiana. As I write this, the most recent statistical measurements have been documented through 2010. Their office calculates and publishes complaint indexes for the following types of carriers:

  • Auto
  • Homeowners
  •  Life
  •  Health
  • Annuities

Their complaint ratios are based on a percentage of premiums collected by Hoosiers for that year. I recommend everyone who has, or intends to purchase insurance in the state of Indiana, avail themselves of these services. The Indiana Department of Insurance is your advocate in all matters relating to insurance.

The power of the Internet

Recently, my assistant was looking at lowering her auto and homeowners premiums by obtaining a quote from an independent agent’s pool of insurance companies. Since she was looking for a reduction in annual premiums, her agent’s first quote quite naturally was the cheapest available. Because the initial quote was so vastly different from her current premium, she proceeded to research the company. After comparing her current carrier with the cheaper alternative carrier at the Indiana Department of Insurance website, she trolled the Internet for customer reviews. What she found was stunning; the cut-rate company had earned nothing but negative reviews and warnings from previous customers. Needless to say, she went back to the agent and requested they take a look at a different company.

Cost of Insurance Isn’t Everything

While the option of low premiums is an enticing inducement when electing automobile coverage, don’t let it be your primary focus. If you should need to file a claim because of an auto, motorcycle or trucking accident, you don’t want to discover that the coverage you thought you were purchasing is not what you gave up your premiums for. Do the research, read the declarations page carefully and obtain the best liability and med-pay coverage available to you from a reputable company. But most importantly, be a savvy shopper and demand the best in automobile insurance coverage.

Discuss your automobile insurance policy with a knowledgeable attorney

If you would like to discuss your policy with an experienced personal injury lawyer, or have been involved in an accident, call Charlie Ward of Ward & Ward Law Firm. We are available to take your call.


Our Lawyers Recommend You Buy the Best Auto Liability Policy Coverage You Can Afford

A great automobile or motorcycle policy goes a long way in compensating another driver for medical injuries which may occur as a result of an accident deemed to be your fault.

How does my auto liability insurance protect me and my family?

The Declarations page of your auto or motorcycle policy outlines all of your policy’s coverages as well as your insurance company’s limits of liability. The category entitled Bodily Injury & Property Damage Liability describes a maximum amount per person and a maximum total amount which would be paid per accident. For example: a $100,000/$300,000 policy means a single injured party could potentially receive up to but no more than $100,000 for their injuries—but no more than $300,000 could be recovered by the total number of persons injured in the accident. For example, if two people were severely injured in an accident which was determined to be caused by you, your insurance company would not pay more, in this instance, than $300,000 total for all injuries and/or deaths combined. Considering the high cost of ambulatory, ER care, surgeons, therapeutic and potential long-term rehabilitative expenses, medical bills for two people catastrophically injured could exhaust or even exceed your policy limits of $300,000. Where would injured victims look for compensation after your insurance policy limits were exhausted? Under certain circumstances, plaintiffs involved in litigation might seek reparation in your financial, real or hard assets after your policy runs out. Many learn this lesson the hard way—after the fact.

In the State of Indiana, the minimum amount of liability insurance coverage that will legally put you in the driver’s seat is $25,000. This low-limit legal minimum is barely enough to purchase postage stamps for the many medical bills that can mount up from injuries received in an accident. But lines have to be drawn in legislation and the $25,000 minimum was deemed to be fair and attainable for the greater majority of citizens. However, insurance companies don’t advertise the fact and the majority of citizenry don’t know that the price of coverage per unit goes down as the increase in coverage goes up. In other words, liability insurance is cheaper to buy in quantity.

It’s impossible to predict and prepare for every calamity that could befall you and your family. The next time you review your auto or motorcycle insurance policy, consider how much insurance you need to protect the assets you’ve acquired over your most productive years. Then ask your agent to quote several levels of liability coverage before you make a decision that could potentially expose you to a loss of your assets.

Lawyers Experienced in Cases Involving Bodily Injury

The law firm of Ward & Ward are personal injury lawyers experienced in auto accidents, motorcycle accidents and trucking accidents. Call our firm today! I welcome the opportunity to discuss your potential accident claim and your automobile liability insurance coverage with you.

By Charlie Ward

[email protected]

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