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Indiana Raises Worker’s Compensation Rates for Benefits

Indiana Raises Worker’s Compensation Rates for Benefits

Finally, after years of remaining at the same level, the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board and State of Indiana increased the financial recovery rates an injured worker can claim for their  For injuries that occur on or after July 1, 2023, an injured worker may recover more money for their PPI and TTD benefits.  The schedule used by the state increases annually over the next four years.  Understanding these rate tables can be complicated.  Since every dollar for your work injury case is precious, you should contact Goodin Abernathy for legal help.      

Worker’s Compensation Laws

Employees hurt on the job in Indiana are protected by Indiana’s Worker’s Compensation laws.  Attorney Jim Browne and Goodin Abernathy regularly help our Hispanic clients navigate the legal process to protect their rights and fight for more benefits.  This article highlights main points of the Indiana Worker’s Compensation process. 

Each state uses different laws for their worker’s compensation (“work comp”) claims.  In Indiana, a work injury is considered a civil law claim.  It does not involve criminal or immigration law issues.  Something a little different about work comp claims is an agency handles the legal process – not a court of law.  The Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board is the agency that tracks and handles these cases.  You can learn more about the Board at this website

An important part about Indiana’s work comp law is that an employer cannot defend a case based on liability or fault.  Unlike an auto accident or other typical type of injury claim, it does not matter whether an employee was negligent and did something to cause the accident.  As long as the employee was not intoxicated or intended to hurt themself, Indiana requires the employer to offer benefits.

Unfortunately, we often hear that employers threaten immigration reporting or similar problems when their employees are injured.  You should not be afraid of immigration issues.   Indiana’s work comp law allows any worker to make a claim.  Your immigration status does not affect your legal rights and does not involve notifying the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (“ICE”) agency.  Hispanic workers should not be concerned about immigration problems and notify their employer or supervisor immediately if injured on the job.  Make sure to report your injury right away because waiting to do so may allow the employer to dispute responsibility.

Preliminarily, a couple legal issues we see affecting work comp claims involve whether the worker was an employee and whether the employer has insurance coverage.  Determining whether an injured worker is an employee or independent contractor can be a complicated legal question.  Since Indiana law does not require employers to offer independent contractors work comp benefits, let’s review some basic differences between employees and independent contractors. 

Signs That Show A Worker Is An Employee

  1. The worker is paid with a company check
  2. Taxes are taken out of their pay checks
  3. Worker does not work at other jobs
  4. Worker does not have her/his own business
  5. Worker uses the employer’s equipment
  6. Worker regularly visits the employer’s place of business
  7. Works the hours and schedule the employer chooses

An Independent Contractor Is Usually Identified When These Circumstances Apply

  1. The worker has her / his own company
  2. They work for various other companies
  3. They do not work for the employer full time
  4. They receive a 1099 tax form from the employer
  5. They do not have taxes withheld from their payments
  6. They use their own vehicles and equipment to perform the work

Worker’s compensation insurance coverage is an important part of the claim.  Without insurance coverage, employers usually cannot pay the benefits they owe their injured employees.  Many employers are small companies or individuals and choose not to pay for insurance.  This is an important reason why you should ask if your employer has worker’s compensation insurance.  A legal option that sometimes helps injured workers in these situations is if your employer is performing work for another company or contractor.  Typical examples of this arrangement are found in construction and staffing agency arrangements.   Indiana’s work comp law allows us to take one step up and make a claim for benefits from the general contractor or staffing agency if the primary employer does not carry insurance.

When an employee is injured on the job, Indiana law requires the employer to offer various benefits.  The first and probably most important benefit is for medical treatment.  If you visit the doctors, therapists and medical providers the employers offer, they must pay for all your costs.  You are not responsible for deductible payments.  You are not required to use your own health insurance or take FMLA time. Since your health and well-being are your primary concerns, you may seek medical treatment immediately after your work accident.  If your employer or the insurance company deny you treatment, then you should seek legal help immediately.  The attorneys at Goodin Abernathy understand the process and will explain your rights. 

When a doctor or medical expert says you cannot work due to your injuries, you may claim Temporary Total Disability (“TTD”) payments.  Indiana’s work comp law requires employers to pay two – thirds (66.66%) of your regular income while you cannot work.  These TTD payments are not reduced for income tax or other typical withholdings.  Before the payments start, the doctor must determine that you miss more than seven (7) consecutive days of work.  If you miss thirty (30) consecutive days or more, than the employer must go back and pay you for the first 7 days of work that you missed.  Sometimes, workers do not miss time off work immediately after their injury.  But later, they require surgery or start treatment that keeps them off work.  The TTD rules also apply to these subsequent periods of missed work.   

When the employer or its insurance company determine that certain benefits should finish, they are required to send you a Termination of Benefits form.  The form looks like this  If you dispute that benefits should stop, it is important to respond to these within seven days of receiving the form.  If you fail to respond, then technically the employer may stop sending you the TTD benefits. 

The final type of benefits owed to an injured employee involves the Permanent Partial Impairment (“PPI”) value of your injury.  Basically, this benefit pays the employee for the future impairment they will suffer from the injury.  That is, how will the injury interfere with their work and ability to earn income in the future.  Calculating this benefit is complicated.  For instance, the doctors and work comp Board uses the AMA Guidelines for reference.  To understand it best, you should contact our Legalmente Hablando Indy team for representation.  We will examine the medical records, show you how the government calculates the benefits and describe your legal options for maximizing recovery of PPI benefits. 

Indiana law controls how attorneys charge for legal services in work comp claims.  All attorneys in the state charge the same percentages for contingency fees.  Since we charge a contingency fee, that means we collect our fees only when we win and you get paid money for your claim.  If we do not collect money, then you do not pay.  Our legal fee agreements are explained in both Spanish and English. 

If you or a loved one are injured in a workplace accident, contact the Goodin Abernathy legal team.  We handle death claims, amputations, orthopedic surgeries, electrocution, burns, explosions, head /brain injuries, spinal column fractures and broken bones.  You will find we care about our clients and patiently explain the legal process.  Count on us to aggressively represent your claim. Contact us today.

Job Safety with Anonymous IOSHA Reporting

Job Safety with Anonymous IOSHA Reporting

Many Hispanics working physical labor jobs face dangerous work conditions.  Unfortunately, Hispanics and many other workers sacrifice their safety in hopes of keeping their jobs for income.  Attorney Jim Browne and his Legalmente Hablando Indy legal team work daily with injured workers.  Often attorney Browne must request work accident reports from the Indian Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (IOSHA).  These reports describe investigation results after work injuries occur.  Of course, Legalmente Hablando Indy prefers nobody gets hurt and workers enjoy safe conditions.  So here are a couple options Hispanic laborers can use to prevent accidents. 

IOSHA offers workers a way to privately request help enforcing safety standards in the work place. IOSHA’s inspection may result in warnings or fines.  But it will certainly help identify hazards and develop safety plans to reduce the risk of worker injury.

IOSHA offers two ways to file safety complaints.  First, you may file a formal complaint.  A formal complaint is made by a current employee or their representative. Formal complaints are assigned to a Compliance Officer for inspection, and they must meet the following requirements:

  • Asserts that an imminent danger, a violation of the IOSH Act or a violation of an IOSHA standard exposing employees to physical harm exists in the workplace;
  • Is submitted in writing; and
  • Is signed by at least one current employee or employee representative.

To make the report, you may use this form or write a letter and send it to IOSHA. 

Another reporting option includes a “non-formal complaint.”  Using this reporting keeps your identity anonymous.  Your employer and co-workers do not learn that you or your representative made a safety complaint.  A non-formal complaint does cause IOSHA to investigate the workplace for hazards complained of in the report.  You may use this link to find the report in Spanish:

Slip and trip injuries are the most common problems in work sites.  Many of our Legalmente Hablando Indy clients suffer broken ankles, wrists and twisted knees in these accidents. We also represent many clients who have suffered injuries after falling from heights, like roofs, ladders and scaffolds.  Since so much velocity and force is involved with these accidents, our clients typically suffered serious closed head injuries, broken bones and tragically, even death. 

The demolition industry exposes many of our clients to additional dangers.  Typically, our demolition clients are injured when heavy objects, like walls, ceilings or pipes fall onto them.  Or they are burned by electric wires and fall from scissor lifts. 

Amputations are injuries attorney Browne also focuses on for Indiana Worker’s Compensation claims.  The amputation injury involves a special set of regulations for determining benefits.  Goodin Abernathy is experienced in fighting for our clients’ best medical and financial recoveries.  Contact us for free in person, telephone or video consultations if you, a friend or loved one has suffered a work injury.  Jim Browne and his team care about our Hispanic clients work to provide them the best legal service available in Indiana.

Affordable Indiana Probate and Small Estates

Affordable Indiana Probate and Small Estates

The Indiana probate process manages asset distribution after a person dies.  Contact the estate planning and probate attorneys at Goodin Abernathy LLP to learn about the inexpensive legal services we offer our clients. 

You may be tasked with winding up the financial, real estate and vehicle interests of a deceased person.  Our probate attorneys realize not all Indiana residents die rich, and that many people die with assets totaling less than One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00).  But what they do leave behind is precious to their families and friends.  Avoid spending money on high-priced probate legal services that make the process too complex.  Take a minute to contact us to learn about cost effective options. 

This article generally describes legal considerations for representatives handling estates valued at $100,000.00 or less.  If an Indiana resident died after June 20, 2022, their estate may qualify for using the Small Estate option.  Here is a simple review of the important phrases and options for Indiana residents handling small estates.


Probate is the legal process used to administer a deceased person’s estate.  An “estate” includes their assets and debts.  Probate includes addressing debts like mortgages, credit card balances, medical bills and taxes.  The process is regulated to protect the interests of legally interested beneficiaries.

You will hear the term “decedent” used for the deceased person. The probate process applies to decedents who die with and without wills.  Typically wills identify legal beneficiaries to whom the decedent wished to transfer their assets and gifts.  When people die without wills, then Indiana’s intestate (without a will) process applies to the probate process.  The intestate process uses Indiana law to determine how any estate assets are divided between legally recognized family members.  

In Indiana, the executor, administrator or “personal representative” refers to the person(s) charged with handling the probate process for a decedent’s estate.  It is an important job that carries significant responsibility.  An executor needs to make sure everything is done legally, correctly and fairly.  Goodin Abernathy’s experienced attorneys enjoy keeping your probate project simple and easily understandable.  Our goal is to support your needs with a personal touch and provide reasonably priced legal service.

Small Estate

Indiana law provides a cost-effective option for beneficiaries tasked with handling estates that are valued under $100,000.00.  Recognized as the Small Estate, Indiana law does away with the need for opening a complex probate action in court.  It offers non-attorney forms recognized by financial institutions, the BMV and real estate companies.  Here is an example of a Small Estate Affidavit and Order that is recognized in Morgan County Indiana.  Many other Indiana counties offer links to similar forms you can find on the internet. 

Frequently, our probate attorneys handle questions about small estates.  Depending on your needs, our probate team enjoys offering single consultations or ongoing legal support to manage the small estate process.  Though the small estate process is intended to make things easy, we know that does not always happen.  Banks, the county Recorder’s Office or even the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) may require information and forms that are not always easy to create.  If you run into questions about the Small Estate process, contact us for consultations and exploring a limited level of legal services that support your needs while maintaining a reasonable budget.              

Examples of Probate Legal Services For Small Estates

Though easier and more streamlined than using courts for supervised and unsupervised probate cases, managing small estates still requires time and effort.  The process typically involves more than filling out a simple form.  Our team is sensitive to the burdens clients face when taking on the responsibility of winding up a decedent’s legal affairs.  Instead of paying high hourly rates for firms that only focus on probate legal work, contact us to learn about other options. 

The Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys and paralegals will take on the extra work it takes for processing required by the banks to distribute money to the legal heirs.  We often visit banks with our clients to answer their questions, supply necessary documentation and fill out forms to successfully distribute proceeds. 

The Indiana BMV uses various forms for different types of vehicle transfers and registration.  Goodin Abernathy’s attorneys will help you identify and populate the BMV forms so you can re-title a vehicle.  Depending on the BMV branch or even visiting with staff in the branch, you might encounter different questions and requests.  We will schedule appointments and even go to the BMV with you to work through their process.   

Taxes are always an issue.  Both the State of Indiana and federal government are interested in collecting their taxes.  Work with Goodin Abernathy’s legal team to organize documents and supply tax preparers with the information they need to complete the required returns.   

Real estate transfers use special forms.  For instance, you might want to sell the decedent’s house and divide the proceeds between heirs.  To do so, you will need a new deed and paperwork for the transaction.  The deed must be filed with the County Recorder’s office.  Realtors and title companies will need forms showing you have the legal authority to complete the transaction.  Our attorneys communicate directly with the title companies and supply them with the materials they need.  To make sure documents are registered correctly, we also take the deed and registration documents to the county Assessor and Recorder to re-title a house if an heir intends to maintain ownership. 

Goodin Abernathy LLP’s attorneys are sensitive to the emotions mixed in with managing the probate process.  Whether you have a Small Estate or a full probate project, contact our team to learn about the affordable legal services we offer.  Let us help you wrap up your loved one’s estate and legal affairs.  Call (317)843-2606 or e-mail to set up a consultation today!

Estate Planning for Sickness and Death

Estate Planning for Sickness and Death

Legal planning for death and sickness are simple projects the Goodin Abernathy team can help you prepare.  Generally, this is known as Estate Planning.  Our legal team at Goodin Abernathy regularly handles drafting Wills, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Representative and Health Care Directives.  Setting these up these plans will help your loved ones with legal tasks when you become sick or die.  The legal documents will apply even if you are undocumented.  They are especially helpful if you are in a common law relationship where a marriage is not legally established. 

In our Hispanic culture, the “pareja” or compañero is a common law spouse.  The couple recognizes each other as dedicated life partners.  But Indiana does not recognize this as a legally enforceable marriage.  It also affects paternity issues and the rights of children to claim assets of their father.  If the father of a child born in a pareja arrangement dies before paternity is legally established, special steps must be taken to protect the child’s legal interests.  Otherwise, the father’s property may pass to extended family other than the child or common law wife.  That is why our Legalmente Hablando Indy team helps Hispanic clients plan for protecting their family’s legal interests.

A Will is a legal document that describes your wishes for dividing assets after you die.  You will select people to represent your legal interests in court or to do business. Then you will explain how you want your property divided.  This could include transferring the title to a house or property to your spouse or other designated loved one.  The Will can describe how you want personal items and money divided between your heirs.  Establishing a Will can greatly help the distribution process after you die. 

A Power of Attorney is a legally recognized document that transfers your decision powers to the person you choose when you are medically or mentally unable to make decisions.  For instance, if you are in a COMA after an accident or unconscious due to COVID or other health complication, your legal representative can make reasonable and beneficial decisions for handling your financial affairs.  Banks, realtors and other financial companies recognize these documents.  This allows your loved ones to continue handling regular finances while you are incapacitated.  When you recover, the representative’s powers are removed and you regain control.

A Health Care Representative appointment applies when you are medically or mentally incapacitated.  Certain health laws prohibit doctors and hospitals from communicating with family members without written permission.  The Health Care Representative appointment provides your chosen person to communicate with the doctors and learn about your medical or psychological condition.  They may collect health records and make decisions for your treatment. 

 A Health Care Directive is a legally recognized document that give instructions to future healthcare providers regarding your treatment.  For instance, if medical experts agree that you will not recover from a brain injury or serious illness, then you might want to instruct them not to keep you alive on artificial support.  For many, these directions offer peace of mind their families are not burdened with attending to a body in a vegetative or non-responsive state. 

Goodin Abernathy supports our clients with estate planning information and documents.  The process is simple and offers people security their families and loved ones will be taken care during serious health events or death.  Contact us for more information and let us help you plan to protect your family. 

Estate Planning

Estate Planning

An Ounce of Simple Estate Planning Can Prevent A Pound of Legal Work

As the “Silver Wave” or “Gray Wave” segment of our aging population builds, many Gen X kids are taking on the responsibility of addressing estate planning for their parents.   Goodin Abernathy’s estate planning attorneys can support your estate planning with an easy, cost-efficient package of documents.  Our attorneys will meet with you and your loved ones to personalize the details for Wills, Powers of Attorney, appointing a Health Care Representative and drafting Living Will or Advanced Lifecare Directives. Depending on your particular needs, our estate planning packages start at Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) per person / package.    

Over the years, our Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys recognize two client tendencies typically frustrate the chances of arranging their estate planning.  First, the “there’s always tomorrow” attitude puts it off.  Of course, we hope our clients lead long, healthy lives. But the best time to plan is when you are healthy and mentally alert.  Recently a family brought in their elderly father seeking legal help for his estate planning.  Unfortunately, a dementia condition that started years ago progressed too far.  Instead of preparing simple estate planning documents, the man needed a court appointed guardian.  Of course this process requires a lot more time and costs a lot more money than preparing our estate planning packages. 

The second phenomenon preventing people from timely preventing their estate planning is the “do it yourself” kit.  The internet advertisements for estate planning offer “cheap” alternatives for handling your estate planning needs.  Unfortunately, this approach usually promotes procrastination and the project is never accomplished because it always seems easy to do “next weekend”.   Plus, let’s be honest and remember the age-old adage that “a person representing themselves has a fool for a client”.  Just contact our Goodin Abernathy attorneys and get it done the right way.  We will meet with you and take the time to evaluate your needs, explain options and suggest your best plan of action.

Basic Estate Planning Packages


A legally executed will expresses your wishes and provides instructions for handling the probate process.  Many clients understand the importance of listing specific bequests and our attorneys walk them through the best course of action for handling these instructions.  Wills may also save your heirs inheritance money by directing your personal representative on how to probate your estate. 

Power of Attorney

Often, before one dies, their mental capacity or physical health begins failing.  The Power of Attorney confers the legal authority to a designated representative.  The representative may use the authority to manage financial affairs, business decisions and other important legal tasks for the grantor if she / he are medically or legally incapacitated. 

Health Care Representative

The Health Care Representative appointment allows you to legally designate a representative to communicate with your health care providers.  Often, hospital systems and doctors are reluctant to share information or accept medical decisions if a legal health care representative is not appointed.  Establishing this directive allows your loved ones to be a part of your health care journey, know what’s going on and help make important decisions.

Living Will or Advanced Health Care Directive

Indiana law recognizes and respects a person’s Living Will document.  This document states your wishes for important end of life decisions.  Frequently hospitals want to know if you have a Living Will for handling treatment in terminal situations.  You may feel relieved to know your family members will not bear the stress of making decisions about life support since your Advanced Health Care Directive will address your wishes. 

Mind you, estate planning packages are important for new families as well.  The documents provide moms and dads the security of know their children are taken care of in the event of accidental death or surprise medical conditions.  You may appoint guardians for your children and develop Trust terms for managing assets until the children are mature enough to make sound financial decisions.  Since our attorneys have helped widows and seen the devastating impact of sudden death on young kids, Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys understand how to explain important planning concepts to our younger clients as well.

Our attorney handle probate for the heirs and family members of deceased loved ones.  Estate planning is simply distinguished from probate in that it involves planning for the ultimate probate of an estate.  Legal requirements control how estates are managed and property is distributed in the “probate” process.  Start building a trusting and friendly relationship with our attorneys now.  Our professionals will share legal guidance in a comforting manner for your loved ones after you pass.   

Contact Goodin Abernathy LLP to schedule a meeting for your estate planning needs.  We provide personalized service and tailor the documents to fit your wishes.  The task does not take much time – but protects a life’s worth of effort.  Call us, we look forward to serving you today!