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Construction Injury – Can I Sue My Employer?

Construction Injury – Can I Sue My Employer?

Construction sites present active and dangerous areas.  Attorney Jim Browne and Goodin Abernathy LLP help injured construction workers prosecute their Indiana injury claims.  These cases are typically known as Indiana Workers Compensation claims.   Our experienced legal team offers Spanish-speaking service and customized care for each of our clients.  If you or a co-worker were injured on a construction site, contact us for a free legal consultation with attorney Browne in Spanish.  Your immigration status does not prevent you from making a legal claim in Indiana.  

Indiana allows an injured employee to make a civil claim for benefits against their employer after suffering a construction site injury.  If you were hurt in the course of your job, you can make a claim no matter how it happened – even if you did something to cause the injury.  This claim is controlled by Indiana’s Worker’s Compensation law.  Indiana Workers Compensation laws requires employers to offer injured workers with set benefits like medical treatment, payments for time off work and the value of your permanent physical impairment.  The insurance companies that defend employers and pay the benefits are trained to save money.  You should have an experienced attorney at your side, fighting for the maximum value of your claim.  We do not charge a legal fee to represent you unless we collect money for your case.  This is called a contingency fee where our legal team charges a percentage of the amount of money we win for your case.  Our fees are explained in English and Spanish with written agreements you review with the attorney. 

Importantly, Goodin Abernathy also investigates whether you are eligible for making a negligence claim against another responsible party, like a construction manager or general contractor.  The law and damages in a negligence case are different than a Workers Compensation claim and you need an experienced litigator for help.  Our legal team uses experts, investigates reports and handles the legal research required to make a construction accident negligence claim. 

Examples of Indiana Worker’s Compensation and Negligence Cases

CONSTRUCTION –WORKERS COMPENSATION

Juan works for a masonry contractor named Block Inc.  While at the Block Inc. offices, he is loading bricks when he falls out of a truck and breaks his ankle.  Because he was injured at work and while doing his job, Juan has an Indiana Worker’s compensation claim.  The employer owes him medical treatment and payments for time he misses from work.  When the doctors say Juan is finished with medical treatment but has a permanent physical restriction, the employer needs to pay him money for the impairment.  Juan does not have negligence case because no other person, company or equipment was involved with the accident. 

CONSTRUCTION – NEGLIGENCE AND WORKERS COMPENSATION

Juan’s masonry company Block Inc. is working at a new hotel project owned by Hotel Inc.  Hotel Inc. hired All Service LLC to be the general contractor.  The job of All Service LLC is to hire, contractors and organize the construction job.  While Juan is at the construction site, he climbs up on a scaffold to build a wall.  On the ground, a carpenter that works for Woodworks Inc. is driving a forklift and accidentally hits the scaffolding.  This causes Juan to fall off and suffer an injury.  1) Juan does have a worker’s compensation claim against his Block Inc., his employer.  2) Juan has a negligence claim against Woodworks Inc. for causing his damages.  3) Juan may also have a negligence claim for his damages against the general contractor that was obligated to manage safety and traffic at the construction site.  

CONSTRUCTION INJURY- MACHINE MALFUNCTION

Hector is using a new air pistol to drive nails on a framing project in Indiana.  The tool explodes from too much air pressure and injures Hector’s hand.  Hector has a workers compensation claim against his employer.  He may also have a negligence claim against the air pistol manufacturer for a faulty design.  This claim depends on the age of the tool, identifying the manufacturer of the tool and evidence it was designed or made negligently.  Hector needs the support of Goodin Abernathy to investigate the tool company.  Attorney Browne might need to use experts that examine and explain why the tool was negligently made and caused the injury. 

STAFFING AGENCY

Maria works for USA Staffing LLC.  The staffing company pays her to do work at different companies.  USA Staffing LLC assigns her to AAA Factory where she works on a production line.  Maria turns to pick up a package off the floor and feels a pop in her back.  Though she was injured at the AAA Factory, Maria has a workers compensation claim against USA Staffing LLC for her injury. 

EMPLOYER – NO INSURANCE

Marco is a painter who works for a guy named Arnold.  Arnold gets jobs from a painting company and pays Marco cash to do the work.  Marco falls off a ladder and breaks his arm but discovers Arnold does not have insurance.  When employers do not have insurance, the law allows workers to make claims against the contractors or property owners that hired their boss. Attorney Browne helps Marco identify two other potential defendants that might owe him for the same benefits that Arnold owes him. 

INJURY IN ANOTHER STATE

German lives in Indiana.  He works for a demolition business in Indiana called Demo Inc. that is also located in Indiana.  German lives in Indiana and they do most of their work in Indiana.  Demo Inc. gets a job in the state of Ohio and takes its crew there.  While at the project site in Ohio, a wall falls onto German and injures him.  German has a workers compensation claim and can decide whether to make it in the state of Indiana or Ohio.  German consults with attorney Browne to learn and choose which state law he wishes to use for making the claim.   

Goodin Abernathy offers free, relaxed consultations with attorney Browne.  He and his team speak Spanish and understand your needs.  You, your family and friends are invited to attend the consultation and learn about the law controlling your injury claim.  We take the time to listen and answer your questions.

It is important to contact us immediately before evidence disappears and the insurance company starts telling you what they are going to do with your claim.  Let us help you with a legal evaluation, make decisions and tell the insurance company we are representing you.  Call us at 317-843-2606 and schedule your appointment today.     

Indiana Collection Claims And Hispanic Small Businesses

The Goodin Abernathy LLP law firm and attorney Jim Browne supports small Hispanic businesses like painters, cleaners, construction and landscaping providers.  Attorney Jim Browne often sees payment and collection problems where our clients are owed a lot of money for labor and materials.  Unfortunately, many of our clients are discriminated against because of their Latino heritage.  First, review problems most of our clients encounter when trying to collect for work they performed.  Then let’s review how better business planning avoids the same problems for a lot less money!

No Written Contract – It’s OK, You Still Have A Claim

You may take legal action to collect if you do not have a written contract.  Many of my clients trust contractors and people, providing services without a written contract.  When their customer does not pay, then my clients wonder whether the lack of a written contract prevents them from legal collections.   Your Goodin Abernathy legal team builds a claim using evidence surrounding your business relationship and the actual work performed.  This allows us to explain the jurisdiction and legal process available to make your claim.

Undocumented Labor – It’s OK, You Still Have A Claim

Many Latino employers have undocumented workers on their crew.  Often the employers are unaware the workers are undocumented.  But it does not matter, the law allows you to make legal claim for collections.  A strategy contractors or homeowners typically use when trying to avoid payment is threatening to call immigration enforcement.  Too often this scares the Hispanic business and is an effective strategy.  But legally it is wrong and Goodin Abernathy will get you past that false strategy to collect your money.

Payment Promises – Falling Deeper Into Debt

Small businesses take risks and decide whether to continue working after payment promises.  The contractor makes a partial payment and promises our clients they will get caught up if work continues.  The reality is, the contractor does not have the money or spends it on other things and leave my client unpaid.  We see this pull our clients into debt where they owe their own crews tens of thousands of dollars!  If you agree to continue working, only do it once.  Do not allow your customer to pull you down, deeper into debt.  Contact attorney Browne right away and let him negotiate the payment and pressure the customer to get your paid or get sued.  If you want to keep them for a customer, they will respond positively. 

Collection Efforts – Superior or Small Claims Courts and Mechanics Liens

Depending on the amount owed, you may decide which court system to use for legal help.  If your claim is for $10,000.00 or less, you may be eligible for using a small claims court.  These courts use different rules that make it easier for people to bring cases without using attorneys.  Each Indiana county has different small claims court rules.  For instance, Marion County (Indianapolis) Indiana requires businesses to use attorneys even if the claim is in small claims court. 

If your claim is for more than $10,000.00, then you must file in Superior Court and this requires attorney representation.  Our legal team is experienced and aggressive with these collection cases.  Our legal fees vary from case to case but one things always remain the same about our approach: we win if you win – we lose if you lose and we don’t play to lose. 

A powerful recovery tool is using a mechanic’s lien.  Placing a lien on the property where you did the work provides you strong legal leverage to push your collection interests.  Various factors affect whether you can file a lien and important legal considerations apply.  Contact us right away because time limits apply!

Business Planning – Do It Right From The Start And Avoid Collection Problems

Our Latino clients are exceptionally skilled and hardworking people.  They are dependable, respectful, economical and fast workers.  Unfortunately, they work much better than they plan and manage a business.  If you want a part time side job, then it’s OK to run it without contracts or accounting.  That’s the type of work you can track on a napkin. 

If you want to develop a business your family depends on – where you collect for the work you perform and grow wealth- then you need to spend the time and money organizing it.  Too many Hispanic businesses avoid using an attorney for business consulting because they want to save some money and think they can handle it themselves.  A year or two later, they land in a problem costing them multiple times more money than if they hired an attorney and paid a little to do it right in the first place.

You can engage the Goodin Abernathy legal team for business consulting and choose between a variety of service levels.  Start with a general consultation to review your business and learn what attorney Browne recommends you establish and implement with your business model.  Then decide if you want to Goodin Abernathy to prepare business forms like contracts and invoices that are special to your business.  Talk about how your business will track its accounting and avoid any financial problems raised by your customers.  Learn how the government wants you to organize a business, whether your immigration is documented or not.  Consider using bank accounts for your business and reporting taxes that qualifies you to work for new and bigger customers. 

Latino contractors should focus on the work they do best.  Use professional help to manage business activity, avoid collection problems and run a successful business.  The Goodin Abernathy team sees all sort of business problems and can identify where your business is most vulnerable.  Our help is quick, easy and economical – especially considering the costs of falling into collections problems!  Call us today for immediate support – (317) 843-2606.

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 casewww.in.gov/wcb/files/PPIandTTD-benefits2023_1.3_.pdf  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 https://www.in.gov/wcb/

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 www.in.gov/wcb/files/Blank-38911.pdf  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.  https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/ama-guides/ama-guides-evaluation-permanent-impairment-overview.  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. https://www.in.gov/dol/iosha/iosha-home/ 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 www.in.gov/dol/files/IOSHA_Complaint_Form.pdf 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: https://www.osha.gov/form/osha7/espanol

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

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.  https://codes.findlaw.com/in/title-29-probate/in-code-sect-29-1-8-1/  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.  https://morgancounty.in.gov/egov/documents/1658176398_56456.pdf  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 jbrowne@goodinabernathy.com 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.  https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2020/04/28/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers-as-americas-largest-generation/   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

WILL

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! 

Attorney Help for Indiana Car Accidents

Attorney Help for Indiana Car Accidents

Were you in a car accident and have legal questions?  Make things simple by contacting the Goodin Abernathy LLP law firm.  We have a Spanish speaking team, too, who focuses on representing Hispanic clients suffering physical injuries in motor vehicle accidents.  Put us on your side for recovering the maximum damages the law allows for personal injuries.  We offer free, in-person legal consultations.  When we take your case, our attorneys only charge for services when we win and actually collect money. 

Auto accidents may include criminal acts.  But when you need to recover your own damages, the process is considered a civil law claim for negligence.  Sometimes our clients are concerned about making legal claims because they are undocumented immigrants.  Do not let this stand in your way because Indiana allows all accident victims the right to legal access – no matter what their immigration status is.  You really should not be concerned about encountering immigration problems for making a negligence claim.  Our legal team will guide you through the process and protect your rights without concern for being deported or harassed due to your immigration status. 

Now let’s start by reviewing basic topics our clients must deal with after an auto accident.  At the scene, police often give our clients a slip of paper with the “accident number.” Although helpful, this is not the report we need.  Using your information, we access an internet portal that law enforcement uses for publishing the auto accident reports.  Police post their Indiana crash reports on BuyCrash.com and charge Twelve Dollars ($12.00) to download and print it.  https://buycrash.lexisnexisrisk.com/ui/home The police report will supply us with the basic information needed to identify the at-fault driver.  The crash report also describes the investigation results and identifies potential witnesses. 

 If your car was disabled and not drivable after the accident, it was probably towed to a salvage lot.  We recommend addressing this immediately because each day your vehicle sits in the tow yard, they charge you around Thirty-Five Dollars ($35.00) per day.  Before you can get your car out of the lot, you must pay them for the towing service and the daily rate.  If you do not have auto insurance to pay for these costs, the price can quickly jump above an amount you can pay.  Then, if you do not pay the removal fee, the tow yard will sell your car for salvage.  You will not have a chance to fix the car, sell it or maybe even recover your personal possessions.  Our legal team counsels our clients with tips for negotiating with the salvage yards to pay less and collect your vehicle.  Contact us with questions before paying full price at the salvage yard. 

Many people are physically injured in car accidents.  Maybe you visited the emergency room for medical treatment and have questions about the bills.  Or, after the accident your injuries worsened and now you want to visit your family doctor or a specialist.  Attorneys are not medical doctors but we can describe how clients typically search for physical relief from pain.  Often we find our clients are confused about where to go for medical treatment.  The obvious response is 1) if the pain is excruciating, visit the emergency room and 2) if the pain is tolerable, consider contacting your regular primary care doctor.  Of course, there are more medical treatment options that we can discuss for choosing the best path for your recovery.

We know the medical treatment is not free and you want to know who pays the costs.  GA’s legal team will explain how the law applies to this important question and show you how we step in to work with the medical billing departments.  For instance, you want to know if the at fault driver’s insurance company will pay each bill.  When will they pay the medical bills?  Under Indiana’s negligence law, the process typically does not require a responsible driver or their insurance to pay for medical costs as you treat.  Instead, they pay when you are finished with medical treatment.  Even if it is an option, rarely is it a good idea to settle parts of a claim as it goes along.  It is typical to settle the whole case once you finish medical treatment and know what all your damages are.  Unfortunately, we know the bill collectors do not want to wait and they put pressure on you and your family.  Call Goodin Abernathy, and we will step in to handle the bills and relieve you from the immediate financial pressure. 

Another option for handling medical bills can include using your own auto or health insurance.  If you have the right auto insurance coverage, you may be able to use your own policy to help pay bills.  This coverage is typically called Medical Payments or “Medpay”.  GA’s Indy legal team will review your own insurance to identify if you have this option.  You may also use your own health insurance to cover medical bills for treating your injuries.  We will explain how the health insurance company then has a legal and financial interest in collecting their payments from the responsible driver.  If you do not have health insurance, Legalmente Hablando Indy is familiar with various hospitals and medical doctors that use payment systems you can take advantage of for continued medical treatment.  For instance, Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis offers applications for the popular “Advantage Plan.” Patients work with financial counselors to qualify for assistance under the plan. https://www.eskenazihealth.edu/programs/financial-counseling

When you miss time at work due to an injury, you likely lose income and we understand this is very stressful. Goodin Abernathy’s legal team will explain how Indiana law applies to this part of your damages.  The law for accident victims allows them to claim lost income for damages in their case against the responsible driver.  We describe how this is calculated and inform you about what to expect for a lost wages claim.   

Another initial concern includes how to deal with the insurance companies.  Understandably, our clients visit us because they are concerned about how the negligent driver’s insurance company is treating them.  Clients want to know the law and make sure they are being treated fairly.  This is where an attorney at Goodin Abernathy helps.  Remember, insurance representatives are trained and experienced with handling claims to save their companies money.  Insurance companies are in business to make money – not pay it out.  This is why you need professional legal help.  Our experienced team will represent you and fight for your legal rights.  Choose to have an attorney on your side (and if necessary, that speaks Spanish), cares about your recovery and is experienced with challenging insurance companies to win the best recovery for your case. 

Our attorneys handle personal injuries on a contingency fee basis.  You only pay for legal fees when we win and collect money.  There are no up-front fees that you pay to open a case with our law firm.  Legalmente Hablando Indy enjoys supporting Indiana’s Hispanic community with quality legal services.  Our contingency fee rates are typically less than big advertising law firms.  Instead of trying to pay the cost of marketing, we save our clients money  and provide excellent legal services.  Our initial consultations are free.  We will sit with you, review your photos, accident reports and medical treatment.  If you are in the hospital or unable to travel, we can visit your location or set up a video conference.  Contact Goodin Abernathy’s legal team to schedule an appointment today!

SPANISH INTERPRETERS IN LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

SPANISH INTERPRETERS IN LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

If you speak Spanish, how are you going to testify in court? Can you even open a lawsuit? Many of our Legalmente Hablando Indy and Goodin Abernathy LLP clients speak Spanish as primary language. Our team speaks Spanish. But what happens in court or when we take our clients to depositions for interviews by other attorneys? Who interprets for them in the court room? This article covers basic questions litigants have about using interpreters in a legal proceeding.
To begin, yes, the law allows Spanish and non-English speakers to open lawsuits and testify in court. The U.S. Constitution provides equal access to our courts for individuals and businesses. Access includes removing language barriers for non-English speakers.

Interpreter or Translator?

Many people casually trade the terms interpreter and translator when referring to a person that converts a foreign language to English. The difference is whether the conversion is oral or written. A person who orally converts another language to English, is an INTERPRETER. A person who converts written material written in a foreign language to English is a TRANSLATOR. When attorneys, litigants and judges are working in a court room or another legal proceeding, most often the need is for an interpreter to convert foreign languages, like Spanish, to English on a real time basis.

Who Qualifies As An Interpreter?

Using a family member or friend that speaks both Spanish and English to interpret in the courtroom would be easy and cheap, but the system requires licensed and approved interpreters. The legal process requires accuracy and fairness. Interpreters swear an oath for the judge to truly and accurately convert languages. They are trained to take notes and interpret testimony and court proceedings in real time. Licensed interpreters are trained how to interact with the judges and attorneys while testimony happens. This is a big reason why friends or family are not allowed to interpret in the court room.

Who Pays For An Interpreter?

Legal proceedings occur in and out of the court room. Before a trial or hearing begins, attorneys typically conduct discovery to collect evidence for their case. During discovery, depositions are often taken to prepare for trial. This is where an attorney uses a court reporter to record a formal interview of a party or witness. In this legal setting, the attorney and client who requested the testimony are responsible for 1) hiring a licensed interpreter and 2) paying the interpreter. However, licensed interpreters are not needed for all discovery efforts. An attorney can speak with a witness informally and take a statement without an interpreter. But that informal statement probably cannot be used in court.

If action is taking place inside a courtroom, then the court system is required to provide and pay for a licensed interpreter. Since our legal system is required to serve all people, without language barriers, our government supports the judicial system by paying for the interpreter services.

Sometimes court action takes place outside the courtroom. For instance, if a judge orders parties to mediate a case, the court is responsible for paying the interpreter. If the court orders the activity, the court pays for an interpreter to facilitate the activity.

Can We Call Someone Or Just Use A Computer Application To Interpret?

It seems practical to use a computer application to interpret or translate, but speed and reliability are important. A cell phone app will not be allowed to replace an interpreter. Sometimes, if the court hearing is short and uncontested, the court may use a phone line service to interpret rather than having an interpreter present in the courtroom. Indiana uses a service called Language Line. https://www.in.gov/courts/admin/diversity/language-access/interpreter-services/

However, a court must use a live interpreter for things like criminal guilty pleas, trials and other disputed hearings.

When there are questions about interpreter requirements, courts can contact the Indiana Office of Judicial Administration at interpreter@courts.in.gov. This department will support courts and attorneys with questions about interpreters and Indiana legal proceedings.

Contact attorney Jim Browne at Legalmente Hablando Indy and the Goodin Abernathy LLP law firm for more questions. Our Spanish speaking staff communicates directly with our clients and has the experience needed for handling cases involving interpreters.

The Role of Witnesses in Auto Accident Cases: Importance and How to Gather Information

The Role of Witnesses in Auto Accident Cases: Importance and How to Gather Information

If you’ve ever been in an auto accident or know someone who has, you’re aware that the situation can be chaotic and confusing. Amid the dust and the din, every single detail can matter – particularly those that come from the people who saw the event unfold: the witnesses.

Witnesses, in the context of an auto accident, can be an invaluable resource. Their observations, memories, and testimonies can create a rich, unbiased account of what exactly transpired during the incident. They can corroborate your recollection of the event or perhaps shed new light on aspects you may not have noticed.

But finding these reliable individuals, approaching them, and gathering their information is no simple task. There’s an art to it, and that’s precisely what we’re going to delve into through the course of this article. We’ll guide you through the importance of witnesses in auto accident cases, how to identify credible witnesses, and the best strategies to obtain their testimonies effectively. Buckle up, as we navigate this complex yet crucial aspect of auto accident cases together.

The Important Role of Witnesses

When an auto accident occurs, the scene is often a whirl of activity, fraught with high emotions and confusion. Amidst this tumult, the perspectives of those involved in the accident might be skewed or limited. It’s here that the role of witnesses becomes crucial, as they can provide an objective account of the incident, helping to reconstruct the events as they truly unfolded.

Witnesses bring a bird’s-eye view to the proceedings, offering an uninvolved perspective that is free from the direct emotional impact of the accident. Their accounts can either support or challenge the narratives put forth by the parties directly involved, such as the drivers or passengers. This objectivity can lend substantial credibility to their testimonies, making them an integral part of auto accident cases.

Moreover, witness testimonies can be the tipping point in the resolution of insurance claims and legal proceedings. An insurance company, for instance, might rely on these testimonies to ascertain the validity of a claim or to determine the degree of fault. Similarly, in a court of law, a well-documented witness account can sway the judge or jury, serving as compelling evidence that supports or rebuts the arguments presented.

Indeed, the role of witnesses is undeniably significant in auto accident cases. However, it’s not enough to simply have a witness; they must be credible and their testimonies accurate. As we move forward, we’ll delve into the process of identifying such witnesses and the best practices for gathering their information.

How to Find a Credible Witness

Finding a credible witness – someone who was in the right place, at the right time, with the right perspective – is easier said than done. The key lies in identifying individuals who had a clear and unbiased view of the incident, and then approaching them tactfully to request their cooperation.

Immediately after the accident, look around for potential witnesses. They could be pedestrians, fellow motorists, shopkeepers, or residents from nearby buildings. Keep an eye out for anyone who seems to be taking an interest in the aftermath of the accident, as they might have seen what transpired.

Once you have identified potential witnesses, approach them politely and explain the situation. Be upfront about why you need their account, making sure to convey the importance of their testimony in achieving a fair resolution of the incident. Remember, they’re under no obligation to help, so your request should be respectful and considerate.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to ask for their contact details – a phone number or email address can be handy. Witnesses may remember more details later on or their account might be needed again during the insurance claim or legal process. Hence, maintaining communication can be beneficial.

Remember, credibility is key. While friends or relatives can also be witnesses, their testimonies might be viewed with a certain degree of skepticism due to potential bias. As a rule of thumb, prioritize seeking the accounts of unbiased third-party witnesses for the most credible testimonies.

Types of Car Accident Witnesses

The world of car accident cases is as varied as the people who get entangled in them. And it’s no different when it comes to witnesses. Not all witnesses wear the same shoes – or in this case, hold the same perspectives. Let’s hit the brakes and take a look at the different types of witnesses commonly encountered in car accident cases and understand what they bring to the table.

  1. First-Party Witnesses: Let’s start with the folks at the heart of the action – the drivers and passengers involved in the accident. First-party witnesses have a first-hand experience of the accident. They’re usually the ones most affected by the incident, which makes their testimonies important, though sometimes emotionally charged.
  2. Third-Party Witnesses: Imagine this – you’re sitting at a cafe, sipping your morning latte, and then suddenly, BAM! A car accident happens right outside. People like you in this scenario are third-party witnesses – bystanders, pedestrians, or anyone not directly involved in the accident. Their perspective is often considered more impartial compared to first-party witnesses, as they don’t have a personal stake in the outcome of the case.
  3. Expert Witnesses: Now picture someone walking around the accident scene with a notepad, making sketches, and taking measurements. This is likely an expert witness, a specialist who knows the nuts and bolts of accidents. From traffic engineers, medical professionals to accident reconstruction specialists, expert witnesses use their specialized knowledge to provide insights into the technical aspects of the case.

Each type of witness brings a different flavor of information to the accident case. While first-party witnesses provide the pulse of the incident, third-party witnesses can offer an unclouded account, and expert witnesses can piece together the complex puzzle with their specialized knowledge.

It’s like baking a cake – you need the right ingredients in the right proportions. Too much of one, and you might end up with a lopsided view of the accident. The right mix, however, can provide a comprehensive and balanced account, helping to paint a clear picture of the events.

Are All Witnesses Credible?

So, we’ve got our witnesses lined up, ready to recount what they saw. But hang on a second – just because someone says they saw something doesn’t make it the gospel truth, does it? The road to establishing the truth in an auto accident case can sometimes be as winding as a mountain trail, and knowing how to gauge the credibility of a witness is crucial.

Here’s the deal: not all witnesses are created equal. Let’s be real; humans are complicated. There’s a range of factors that can make one witness more reliable than another.

For instance, consider the witness’s vantage point during the accident. Was the witness struggling with an umbrella in a downpour, or calmly observing the street from a cozy spot inside a café? And let’s not forget the human tendency to sometimes unconsciously embellish or omit details.

Cross-examination is a traditional and potent tool used especially in legal proceedings to sift the wheat from the chaff. It’s like doing a quality check – by asking questions, comparing statements, and weighing them against known facts, you get to see if their account holds water.

Also, corroboration is your friend. If multiple witnesses are singing the same tune, it lends weight to their accounts. It’s like when you’re unsure of the directions, and you ask a couple of passersby; if they both point you in the same direction, you feel more confident in their guidance.

In summary, not every person with a story is a golden witness. The credibility of a witness is often built on a foundation of their perspective, consistency, and how well their account meshes with the broader narrative.

What Factors Affect Witness Credibility?

Alright, let’s put our Sherlock Holmes hats on and delve into the factors that make or break witness credibility. Think of it as fine-tuning a radio; you want the clearest signal, free of static. So, what are the dials and knobs that affect the reception?

  1. Location and Perception: Imagine you’re watching a football game from the sidelines versus the nosebleed seats. Your perspective will be worlds apart. Similarly, where a witness was during the accident makes a heap of difference. Was their view obstructed? Were they at an angle where they couldn’t see crucial aspects of the incident? Perception is equally important. Sometimes even the sharpest eyes miss details, and other times what is perceived is not what actually occurred.
  2. Character and Bias: Let’s face it – sometimes, even the best of us can be a tad biased. A witness may subconsciously lean toward one side, especially if they know someone involved in the accident. Or they may have personal beliefs that affect their recounting. Their character also plays a part – is the witness known to be honest and trustworthy?
  3. Consistency: A story that changes more often than the weather? Red flag! If a witness’s account is like a chameleon, constantly changing colors, that’s a problem. Consistency is key. It’s important for the basic elements of the witness’s testimony to remain stable over time.
  4. Memory and Time: Time can be a witness’s worst enemy. As days turn into weeks, memories can get hazy. The sooner a witness’s account is documented, the better. Also, consider the witness’s memory – some people naturally have a better recollection than others.
  5. Demeanor: Sometimes it’s not just the words, but how they’re said. A witness who is nervous, fidgety, or overly aggressive might be seen as less credible compared to someone who is calm and composed.

So, there you have it – the ingredients that brew the credibility potion. Understanding these factors is essential in weighing the value of a witness’s testimony.

How to Collect Witness Statements

With a clear understanding of witness credibility, it’s time to switch gears and get into the nitty-gritty of collecting witness statements. Imagine you’re a journalist on a mission to get the most accurate story – you’ll need tact, precision, and the right tools.

  1. Strike While the Iron is Hot: Time is of the essence. It’s vital to speak with witnesses as soon as possible after the accident. The fresher the incident is in their memory, the more accurate and detailed their account is likely to be.
  2. Set the Scene: Before you dive into the questions, create a comfortable environment. Explain why their information is important and assure them that their cooperation is highly valued. This can set the tone for a more open and honest discussion.
  3. The Art of Questioning: Ask open-ended questions that allow witnesses to provide detailed responses. Instead of asking, “Did you see the blue car hit the red car?”, you might ask, “Can you describe how the collision happened?”.
  4. Documenting the Statement: There are a few ways to document what a witness tells you. If you have a smartphone or a recording device, audio or video recordings can be incredibly helpful. Ensure you have the witness’s permission before you start recording. Alternatively, taking written notes during the conversation is a classic but effective method. If you go this route, it’s a good practice to have the witness review and sign the written statement.
  5. Sketches and Photographs: Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Encourage witnesses to sketch the scene if they are able to. This can provide a visual context that supports their verbal or written statements.
  6. Contact Information and Follow-up: Don’t forget to collect the witness’s contact information in case additional clarification is needed later on. Also, be sure to express gratitude for their time and cooperation.
  7. Legal Guidance: If you’re not comfortable collecting witness statements on your own, or if the case is particularly complex, don’t hesitate to consult an attorney. They have the experience and expertise to guide you through the process.

By using these strategies, you can compile a treasure trove of information that could be indispensable in resolving an auto accident case.

Who Can Be a Car Accident Witness?

Alright, let’s get to the heart of the matter: just who gets to wear the ‘Witness’ badge in a car accident case? Is it exclusive to the guy across the street who saw it all happen, or can your buddy riding shotgun chime in too? Let’s demystify this.

  1. Friends or Relatives: First things first, yes, friends or relatives can be witnesses. But here’s the catch – they might not be seen as the most impartial of folks. However, that doesn’t mean their testimony doesn’t count. If they have pertinent information, it’s valuable. Just keep in mind that their relationship to the involved parties will be considered when weighing the testimony.
  2. Passengers: Passengers are right in the thick of it, and they can provide insights that outside witnesses might miss. Like friends or relatives, though, they may be perceived as biased, especially if they are related to the driver. Nonetheless, their first-hand account of events leading up to the crash can be very informative.
  3. Bystanders: The classic witnesses – bystanders who have no personal ties to anyone involved in the accident. They can include pedestrians, motorists, cyclists, or anyone who was in the vicinity when the accident occurred. Their accounts are often considered highly credible due to their detachment from the involved parties.
  4. Emergency Responders: Police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel who arrive at the scene often serve as witnesses, especially when it comes to the aftermath of the accident. They can provide insights into the condition of the drivers, the positioning of vehicles, and other critical details.
  5. Expert Witnesses: As mentioned earlier, expert witnesses like accident reconstruction specialists, mechanics, and medical professionals may also play a role. While they might not have been present at the scene, their specialized knowledge can help shed light on various aspects of the case.

So, there you have it. Being a car accident witness isn’t a members-only club. Various individuals, each with their unique perspectives, can contribute valuable information to an auto accident case.

What If I Can’t Find Car Accident Witnesses?

It’s a scenario we all dread: an auto accident happens, and it seems like witnesses are as elusive as a needle in a haystack. Don’t hit the panic button just yet. There are still avenues you can explore to bolster your case.

  1. Surveillance Footage: Like an eye in the sky, surveillance cameras are often silent witnesses to accidents. These can be traffic cameras, security cameras from nearby businesses, or even dashcams from other vehicles. It’s imperative to act swiftly to secure this footage as some systems may overwrite data after a short period.
  2. Physical Evidence: Sometimes the cars themselves tell a story. Skid marks, paint transfers, and vehicle damages can paint a picture of how the accident unfolded. Photographs and notes documenting this physical evidence can be invaluable.
  3. Expert Analysis: When witnesses are few and far between, expert witnesses come into play. As mentioned earlier, accident reconstruction specialists can use physical evidence to piece together how the accident likely happened. Medical experts can also provide insights into injuries sustained and their likely causes.
  4. Your Own Account: Don’t underestimate the power of your own words. As a party involved in the accident, your account of what happened is an important piece of the puzzle. Be as detailed and accurate as possible, and avoid speculating about things you are not sure of.
  5. Legal Advice: When the going gets tough, the tough get a lawyer. Seriously though, if you find yourself in a tight spot with little to no witnesses, consulting an attorney can be a game-changer. They can guide you on the best strategies for gathering evidence and building a solid case.

While having eyewitnesses can be an ace up your sleeve in an auto accident case, it’s not the end of the road if you can’t find them. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and with diligence and the right resources, you can still steer your case in the right direction.

Conclusion

We’ve cruised through the essentials of auto accident cases and the pivotal role of witnesses. In a nutshell, witnesses serve as the headlights, illuminating the path to truth with their objective accounts. Their credibility, though, can vary.

Gathering information from witnesses requires a mix of tact and tenacity. Whether it’s bystanders, passengers, or experts, each witness adds a unique brushstroke to the canvas of events. And when witnesses are scarce, other evidentiary heroes like surveillance footage and expert analysis can step in.

But let’s not forget the human element – approach witnesses respectfully, communicate the importance of their insights, and say thank you.

If you find yourself lost in the legal labyrinth, don’t hesitate to seek an attorney’s compass. They can help steer your case to safer shores.

In closing, witnesses are an invaluable asset in auto accident cases. Be diligent, be kind, and be thorough. Your quest for fairness and justice just might hinge on their words.

Contact Goodin Abernathy Car Accident Lawyers Today!

If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident and need expert legal guidance, don’t navigate these rough waters alone. Goodin Abernathy is here to support you with experience and compassion. Reach out to Goodin Abernathy for a free consultation, and let their expertise steer you through the complexities of your auto accident case. Take the first step towards peace of mind by visiting their website or giving them a call today.