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The Dram Shop Act

The Dram Shop Act

In lieu of the recent case against Tiger Woods, we thought it would be beneficial to explain the Dram Shop Act. Who is responsible when an accident or injury occurs because of someone being intoxicated?

Federal statistics & data show deaths caused by drunk drivers have dropped significantly in last 30 years, however, the phenomenon still occurs far too frequently.

In Indiana, when a drunk driver injures or kills a person, the bar or person that served the driver might share responsibility for the event. Under what is known as the Dram Shop Act, giving alcohol to a visibly drunk person can cause civil liability.

Now, the bar or person must possess or control the beverage and actually serve the alcohol. In addition, the person serving the alcohol must possess actual knowledge that the recipient was drunk at the time the beverage was provided. So, many times it is important to determine how much alcohol the person drank, over a certain time period as well as whether the person showed signs of intoxication like slurred speech or strange behavior.

If you have questions, an attorney can help sort through the issues to determine if these factors in the Dram Shop Act apply.

Please feel free to contact Goodin Abernathy.

Your Social Media v. Your Personal Injury Case

Your Social Media v. Your Personal Injury Case

Imagine. You have just been seriously injured and you’ve come home from the hospital, what is one of the first things you’re going to want to do? If you are like me, one of your first instincts will be to go on social media and let all your friends and family know that you are alright. I mean it would be the quickest and most efficient form of communication, why not take advantage of it? All you want to say is something similar to, “Hey everyone, I was in a car accident recently. It was a bit scary, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m – OK!”

Well if you’re planning on putting together a personal injury case to help compensate you for the damages to yourself and your vehicle, you may want to think twice before making that Facebook update, tweet, or Instagram post.

For example, if you plan on arguing that your life has been negatively impacted by the negligence of the other driver, that simple “I’m OK” post could hurt your case. To avoid having your case diminished by social media, here are some social media tips that will help you avoid a situation like that:

AVOID TALKING ABOUT YOUR INJURY

Just don’t post anything! Even if you don’t think you’ll pursue litigation, you never know if your circumstances will change as time progresses. Maybe you feel fine now, or even just a bit sore. But down the road, you find out that the car accident really did a number on your back, hips, and/or neck. You may even find out you need a surgery because of the accident. Pursuing litigation for those damages could help alleviate the financial burden of your medical bills, but those social media posts could prevent you from getting compensated fully.

AVOID TALKING ABOUT MEDICAL ISSUES

You are likely not a doctor.  Let the medical professionals determine what your condition is.  Tweeting out or posting what you think is wrong with you may be contrary to the medical facts.  Let a jury hear from the experts and leave the diagnoses to the professionals.

AVOID TALKING BAD ABOUT THE PERSON OR COMPANY THAT HURT YOU

Yes, you were hurt, and it’s only natural you want to express your frustration to others. But try doing so in one-on-one conversations. Making an angry post about the person or company that hurt you could be seen as evidence that you are just trying to be vengeful towards them and may be asking for more than you need.

Easy Tricks to Protect Your Social Media Accounts

While you’re in the middle of a personal injury case, here are some tips you may want to consider:

  • Turn off the location settings. Sometimes when you post something, it will automatically ping where you are and when you posted it.
  • Turn off the ability for people to tag you in posts and photos.
  • Make sure all your social media accounts are set to private.
  • Tell friends and family to avoid talking about your case on social media.
  • If you do accidentally make a post, don’t delete anything! You have a duty to not destroy any evidence – even bad evidence – that is out there.  If the opposing side finds out that you tried to delete that photo or post, they could argue that you were trying to destroy evidence to hide the truth.
  • Overall, the Golden Rule is: don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want the attorney for the insurance company talking about in an open courtroom full of strangers.

If you found these social media tips helpful, please give this post a share! For more legal-related tips, opinions, and articles follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

At Goodin Abernathy, LLP, we realize the law can be confusing and difficult to navigate. We have been serving Indiana since 1984, with a strong and reliable focus on Personal Injury, Worker’s Compensation and Employment Law. Our team of Indianapolis attorneys is dedicated to providing premiere civil trial services for individuals and small businesses.

If you need assistance with any of these matters, call us for a FREE consultation.

Goodin Abernathy also offers all of these services, in Spanish, to the Indiana Latino community. Haga clic aquí para obtener más información sobre los servicios que brindamos a la comunidad latina de Indiana – Legalmente Hablando Indy.

Safety Tips for Holiday Travel on the Roads

Safety Tips for Holiday Travel on the Roads

Tis’ the season to be… CAUTIOUS! Well on the road that is. Not only does the weather get worse every holiday season around here, but also, many individuals think that it is okay to drink alcoholic beverages before getting on the road. Combine those two and you are practically guaranteed to see or worse experience an accident yourself!

Don’t Break the Law By Drinking and Driving

Beyond already breaking the law, there are some other consequences that people don’t think of till after they get in an accident. Such as, after their treatment at a hospital for drunk driving, the individual will learn that their vehicle has been impounded. That for sure will be more than a pretty penny to get it out of there, we can guarantee you that. There may also be additional charges if the accident caused property damage or injured someone. Then if attorneys, like us, get involved, the intoxicated driver will also have to pay for those property damages and medical bills of the injured.

That being said, it is better to prevent accidents before you start traveling during this holiday season. Believe it or not, the majority of car accidents occur close to the driver’s own homes. This is because individuals typically get over-confident when they’re almost home and think that they know their roads like the back of their hand. This makes them less observant than they normally would be. But let’s be honest, could anyone really describe every detail of their hand without looking at it?

Safety Tips for Your Holiday Travel

It is important to plan carefully before heading to a holiday event this season. Use these recommended safety tips to protect you and your family from an injury this holiday season.

Safety Tip 1: Maintain Your Vehicle

Make sure your vehicle is in good working condition during the winter by having a professional tune-up. Check your tires. If the tread is worn, have them replaced. Before you leave home, verify that you have enough fuel in the vehicle to cope with any detours that you might need to take.

Safety Tip 2: Understand Your Route

We know a lot of you rely on Siri, or your phone in general, to be able to get around anywhere. This is completely understandable but instead of plugging it in and going, try taking a few seconds before heading out to really understand how you are actually getting to your destination. By understanding your route, it will help prevent you from getting lost and allow you to focus on the road rather than your device.

Safety Tip 3: Plan For Extra Travel Time

Sometimes your map’s feature “estimated arrival time” can be a bit off. This is especially true during the holiday season. The roads are typically busier than normal, you never know when an accident may cause a huge traffic jam, and it is even more difficult to find a place to park.
So try leaving 10-15 minutes earlier than you normally would to avoid being late to your holiday events this season. But if you are a bit unlucky on the road and running a bit behind, remember it is better to arrive late at an event than driving too fast, getting in an accident, and instead arriving in the hospital.

Safety Tip 4: Use Your Safety Equipment

Holiday joy and excitement is in the air, which sometimes leads to you forgetting the small things. So make sure to turn on your vehicle’s headlights before dusk, so that other drivers can see you on the road. Keep warm clothes in the car in case of an emergency, and do the same for your passengers. A safe car is a happy car.

Safety Tip 5: Have a Designated Driver

When you travel to a holiday party with a group of friends, have a designated driver who won’t drink any alcoholic beverages. With this safety tip, you will have a sober individual to drive you home from the holiday event to avoid any accidents and get you home safely.

Safety Tip 6: Have a Plan B

Sometimes your Designated Driver forgets they are supposed to be the designated driver. In that event, have a Plan B for an alternate SOBER transportation. Today, it is easy to use a smartphone to contact a Lyft or Uber driver nearby and to take you and your friends home. Plus if you’re riding with others, share the costs through those apps, or others, like Venmo.

Safety Tip 6: Focus On the Road

While traveling throughout the holidays, make sure to focus on the road rather than trying to multi-task on your smartphone, talking to passengers, and listening to music. Instead designate a passenger to tell you where to go so that you can watch the road for any impaired drivers potentially swerving into the wrong lanes or those who are driving without any headlights.

Safety Tip 7: Remain Alert For Pedestrians

Remember that more individuals are also walking during the holiday season, so you must remain alert for pedestrians who are walking along the streets, sidewalks, or crossing a designated or undesignated part of the street. Keep in mind, some of these pedestrians may be inebriated and may not make the most sound decisions. Lastly, just because it is winter, does not mean that there are not still some bikers out there. Always keep a lookout for cyclists, and remember, give them 3 feet when you pass.

Call For Assistance

If you are injured in an accident caused by a drunk or impaired driver, contact an attorney right away for a free legal consultation.

Teen Drivers and Summer

Teen drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 account for just a little over 6% of the drivers on roads in the United States. Parents provide teenagers with cars because they want their kids to be independent and not rely on them to get around. Unfortunately, this newfound independence can have consequences. Teenagers lack the ability to recognize hazardous driving situations and often forego caution when they’re driving and end up taking unnecessary risks. That’s why they’re more likely to get into accidents than experienced adults.

Some Facts Regarding Teen Driving

• In 2013, there were around 2,524 teenage fatalities caused by motor vehicle accidents.
• Around 120 deaths happened when a motorcycle was involved in the accident.
• Around 55% of the high school students surveyed confirmed that they wore seatbelts when they drove.
• Around 22% of the teens surveyed admitted that they rode with a driver who had drunk alcohol.
• June (summer) had the highest number of car accident fatalities among teens. 260 individuals died in 2013 for this reason.

As you can see, teenagers are involved in an alarmingly high number of accidents and many of them involve fatalities or severe injuries. Even the most responsible teenagers give in to the temptation to go past the speed limit or check their phones while driving.

Teen drivers don’t just place themselves in risk, but also everyone else present on the road and inside the vehicle. A recent study conducted by AAA or American Automobile Association concluded that 10 people die as a result of teen driving accidents every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Most of these accidents happen because the teenager is distracted during driving.

What is Driver Distraction?

A driver can be distracted by a number of things inside and outside the vehicle. Adult drivers learn to keep their attention focused on the road and on their vehicles but they too can also get distracted. Teenagers are more prone to driver distraction than adults; that, coupled with a teenager’s tendency to be reckless while driving in general can lead to serious accidents. Many speculate that around 60% of accidents involving teenage drivers are caused due to driver distraction. Here are some facts that support that:

• In a nationwide survey, about 32% of high school students admitted that they texted or sent an email while they were driving.
• 56% of the teens surveyed admitted that they spoke on their cell phone while at the wheel.
• 34% of individuals between the age of 16 and 17 admit that they send or respond to messages while driving.
• 48% of individuals between the ages of 12 to 17 admitted that they were present in the car when the driver was distracted by texts and messages.

According to research, talking on cell phones can significantly slow the reaction time down and doubles the chances of an accident. Teenagers are likely to respond as slowly as 70-year old drivers if they’re distracted by a phone call.

Teen Drivers and Underage Alcohol Consumption

Teenagers can be reckless and take risks and the presence of alcohol in their system only aggravates this. According to the non-profit organization MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving):

• Around 25% of all teen car accidents with fatalities involve underage drinking while driving.
• Nearly 6% of individuals of the age 16 and 17 admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol.
• Over 15% of individuals between the ages of 18 and 20 admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol.
• 13% of students in 12th grade admitted to driving under the influence.
• According to a survey conducted by the CDC, 17% of young drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 in fatal vehicle crashes had a BAC of .08% or higher, which is considered the legal limit for people over the age of 21.

Underage drinking is also more likely to happen during summer when teenagers attend parties, sleepovers, and go out on trips together.

The Connection Between Summer and Teenage Accidents

Summer is considered the worst time for teen driving and this time is also known as “100 Deadliest Days for Teenage Driving”. Teenagers consider summer a time for freedom and fun. They consider themselves free from responsibilities and use their vehicles for more than just to drive to the local mall to go to school. Teenagers drive farther and go on longer trips during summer because they have more time on their hands.

This increases the likelihood of them being involved in accidents and being reckless. Parents need to be extra vigilant and communicate with their children, especially during summer. Experts have observed that regular communication between parents and teenagers regarding driver’s safety can encourage them to be more cautious and not indulge in as many risky behaviors.

What Can Parents Do?

Parents of teenagers can minimize the chances of teen accidents by teaching their children good driving habits and being aware of the risks involved. Here are some steps parents can take:

• Come to an Agreement – Before handing the teenager keys to their new car, parents can discuss some basic rules to follow. For example, parents can come to an agreement with their children that the car keys will be taken away if they text while driving.

• Switching Cell Phones or other devices Off – Parents can encourage their children to switch the device off and place it in the center console while driving. That’ll ensure they’re not distracted by calls or message ringtones.

• Music – Most teenagers use apps like Spotify or Pandora. Parents can encourage them to use the car’s existing system instead as that’ll minimize the likelihood of distraction and accidents.

Parents can also drive with their children and be in the passenger’s seat. They can teach safe driving techniques and encourage driving awareness.

What Can You Do?

If you’re involved in an accident with a teen driver, be sure to contact the authorities and get legal assistance immediately. A lawyer will protect your interests and ensure the case is handled fairly for all parties involved.

Trucking Accidents in Indiana

Trucking Accidents in Indiana

Trucks are massive vehicles and often travel at high speeds on the highways. Not surprisingly, accidents can happen –  and when they do occur, they can be very serious and lead to extensive injuries or fatalities of the victims. A collision with a fast-moving truck can send smaller vehicles flying and cause devastating consequences.

Many truck drivers travel over vast distances during the night, which also increases the risk of accidents. Driver fatigue, carelessness and poor safety visibility can cause a number of issues. In order to avoid accidents and the resultant liability, truck drivers are required to make sure their trucks are visible on the road.

Why is Visibility Such a Concern?

Even large vehicles, like trucks, can be almost invisible on a dark road at night. These trucks may be travelling through remote areas that aren’t as well-controlled or well-lit as city street. If there are no reflectors or lights to improve visibility, the trucks can pose a risk to other vehicles on the road. If the trucks have the necessary safety visibility stripes and reflectors on them, they’ll be visible from a distance, so other drivers on the road can take appropriate steps to drive more cautiously on the road or steer out of the way.

In fact, trucks without proper lights and reflectors are three times more likely to get involved in accidents. If a truck is not properly marked, the owner may be liable if an accident occurs. Even if the accident is someone else’s fault, the truck driver can be held liable if they don’t have proper safety and visibility markings on your vehicle.

Truck drivers are also required to follow certain safety procedures. They need safety visibility if their truck becomes disabled or stalls in the middle of the road and they have to park it. They must get the truck completely off the road and away from on-coming traffic and also ensure other drivers can see their parked truck – that it is visible to other drivers from a distance, so they can slow down in order to pass it safely.

Truck drivers are required to place the visible signs around the truck to establish a safe perimeter. This is to ensure that all other vehicles can pass by safely, and it minimizes the risk of collisions.

Truck Drivers are Required by Law to Follow Certain Safety Measures

When truck drivers stop on the roadsides or stall on the road, the drivers are legally required to follow a set procedure and park their vehicle in a specific manner. Most trucking companies must properly train their drivers carefully to ensure they follow these procedures. These drivers also attend refresher courses to ensure they remember their legal obligations and know how to secure their vehicles well.

Here are some of the safety measures truck drivers must take in order to avoid being a danger to other motorists:

• The truck driver must switch on their emergency hazard lights to ensure that the stalled truck is visible from a long distance.

• The truck driver then must set up three physical warning signs around the truck. These signs should be spaced according to the flow of traffic and length of the road, to get maximum visibility. This warns approaching drivers of the truck’s presence so they know to proceed with caution.

• The truck drivers must also place triangle-shaped reflectors on the vehicle in visible areas. These reflectors are red in color and made of plastic. Drivers are required to carry them in their trucks to ensure they’re always available in case of an emergency.

• Alternatively, drivers can also use roadside flares. These flares are bright and highly visible as they produce active flames.

If truck drivers fail to follow these safety precautions, they may be held liable for any accidents that occur as a result.

Why Reflector Tapes are Essential

According to a study conducted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reflector tapes are responsible for a 44% drop in accident rates in passenger vehicles as well as tractor trailers. This study can be easily applied to trucks and semi trucks as well. Semi trucks and vehicles with extended trailers need to have sufficient reflector tape on them.

If the other drivers on the same road can see the dimensions of the truck and the trailer as they approach behind it, they will know just how big it is, and that will help them drive around the vehicle more safely. Reflector tape should be affixed on top of the trailers, around the doors and windows, along the length of the trailer and truck, as well as along the back. These tapes reflect light so they will be easily visible when the lights of an oncoming vehicle shine on them.

What Should You Do If You’re Involved in an Accident with a Tractor-Trailer?

If you’re involved in an accident, you need to make sure you protect your interests. If your are physically able, you should call the authorities immediately and secure your vehicle. Make sure your vehicle is in a safe place to avoid other accidents.

Once you are able to call the authorities, call a lawyer who specializes in truck accident cases. Oftentimes, trucking companies, or their insurance carriers will send experts to the scene as soon as possible to begin taking photographs and preserving evidence. If you are able, you should take your own photographs of the scene and the vehicles involved.

Finally, never settle your case with the trucking company or their insurance carrier until you have spoken to an experienced accident attorney.  Trucking companies usually have good legal professionals on hand. If you are in an accident with a truck driver, find a legal professional to represent you before you speak to the trucking company or their legal team.

A legal professional will help determine liability and ensure both parties can come to a fair settlement.

What to Know Before Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

What to Know Before Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Are you thinking of filing a personal injury lawsuit in Indiana?

You’ve been in an accident or experienced injury due to the negligence of another person. The hospital bills are mounting, and you have no idea how you will pay them. You’re taking medication for the pain and are unable to work. What should you do? Your first step is to consult with a personal injury attorney who will review your situation and determine the best course of action.

File a Personal Injury Lawsuit or Insurance Claim?

Personal injury comes in many forms: car accidents, falls, defective products, etc. Before filing a lawsuit, you may be advised to check into filing a claim instead. This should occur before a suit is considered.

The claims process consists of a series of negotiations that take place between you and the claims adjuster of the negligent party’s insurance company. The goal is to arrive at a monetary settlement that satisfies both parties. If such an agreement cannot be reached, it’s time to consult with a personal injury attorney to file the suit.

There are a number of reasons why a compromise can’t be reached in a personal injury claim. Perhaps the claims adjuster denies the insured caused the accident or disagrees with the severity of the injuries you sustained. The insurance company may also refuse to pay the monetary amount you are requesting. This is where an accident attorney can help.

Costs to Consider Before Filing a Lawsuit

Before filing a lawsuit, you should be aware of the costs involved. Often times, a negotiated settlement is preferable to a trial because it saves you money. Trials can also be lengthy, which can result in an interruption in pay due to more time requested off work.

Expenses of filing a personal injury lawsuit can include:

• Filing fees
• Serving costs
• Lost wages as a result of time away from work
• Costs of depositions and transcripts recorded by a court reporter
• Expert testimonies from medical officials for depositions and trial
• Costs of acquiring medical records, police reports, witness statements, etc.

It is often tempting to file a suit because you are unhappy with the amount of money offered by the insurance company. This, alone, is not a reason to choose this route. Before making the decision to file, carefully consider the potential costs and time associated with going to court. Some injuries may not be serious enough to merit a trial, and you could wind up spending more than you receive in damages.

An injury is considered serious when it causes damage that is either permanent, or that limits one’s ability to perform daily activities for a certain amount of time. These types of injuries include:

• Dismemberment
Death
• Fractures
• Significant scarring or disfigurement
• A body organ that is limited or altogether dysfunctional

Arbitration for Personal Injury

Arbitration is another option to consider before filing a personal injury suit. Here, both sides agree to present their case to a third party called an arbiter who then decides the outcome. The costs are much lower than those associated with a trial, and the process doesn’t take as long because the hearing can be set more quickly.

Statute of Limitations for Filing Personal Injury Lawsuit in Indiana

The time limit for filing a personal injury suit is called the statute of limitations. Failing to file before that time limit expires will result in losing your right to sue. If this occurs, you may not re-coop any damages you are seeking.

In the state of Indiana, the statute of limitations is two years. This time limit typically begins on the date the accident occurs. You’ll want to make note of both the time limit and date on which it began when contacting an Indianapolis personal injury attorney.

Comparative Fault

There is a comparative fault rule in Indiana that applies to injured persons who are found to be partly at fault for the incident or accident that led to his or her injuries. This serves to reduce or eliminate damages, depending on how much fault is assigned the injured person.

Indiana’s comparative fault rule works in this way. Suppose you are driving just over the speed limit when another car turns in front of you, causing impact. It is determined you share 25 percent of the fault, and the other driver is responsible for 75 percent. In this case, the damages you are awarded would be reduced by 25 percent. If your fault is found to be 50 percent or more, you will be prohibited from collecting damages from another at-fault party.

Auto Insurance Laws

When it comes to automobile accident claims, Indiana is a “fault” or “at-fault” state. This gives an injured party multiple options. The injured person can file a claim with his or her own insurance company, file a claim with another driver’s insurance company, making it a third-party claim, or seek damages in court. In this type of insurance settlement negotiation, the threat of going to court can be used as a bargaining tool even if a lawsuit is never filed. You can always consult with a personal injury attorney who can help you make the right decision.

Conclusion

Before filing any lawsuit, do your homework carefully. An Indianapolis personal injury attorney can provide you with the legal information you’ll need to decide which solution is best for you. The time following an accident or other type of personal injury is always stressful, especially when medical bills are involved, but the decision to file should never be taken lightly. You should consider the situation from all angles before entering into such a costly endeavor. However, if your injuries are serious enough, seeking damages may be the most appropriate route for you to take.

If you have been injured in an accident or incident involving another party, call Goodin Abernathy immediately to learn more about your legal options.