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Injured In Auto Accident And Don’t Have a Driver’s License

Injured In Auto Accident And Don’t Have a Driver’s License

In Indiana, in order to legally operate an automobile, and you are required to have a driver’s license. To obtain a driver’s license, you must pass a written driver’s test and pass a road test. These conditions exist throughout the country. Indeed, all states and Washington D.C. require an individual to pass a road test and a written driver’s test before being issued a driver’s license. Thus, may wonder what happens when an individual is injured in an accident but the individual does not possess a valid driver’s license.

In short, although operating an automobile without a valid driver’s license is a criminal offense, the absence of a driver’s license does not automatically prohibit an individual from recovering for their injuries. However, in the context of a claim for personal injuries, disagreements often occur over whether the absence of a driver’s license is even admissible evidence. When these disagreements occur, and if left unresolved, a judge is asked to determine whether the jury will be allowed to hear evidence about the absence of a driver’s license. Like many areas in law, an exploration into the facts of an individual matter is usually necessary to assess how a judge is likely to resolve these types of disagreements.

For example, just because a driver does not possess a valid driver’s license at the moment of the accident, it does not necessarily mean a judge will allow a jury to hear this information and it is important to identify whether the individual ever possessed a valid driver’s license at any time in their life and to identify what the driver was doing at the time of the accident. The basic and indisputable purpose of the driver’s license requirement is to certify that the owner of the license has proven they are capable of operating an automobile on public roads in a safe and responsible manner. Therefore, if an individual previously passed a road test and written test, but forgot to renew their license, and is then rear-ended while stopped at a red light, the fact that the individual did not possess a valid license at the time of the accident has little relevance, and is not likely admissible. This is because the individual had previously demonstrated a base understanding of the rules of the road and a base proficiency at operating an automobile and the competence is not in dispute since they were properly stopped at the time of the accident.

On the other hand, if the individual has never possessed a license and has never passed a road test and written test, and is injured in an accident while changing lanes shortly after passing a sign signifying a lane was ending, it is more likely a judge would allow a jury to hear evidence about the absence of a valid license. This is because the same factors that make it necessary for individuals to pass a written and road test (knowledge of right of way practices and warning signs) are the same factors that are associated with the facts of the accident.

If you have questions about how the absence of a valid driver’s license impacts a claim for personal injuries, call one of our experienced lawyers for a free consultation.

When a Driver Without Insurance Hits You

When a Driver Without Insurance Hits You

The “S” family was driving together when another vehicle hit them. During this auto accident, their vehicle flipped, causing the “S” family various injuries. They were taken by ambulance to the hospital and required medical treatment for months after the accident. Their medical bills grew large, but the driver who caused the accident did not have insurance to cover the damages.S family photo - personal injury case, handled by GoodinAbernathy.com in Indianapolis

The personal injury attorneys at Goodin Abernathy LLP are experienced in this area of the law. The “S” family was smart – they were driving with an insurance policy that covered them if an “uninsured” driver caused their damages. The legal team at Goodin Abernathy collected the “S” family’s insurance policy and handled their claims. The “S” family did not need to negotiate directly with their own insurance company or the hospital. The Goodin Abernathy LLP personal injury attorneys handle this work for their clients.

The hospital filed liens to collect any money paid to the “S” family – even from their own insurance company. Goodin Abernathy’s attorneys communicated with the hospital and simply negotiated a distribution of insurance proceeds that left everyone involved satisfied.

This case was complicated due to the insurance policy terms and hospital lien. If someone you know is injured in an automobile accident, contact us for answers to questions about insurance and medical bills. The Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys first try to resolve the claims through settlement – but take cases to court and present them to juries if and when necessary. Our goal is to optimize your recovery by paying attention to each client’s individual interests.

Contact our Spanish speaking attorneys today at (317)574-3090 or 1(800) 625-4710.

Wrongful Death:  Indiana Law and How it Impacts You

Wrongful Death: Indiana Law and How it Impacts You

The attorneys at Goodin Abernathy LLP handle Wrongful Death claims – fighting to honor the memory of lost loved ones and supporting their dependents as the law allows. Losing a loved one is catastrophic. The physical and emotional void left by a family member’s death feels insurmountable. These emotions don’t even include the financial toll of losing a family’s bread-winner. Money can’t replace someone we love, but as a practical matter, it’s something families need legal help collecting. In Wrongful Death cases, not only do Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys know we are legally obligated to pursue the fullest extent of damages under the law – we want to fight for them because we care about our clients.

Indiana law allows family members and dependents to recover money as legal damages when their loved one is killed by another’s negligence. “Damages” is a legal term referring to the compensation – normally a sum of money – provided to a person who suffers harm or loss due to the negligence of another. Negligence causing one’s death is commonly known as a “wrongful death” claim.

Here are some things to consider when deciding what to do after losing a loved one to Wrongful Death.

Wrongful Death is a Civil Claim not a Criminal Claim

Wrongful Death refers to deaths that result from the negligent act of an entity or another person. A negligent act does not always mean a crime was committed. Your loved one’s death need not be the result of an intentional criminal act for you to make a Wrongful Death claim.  We are experienced handling cases involving both criminal and negligent (civil) claims. Explaining how the criminal and civil laws work is one of the first things we address with grieving families. It’s natural to ask “Why didn’t that driver, who ran the red light, get sent to jail?” Goodin Abernathy’s attorneys evaluate and explain cases clearly. Sometimes cases do not involve criminal acts and we understand families are stunned the at-fault driver is not going to jail. While being honest with our clients, we are also sympathetic to their loss. No question is a dumb one and no feelings are dismissed by us. We take the time to walk our clients through legal explanations because we want them to understand and be comfortable with the process. As regular people, Goodin Abernathy’s attorneys actually care about our clients – then we use our training and experience to provide them with superior legal services.

What Sorts of Deaths Qualify as Wrongful Deaths?

Here are some situations that can lead to a Wrongful Death claim: Auto Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Birth Injuries, Dog Bites, Drunk Drivers, Motorcycle Accidents, Drowning, Electrocution, Construction Accidents, Dangerous Working Conditions, Traumatic Brain Injury and Trucking Accidents.

Was someone driving erratically, causing an accident that killed your loved one? Did your loved one suffer an accident at work resulting in their death? Besides having an Indiana Worker’s Compensation claim, you may also have a wrongful death claim. There is a big, important difference between the two. Because we’ve handled these situations, we’ll explain how we prosecute both legal claims for our clients’ maximum benefit.

I’m Grieving and Don’t Have the Time or Energy to Pursue Legal Action

Losing a loved one is exhausting. It feels like there is a never-ending number of things to take care of and the last thing most people want to consider is a drawn-out legal battle. We get it- just remember two things: 1) In Indiana, the personal representative of the deceased has two (2) years to make a claim. (IC 34-23-1-1); and 2) the longer you wait to engage legal help means the more likely important evidence is lost.  You might not feel like you have the time to juggle a lawsuit and find your way after a loss. But trust the idea we want to help, and we will make it as easy as possible to connect and communicate with us. When it comes to the legal issues involved with a claim, it’s our job to do the work so you and your family can move forward at the same time.

What Sort of Damages are Available in a Wrongful Death Case?

Damages may include medical, hospital, funeral and burial expenses. Damages include the loss of someone’s love and affection. Another big category of damages includes lost income or lost earnings. Under Indiana’s Wrongful Death Statute “recovery of emotional damages is allowed for spouses and dependent children; a decedent’s minor children may recover for loss of parental training and guidance as well as for the loss of their parent’s care.”  (TRW Vehicle Safety Systems, Inc. v. Moore)  “This loss can be determined, in part, from assistance that decedent would have provided through money, services or other marital benefits, but it also includes loss to children of parental training and guidance and loss of love and affection to surviving spouse.” (Southlake Limousine and Coach, Inc. v. Brock)

Wrongful Death cases are complex. The attorneys at Goodin Abernathy LLP are here to help you navigate these difficult times. Unlike a lot of big name advertising firms, our fees are structured for fairness to our clients. Our fees depend on the level of legal work you claim requires. You should not pay one set fee percentage for your case. We will explain how our fee structure works and comfortably answer your questions. Goodin Abernathy LLP gives you the time for decision making – we do not pressure you into signing our fee agreement the first time we meet. In these situations, you deserve an attorney that will walk beside you through the entire process. Contact us, Goodin Abernathy LLP, and see how we set ourselves apart from other attorneys. We know this is an emotional time. Let us help you recoup a sense of security for your family’s future. Call Goodin Abernathy LLP at 317-843-2606 today to schedule your Free Consultation.

 

Photo by Nate Isaac on Unsplash

Emel Doner’s Personal Injury Case

I was severely injured, while walking on a sidewalk, by a reckless driver. The accident happened out of town, in a major city on the west coast, while we were on vacation. I had broken bones, possible spine injury and severe lacerations. After being treated at a trauma center of a major hospital, I was forced to return home with tremendous amount of pain and discomfort, while cancelling the rest of our vacation which took years of planning. I had to undergo months of treatment and was left with a lot pain and suffered from depression. Meanwhile the medical bills started coming in, and I was in no condition to deal with the out-of-state healthcare providers and out-of-state accident insurance issues.

It was at this point that I contacted Christopher (Chip) Clark at Goodin Abernathy for his legal help and guidance. Right from the beginning, he had been very gracious, sympathetic to my situation and highly professional in his dealings with me and my husband. Chip and his staff worked diligently with the out-of-state and in-state healthcare providers, the responsible party’s insurance company and Medicare to gather and disseminate all pertinent documentation. Within a short period of time, Chip was able to negotiate a settlement with the responsible party’s insurance company. The settlement amount was the maximum possible that we could have received.

I thank Chip for his responsiveness, his competence and the extremely professional manner with which he dealt with me and my husband.

Emel Doner

House Bill 1070 – Distracted Driving

House Bill 1070 – Distracted Driving

We have all seen it, and perhaps even done it ourselves. Driving down the road with a cell phone in our hand. Indiana House Bill 1070 “Distracted Driving,”(read here) passed the House by a vote of 86-10 last week and has been referred to the Indiana Senate. This bill will make it illegal to have a cell phone or other “mobile device” in one’s hand while operating a motor vehicle in Indiana. It modifies the existing law which prohibits texting while driving to include all uses of a mobile device that are not hands free or voice activated. The current law which makes it “unlawful to type, transmit, or read e-mail or text messages on a communication device while driving in Indiana,” has been in effect since July 1, 2011, but has been ineffective in curbing the behavior. This is due primarily, because the existing law as written, is difficult to enforce. This new law could go a long way to prevent distracted driving, and potentially save lives, because it will allow officers to write tickets simply by seeing a person operating a vehicle with a device in their hand, and there will be no requirement that they prove that the operator was actually using the device.

The Indiana Department of Labor defines distracted driving as, “any non-driving activity a motorist engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving. Stressful jobs, busy lifestyles and technology are just a few reasons why individuals may engage in distracted driving activities.” https://www.in.gov/dol/2873.htm

There Are Three Primary Types of Distracted Driving:

  • Cognitive distraction takes your mind off the road.
  • Visual distraction takes your eyes off the road.
  • Manual distraction takes your hands off the wheel.

Texting, or otherwise using a device to search the internet, change a song, look up a contact, or like a Facebook post can be extremely dangerous because it involves all three types of distraction. Your mind is not focused on the road because you are concentrating on your device. Your eyes are also taken away from the road, as are your hands. As we all know, it only takes a second of distraction to cause a crash.

The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that in 2012, 3,328 people died in crashes linked to driver distraction, and more than 421,000 more people suffered a distracted driving-related injury. In fact, 17 percent of all crashes resulting in an injury involved driver distraction. More recent statistics indicate nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured daily in accidents in which at least one driver was distracted.

  • Nearly 4,000 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015.
  • Distracted driving was the reported cause of death of 3,450 people in 2016.
  • An estimated 391,000 drivers were injured in distracted driving crashes in 2017.
  • For comparison, there were 39,773 gun deaths in the United States in 2017.
  • In 2019, distracted driving was a reported factor in 8.5% of fatal motor vehicle crashes. https://www.thezebra.com/distracted-driving-statistics/

If you support this Bill we would encourage you to contact your State Senator and request that they vote in favor of HB 1070, click here.

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed by a distracted driver, it is important to know your rights, and to preserve important evidence to support your claim. Call us for a free consultation.

I Was Injured In A Car Accident. Should I Hire An Attorney?

I Was Injured In A Car Accident. Should I Hire An Attorney?

Victims of car accidents suffer a significant amount of trauma. Aside from the physical and mental impact left by the crash, they are responsible for dealing with the intricate motions of a post-accident insurance claim.

Given the complexity of this procedure, car accident victims tend to be at a loss regarding the best way to go about filing their claim. Many make the mistake of giving their insurance companies their full trust in fighting for their legal rights. Unfortunately, in cases like these, insurance companies place their own interests above the victim’s.

For that reason, if you’ve sustained personal injury from a car accident in Indiana, working with a skilled attorney is your best bet in getting the compensation you’re entitled to receive.

Statistics on Vehicle Collisions in Indiana

The number of annual car accidents in Indiana is staggering. The Indiana University Public Policy Institute reports a total of 219,112 collisions in 2017. These incidents lead to 911 deaths and 50,042 injuries.

The majority of these collisions were caused by impaired driving, distracted driving, aggressive driving and speeding. With such high odds of getting into a car accident, you owe it to yourself to be well-prepared should the worst-case scenario arise.

How Can an Indiana Personal Injury Attorney Help?

Following the shock of an accident — especially one that has left you with injuries — you need all the help you can get. By working with the right attorney, you’ll have an ally on your team who will help you defend your right to treatment and compensation.

It’s important to note that your insurance company is not your ally in this case. It’s in their best interests to relay the bare minimum payment in order to cover what they’ve determined to be your losses.

During their investigation following the collision, insurance companies will work to reduce their financial responsibilities as much as possible. Their motives are understandable, since their goals ultimately orient toward making a profit. However, this leaves car accident victims in a vulnerable position — especially if they don’t have anyone to represent them.

When to Contact Your Personal Injury Attorney

It’s important to initiate discussions with your attorney as soon as possible following the incident. In all cases, it’s best to do so before contacting your insurance company, as this will ensure your protection during the initial stages of the investigation.

Insurance companies will prey on any potential for negligence that they find in their investigation. They know that a victim is in an emotionally fragile state immediately following the incident. They also understand that your attention will mostly be spent on recovery and loss prevention.

If you lack the counsel of an attorney, it’s likely that you’ll be unfamiliar with your legal rights under formal recourse. Representing yourself in this case will only increase the risk of having your losses undervalued in court.

On the other hand, having a personal injury attorney as a partner throughout this struggle gives you access to their knowledge and experience. You’ll benefit from their network of physicians and personal loss experts. These sources will help your team arrive at the legitimate value of losses that you’ve sustained.

Personal injury attorneys know the process inside and out, and they work to help you receive what you’re entitled to.

Understanding Your Legal Rights

If you’ve sustained a personal injury from a car accident, the compensation you deserve might extend beyond medical coverage.

Depending on the severity of the incident, you might be entitled to the full recovery of lost wages caused by your injury. You’ll also be able to claim physical and emotional distress as part of your case. If family members are made to suffer by the lack of your companionship during recovery, they might also be deserving of compensation.

In cases where the insurance company seeks to settle out of court, it’s important that you operate with a full understanding of the value that you’re entitled to. In this case, your personal injury attorney will be able to assess the offer and negotiate on your behalf.

Working With a Personal Injury Attorney is Your Safest Bet

It’s possible to represent yourself in a case where you’ve sustained a personal injury from a car accident. However, unless you’re operating with a full understanding of Indiana car accident law — which requires years of study and experience — you risk missing out on significant compensation that you might be entitled to.

That’s why it’s best to hire a personal injury attorney. By doing so, you’ll benefit from their vast knowledge and expertise in navigating through the intricacies of your case.

Working together with an attorney will greatly increase your chance of being compensated for the full extent of your losses.