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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.