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Dangerous Summer Jobs – Child Safety Laws

Dangerous Summer Jobs – Child Safety Laws

Many teenagers across Indiana are industrious and want to earn money with summer jobs.  As a parent – or as an employer- you should know Indiana law targets regulations that protect kids from performing hazardous work.

The Indiana Department of Labor Youth Employment Division monitors and enforces Indiana youth employment laws.  Here is a link to their website where you can learn more specific information about child labor laws https://www.in.gov/dol/youth-employment/youth-employment-home/.  Whether it’s a summer job or year-round employment, parents and employers should learn what’s legal – and illegal – when employing minors.

For instance, if your child is under 16 years old, here are places and types of work they can NOT legally perform.  Some of them might surprise you! Factory work, mining, operate power driven machinery, cooking / baking, meat coolers or cold storage rooms, meat processing, warehouses, holding signs for advertising or waving banners, wear costumes for advertising, construction / demolition / repair work, window washing or using ladders and scaffolding, roofing.

If a minor under 16 years old suffers an injury doing any of this work, the employer’s legal liability is subject to extra penalty under the Indiana Worker’s Compensation law.  You can research even more specific information about child labor in the Indiana Code 22-2-18.1-23 Minors working in hazardous occupations prohibited.  http://iga.in.gov/legislative/laws/2021/ic/titles/022#22-8

Here are hazardous jobs the law prohibits 16 and 17-year-old kids from doing: working around explosives, radioactive substances or toxic material; operating cranes; operating metal fabricating machines; using saws, blades or woodchippers; roofing, excavation or demolition; operating balers, compactors or paper production machines.

Over time, we’ve helped young clients hurt doing summer jobs.  Their immigration status does not prevent them from making legal claims.  We don’t want our kids getting hurt.  They need to learn safety and watch the right way to conduct business.  When an accident does happen, I’ll fight to protect your claim.  If you or someone you know suffers an injury at work, contact our attorneys at Goodin Abernathy – we’ll protect your legal rights!

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.

The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 (H.R. 4445)

The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 (H.R. 4445)

Despite bitter partisan divide in Washington, both the House and Senate recently passed H.R. 4445 which will effectively end the forced arbitration of sexual assault and sexual harassment cases. (Read here.)

What does this mean? Many employees may not even be aware that they signed an arbitration agreement when they accepted the offer from their employer. Often these clauses are buried in employment agreements, and employees have no knowledge or understanding of what they even mean. However, employers favor forced arbitration because it keeps them out of court. The effect of forced arbitration clauses is that they close the courthouse doors for many victims of sexual assault or harassment.

When a new client comes to me with a claim of sexual assault or harassment, one of the first things we want to know is whether they signed an arbitration agreement. If a victim is bound by an arbitration agreement, then we can’t file a public lawsuit. Arbitration agreements empower employers to make low ball offers to settle and insist on confidentiality. These agreements effectively take away a victim’s right to go public with the allegations and exposing the perpetrators.

Many defense lawyers are surmising that this will result in a huge increase in the number of lawsuits being filed by victims, and larger settlements because corporations are no longer going to be able to force victims into a confidential arbitration proceeding. The guaranty of confidentiality means less exposure and publicity for perpetrators and the corporations for which they work.

While it remains to be seen whether this will cause an increase in lawsuits, this can certainly be viewed as a win for victims of sexual assault and harassment. The law basically amends the Federal Arbitration Act to make it easier for victims to file suit in State or Federal Court despite having previously agreed to arbitrate those claims. Victims will now have the right to choose to file their claims in court, rather than being forced by their employers to arbitration, thus allowing their claims will be heard by a judge, not an arbitrator.

The effects of the new law go beyond just giving victims their “day in court.” This will now force employers to effectively address sexual assault and harassment in the workplace. Gone are the days of paying off victims and buying their silence with a confidentiality agreement. By shining the light of a public proceeding on a perpetrator, it may prevent them from finding any future victims.

If you are a victim of sexual assault or harassment in the workplace, you need to know your rights. Call one of our experienced employment law attorneys for a free consultation.

Discrimination Due to Special Needs

Discrimination Due to Special Needs

If an employer has discriminated against you because of your special needs, he or she is may be violating federal law as well as state and local laws.

In 1990, Congress passed a piece of civil rights legislation called the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Title 1 of this legislation specifically prohibits workplace discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Such prohibitions apply to any business that has 15 or more employees on its payroll. The ADA also offers protection to individuals such as spouses or parents who may be subject to bias on the basis of a close relationship to a person with a disability.

Four other federal laws also specify protections for psychologically or physically challenged individuals:

The Rehabilitation Act

Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits disability-related bias by federal employers and mandates affirmative action programs that will increase the number of employees with disabilities in federal workplaces.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

Section 188 of the WIOA prohibits disability-related bias on the part of any employers who receive financial or programmatic assistance under the terms of the WIOA.

The Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA)

The CSRA contains language that stipulates against disability-related bias that targets both Civil Service employees and prospective employees.

Additionally, all 50 states have laws in place that prohibit workplace bias against individuals with disabilities though in some states, these laws only pertain to workplace discrimination on the part of public employers.

What Is a Disability?

The ADA doesn’t contain language that categorizes all the physical and psychological conditions that constitute disabilities. Instead, the ADA imposes a standard: If a condition has a negative effect on an individual’s ability to carry out the routine activities of daily life, then it constitutes a disability.

The ADA’s definition includes people who’ve been impaired in the past even though they may not be impaired when they’re employed or when they apply for employment. The ADA’s definition also includes people who are able to carry out major life activities but who are affected by a condition that is typically classified as a disability. Disabilities also include injuries that may prevent employees from working in their customary capacity for a limited amount of time.

Reasonable Accommodation

The ADA requires employers to make “reasonable accommodations” to either job duties or to the layout of a workplace that will enable an employee with special needs to do his or her job adequately. What might these accommodations reasonably include? Here are a few possibilities:

• Physical modifications such as raising or lowering the height of desks for people in wheelchairs or installing screen magnifiers on computers that are used by individuals with visual impairments.

• Moving a workstation closer to a restroom for a worker whose disability includes bladder or bowel control issues.

• Allowing a more flexible work schedule and use of leave time so that a worker can pursue medical treatments. This accommodation may also require granting additional amounts of unpaid leave time.

Under the ADA, however, employers are not required to make particular accommodations for physically disabled workers if those accommodations would impose “undue hardship.” The burden of proof will be on employers to prove that an accommodation an employee has asked for is too costly or too disruptive to be implemented. Both courts and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) , which is the federal agency charged with enforcing ADA compliance, will look at a variety of factors here, including potential tax credits and the disabled employee’s own willingness to supply the accommodation or to pay for its costs.

Workplace Harassment

Harassment is considered to be a type of bias whether or not an individual is affected by a disability. The ADA has language that prohibits harassment as does the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.

In its broadest sense, harassment is any unwelcome conduct that’s instigated by an individual’s race, color, sex, age, religion, place of national origin or disability. However, not every offensive remark constitutes unlawful harassment. In order to meet that standard, the offensive conduct must be a condition of continuing employment, or it must also create a workplace that a “reasonable person” would consider hostile or intimidating.

The harassing individual can be anyone who is connected with a workplace, including a company’s owner, its managers, its employees, its independent contractors or even individuals who are not employees as might be the case with a vendor who delivers inventory on a regular basis. A harassment victim doesn’t have to be the individual who’s actually subject to unpleasant behavior, either; he or she can be someone who overhears the harassment and is deeply affected by it.

Employers are liable for harassment on the part of employees over whom employers have control. They’re also liable for harassing behaviors on the part of supervisors particularly if that harassment has negative implications for employment unless employers can prove either that they tried to correct the harassing behaviors or that the employee reporting the harassment did not take advantage of corrective opportunities offered by the employer.

Protect Your Rights

If you’re experiencing an unfair workplace situation that’s related to your disability, you have legal rights, and an experienced attorney can help you protect those rights. You are looking at tight statutes of limitations, so it’s important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. In most instances, you will need to file a charge with the EEOC within 180 calendar days of the time you were refused accommodation or were subjected to harassment. (If you’re a federal employee, that statute of limitation is only 45 days.)

A discrimination attorney can evaluate your situation and help you decide whether or not your case is worth pursuing. These claims can be difficult to prove without concrete evidence of an employer’s bias, so it’s important to work with a legal professional who can help you compile the necessary evidence. An attorney can help you negotiate with your employer to get the accommodations that are your right. In worst-case situations, if your employer isn’t willing to make the accommodations that would help you keep your job, a lawyer may be able to help you receive compensation for your employer’s unlawful actions.

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.

Porch Collapse – Wrongful Death – Premises Liability

Porch Collapse – Wrongful Death – Premises Liability

The news of the tragic death of pizza delivery driver when a porch collapses, Billy Fields, last weekend in Connersville is a graphic reminder of the dangers faced by delivery drivers across Indiana and the United States. No criminal charged or wrongful death charged were claimed. See the news story from Fox59 here.

With an increase in food and goods being delivered directly to people’s doors, it is a stark reminder to homeowners of their responsibility to keep their premises safe for invitees on their property. If the homeowners knew or should have known of the danger presented by this porch, then they can be held responsible for the damages that they have caused this driver’s family. Mr. Fields leaves behind a 13-year-old daughter.

Our partner, Jim Browne, recently represented the family of a delivery driver who was killed in a similar porch collapse in Marion, Indiana. In that case, a UPS delivery driver was killed when he stepped on to a porch that collapsed, trapping him under the concrete. We immediately employed a structural engineer who was able to determine that the porch was dangerous. We were also able to determine that the homeowner knew the dangerous condition of the porch, yet they failed to warn invitees to their property of the danger.

While no amount of money can replace a loved one, we were able to obtain a significant financial settlement on behalf of the family. These cases require quick action as they often require expert witnesses to review the accident scene before evidence is destroyed.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed while delivering on someone’s property, call us for a free consultation.

Photo by Reba Spike on Unsplash