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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

Injured – No Word from Insured

I Was Injured in an Accident Two Weeks Ago and Haven’t Heard from Anyone

Twenty plus years ago, the aforementioned set of circumstances would probably never have happened. In the past, the person who was at fault for your accident and injury, whether it be a motorist or a landowner, would have contacted their insurance carrier and reported the incident. That insurance carrier would have promptly assigned the matter to a claims adjuster who, more likely than not, would have contacted you within days, if not hours of the incident and worked with you to assure you that your medical bills and lost wages would be covered.

Unfortunately those days are long behind us, and today we commonly hear from our new clients that weeks have gone by since their injury occurred; they’ve not heard from anyone; their medical bills are mounting up, and they are losing income.

The reasons for this difference in the claim handling procedure are numerous, but the bottom line is that in today’s world the insurance carrier for the at-fault party is rarely going to be of any assistance to you whatsoever.

We even had instances where the injured party has attempted either by mail or telephone to contact the at-fault party to start the claim handling procedure only to run into a stone wall.

Personal injury lawyers are not magicians, however, they are well-trained and experienced in representing people who have been injured through no fault of their own. More importantly, we know how to “get the attention” of the insurance carriers for the landowners, the businesses, or the motorists who are responsible for the injuries sustained.

In addition, most people now assume that there is insurance coverage available for the at-fault party when in fact that is not always the case. The alternative to having the at-fault party’s insurance carrier pay for medical bills and lost wages often involves a claim against the injured party’s own insurance carrier through either uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage, medical payments under the injured party’s own policy.

Quite often in premises liability cases there is also medical payments coverage available to pay the injured party’s medical bills irrespective of who is at fault.

All of these different possibilities require knowledge of how the insurance industry works, of the various forms of liability insurance coverage available, and how those coverages interplay with the facts of any particular accident involving injury.

The absolute worst thing that a layperson can do is to try to traverse these obstacles by themselves, as it is all too easy to commit a fatal mistake in the claim even after you determine to whom the claim is to be made.

For all these reasons, it is extremely important for injured parties to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after any event which causes personal injuries.

*Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Motorcycle Safety Awareness

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month!

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycles account for 15 percent of traffic accidents resulting in death, despite motorcycles only accounting for 3 percent of all registered vehicles and only traveling less than 1 percent of all miles on the road.  These statistics, however,  do not report the number of personal injuries motorcycle riders experience each and every year.

The reasons for more fatalities directly correlate to why a motorcycle is fun to ride – not being enclosed in a vehicle while the wind blows across your face or through your hair.  Motorcycles also are harder to see because they simply do not take up the same amount of space a traditional car does, so other motorists do not see motorcyclists as well.

Even though not required by Indiana state law, if you do wear a helmet, make sure you consider the fit, whether it has adjustable pads , facial coverage, and good ventilation.  In addition, make sure it has the “DOT” (Department of Transportation) label or at least the Snell or American National Standards Institute (ANSI) labels so you know it is certified to meet minimum safety standards.  Also consider wearing protective clothing, jackets, and shoes specifically designed for motorcycle use.  Not only will you be more protected, you’ll look good also.

If you do have a motorcycle accident or if your loved one suffers a wrongful death while riding, the attorneys at Goodin Abernathy, LLP can sit down with you to discuss your options (contact us by clicking here).  Be safe and enjoy motorcycling!

Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Headsets and Personal Injury

Smartphones and media players are convenient ways for people to listen to music or talk with friends while on the go.   However, if earbuds or other headsets that prevent sound from entering the ear are used, the music and conversation can be the cause of personal injury.

Currently, state laws are all over the place regarding the use of headsets while driving.  (See AAA’s Digest of Motor Laws, available at drivinglaws.aaa.com/laws/headsets/).  However, just because it is not illegal, this does not mean it is safe.

Anytime a person’s senses, whether it is sight or sound, are distracted from paying attention to road conditions, on-coming traffic, sirens of emergency vehicles, or children playing, there is additional risk to the motorist, bicyclist or walker.  When earbuds or headsets that almost or completely drown out other sounds are used, there is no way for a person to hear anything that would alert them to these conditions.

At Goodin Abernathy, we want you to enjoy music and talking with your friends, but we want you to do so safely.

Freak Accidents

While watching local media coverage of the recent snowstorms, we saw a truck driver tell a local television reporter that “he was driving his semi on the interstate and only going 45 mph when his trailer began to fishtail, and he ultimately jackknifed.”  The truck driver told the reporter that this must be a “freak accident.”  The very next scene showed an interview of the Indiana State Trooper who was involved in investigating and responding to the jackknifed semi-trailer.  The trooper was obviously angry and explained to the reporter that he had just written a very expensive ticket to the truck driver, as driving 45 mph down on ice and snow-covered interstate in the middle of whiteout conditions was certainly traveling too fast for the conditions.  In the Trooper’s opinion, had the truck driver been going 20-25 mph, this truck accident never would have occurred.

When you’re driving a motor vehicle in the state of Indiana, there is no such thing as a freak auto accident.  Drivers of vehicles, whether they be semi-tractor/trailers or passenger cars, have a legal obligation to maintain their vehicle under control at all times and drive at a speed appropriate for whatever conditions are present on the road.  In this particular case it sounds as though the driver and his employer are going to be held responsible for a massive traffic tie-up and are fortunate that they aren’t going to be held responsible for serious injury or death caused by this truck driver operating his vehicle at an unsafe speed.

May is National Safety Council Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

For Immediate Release, 5/1/2010 – Contact: Amy Williams, Communications Director, (630) 775-2307, amy.williams@nsc.org

Avoid Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable to crashes than other drivers. Many crashes occur because motorcycles are hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot. It is important that motorists always make a visual check for motorcyclists by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Throughout May, the National Safety Council will encourage motorists to share the road with motorcyclists and be extra alert when they are nearby.  Fatalities involving motorists and motorcyclists increased 131 percent between 1998 and 2008. The mileage death rate for motorcyclists in 2007 was 37 times greater than for passenger car occupants.  “Throughout spring and summer the number of motorcyclists on the road will increase. It is important for both motorists and motorcyclists to be aware of one another,” said David Teater, NSC senior director of Transportation Initiatives. “To better defend themselves, motorcyclists should follow the rules of the roadway and wear protective gear, including a Department of Transportation compliant helmet.”

NSC offers these Tips for Motorists and Motorcyclists:

Motorists Safety Tips ~

Allow greater following distance behind a motorcycle.
Be extra cautious in intersections. Most crashes occur when a motorist fails to see a motorcyclist and turns left in front of a motorcycle.
Give a motorcycle the full lane width – never try to share a lane.

Motorcyclists Safety Tips ~

Avoid riding in poor weather conditions.
Position motorcycle in lane where you will be out of a motorist’s blind spot.
Use turn signals for every turn or lane change.