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.
Why You Need to be Represented by the Attorneys of Goodin Abernathy LLP for Farming Accidents in Indiana
The Goodin Abernathy LLP trial attorneys are experienced with helping farm and field workers who suffer serious injuries in farming accidents. As Indiana’s harvest season begins, now is the time to use extra caution working in the fields and driving through the countryside.
The Hoosier State is ranked 10th nationally in total agricultural production and ranked in the top five states for crop production like corn and soybeans. It’s also ranked fifth in the nation for swine production and third for poultry. (https://farmflavor.com/indiana-agriculture/) With this high volume of production, numerous workers and large farm machinery are active daily in the fields of Indiana’s farms. Because of this heavy equipment, agriculture is a hazardous industry. Farmers are at a high risk for fatal and serious farm accident injuries. (https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/aginjury/) These injuries are gruesome and can have long lasting effects. Over the years, Goodin Abernathy LLP’s personal injury attorneys have represented farm hands throughout Indiana, helping them understand the legal system and fighting to make sure they collect the legal benefits or damages they deserve following serious accidents.
Our initial consultations are free. More importantly, since each client’s farming accident experience is unique; Goodin Abernathy LLP does not charge a set contingency fee. Our fees depend on the level of legal work your claim requires. When meeting with us for the first time, no one will pressure you to sign a fee agreement or make any decisions right away. We prefer in-person initial consultations. If time and distance are a barrier for out of state clients, we handle video conferencing and telephone conferences at convenient times, all days of the week.
Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys handle farming accident cases for injured clients and their families from all across the country. If the accident happened in Indiana, Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys know the law. We handle state and federal lawsuits and are proficient at holding those responsible accountable for their negligence.
Since fall is when the harvest takes place, more accidents occur during this time of year. Most farm operations own and run their own semi trucks for hauling grain. Thus, more big trucks are driving throughout the countryside on state and country roads increasing possibilities that trucking accidents can occur. Grain trucks, filled full of heavy grain, are harder to stop. They can also enter the road at unmarked points during the day or night. Many do not have the proper, legally mandated, reflectors and lights. Some of these farm vehicles are even left on the side of the road without the proper materials to make them visible to other traffic on the road. Big farm machinery can also hit or run over workers in the field—especially those attempting to load produce.
Machinery accidents only allot for a portion of farming accidents. Here are some of the other accidents the attorneys of Goodin Abernathy LLP have handled:
- a dairy farm hand who slipped in cold, frozen mud and fell into a manure pit where he died from toxic fume exposure;
- a young teen who was working as a temporary farm hand and put his hand in an auger to dislodge material when the machine started running again and mangled his hand;
- silo accidents where young or untrained farm hands get sucked into huge amounts of grain.
Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys also realize that many of Indiana’s agricultural workers come from out of state or even out of the country. In fact, 73% of America’s farming labor force is comprised of migrant workers.
If you are injured in Indiana, Goodin Abernathy LLP is the firm to represent you. When Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys take a farming accident case, we grab it hands-on and work to collect the details that accurately describe how and why the accident happened. Our experience handling medical testimony, using top quality experts and showing a jury the anatomy of an injury is just as important as our experience investigating accidents. We have the skills necessary to represent you, and the attorneys of Goodin Abernathy LLP CARE ABOUT OUR CLIENTS.
Goodin Abernathy LLP also offers all of these services, in Spanish, to the Indiana Latino community. Marca aquí por un versíon en Español – Legalmente Hablando Indy.
Indiana law allows farms to cover cases under Indiana Worker’s Compensation law or face a potential negligence claim. Worker’s compensation should provide you with medical, rehabilitation and income benefits if you are injured on the job. These benefits are provided to help injured workers return to work. It also provides benefits to the worker’s dependents if they die as the result of a job-related injury. The attorneys are Goodin Abernathy LLC understand the legal intricacies of farming accidents claims. We care about you and your families and are ready to help you fight for the maximum amount of compensation allowable by law.
Let Goodin Abernathy LLP guide you through your legal claim. We walk beside you through the entire process handling your case with the care and attention you deserve. We want to get to know you, discuss the legal process, provide you the opportunity to ask questions and explain our fee structure. Reach out to Goodin Abernathy LLP and let us show you how we set ourselves apart from other attorneys. Experience the care, wisdom, and experience Goodin Abernathy LLP has to offer by calling 317.843.2606 today for your free consultation.
Photo by Spencer Pugh on Unsplash
Indiana enacted its first Worker’s Compensation Act in 1915 in response to a growing number of workers injured on the job who had no guaranteed means of receiving medical treatment for injuries or wage replacement income during their physical recovery. Prior to enacting its first Worker’s Compensation Act, when an Indiana worker was injured, the worker was permitted to sue their employer in court in an effort to get compensation. However, lawsuits were time consuming, expensive, and frequently left the injured worker in a position where they were unable to obtain medical attention while their lawsuit was working its way through court because time was lost to address arguments from employers that the worker caused the accident or assumed the risk of the accident. The Workers Compensation Act struck a compromise between the competing interests of the worker and the employer and moved to a no-fault based system. In short, and in general, employers were stripped of the ability to claim the worker caused the accident. In exchange for this concession, injured workers were deprived from collecting pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life damages.
In today’s Indiana Worker’s Compensation system, this means when a worker is injured “on the clock” when they slip and fall, or are injured in a car accident, or are injured in a construction accident, the worker’s employer is not permitted to claim the worker should have paid more attention to what they were doing when the event occurred. However, some important employer-based fault arguments are still available to employers. For example, pursuant to I.C. 22-3-2-8, employers may raise affirmative defenses that no money is owed because the injury was 1) due to the employee’s knowingly self-inflicted injury, 2) due to intoxication, 3) due to the commission of an offense (not including traffic violations), 4) due to a knowing failure to use a safety appliance, 5) due to a knowing failure to obey a reasonable written or printed safety rule which has been posted in a conspicuous position in the place of work, or 6) due to a knowing failure to perform any statutory duty.
Disagreements often occur when an employer raises one of these defenses, and if left unresolved, a judge is asked to determine whether the employer’s defense is valid at a hearing. Like many areas in law, an exploration into the facts of an individual matter is usually necessary to assess the validity of these types of defenses. For example, just because a worker is intoxicated or impaired at the moment the worker is injured, it does not necessarily mean the employer does not owe compensation. Indeed, there is a difference between a drunk worker being injured when the worker drives a delivery truck off the road compared to a drunk worker performing his work satisfactorily when a co-worker accidentally drops an item from above that strikes and injures the worker.
Similarly, not every failure to use a safety appliance or knowing failure to obey a posted and written safety rule bars a recovery. When an employer allows the alleged prohibited conduct to occur or also engages in the prohibited conduct, the employer will not be able to shield itself from responsibility. As an illustration in an industrial or machine setting, if an employer posts an open and obvious sign that machinery must be shut down before it is cleaned, but observes employees cleaning the machine while it is not shut down, the employer will not be allowed to rely on a fault-type defense.
If you need help navigating a matter involving an injury at work where questions exist as to whether the employer may raise an argument that the worker is at fault for the accident, Goodin Abernathy, LLP can bring experience, knowledge, and resources to bear on the question. Contact us today for a free consultation.
It can be difficult sometimes to stay positive during the current COVID-19 crisis. However, experts recommend that it is not only good for our physical health, but also our mental health to get outside and exercise. With the decrease in motor vehicle traffic, many people are riding their bikes for exercise and enjoyment. In fact, the current pandemic has led to a tremendous surge in bicycle sales around the globe. If you have been shopping for a new bike lately you will know what I am talking about. We have a wonderful system of shared paths here in Central Indiana. As more and more people are using these paths, it is up to each of us to ensure that they are safe for all users and avoid personal and bicycle accidents or injuries whenever possible.
I have always enjoyed cycling, but had fallen away from the activity until recently. The pandemic has allowed me to renew my love for cycling, and I have used this as an opportunity to ride more frequently. I try to ride to work 2-3 days per week, as my schedule allows. With the Courts being closed to the public, and most hearings taking place via phone call or Zoom, I have not needed to wear a suit and tie every day. My current commute is about 25 miles round trip. This takes me about 1 hour each way, and I have found that my rides to and from work are a great way to relieve stress, enjoy the outdoors, and save a little money on gas.
Most of my commute is on shared paths, used by both cyclists and pedestrians, which allows me to avoid interaction with motor vehicles, for the most part. However, most of the accidents and close calls that I have observed were between two bicyclists or bicyclists and pedestrians.
The most common mishaps that I have observed can usually be narrowed down to 3 things: 1. Bicyclists riding too fast for the conditions; 2. Pedestrians who move suddenly out of their lane and in to the path of bicycle that they don’t know is approaching, and 3. Confusion between bicyclists and motorists at the intersections of shared paths and roadways.
I ride a relatively slow, fat-tired bike, with an average speed of 12-14 miles per hour. In my opinion, this is plenty fast for shared trails. To go faster than that in an area where pedestrians are walking is just a recipe for disaster. There are places on the Monon Trail, for example, where cyclists can go faster than that, but when there are crowds of people running and walking and crossing the trail, it is simply not safe.
The other danger that I have observed is cyclists overtaking pedestrians without warning them of their approach. In 2016, the Indiana Legislature removed the requirement at I.C. 9-21-11-8, that all bikes must be equipped with an audible signal device, that can be heard from a distance of 100 feet, such as a bell. I think this was a mistake. A simple bike bell is an easy way to alert others, particularly pedestrians, that you are passing them. In my experience, most pedestrians who walk on shared paths, appreciate the signal that a bike is approaching and will be passing them. Most pedestrians will usually give a hand signal that they heard the bell, and many will even say, “Thank you,” as I pass. Many people walk with their children and their pets. An audible bell gives them a heads up to keep their kids or their pets close as a bicycle passes.
Some pedestrians who are not as familiar with walking on shared paths may be startled by an audible bell. I have observed pedestrians jump upon hearing the bell, or quickly move out of the way. I have observed pedestrians turn suddenly, which can cause them to inadvertently move left and into the path of the cyclist. This can be dangerous. Just last week, I saw a runner, who had reached the point in her run where she was going to turn around and go the other direction. She quickly turned around just as a bicycle was overtaking her. The cyclist did not have a bell to alert his presence. The bell is only to alert pedestrians so that they know a bicycle will be passing on their left. It is not a call to get out of the way, or to even change your course in any way. If more cyclists used a bell, I believe pedestrians would be more attuned, and travel on our shared paths would be even safer. If you are walking on the trail, it is always a good idea to move to the right of the trail before stopping, and look both ways before crossing the trail and reversing direction.
Lastly, there is a lot of confusion about what motorists and cyclists are supposed to do when the shared path intersects with vehicular traffic. If you spend any time on Nextdoor, you will see raging debates about who should stop and when. Everyone needs to follow the rules of the road whether you be driving a car or riding a bicycle. All bikes and motor vehicles should heed the signs that pertain to them at each individual intersection. Bikes and pedestrians are required to stop and make sure the intersection is clear of vehicle traffic before proceeding. If there is a flashing yellow light, motorists need to be prepared to stop to allow pedestrians to cross. Usually, motor vehicle drivers will stop for a flashing yellow light if they see bikes or pedestrians waiting to cross. Always make sure it is safe to proceed before riding your bike across vehicular traffic.
If everyone takes a moment to make sure that their bike is functioning properly, and we all pay attention to the rules of the road, our great system of trails will be safer for everyone. Now get outside and ride your bike!
Chip Clark is a partner at Goodin Abernathy, LLP where he specializes in representing clients who have been injured in personal injury accidents. You can follow him on Instagram at @ChipClarkIndy
What is the FFCRA and Do I Qualify?
What is the FFCRA and Do I Qualify? by www.goodinabernathy.com
Effective April 1, 2020 and continuing through December 31, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) will require certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and/or expanded Family Medical Leave for reasons related to COVID-19.
There are essentially 2 parts to the Act. Part 1 is an emergency expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Part 2 requires certain employers to provide Federal Paid Sick Leave.
The Act applies to all employers with fewer than 500 employees. This includes both full and part-time employees. This number also includes dual employees, such as those provided by professional employment organizations (PEO’s) also known as staffing agencies. There may be exceptions for “extreme financial hardship,” but the Department of Labor has not yet produced any guidance for what that means.
The Act also provides for a “Distressed Small Business Exception,” which only applies to employers with 50 or less employees. Again, because this law is so new, there is little to no guidance from the Department of Labor as to who will qualify for this exception.
So, what does the FFCRA require employers to do?
Generally, all employers must provide their qualifying employees with:
Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined either (1) pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider, and/or (2) is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; AND up to 10 additional weeks of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of COVID illness or a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor.
FAQ’s about the FFCRA:
How does an employee qualify for these FFCRA benefits?
Some examples include:
- Being diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus.
- Having symptoms of the virus.
- Being required to be in self-quarantine.
- Being ordered by your doctor to self-quarantine.
- Having to care for a spouse or child who is infected with the virus.
- Another common example will be caring for a child whose school or daycare has been closed because of COVID-19 – Or having substantially similar condition based on guidance from the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Can both parents claim paid leave under the FFCRA?
There is nothing in the law that suggests that both parents would not be entitled to paid leave if they otherwise qualify for the benefits.
Can my employer require me to use paid sick leave before paying benefits under the FFCRA?
It depends. The expanded benefits to FMLA do not kick in for the first 10 days, therefore you may be required to use unpaid sick leave to cover that gap. The mandatory sick leave would not require you to use accrued unpaid leave.
How much pay am I entitled to receive?
It depends on whether you are seeking the expanded benefits of the FMLA, or the mandatory paid sick leave. Normally, a qualifying employee is entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the FMLA. The new law expands that to include paid leave of two-thirds of base pay based on number of hours normally worked. The maximum is $200 per day, or $10,000 per employee, based on 12 weeks of eligibility.
The mandatory paid sick leave under the FFCRA is capped at $511 per day, with a total benefit of $5,110 per employee.
How are employers expected to pay for these FFCRA benefits?
The government has rolled out several plans to help small business employers pay for these new benefits. One option is a dollar for dollar tax credit for payments made. A second option is a small business loan through the Small Business Administration (SBA) to cover payroll costs. If certain conditions are met, and all of your employees remain on the payroll for a specified period, these loans will be forgiven (they don’t have to be paid back). Lastly, some employers may have business interruption insurance that could be applicable. Definitely check your policy to determine coverage.
Can my employer disclose my diagnosis of COVID-19?
Yes, under certain circumstances, there are exceptions to HIPPAA’s confidentiality requirements. For example, an employer can disclose such a diagnosis for the safety of your co-workers.
What if I contracted COVID-19 at work, will workers’ compensation cover my treatment?
There is much we don’t know about how the new laws will be interpreted, and whether a diagnosis of COVID-19 could be considered an occupational disease. Certainly, for those on the front lines fighting this disease, for instance health care workers, an argument could be made that it is a risk of the job.
If I have to provide these FFCRA benefits, my business will be forced to shut down. Are there any exceptions?
Yes. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption from the requirement to provide leave due to school closings or child care unavailability if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern.
If I have to take leave, can I get my job back when I return?
Yes. The new law requires employers with 25 or more employees to reinstatement after 12 weeks. If your employer has less than 25 employees they must “make reasonable effort” to reinstate an employee who has taken leave under the Act.
In these uncertain times, it is always best to know your rights. If you have questions about Coronavirus/COVID-19, and your entitlement to benefits under the new laws, please contact us for a free legal consultation. We are not currently taking in-person interviews in our efforts to avoid unnecessary spread of the virus, but we are always available for telephonic consultations.
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.