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Teen Drivers and Summer

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.

Work Injury Falling from Scaffolding

Work Injury Falling from Scaffolding

Construction workers place their lives at risk every day on the job. Accidents and falls can happen, even with the best safety equipment and highest safety standards in place. Sometimes, construction projects aren’t as safe and secure as people would like them to be, which increases the risk of accidents.

Workers on Scaffolding - Work InjuriesThe construction industry ranks high in job-related accidents and fatalities. Most of these fatalities and work injures are caused by falls from scaffolding and other such areas of the project site. Scaffolding must be secure and should be able to bear the weight and movements of the construction worker easily. If the construction worker falls and is injured, it’s important to carry out a thorough investigation to determine the true cause of the accident and understand liability. An experienced work injury attorney can help.

What are the Scaffolding Safety Standards?

Scaffolding is an important aspect of all construction sites and some tasks and installations can’t be carried out without it. While the authorities recognize this and know there’s an inherent risk involved in all construction tasks, they have determined that this risk can be minimized by improving the safety standards of the scaffolding.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, state organizations, and even private businesses post separate safety standards that will help ensure construction workers as secure as they can be. Here’s a brief introduction to the standards construction companies must follow:

• Scaffolding should be able to hold and support four times the weight anticipated as necessary. For example, if the anticipated weight of the of the construction worker and his equipment is 200 pounds, the scaffolding should be able to support 800 pounds.

• A scaffold should be securely anchored and shouldn’t be supported by loose fixtures like barrels or bricks.

• The plank should overlap by at least 12 inches to provide adequate anchor to the scaffolding.

• To provide enough balance, the planks should extend their supports by at least 6 to 18 inches. This will ensure the planks have enough weight at the edge and dont tip over.

• The scaffolding should have overhead protection if there’s work being done overhead.

• Construction supervisors should ensure there are no tools, debris, equipment, or other such materials present on the scaffold. Obstructions can lead to accidents, especially if the construction work is distracted by their work and can’t look down at their feet.

• The construction site should not have shore scaffolds and lean-to scaffolds as they’re unsafe and prohibited.

If the construction company doesn’t provide secure and properly anchored scaffolding, they’re not following the established standards and can be held liable if there’s an accident.

What Should You Do You If You Fall From the Scaffolding?

Your first priority should be to get medical attention and focus on your health. Injuries caused by falls from scaffolding are often serious and should be addressed immediately. Some injuries might grow worse if you delay in seeking medical attention.

After you’ve received the treatment, your next step is to call a worker’s compensation attorney who will help you with your case. Your family can also call an attorney on your behalf. Here’s what you should do immediately after you’re well enough you speak with a lawyer:

• Don’t Speak with Company Attorneys – The construction company will respond quickly in the case of accidents and attempt to minimize the compensation amount as much as they can. It’s important that you don’t speak with them without an attorney present or without discussing your case with the attorney. You’re perfectly within your rights to deny a meeting with your employers until you’ve spoken with your attorney.

• Appoint Some to Represent Your Interests – Don’t hire attorneys recommended by your employers and don’t take legal advice from company lawyers. Do your research and find someone who will work with you and for your interests. Make sure you hire an attorney as quickly as you can because such cases are subject to the Statute of Limitations and must be filed within 2 years of the incident.

• Discuss the Accident with Your Attorney – After you’ve hired someone reliable to help you, explain the entire situation to them as factually and honestly as you can. In such situations, it can be difficult to recall the details but it’s important to help your attorney as much as you can.

• Give the Attorney Access to Your Medical Reports – The attorney needs to understand the extent of your injuries in order to plan the compensation amount. You should allow them to have a copy of your injuries and access to any observations your doctor may have made during the treatment.

The attorney will collect all evidence, prepare the paperwork, and be present in all interviews and negotiations with the construction company and their legal team. This will ensure you’re not pressurized into settling for less than what you deserve.

The Lawsuits Regarding Falls from Scaffold

There are three things an attorney must establish in order for the lawsuit to be successful in courts and they are:

• It’s the defendant’s responsibility to provide safety and security to you and make sure the scaffolding is safe to use.

• The defendant didn’t perform their duty and provide a secure enough scaffold and the construction site wasn’t up to normal industry standards.

• Their failure to perform this duty led to your injury and accident.

Before the attorney files a lawsuit, they’ll determine who is liable by determining who is responsible for supplying scaffolding material, installing it, and maintaining it. Most of these cases are settled outside court and in the presence of attorneys on both sides. However, if you refuse to settle outside court if you believe the compensation they offer isn’t enough and won’t cover all of your expenses.

What’s Included in the Compensation?

A compensation amount will include medical expenses, loss of wages because you missed work, pain and distress caused by the injury, loss of normal life because of resultant disabilities or permanent injuries, loss of income because you’re no longer able-bodied enough to work in your industry.

Your attorney will take your circumstances into consideration and determine the compensation amount carefully.

Warehouse Workers’ Safety

In recent years Indiana’s warehousing sector has been outpacing national and regional growth, according to an analysis by the Indiana Business Review. (http://www.ibrc.indiana.edu/ibr/2014/fall/pdfs/article1.pdf) That means more warehouse workers here in the Hoosier state.  Warehouse workers face unique hazards on the job; the Occupational Safety and Health Administration publishes a pocket guide to safety for warehouse workers.

Hazards include dangers associated with docks, forklifts, conveyors, and charging stations as well as manual lifting and poor ergonomics.  OSHA offers tips to manage these risks, including being aware of surroundings and the use of personal protective equipment.

Goodin Abernathy employee Fernanda Linares used to work in warehousing and identified several of these risks from her personal experience.  “Being suspended about 20 to 25 feet in the air while sometimes lifting heavy parts, there was much room for injury,” she says, “Because there were heavy parts that could crush your toes, it was required of the employees to wear steeled shoes while on the work floor.”.

Although workers could be taking all the safety precautions, warehouse workers still get hurt at the job sometimes. Goodin Abernathy LLP lawyers help clients regularly who have suffered an injury in the workplace.  We’re here to help understand the Indiana Worker’s Compensation benefits. Goodin Abernathy LLP lawyers, regularly help workers collect the benefits they are entitled to including payment for medical bills, lost wages from time off work, and compensation for permanent impairments.

If you or someone you know has been injured while working at a warehouse in Indiana, contact the lawyers at Goodin Abernathy LLP to discuss your options.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Too often I see clients come in with serious injuries after they have been struck by a vehicle carrying no or very limited liability insurance.  The first question I ask is how much Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist coverage (UM/UIM) they have through their own insurance carrier.  More often than not, I receive a blank stare in response.

What is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage is coverage you purchase to protect yourself from uninsured or under-insured drivers.  If you are seriously injured in a car accident or by a motor vehicle, the wrongdoer may not have enough insurance coverage to adequately compensate you for your injuries.  The law requires, unless you specifically waive it, that UM/UIM coverage be a part of your car insurance policy.  This is excellent protection against those in our society who do not play by the rules or who have little to no assets to protect.  The best part though?  It’s cheap coverage!  For just a few dollars a year you can increase your UM/UIM coverage to help protect yourself on the roadways.

So talk to your insurance agent about UM/UIM coverage and make sure you have enough coverage to protect you if you are injured by a driver without adequate insurance.  If you have an umbrella policy, make sure it includes UM/UIM coverage, as well.

If you have been injured by a motor vehicle and have been told the wrongdoer has little or no insurance coverage, call our Indianapolis injury attorneys today to set up a free consultation and discuss making a UM/UIM claim.

 

*Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

High School Student Injures Family After Texting and Driving

High School Student Injures Family After Texting and Driving

The Legalmente Hablando Indy and Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys successfully represented two Hispanic sisters and their children for injuries caused when a high school student driver hit them. The sisters were walking along a roadway in their apartment complex when a student ran them over. One of the sisters had a child on her shoulders and the other child was in a stroller. The driver was texting a friend and not paying attention to the roadway.

Our clients suffered serious injuries and went to the emergency room. The driver and her insurance company did not want to pay a reasonable amount for damages. The Legalmente Hablando Indy and Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys filed a lawsuit and aggressively fought for our clients. After the insurance company understood we would not settle the case for an amount less than the damages our Mexican clients suffered, the company agreed to pay the money it owed. Thankfully our clients were patient waiting on the legal process and trusted our work. Eventually it paid off and they received settlement checks.

Many insurance companies defend motor vehicle accident claims, trying to avoid paying reasonable money for damages their clients cause. Our Latino clients depend on our experience to represent them and their immigration status does not prevent us from handling their cases.

If you, a family member or friend was injured in an accident, contact us for a free consultation. The Legalmente Hablando Indy and Goodin Abernathy LLP attorneys speak Spanish and take pride helping our Hispanic clients.

Real Estate Disclosure Forms, Contamination, and Meth Houses

As reported by the Indianapolis Star, the Indiana State Police have discovered 119 methamphetamine labs in Delaware County in the first 6 months of 2015.  The next highest was Noble County with 35.  While methamphetamine is an illegal substance that has wrecked many lives in Indiana, methamphetamine is also a large problem for realtors, landlords, and buyers and sellers of real estate due to the contamination that occurs in the houses and buildings where the meth is cooked.

Most Sellers of a 1-4 unit residential property are required to fill out a Seller’s Residential Real Estate Sales Disclosure Form per Indiana Code Section 24-4.6-2, et seq.  On page 2 under “Hazardous Conditions” the following question appears:  “Have there been or are there any hazardous conditions on the property…such as…toxic materials…?”  The Seller has the option to indicate “Yes,” “No,” or “Do Not Know.”  Methamphetamine contamination would be considered a toxic material.  With methamphetamine production, clean-up generally will involve, at a minimum, the removal of all surfaces that came in contact with the contaminants and removal of drywall down to the studs.  If a Seller fails to clean-up the condition or sells the property without disclosing the methamphetamine contamination, they could be liable to a Buyer for the failure to disclose.

If a house has been contaminated, there are also insurance issues that will need to be determined.  Does a landlord still have insurance coverage when a property is contaminated by a tenant?  Is there coverage for lost rent while the house is being cleaned up?  What about coverage if the health department or police order the house to be closed up until their investigations are completed?  As with all insurance questions, individual policies must be read entirely to determine whether there may be coverage for the landlord in these situations.

If you have concerns surrounding property you own that may have had an undisclosed methamphetamine lab in it or have questions surrounding your insurance coverage, contact the real estate attorneys at Goodin Abernathy, LLP to discuss your case.