Call Today for a Free Consultation 317-843-2606
House Bill 1070 – Distracted Driving

House Bill 1070 – Distracted Driving

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.

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed by a distracted driver, it is important to know your rights, and to preserve important evidence to support your claim. Call us for a free consultation.

The Dram Shop Act

The Dram Shop Act

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.

Please feel free to contact Goodin Abernathy.

Safety Protection Against Falls at Work

Knowing how to properly use and maintain ladders while working is life-saving knowledge to have for safety protection against falls at work – and at home. Daily, within the United States, at least two thousand citizens are critically hurt during the use of a ladder. If you add in the occasional slip and fall occurrence, that number goes up considerably. For a hundred of them, long-term disability or possibly even permanent disability can be the end result due to their injuries.

Fall Protection and Training

Fall protection and training will consistently play key roles in keeping your employees safe. Worker’s compensation insurance premiums increase as more employees file claims. Falls happen every single day and at least one ladder accident causes a person’s death. At that point, you must ask yourself, “What is the cost to someone when told they are permanently disabled, can never work again or worse.” Loss of income alone can be devastating to a family. Effective January 2017, OSHA established updated employer requirements connected to the performance, design, and utilization of fall protection structures. The update raises consistency between construction standards and the general industry.

The majority of industrial companies’ biggest expenses due to employee injuries deal with ladder-related falls. The financial weight can be astounding. The dreadful human cost is even more shocking. With effort, fall protection and prevention, when it comes to a slip and fall, ladders or aerial access equipment, will most likely be a huge focus the future. Think of this scenario. If you were on the cliff of a mountain, would you rather build a fence around the top of that cliff for safety? On the other hand, would you prefer to station an ambulance at the base of the mountain just in case?

All safety equipment is designed with its potential dangers in mind. During the design process the attempt to eliminate all of those red flags. The designers outline everything in their hierarchy of controls. In layman’s terms, they engineer out the danger. If you do not see a path to engineer the danger out, safeguard against the danger. If guarding against it is not possible, then you must properly warn, supply personal protection equipment and adequately train people on its use and dangers.

Technology of Ladders

Many things over the years have improved thanks to technology. The time has long past to improve the safety of ladders. The primary design of conventional ladders has been untouched for centuries. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the rate of ladder injuries has grown in the past decade. Sadly, a team somewhere reviewed the design and decided that the original blueprint of the ladder could not be enhanced. This is why you will see many warning labels on ladders. These visible warnings force safety professionals to schedule a myriad of training meetings. These meetings teach employees to not do things on a ladder that everyone knows they are going to do anyway.

Stepladders actually present their set of special problems. Falls still happen due to over-reaching. They also have compliance rules pertaining to sustaining three points of contact while in use. You should constantly maintain three points of contact when you ascend and descend on a ladder. For example, there should be a combination of two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot at all times. Now, what should you do once you are no longer in climb mode and begin working? Technically, you are still supposed to have three contact points. Most personnel feel it is difficult to work with just one hand. Tying off above certain height levels is also something recommended. Lastly, what do you do when it comes to working on surfaces that are uneven or over stairs? The debate continues.

Aerial safety cages are another means of reaching heights. They are not actually considered ladders and are not scaffolds or power lifts either. Aerial safety cages permit the operator to perform their work in a completely enclosed space. The unit is a height-adjustable platform that is in compliance with all tie off and guardrail rules. This newer type of access equipment is more adaptable than traditional ladders or powered lifts. Aerial safety cages are capable of adjusting for working on stairs or uneven surfaces. They cages are approved for use surrounding live electrical circuits because they are assembled with non-conductive fiberglass rails.

Protection and prevention against a fall on the job begins with understanding how individuals use ladders. Just as important, there needs to be continued concentration on how people injure themselves using ladders. With continued research in this area, there can be real opportunities to designing new and safer products for climbing. If you are hurt or need worker’s compensation answers, Goodin Abernathy LLP can assist you. Call us for a free consultation if you have been injured on the job.

Work Injury Benefits in Indiana

According to recent statistics, 4 in every 100 people suffer from workplace accidents or fatalities in Indiana. Most of these accidents and fatalities are preventable and could’ve been avoided if the employers or business owners were careful with jobsite safety and security. Businesses are required by law to comply with OSHA standards on their jobsites but it’s difficult to keep track of all sites, so some slip through the radar. The authorities recognize this gap and insist that all businesses have work comp insurance.

The Worker’s Compensation Act

If you’re injured on the job or if your loved one has died as a result of a workplace accident, you are entitled to compensation and work injury benefits from the company. The right is covered by the Worker’s Compensation Act, which mandates that all employers have insurance to cover their liability in such cases. Some employers can get special permission to pay claims from their own funds, but most will use insurance. Such cases are presented to the Worker’s Compensation Board. They decide on the compensation amount and whether there’s liability on the employer’s apart. Employers can face a lot of consequences and penalties if they don’t carry work comp insurance or provide work injury benefits to their employees. These consequences include:

  • An order to cease doing business. The employer will have to arrange for comprehensive work comp insurance if they want to work in Indiana once again.
  • The court will ask the employer to provide proof of financial ability to ensure they can pay any claims, deposit a security, or take an indemnity, or bond to secure compensation for all injuries or fatalities caused during the period without insurance coverage
  • The employer is also considered to have committed a Class A infraction. They can be persecuted by the injured party if they can’t provide adequate compensation when needed.

As you can see, there are some protections in place to protect the interests of the employees and workers.

The Work Injury Benefits

The act covers personal injury or death claims that arise out of and during the course of employment. The compensation provides a limited number of benefits to the injured party and these include:

  • Medical treatment
  • Compensation for lost wages
  • Compensation for any disabilities due complete loss or loss in function of a part of your body

These are the only compensations the act provides for – temporary injuries and minor disabilities. However, permanent injuries and total disabilities are a different matter because they can impact your ability to earn more income in the future. If your ability to earn a living and lead a productive life is compromised, the compensation amount and ruling will reflect that.

The employer is liable if the accident occurs as a consequence of the job and is due to errors or negligence by the employer to provide safety gear and systems. Here’s a list of injuries that might be covered by the work injury benefits law:

  • Intentional Injuries – These injuries, when caused directly by the employer and owner of business, aren’t covered by work comp. You can file a civil suit to gain compensation. However, deliberate harm caused by managers, foremen, or supervisors are covered by worker’s compensation.
  • Repetitive Trauma – Any trauma or bodily harm caused as the consequence of doing the job is compensable. For example, you can get compensation if you develop carpel tunnel syndrome as a consequence of the job.
  • Parking Lot – Injuries and accidents caused by poorly maintained parking lots are also covered by workers compensation.
  • Heart Attack – This is covered if the injured party can prove that their job or workspace environment triggered the heart attack.
  • Injuries Caused in Ingress and Egress Routes – If you get injured when you enter or exit the employer’s property, you are eligible for compensation because you were on your way to work when the accident happened.
  • Heat and Sun Related Injuries – This is common in outdoor jobs like construction, door-to-door sales, etc. If you have heat stroke, sunstroke, or heat prostration and can provide it could’ve been avoidable, you will earn compensation.
  • Psychological Trauma – Psychological trauma caused by the job or at the workplace is also considered compensable. This can be due to stress, poor workplace environment, bullying and threatening at the workplace, etc.

What Steps Should You Take When You Experience Workplace Injuries?

Your actions immediately after the injury can compromise your case if you’re not careful. Here’s what you need to do immediately after you’re injured:

  • Get medical assistance without delay. This should be your first step because delays can worsen the injuries.
  • Contact your employer and inform them of the injury as soon as you can. The more you delay, the more you compromise your case.
  • File an injury or accident report when you’re able.
  • Call a work injury benefits lawyer immediately.
  • Don’t sign any legal document your employer provides without consulting with your lawyer.

Why Do You Need a Lawyer?

A lawyer will protect your interests and make sure you’re not pressured into compromising on the compensation. Here’s what a lawyer will do to help you:

  • They’ll consider all the information you provide carefully and offer unbiased advice on compensation, liability, and your chances of winning a case against the employer if it goes to court.
  • They’ll collect evidence, witness statements, and other such information to make sure the case is rock solid.
  • Lawyers will also help if you there’s a fatality involved. They’ll ensure dependents of the victim are adequately compensated.
  • Lawyers will shield you from the insurance company’s or your employer’s legal team. They can use pressure tactics in order to reduce the compensation amount.

Most work injury-related cases are settled outside court after thorough negotiations between both parties. They agree to a specific amount that covers expenses and compensates for the suffering caused by the incident. Some cases go to court because the parties can’t settle for a reasonable amount.

If you have questions, contact our office for a free consultation.

Work Related Electrocutions

Work Related Electrocutions

Each year in Indiana and across the United States, workers are severely injured or killed in workplace accidents involving electrocutions. In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 134 workers across the nation were killed when they were exposed to electricity while they were working. Workers in the construction industry are especially at risk of suffering an on-the-job electricity-related injury. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration calls electrocution accidents among the construction industry’s fatal four, which are the four types of injuries that result in death each year. In addition to the risks of death from contact with electricity, electrocutions also bring risks of serious injuries.

Causes of Workplace Electrocution Injuries

Both electrical workers and non-electrical workers may suffer electricity-related injuries while working. The primary causes of electrocutions in the workplace are contacts with overhead power lines, contacts with electrical wiring and equipment and contacts with appliances and machinery. Among workers who are not employed as electrical workers, the primary cause of work-related electrocution accidents is contacting overhead power lines because of failing to stay far enough away from them; failing to protect the lines; and failing to de-energize them before working around them. Other workers may also suffer from electric shocks from using old extension cords and engaging in other unsafe workplace activities. Defective wiring in the workplace is also a leading cause of electric shocks among workers outside of the construction industry.

Work Related Electrocution Injuries

Coming into contact with electricity may cause injuries ranging from mild pain and discomfort to death. Some people who suffer from them may be left with permanent disabilities and be unable to return to their jobs. The injuries may include the following:

  • Brain injuries
  • Neurological injuries
  • Cardiac arrest or other heart problems
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Burns

When workers suffer from electrical shock, they may suffer several symptoms, including heart attacks, dizziness, unconsciousness, seizures, muscle pain, headaches or hearing loss. It is important for people who have suffered electric shocks at work to seek medical care immediately.

Workplace Electrical Hazards

In order to help prevent workplace injuries from electrical exposures, OSHA promulgates and enforces safety regulations that companies are required to follow. There are numerous hazards that may lead to electrical accidents in the workplace, including wet floors, defective wiring, overloaded circuits, downed power lines, exposed electrical parts and others. When companies violate these regulations, they place their workers at risk of suffering debilitating injuries or fatalities. No matter who was at fault in causing the accident, eligible workers may recover benefits from workers’ compensation when they have been injured on the job by electricity.

Recovering Benefits or Damages from Workplace Electrocution Accidents

Workers who suffer from electric shocks while they are on the job may file claims for benefits through their employers’ workers’ compensation insurance policies. Most employers in Indiana are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance so that workers who are injured may recover benefits for their injuries. Injured workers may recover benefits to pay for all of their related medical costs, including hospital care, medical appointments, rehabilitation, prosthetics and prescription expenses. If a worker is unable to return to work because the accident caused a disability, the worker may recover monthly benefits that pay for a percentage of his or her former income. Disability benefits through workers’ compensation may include those for partial or total and temporary or permanent disabilities.

In some cases, third parties may hold liability for workplace electrocution accidents under a theory of negligence. For example, if a worker is electrocuted by a defective piece of equipment, the parties that were involved in the chain of production may hold liability to pay damages to the injured worker or to the family members of workers who were killed. Families of workers who are killed in workplace accidents involving contacts with electricity may also recover benefits from the employers of their loved ones by filing workers’ compensation claims. The spouses of the workers may recover monthly benefits to replace a percentage of their loved ones’ incomes that were lost when they were killed in an electrical accident while working.

How an Attorney May Help

If you were injured at work in an accident involving contact with electricity, you may benefit by seeking help from an experienced attorney at Goodin Abernathy. Our attorneys may help you to recover the workers’ compensation benefits to which you should be entitled. If a third party is partly to blame for the accident, our attorneys may also file personal injury lawsuits against the third party in addition to your workers’ compensation claim. This may help you to maximize the amount of compensation that you might recover to help pay for the losses you have suffered from your electrocution accident.

What to Know Before Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

What to Know Before Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Are you thinking of filing a personal injury lawsuit in Indiana?

You’ve been in an accident or experienced injury due to the negligence of another person. The hospital bills are mounting, and you have no idea how you will pay them. You’re taking medication for the pain and are unable to work. What should you do? Your first step is to consult with a personal injury attorney who will review your situation and determine the best course of action.

File a Personal Injury Lawsuit or Insurance Claim?

Personal injury comes in many forms: car accidents, falls, defective products, etc. Before filing a lawsuit, you may be advised to check into filing a claim instead. This should occur before a suit is considered.

The claims process consists of a series of negotiations that take place between you and the claims adjuster of the negligent party’s insurance company. The goal is to arrive at a monetary settlement that satisfies both parties. If such an agreement cannot be reached, it’s time to consult with a personal injury attorney to file the suit.

There are a number of reasons why a compromise can’t be reached in a personal injury claim. Perhaps the claims adjuster denies the insured caused the accident or disagrees with the severity of the injuries you sustained. The insurance company may also refuse to pay the monetary amount you are requesting. This is where an accident attorney can help.

Costs to Consider Before Filing a Lawsuit

Before filing a lawsuit, you should be aware of the costs involved. Often times, a negotiated settlement is preferable to a trial because it saves you money. Trials can also be lengthy, which can result in an interruption in pay due to more time requested off work.

Expenses of filing a personal injury lawsuit can include:

• Filing fees
• Serving costs
• Lost wages as a result of time away from work
• Costs of depositions and transcripts recorded by a court reporter
• Expert testimonies from medical officials for depositions and trial
• Costs of acquiring medical records, police reports, witness statements, etc.

It is often tempting to file a suit because you are unhappy with the amount of money offered by the insurance company. This, alone, is not a reason to choose this route. Before making the decision to file, carefully consider the potential costs and time associated with going to court. Some injuries may not be serious enough to merit a trial, and you could wind up spending more than you receive in damages.

An injury is considered serious when it causes damage that is either permanent, or that limits one’s ability to perform daily activities for a certain amount of time. These types of injuries include:

• Dismemberment
Death
• Fractures
• Significant scarring or disfigurement
• A body organ that is limited or altogether dysfunctional

Arbitration for Personal Injury

Arbitration is another option to consider before filing a personal injury suit. Here, both sides agree to present their case to a third party called an arbiter who then decides the outcome. The costs are much lower than those associated with a trial, and the process doesn’t take as long because the hearing can be set more quickly.

Statute of Limitations for Filing Personal Injury Lawsuit in Indiana

The time limit for filing a personal injury suit is called the statute of limitations. Failing to file before that time limit expires will result in losing your right to sue. If this occurs, you may not re-coop any damages you are seeking.

In the state of Indiana, the statute of limitations is two years. This time limit typically begins on the date the accident occurs. You’ll want to make note of both the time limit and date on which it began when contacting an Indianapolis personal injury attorney.

Comparative Fault

There is a comparative fault rule in Indiana that applies to injured persons who are found to be partly at fault for the incident or accident that led to his or her injuries. This serves to reduce or eliminate damages, depending on how much fault is assigned the injured person.

Indiana’s comparative fault rule works in this way. Suppose you are driving just over the speed limit when another car turns in front of you, causing impact. It is determined you share 25 percent of the fault, and the other driver is responsible for 75 percent. In this case, the damages you are awarded would be reduced by 25 percent. If your fault is found to be 50 percent or more, you will be prohibited from collecting damages from another at-fault party.

Auto Insurance Laws

When it comes to automobile accident claims, Indiana is a “fault” or “at-fault” state. This gives an injured party multiple options. The injured person can file a claim with his or her own insurance company, file a claim with another driver’s insurance company, making it a third-party claim, or seek damages in court. In this type of insurance settlement negotiation, the threat of going to court can be used as a bargaining tool even if a lawsuit is never filed. You can always consult with a personal injury attorney who can help you make the right decision.

Conclusion

Before filing any lawsuit, do your homework carefully. An Indianapolis personal injury attorney can provide you with the legal information you’ll need to decide which solution is best for you. The time following an accident or other type of personal injury is always stressful, especially when medical bills are involved, but the decision to file should never be taken lightly. You should consider the situation from all angles before entering into such a costly endeavor. However, if your injuries are serious enough, seeking damages may be the most appropriate route for you to take.

If you have been injured in an accident or incident involving another party, call Goodin Abernathy immediately to learn more about your legal options.