A jury verdict of $21 million that was awarded to an Indiana drunk driving injury plaintiff, who is quadriplegic as a result of the collision, has been affirmed by the Indiana Court of Appeals, which refused defendants’ request for a new trial. It is one of the largest personal injury damage awards in history. The original award, $35 million, was reduced upon a finding of comparative fault by the plaintiff.

Plaintiff and defendant worked together at a local restaurant chain and frequently drank together, which is what they did after work one night in February 2016. The two became so impaired that an employee asked plaintiff to leave, and the two exited together. The employee called a taxi for the pair. But as the taxi pulled in, the pair exited the parking lot, defendant at the wheel of his pickup truck, plaintiff in the passenger seat. Minutes later, defendant crashed into a tree, the impact breaking plaintiff’s neck, rendering him quadriplegic, with no sensation or control from the neck down. Defendant’s blood-alcohol concentration was measured at 0.208 an hour after the crash.

Drunk driving injury lawsuits bring to the forefront a sobering reality with which our Munster injury attorneys are all too familiar. Here in Lake County, Indiana, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute reports there were 345 alcohol-impaired collisions in 2016, roughly 2 percent of the total but accounting for a disproportionate percentage of fatal crashes (10 percent) and injurious crashes (4 percent) . Statewide, the Indiana University Public Policy Institute reveals 83 crash deaths in 2016 involved a driver who was illegally impaired by alcohol (down from 177 in 2012). Alcohol was more likely a factor in single-vehicle crashes than multiple-vehicle collisions, and impairment rates were highest among drivers of pickup trucks. Continue reading

Indiana work injury claims are typically resolved through an employer’s workers’ compensation insurer. It’s only with disputed work injury claims that the potential need for litigation arises. There is an Informal Dispute Resolution process, and those not resolved through that can only move forward if an injured worker files an SF29109 form, at which time the case is assigned to a hearing member for the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Board. If either side disagrees with that decision, an appeal can be made to the full workers’ compensation board panel, then to the Indiana Court of Appeals and lastly to the Indiana Supreme Court. With an experienced Highland work injury lawyer focusing on your case, it may not be necessary to press it that far, but you need to know your attorney will fight for your best interests and refuse to settle if you aren’t getting fair treatment.

It is worth noting too that while workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy available for an injured employee against the employer, separate third-party claims can be asserted against non-employer defendants alleged to have been negligent in causing the accident/injury.

Still, not all workers are treated exactly the same under federal or state law. Indiana railroad workers are among them. When one of Indiana’s hundreds of railroad employees suffers a work-related injury, they must recover for injuries under the Federal Employer Liabilities Act, or FELA, as outlined in 45 U.S.C. 51, liability of common carriers by railroad for injuries to employees from negligence. Continue reading

Millions of people are injured in U.S. car accidents annually. Roughly 30,000 die. Road rage injuries and deaths can be included in those figures, but not always. If a person is rear-ended by an aggressive driver following too closely, failing to yield or traveling too fast for road conditions (as spelled out in Title 9 of Indiana Code on motor vehicles), such instances would be included in crash statistics. However, incidents involving person-on-person violence stemming from road rage likely would not. For Highland personal injury attorneys, that difference is also instructive when determining a road rage victim’s legal options. That’s because while accidents are covered by Indiana auto insurers, intentional acts of violence generally are not, and are usually expressly excluded in the policy language.

That does not mean violent road rage incidents are not actionable and compensable, but your injury lawyer will have to carefully examine the facts of the case to identify defendants, determine theories of liability and find out whether there is a means to actually collect on whatever damages may be won.

Indiana Worst for Road Rage Fatal Injuries

Indiana was recently ranked the worst state for road rage by the Auto Insurance Center, which determined 10 percent of fatal crashes in Indiana between 2005 and 2015 involved road rage and aggressive driving. Troopers say drivers who commit road rage are either ignorant of the law or do not care. Even those in marked patrol cars say they have been targeted by road rage.  Continue reading

Scooters in Indiana have become  increasingly popular for recreation and commuting, but Indiana scooter injury lawyers are concerned we’ll be seeing an uptick of crashes, particularly those involving scooters with cars or trucks. Although the bright yellow bicycles of the Pacers Bikeshare have been integrated for the last four years (slated to double in size in the next two years), urban vehicle operators still aren’t used to seeing people on the even smaller-profile scooters gliding along the roadways and through crosswalks.

Bird electric scooter-share’s dockless scooter service in Indianapolis launched in the spring along Mass Ave. and also in Irvington, relying on smartphone apps to track and bill users.  Licensed adult locals and visitors alike have been making use of them for leisurely downtown tours in Fountain Square or City Market or a breezy ride along nearby bike paths like Pennsy Trail, though Bird scooters are actually advertised to those needing a boost on that “last mile” of their trek or short commute when it’s slightly too long to comfortably walk. They were so popular, the Indianapolis scooter market got competitive when Lime (formerly LimeBike, now in 50 cities globally) launched its Indianapolis scooter share, pricing itself low and muscling its way in to the Hoosier market.

Our injury attorneys in Gary and Munster (who also serve Indianapolis) see the biggest safety fear centering on the fact that scooters are going to be interacting with often crowded downtown traffic. Riders are instructed to use the bicycle lane (staying off sidewalks and roads) and park well clear of public roads (a directive users aren’t strict about following). All this puts riders at risk of an Indiana scooter crash.

Most workers in Indiana are supposed to be covered by worker’ compensation insurance, paid for by their employer to cover reasonable medical expenses and a portion of lost wages if they’re hurt at work. There are a few exceptions, but often when companies pay cash under-the-table, they are breaking the law (and probably don’t have workers’ compensation insurance for you). That means if you’re seriously injured at work, you should discuss your legal options with an Indiana personal injury attorney right away.

Some companies specifically avoid paying above-board wages because then they’d incur other costs, like insurance for unemployment and workers’ compensation, requirements to pay overtime, administrative payroll expenses and other costs. Others will wrongly classify “employees” (entitled to these benefits) as “independent contractors.” But even independent contractors usually have clear written terms and are asked to file a tax form. Many times, companies will pay cash specifically for illegal immigrant workers, but you should know that your immigration status has no bearing on the Indiana workers’ compensation or personal injury benefits to which you are entitled. If you are paid under-the-table and are hurt at work, your claim for benefits/ damages could be more complicated than a typical work injury case. An experienced Munster work accident lawyer can best help you navigate the system and obtain appropriate compensation.

Recently, the Indiana Court of Appeals dealt with one such case, wherein a worker was seriously injured and his small business employer, someone he’d worked for under-the-table for nine years in the logging industry, was killed in that accident.

As noted by the Indiana Department of Insurance, each newly written Indiana auto liability policy must include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage – unless it is rejected by the insured in writing. These limits mirror those of bodily injury liability (what you pay if you’re at fault for someone else’s injuries), with stipulated minimums being $25,000 per person and $50,000 per crash.Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage protects you in the event you are struck by an at-fault driver who does not have insurance or who fled in a hit-and-run accident. But just because you have this coverage does not mean you will be automatically entitled to collect it after a collision. Your Indiana car accident attorney will need to show:

  • The driver who struck you was negligent/at fault for the crash;
  • Neither the driver nor the automobile had auto insurance coverage (or enough coverage), OR you were unable to identify the driver; and

Head injuries and spinal cord injuries are common Indiana car accident injuries. Less recognized is a condition known as “internal decapitation.”A 22-year-old man from Indiana suffered this condition and incredibly survived. Even more stunning was the fact that this is the third time he’s reportedly cheated death. When he was born, he wasn’t breathing and suffered seizures. He was saved by CPR. Then as a teenager, he endured radiation and chemotherapy to survive a serious brain tumor. Now, he is reported to have beaten the odds with an internal decapitation after a serious car accident as he rode in the bed of a pickup truck.

As reported by Beacon Health System, internal decapitation occurs when the ligaments that attach the skull to the spine become severed. The head remains physically attached to the body, so “decapitation” is a bit of a misnomer, but it is still very serious because it can result in head movements that can lead to damage of the lower brain stem, which is essential to breathing function.

Local news reports of the incident explain that the car accident occurred in January, when the friend driving his pickup truck (because he’d been drinking) encountered a patch of ice, slid a long distance, and then flipped, causing the victim’s head to smash into the truck’s back window. Survival of this type of injury is rare, doctors said, with most either dying instantly or while being transported to the hospital. In this case, the man’s friend held him still on the ground so that he wouldn’t try to stand up before paramedics arrived. The emergency crews then worked very carefully to stabilize him before transporting him to the hospital. A spokesman for the South Bend hospital said this was only the second time they had ever treated a patient with this type of injury.

A missed diagnosis is one of the most common forms of medical mistakes made by doctors and other health care providers, accounting for a substantial number of Indiana medical malpractice lawsuits. One study published in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety revealed that nearly 12 million adults seeking outpatient medical care are misdiagnosed, which works out to about 1 in every 20 adult patients. Roughly half of those have the potential to result in serious harm.

Recently in Indiana, a federal jury awarded $15 million to a woman (and her husband) who claimed a radiologist and imaging center were negligent in failing to identify a tumor for a full 18 months, resulting in a substantial reduction in her survival chances. Following a four-day verdict, jurors in the case of Webster v. CDI Indiana, LLC, before the U.S. District Court Southern District of Indiana Indianapolis Division, jurors found the diagnostic center was liable for the conduct of the doctor who didn’t find the tumor in a CT scan she underwent in late 2014. The tumor was ultimately discovered in 2016 – more than a-year-and-a-half later.

The initial question in these medical malpractice lawsuits isn’t necessarily whether doctors or other health care providers got it wrong or even how severely you were hurt. The issue is whether those actions met or fell short of the applicable standard of care, given provider’s specialty, education, resources and region. Jurors were asked to consider whether a similarly-situated, prudent provider would have responded the same in similar or identical circumstances. Here, jurors determined the doctor’s actions fell below the applicable standard of care, reducing plaintiff’s chance of survival, her options for treatment and inflicting serious physical pain and emotional suffering. Continue reading

Less than two years ago, the Indiana Supreme Court issued two injury law opinions that reshaped the foreseeability criteria courts consider when weighing premises liability lawsuits.

Premises liability is predicated on the legal theory that businesses and/ or property owners have a duty of care to shield invited customers or guests from an unreasonable risk of harm. The element of a “duty of care” is the foundation for any lawsuit alleging negligence, as is the breach of duty and the fact that the breach caused the injury. In premises liability cases in particular, foreseeability of danger is what establishes the duty.

The new test model was outlined in a pair of 2016 rulings – Goodwin v. Yeakle’s Sports Bar & Grills, Inc. and Rogers v. Martin. It’s particularly relevant to those cases stemming from a third-party criminal attack on someone else’s property. In both cases, the state high court established that courts must decide as a matter of law (by the judge) rather than as a matter of fact (by the jury) whether the injury in question was foreseeable by analyzing a broad type of harm and a broad type of plaintiff. This differs substantially from the previous approach, which relied on fact-sensitive inquiries. Those two cases have been cited as precedent-setting in a number of recent Indiana premises liability cases. Continue reading

An Indiana woman suing the manufacturer of a medical device for product liability lost when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled in favor of the device manufacturer because the plaintiff failed to produce expert witness testimony on causation, as required by Indiana law in such claims. 

It was a disappointing outcome, but as Indiana product liability attorneys, we recognize it’s important for attorneys  – and plaintiffs too – to understand what went wrong so that we can formulate a smart strategy moving forward in similar cases. Appellate court opinions on the state and federal levels are especially important to consider because they help us gauge how courts are likely to interpret other cases in the future.

Here, according to court records, the plaintiff’s physician implanted an intrauterine device called ParaGard, made by a company named Teva. About five years after the device was implanted, the plaintiff decided she was dissatisfied with it and asked her physician to remove it. The physician did so by grasping the strings of the IUD with a ring forceps and pulling down. However, in so doing, only a piece of the device was removed. Another piece broke off either prior to or during removal, and it became lodged in her uterus. The only way to remove it, her doctors opine, is for her to undergo a hysterectomy.