Articles Posted in Auto Accident

Motorcycle crashes in Indiana and beyond are associated with high levels of injuries and fatalities for both passengers and drivers. There are more than 8 million motorcycles on U.S. roads, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports the proportion of fatalities attributed to motorcycles, as opposed to other passenger vehicles, has increased (with motorcycle deaths occurring 28 times more frequently than passenger car occupant deaths).

Examining ways to prevent Indiana motorcycle accidents – especially the worst of them – is important not just to the public health, but also to the economy. Recently, physician researchers with Indiana University School of Medicine conducted a study revealing some troubling news with regard to a specific danger for which motorcycle passengers are at great risk:  traumatic brain injuries.

The analysis examined three years of data from the National Trauma Bank, with researchers identifying more than 85,000 motorcycle accident trauma patients and separating them into groups of operators and passengers. For both, traumatic brain injuries were the most frequent injury among those who were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash. However, motorcycle passengers had “significantly” higher rates of injury and also lower helmet use compliance. The study is reportedly the first of its kind to examine the benefits of helmet use for motorcycle drivers compared to passengers.

The Indiana Court of Appeals recently affirmed a $9 million verdict – including compensatory and punitive damages – in favor of a motorcycle accident victim who was severely injured after a collision with a pickup truck in Schererville, about 20 to 30 minutes south of Gary, Hammond, and Highland. 

In a unanimous decision, the court decided to affirm the damages award, which was $9.1 million in compensatory damages and $30,000 in punitive damages, for which the defendant pickup truck driver was 100 percent responsible.

The defendant argued on appeal that the trial court abused its discretion in giving an erroneous jury instruction, but the appellate court found no evidence the jury instruction incorrectly stated the law, wasn’t supported by the evidence, or was covered in substance by other instructions. The court also could find no evidence the trial court abused its discretion in allowing the jury instruction, meaning the verdict and the damages award were affirmed.

There were 223,733 car accidents in Indiana in all of 2016, according to the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, of which 769 were fatal and nearly 53,000 involved serious personal injuries. Northern Indiana auto accident lawyers know the immediate aftermath of a crash can be, if nothing else, a bit chaotic and confusing. Obviously, if you are seriously hurt, your No. 1 priority is seeking prompt medical attention. Even if you don’t feel you have suffered major trauma, bear in mind injuries can be exacerbated when they aren’t treated right away.

Beyond that, there are a number of steps crash victims need to take in order to not only preserve their health but also preserve their rights and possible future civil claim. Indiana is a “fault” state when it comes to crashes, meaning you don’t have to recover personal injury protection benefits or meet a serious injury threshold before you can pursue damages against the at-fault driver. (This differs from the regulations in many no-fault auto accident states.)

Following these steps will help ensure you have evidence to substantiate your grounds for damages.

A man who was rendered quadriplegic in an Indiana drunk driving accident several years ago was awarded $35 million by a jury in Marion County recently, according to The Indiana Lawyer. However, the most he would be able to collect, following a finding of 40 percent comparative fault on his part, is $21 million. This sounds like a lot, but it’s only going to be enough to cover his around-the-clock care provided by his parents, doctors, nurses, and home health providers. Furthermore, he still faces a battle over whether the auto insurer will even be compelled to pay, since the defendant insurer in a separate case argues the coverage did not extend to the plaintiff as a passenger of his own vehicle. 

There is a lot to unpack in this case, so let our injury attorneys start with what reportedly happened on the night in question. The two men were reportedly at a bar in Marion County, with the plaintiff’s truck parked outside. That truck was insured by Progressive. The two men consumed alcohol, and it is undisputed that both were impaired when they chose to leave the bar. A bartender at the establishment called a taxi company to give the pair a ride. However, as that taxi driver pulled into the parking lot, the two men opted to drive themselves home, with the plaintiff handing over the keys to his truck to his friend. (Although Indiana Code section 7.1-5-10-15.5, the state’s dram shop law, allows for bars and other establishments to be held liable for drunk driving injuries to third parties, the bartender’s effort to have a taxi driver take them home significantly limited the site’s liability, although it was later deemed five percent at fault.)

The driver crashed before the men reached their destination, rendering the passenger/vehicle owner paralyzed from the neck down. Although the defendant driver had initially argued he was not behind the wheel, security footage at a facility near the crash site proved otherwise, since he was seen exiting the driver seat.

Indiana hit-and-run accidents can prove challenging from a civil litigation standpoint for a myriad of reasons, sometimes even if the driver is found. Contacting an experienced Highland injury lawyer is imperative to maximizing the chances of accountability and compensation. 

A recent Indiana hit-and-run crash resulted in one woman losing her life and a man facing a felony charge. Investigators in Indianapolis told the Indy Star on early Sunday morning that a car accident occurred on 34th Street, where officers responded to the scene to discover a passenger car literally split in two. There was no one in it. But nearby, occupants of a Dodge Neon, a man and woman both age 22, were critically injured. The driver was treated at a local hospital, while the woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officers discovered a man believed to be the driver a short time later. He is believed to have fled the scene on foot, and authorities suspect alcohol was a factor in the crash. He has been arrested on a charge of failure to stop at the scene of an accident involving death, a felony.

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A 2008 National Highway Safety Traffic Safety Survey provided a number of conclusions concerning pre crash factors, including, but not limited to destructed driving, crash ability, road construction and environmental considerations.United States Department of Transportation Causation Survey.pdfAn assessment of the roadway design, environmental conditions, and participant interviews. Among such cases, roads slick with ice and other debris were the most frequent roadway-related critical causes of accidents.

The incredibly bad weather in Northwest and Central Indiana clearly reflects how the current icy and snowy weather and resulting slippery road surfaces have resulted in accident after accident. Perhaps the worst of which took place, January 23 2014, on Interstate 94, and US 421.The collision involved over 40 vehicles, including 15 tractor trailers and at least three fatalities. Whiteout conditions probably played a role making it difficult for truck and automobile drivers to see the road in from of them.

Just days ago, another multiple vehicle crash involving semi-trucks and other vehicles took place on Interstate 65, just outside Lafayette, Indiana. As a result, northbound and southbound. Lanes were closed for hours. Slick roads,winds, snow and fog limited visibility.
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With all of the anti-drunk driving campaigns, residents and visitors may be more likely to be involved in a pedestrian accident blamed on alcohol. While drunk driving campaigns are great in preventing drunk driving accidents, they only increase the risk of drunk walking accidents.According to Associated Press, there were more than 1,500 pedestrians who were legally drunk and the time of their fatal accident in 2011. This means that close to 40 percent of all of the pedestrians killed in 2011 were legally intoxicated. This is a new epidemic and we’re seeing an alarming increase in the risks. It’s a particularly important message as college classes resume.

Our Highland accident lawyers understand that there were nearly 100 pedestrians killed in the state of Indiana in 2011. These accidents accounted for close to 10 percent of all the traffic fatalities recorded during the year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is making prevention a priority. The agency recently announced a new set of tools to help communities fight to problem, allocated roughly $2 million in pedestrian safety grants and launched a new one-stop shop website with resources for community leaders as well as safety tips for residents.

“We all have a reason to support pedestrian safety, and now, everyone has new tools to help make a difference,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The problem here is that alcohol can negatively affect a pedestrian’ judgment too, just as it would a driver’s. It can lead them to make poor decisions while traveling, like trying to beat a vehicle heading down the road, crossing against a traffic light or even crossing in the wrong place. Any one of these wrong decisions (among a multitude of other wrong decisions) can land you in the hospital or leave you for dead.

On average, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic accidents in the United States last year.

But it’s not just the pedestrians that have officials worried. They’re also seeing an increase in the number of intoxicated bicyclists who are injured or killed.

While you may think that walking home after a night of drinking is your safest bet, you might want to think again. Consider getting a cab or calling a friend or family member to come get you. Whatever you do, you want to stay away from moving traffic. It’s a move that could save your life.

Thanks to the AAA DUI Justice Link, that connection can be made. On this site, officials with the NHTSA created a listing of sober/safe ride programs across the country. Save a number in your phone, and you’re sure to have a save and sober ride home every time.
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It’s been nearly 10 years since every state in the U.S. agreed to alter the legal definition of drunk from 0.15 percent blood-alcohol content to 0.08 percent blood-alcohol content.

Now, federal officials are urging another reduction, this time down to 0.05 percent BAC.Our Gary DUI injury lawyers are in full support of this proposal, which was made recently by the National Transportation Safety Board as one of 20 recommendations to reduce the death toll on U.S. highways.

Every year, some 10,000 people are killed in drunk driving crashes. That’s about one-third of the total number of people who die on our nation’s roads.

The board indicated that it has tried other measures in recent years to drive down those rates, but with little success. Other efforts have included bolstering law enforcement initiatives and funneling money into public advocacy and awareness campaigns. And yet, the number of DUI deaths has hovered around 10,000 since 1995. In the last 30 years, we’re talking some 440,000 lives lost.

The board predicts that lowering the legal alcohol limit will save somewhere between 500 and 800 lives each year. The reason it isn’t higher is that the majority of drunk driving deaths are caused by individuals who have BACs that are well above 0.08 percent. This has been a point of contention for opponents of the measure. However, what the opposition is failing to consider is that in addition to the number of lives saved – each of which is precious – we will be also significantly reducing the number of injuries. Not everyone involved in a DUI crash dies. Many survive, but they may suffer lifelong, debilitating injuries that require surgeries, intensive treatments, rehabilitation and medication for chronic pain and other disabilities.

Lowering the threshold is also not an obscene intrusion. First of all, 100 other countries in the world have already adopted the 0.05 percent rate, including most of Europe. Secondly, consider that the average, 180-pound male will usually not hit the 0.08 percent limit until he’s had about four drinks in a little over an hour. By contrast, under the new limit, he would only be able to indulge in two or three. So this argument that someone couldn’t have a glass of wine with dinner simply doesn’t hold water.

Research has shown that the majority of drivers are going to experience a decline in both visual and cognitive functions once their BAC tops 0.05 percent.

It’s also an important measure in light of the recent ruling handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against police with regard to warrantless blood draws in DUI cases. In that case, Missouri v. McNeely, the court found that in order to take a blood sample from a suspected drunk driver, an officer would first have to obtain a warrant from a judge. Because alcohol dissipates quickly from a person’s system, every minute may be valuable to the case. If we are going to bolster the protections for drunk drivers, we should also do the same for their victims.

The NTSB’s recommendations, however, won’t automatically become law. It’s an independent agency that is influential on matters of public safety, but it will require the support of Congress and state legislators to actually implement such a measure.
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With the spring season, we can expect motorcyclists to hit the roads of Northern Indiana. We’re already seeing temps in the high 70s, which serves up some fine motorcycle weather. Unfortunately, the increase in this kind of traffic comes with some serious risks for accidents.Our Highland motorcycle accident attorneys understand that there were close to 3,500 motorcyclists involved in traffic accidents in the state in 2009. More than 110 of those motorcyclists were killed in those accidents. We’re turning to passenger car drivers to help with the safety of these vulnerable travelers.

With help from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, we’re dropping a little knowledge on drivers to help to raise awareness about motorcyclists out there. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation urges drivers of all kinds to give these two-wheeled travelers their space. You don’t want to cause an accident. Injuring or killing a motorcyclist rider is something you would have to live with for the rest of your life — and nobody wants that guilt.

Here are some things you should know about motorcycle riders:

-There are a lot more passenger vehicles, cars and trucks out there. Because of that, some drivers don’t even recognize motorcyclists. It’s important that we don’t ignore these drivers. They might actually need more attention than any other vehicle out there.

-They can easily get lost in your blind spots. This is why you want to make sure that these spots are clear before making a maneuver in traffic. Physically turn and check your blind spots before turning or changing lanes.

-They can look farther away than they actually are. Because they’re so small, it may be tough to judge their distance as well as their speed. If you see a motorcycle at an intersection or anywhere near you, make sure you always predict that it’s closer than it appears to be.

-The brake lights on motorcycles don’t always activate when a motorcycle is slowing down. Many riders slow down by simply downshifting, which doesn’t turn on the brake light. This is why it’s important not to tailgate these drivers.

-Turn signals on motorcycles aren’t always self-canceling. Don’t ignore the turn signal, but you should know that it may not be on and flashing to indicate an immediately turn.

-Motorcycles can’t maneuver out of everything — although maneuverability is one of their best characteristics. Don’t put them in a squeeze.

-Motorcycles can’t stop easily on wet surface. On dry, normal pavement, motorcycles can stop in about the same distance as our passenger cars.

-When a motorcycle is on the move, treat it as any other vehicle. They follow the same road laws — and you should treat them the same. Don’t share lanes with them.

With participation from drivers across the board, we can help to make our roadways a safer place for everyone — and especially for our motorcyclists. With the springtime weather rolling in, check in with your driving habits and toss out those irresponsible ones. It’s like spring cleaning for safety.
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Three people were killed in an early morning crash in Lake County, and rescuers reportedly found the vehicle submerged in a creek off Belshaw Road.Our Lowell car accident lawyers understand that the deceased were identified as a 21-year-old male driver, a 20-year-old female passenger and a 40-year-old male passenger.

While investigators are still looking into how events unfolded, we recognize that Indiana’s numerous bodies of water (18 rivers and four lakes – not including Lake Michigan) create ample opportunity for tragic scenarios such as this to occur. It’s important for drivers and passengers to know what to do in the event of vehicle submersion. Fast, decisive action can often mean the difference between life and death.

In this case, authorities believe the vehicle was moving east on Belshaw when for some reason it left the road as it was rounding a curve. After digging into the grass, the car flew into the air and hit a tree before plunging into the creek and coming to a rest on its roof.

What we don’t know at this point is whether the individuals inside were killed upon impact or whether they drowned. In many submerged vehicle situations, surviving the initial impact is the biggest challenge. That is why is is so important to always, always, always wear your seat belt. There is the mistaken belief that somehow wearing your seat belt is going to mean you’ll be stuck in a vehicle if you land in the water. This is false. What’s more, your ability to be alert and conscious upon impact is going to make all the difference in whether you’ll be able to survive the vehicle’s entry into the water.

If this is a situation in which you ever find yourself, the National Safety Council suggests the following:

  • Brace yourself for the impact. As soon as you realize you are going to go off the road and into the water, put your hands on the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 position. This reduces your risk of injury or unconsciousness from the airbag’s deployment.
  • Do your best to stay calm. Panic consumes energy and air – neither of which you can afford to lose right now.
  • Unbuckle your seat belt. People often forget to do this, but it’s the very first thing you need to take care of.
  • Unbuckle the children, starting with the oldest, who may be able to help with the others.
  • Forget your cell phone. People have lost their lives trying to dial 911 in a sinking car.
  • Open the window. Forget the door. An electric window should still work for up to three minutes in the water.
  • If you can’t get the window open manually, your focus needs to be on breaking it, either with an object or your foot.
  • Once the window is open, grab the children, take a deep breath and swim out and up.

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