Articles Posted in Personal Injury

When a person is injured and suffers injuries because of another’s negligence, state law allows the injured party to file an Indiana personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party. In instances where the injury occurred because of a government employee’s negligence or on government property, injury victims must deal with additional procedural hurdles. The Indiana Tort Claims Act (ITCA), identifies regulations that apply to individuals who seek compensation from the government. Indiana injury victims must submit a notice of the claim to Indiana city and county governments within 180 days from the date of their injury, and within 270 days if the claim is against the state.

Typically, the ITCA, allows injury victims to sue the government if the claim involves injuries from incidents such as medical malpractice from government health care providers, hazardous conditions at government buildings, motor vehicle accidents with government-owned cars, and other damages because of the government’s negligence.

For example, recently, the 7th Circuit issued an opinion stemming from an accident that occurred at a public swimming pond. In that case, a young girl visited a public swimming pond with her family when she ventured to the deep end and drowned. The public swimming pond was cordoned off by zones and monitored by lifeguards. However, despite these precautions, the young girl’s submersion went unnoticed.

A trucker severely injured when his trailer contents fell on him as he opened  the trailer door won a partial legal victory when the Indiana Court of Appeals recently overturned a summary judgment against the trucking company whose employee loaded the trailer.

Munster personal injury attorneys will note that while this was a work-related injury, which presumably would entitle the truck driver to workers’ compensation from his own employer, such third-party lawsuits to cover the full cost of losses is not uncommon in Indiana.

The trial court in this case held that both the engine parts manufacturer whose cargo was stowed in the truck, and the trucking company contracted to facilitate transport, did not owe a duty of care to the over-the-road-truck driver, whose employer was contracted by the trucking company to deliver the materials over longer distances. The state appellate court last month reversed this decision, at least as it pertained to the trucking company that contracted with the driver’s employer.

Indiana businesses may want to take note and review their customer safety and security policies and procedures given a recent appellate court ruling which affirmed a bar owner’s legal duty to be proactive in protecting patrons after a customer was seriously injured in a brawl.

Civil cases like this fall under the umbrella of premises liability. Assuming a person is not trespassing and has a right or invitation to be there (paying customers especially), those who own/control property generally have a duty to exercise reasonable care to shield against known or foreseeable hazards. Whether a property owner can be held liable in these situations varies greatly depending on a host of factors, chief among them whether there is a prior history of dangerous incidents that effectively places the business on notice that more stringent safety measures are needed. The big questions are usually: what constitutes “reasonable” and “foreseeable”, especially when an incident involves a criminal attack by a third-party.

In a recent decision, the main point of contention before the Indiana Court of Appeals was whether the bar owed any duty at all to a patron, given that the fight that resulted in serious injury occurred in the parking lot after closing.

When our Indiana personal injury lawyers first read the headline referencing a “food truck” and an “explosion,” we assumed the latter was a figure of speech intended to punch up a story on the proliferation of the increasingly popular mobile cuisine, which took off around 2007 amid the economic recession. The industry grew 9 percent annually between 2010 and 2015. Unfortunately, the headline was referring to an actual explosion involving a food truck in June 2015 as it was stationed in the parking lot of an auto salvage yard in Indianapolis, where customers – including plaintiff – were being served.

The case history here is extensive, but the crux of the Indiana Court of Appeals’ decision in the defendants’ favor was that plaintiffs failed to prove defendant property owner could have reasonably foreseen the possibility of a food truck blowing up on-site. At first glance, that seems a reasonable position. However, it turns out there have been a number of serious – and even deadly – food truck explosions across the U.S. in recent years.

In June 2014 – a year almost to the day of the Indiana food truck explosion – a propane tank on a food truck in Philadelphia exploded while customers were being served. Local news reports indicated that the force of the blast sent the metal tank 50 feet into a nearby backyard and flames shooting up 200 feet into the air. As a result of that incident, a 42-year-old woman and her 17-year-old daughter who were inside the truck, were killed after suffering major burns across much of their bodies. Three bystanders – including a little girl – also sustained serious burns and others were hit by debris. An investigation later revealed the 70-year-old propane tank was improperly filled, resulting in a gas leak and ultimately the explosion. Continue reading

In a workplace injury lawsuit relevant to future Indiana work injury claims, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that a company responsible for equipment maintenance could not be held liable for a forklift injury resulting from failure to warn an employer about the risk of not installing an alarm. There was no question the forklift wasn’t designed, manufactured or shipped to the original purchaser with a backup alarm. Further, as of the date of the accident (in mid-2013) there was no regulation that required the equipment to have one. Defendant did service the forklift several times prior to an accident (during which the heavy machinery rolled over a worker’s foot). The most recent had been just a few months prior. The technician couldn’t recall if the forklift had a backup alarm, but if it did, he didn’t make note of it in his report.

After the accident, the injured worker’s employer asked another company to install a backup alarm. That company’s technician affirmed there was no alarm already on it.

Although workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy a worker has for an Indiana work injury (same goes for workers in Illinois, where this accident occurred), what is allowed is third-party liability. As Munster work injury attorneys can explain, this means that if a third-party – someone other than an employer or co-worker – was responsible for causing an injury that occurred in the course and scope of  employment, that party can be held liable for negligence. Workers aren’t compensated twice, but a third-party negligence claim may entitle injured workers to collect more than they would otherwise be able to collect from workers’ compensation (which is generally limited to a portion of lost wages and medical bills).

Indiana work injuries have been on the decline in recent decades, with roughly 60 percent fewer non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses reported statewide since 1992. Still, a recent annual report by the Indiana Department of Labor reveals there were still 84,300 reported work injuries in Indiana, with nearly half requiring one or more days away from work or days with job transfer or restriction.

If you are an employee injured at work, your exclusive remedy against your employer is usually workers’ compensation, outlined in IC  22-3-2 through IC 22-2-6, which gives you just 30 days to submit notice to your employer and 2 years in which to formally file a claim for benefits. This assumes, of course, that you are actually an employee and not an independent contractor (a designation on which your employer doesn’t have the last say and which is often legally disputed). It also assumes your injury occurred in the course of and arose out of the scope of your employment. Workers’ compensation is meant to cover all related and reasonable medical expenses, a portion of lost wages, funeral expenses and other benefits, depending on the circumstances. However, securing full benefits to which you are entitled is often a challenge. In some cases, workers may have grounds to pursue a personal injury lawsuit for third-party liability if someone other than an employer or coworker was at-fault. An experienced work injury lawyer in Gary can best help protect your rights following a serious on-the-job injury.

The Indiana Department of Labor reports the most hazardous industries in the state for work injuries include agriculture and forestry, healthcare and social assistance, manufacturing, waste management, transportation and warehousing, arts/recreation/entertainment, accommodation and food service.  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

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.

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