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.

Defendants in a Munster wrongful death lawsuit are asking the Indiana Supreme Court to weigh in on whether a woman who drowned in the pastors’ pool was an independent contractor or an employee of the pastors or the church. The answer to that question matters because under Indiana’s Workers’ Compensation Law, workers’ compensation death benefits would be considered the exclusive remedy for an employee killed in the course and scope of employment. However, independent contractors in Indiana aren’t entitled to workers’ compensation, and they would thus have the right to file a lawsuit against the company. 

As our attorneys can explain, there are some key differences between the two types of cases. On the positive side, with workers’ compensation, one does not need to prove the defendant/employer did anything wrong (i.e., was negligent). It’s a no-fault system, and payments should be made as long as the injury or death arose out of and in the course of one’s employment. However, recipients of death benefits cannot pursue certain types of damages, such as pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment, or loss of consortium. Those damages are available in an Indiana wrongful death case.

Here, the plaintiff (the decedent’s mother) is asserting she was an independent contractor, and therefore the exclusive remedy provision of the law doesn’t apply, so she is free to pursue her claim in state court. The church is arguing she was an employee, and the exclusive remedy rule does apply, so the claim must be weighed by the state’s Workers’ Compensation Board.

Justices for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently issued an opinion in an Indiana slip-and-fall lawsuit filed after a woman suffered an injurious fall at a pharmaceutical chain store. The court was asked to consider whether the lower court correctly granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant. The court affirmed, finding the plaintiff had failed to establish the defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard in question. 

As noted by the 1992 Indiana Court of Appeals ruling in Barsz v. Max Shapiro, Inc., allowing the existence of a hazardous substance on the floor of a business can be a breach of the duty to exercise reasonable care (an essential element in any personal injury lawsuit rooted in the legal theory of negligence). However, before liability can be imposed on the invitor/property owner in such a case, one must first establish the property owner/controller had actual or constructive knowledge of the hazard. Actual knowledge is established if the defendant was informed or knew about that particular hazard existing at that time and location. Another 1992 premises liability ruling by the Indiana Supreme Court, Wal Mart Stores, Inc. v. Blaylock, held that constructive knowledge can be established if the plaintiff can show the condition existed for such a length of time and under such circumstances that it would have been discovered in time to have prevented the injury if the storekeeper, its agents, or its employees had used ordinary care.

In the most recent case, the federal appeals court explained the facts of the case as follows. It was a cold day when the plaintiff arrived at a pharmacy store in Hebron, where a snowplow was just exiting the parking lot. She spent some time in the store and then was walking to the registers when she slipped and fell. She saw nothing on the floor that would have caused her fall. She simply felt her foot make contact with something wet, she slipped, and all her weight landed on her left knee before she fell backward onto her back. She suffered a broken kneecap and back injuries.  Continue reading

The pre-existing obesity and smoking habits of an Indiana pizzeria employee injured at work didn’t prevent the worker’s ability to receive temporary total disability benefits when the employer failed to produce evidence showing the weight problem or other issues impaired his health or required medical intervention prior to the workplace injury.  This was supported by a 2009 ruling by the Indiana Court of Appeals that highlighted a common tactic by employers and workers’ compensation insurers following a workplace accident resulting in injury or illness. It involves turning it all around on the worker, making it seem as if his or her own “poor choices” or habits were in fact the catalyst for the worker’s health problems. It’s an approach designed to eliminate or minimize the insurer’s liability for the worker’s injury – even when there is no question a work accident happened and resulted in injuries.

Injuries are common among restaurant cooks, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are approximately 26,500 restaurant cooks in Indiana, with injuries regularly reported, including:

  • Slips, trips, and falls;
  • Burns;
  • Cuts;
  • Exposure to chemicals;
  • Assault (due to basic lack of security);
  • Ergonomic hazards.

But that list isn’t exhaustive. In this Indiana workers’ compensation case, the claimant was employed as a cook at the defendant restaurant when he was accidentally struck in the back by a freezer door. As a result of this incident, he suffered a lower back injury. The injury was immediately reported, and the cook was sent for medical treatment. At the time of this incident, the 25-year-old plaintiff was six feet tall, weighed about 340 pounds, and smoked roughly 30 cigarettes daily.  Continue reading

Most motorcyclists have a checklist they go through every time they head out. Pre-ride inspections usually involve making sure the bike is generally in good working order, the portable GPS is queued up, and they have all of the proper gear, such as helmets and extra gloves. There is often a double-check of road conditions and weather reports. It typically doesn’t involve a check of the lunar calendar. Maybe it should, since it might affect the chance of an Indiana motorcycle accident.

A new study published in the journal The BMJ (a weekly, peer-reviewed medical journal) concluded fatal crashes are more likely under a full moon. Why might this be?

Police, emergency room workers, and others routinely working night shifts often lament the “full moon madness,” insisting it is a real issue, and every time the moon was full, emergency departments and booking stations would be packed. But there hasn’t been a lot of independent data to back that. A 2011 study published in the World Journal of Surgery found that while 40 percent of staff believed lunar phases affect human behavior, most research found no solid correlation. Continue reading

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.