Questions to Ask An Indianapolis Accident Lawyer?

Questions to Ask An Indianapolis Accident Lawyer?

 

An accident lawyer deals with many issues, from personal accidents to workplace accidents. Therefore, you must get the right lawyer if you want to be successful with your claim. So, what questions should you ask an Indianapolis car accident lawyer to verify that the lawyer is competent enough for your case? There may be a few that come to mind, but there may also be some you haven’t thought about before you decide if you should hire an Indianapolis car accident lawyer.

Choosing an Accident Lawyer

There are plenty of lawyers to choose from and they all have their areas of expertise. In order to choose one that meets your needs and can help reach your case goals, you should ask the following questions:

Sign of Abuse: Unexplained Injuries

 

  1. How long have they been practicing accident law? Ask how long they have been dealing with cases similar to yours in the state of Indiana. Most states have different laws and it will be beneficial if the lawyer has a broad knowledge of the law to defend you effectively. It would also help to have a lawyer who can argue your case correctly in front of the judge. Therefore, they should have all the facts and laws at their fingertips.
  2. What are the chances of you winning the case? By presenting all the facts, your accident lawyer can gauge your chances of winning your case. They will also advise you on what you can do to increase your chances of getting a win when you get to court. Be sure that the lawyer has enough courtroom experience so that you can be confident they will argue your case well. A lawyer who has experience with Indianapolis courts is more optimistic because they know how to deal with any issue that may come up.

Do You Need an Accident Attorney?

How Much Does It Cost To Hire An Indianapolis Attorney?

Another important thing to consider when selecting a car accident attorney is the cost and how they expect payment.

  1. What are their fees? You should know how much they will charge you for defending you in court. Some lawyers may agree to defend you and let you pay in installments, while others require payment upfront. You should know how much the case will cost you and how you will pay the lawyer after your case has gone to court, whether you win or lose.
  2. What will happen if you do not win the case? When you go before a judge with a car accident case, there are occasions when there is not enough evidence to win. It’s important to know what will happen if you do not win your case in terms of payment. Will you still need to pay the lawyer or will you simply forfeit any money you paid upfront, etc.? Having a clear understanding of this before you start your case will avoid any unexpected surprises if your case does not turn out the way you expect.

An Accident Lawyer Should Help You Win

Lastly, the lawyer you hire should have your best interests and goals in mind. So, what are the lawyer’s goals for your case? Every lawyer starts a case with a particular goal. It might be financial or, in some cases, to seek justice. If you lost wages because of an accident, the lawyer can add it to your claim and compensate you for any injuries or other hardships. The lawyer should be able to explain the goals they have for your case so you can help prepare. They should also have enough details and facts about your case so they can defend you effectively according to the laws of Indiana.

Buckle up, Indiana! Click It or Ticket Raises Seat Belt Awareness

Wearing a seat belt not only protects drivers and passengers, this Indiana law saves Hoosier lives.

click it or ticket

Police are out in increased numbers to enforce Indiana’s mandatory seat belt laws. Participating in the national Click It or Ticket campaign, Indiana law enforcement is working overtime, giving citations to drivers who fail to wear seat belts while driving or riding in vehicles.

The overtime pay for officers is covered by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Over 230 law enforcement agencies in Indiana participate in the annual campaign, patrolling day and night to bring awareness of seat belt safety to drivers and passengers, both in front seats and in the back.

Seat Belts Save Hoosiers

Seat belts protect drivers and passengers, even in non-serious crashes. “These are crashes that, when you look at the vehicle, you think someone maybe got a little banged up, and then you find out they were killed because they got ejected,” Indiana State Police Captain Dave Bursten tells local Indianapolis radio station WIBC. “No one plans on being in a crash. But crashes happen. And once the crash happens, you can’t freeze-frame and put your seat belt on to protect yourself. You do that by putting it on as soon as you get in the car before you pull out to drive.”

Seat Belts Decrease the Likelihood of Death

Drivers of cars and SUVs who are unrestrained by seat belts are 10 times more likely to die in a crash than those wearing a seat belt. The number rises to 14 times more likely for drivers of pick-up trucks and 15 times more likely for drivers of vans.

Lt. Jefferey Paine of the Indiana State Police tells local Indianapolis news station WTHR, “It is absolutely heartbreaking to see the aftermath of a crash where a fatality could have been prevented by wearing a seat belt. Click It or Ticket is more than an enforcement campaign, it is an educational effort to increase seat belt use and decrease fatal crashes.”

Younger Male Drivers More At Risk

Male drivers aged 15 to 44, especially those under 25, are most likely to not be wearing a seatbelt at the time of a crash, according to State Police. Injury rates for unrestrained drivers and passengers are also higher:

  • in rural counties
  • when a driver is speeding or impaired
  • on weekend nights between the hours of 11:00 pm and 4:00 am

In fact, Indiana motorists are more likely to suffer property damage, injuries or death from a traffic accident than to experience a burglary, to be the victim of a violent crime or to be murdered.

seatbelt statistics

Click It or Ticket Through the Years

Prior to 1980, seat belt usage in the United States averages about 11%. In 1980, small campaigns to increase seat belt usage begin to pop up. Individual organizations, public education programs, incentives and policy changes work to change perceptions. However, without any actual laws on the books, these efforts only make a slight difference. By 1984, seat belt usage only climbs four percentage points.

New York becomes the first state to enact mandatory seat belt laws in 1984 and by 1990 an additional 37 states have seat belt laws on the books. At the time, most of these states have “secondary seat belt laws,” meaning an officer would first have to have pulled over a vehicle for another violation before citing the lack of seat belt use. Even so, the national rate of seat belt usage climbs from 15% to 50%.

The Click It or Ticket campaign begins as a statewide effort in 1993 when North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt launches it in conjunction with a “primary enforcement safety belt law,” which allows officers to issue seat belt citations without first observing another offense. Other states follow and in 2002 the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration starts the first national campaign.

Enforcing for Safety

The campaign has been deemed a success by its backers. The U.S. Department of Transportation releases a statement in May 2003, “National belt use among young men and women ages 16-24 moved from 65% to 72%, and 73% to 80% respectively, while belt use in the overall population increased from 75% to 79%.”

In 2018, the 230 agencies involved with enforcing the Click It or Ticket campaign in Indiana put in nearly 29,000 hours of overtime to crack down on seat belt violations and write 32,000 citations and warnings.

Make Sure You are Properly Buckled

Indiana State Police provides reminders on how to properly “buckle up”:

  • Secure the lap belt across your hips and pelvis, below your stomach.
  • Place the shoulder belt across the middle of your chest and rib cage, away from your neck.
  • Never put the shoulder belt behind your back or under an arm.
  • If your seat belt doesn’t fit you, or you have an older car with lap belts only, ask your dealer or vehicle manufacturer about seat-belt adjusters, extenders or retrofits.

Senior Trooper Nick Klinghammer of the Indiana State Police tells local Indianapolis station RTV6, “Most times you’re involved in a crash, it’s within five to10 miles of your house, so hopefully we prevented something here. If you don’t click it, you’ll get a ticket.”

Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys

If you have been involved with a seat belt violation, talk to the professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group today. We are experts in auto accident law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.

More Indianapolis Drivers Leaving the Scene of Auto Accidents

Karpe Litigation Group

In 2007, four hit and run auto accidents claim a person’s life in Marion County. By 2016, that number jumps to 20 – and continues to rise.

personal injury attorney

On a Friday night in May 2019, a man is killed on the near west side of Indianapolis. According to Indianapolis Metro Police, a dark-colored passenger car slams into his Ford F-150 while he is likely lying underneath, working on the pickup outside of his home on West Michigan Avenue.

The driver of the car takes off on foot and the man, unidentified and transported to Eskenazi Hospital in critical condition, is pronounced dead on arrival. Neighbors express surprise that someone would be working underneath a vehicle on this very busy road, particularly after dark.

Hit and run auto accidents such as this are not only tragic, they are all too common – especially here in Indianapolis where reports of drivers leaving the scene of auto accidents continue to rise.

More Hit and Run Investigations

Three Injured on the Near East Side. Fox 59 reports in April 2019 on a hit and run accident that causes serious bodily injury to three unnamed adults. The incident involves three vehicles and occurs around 3:40 A.M. at E. 38th Street and Arquette Drive. Police are still searching for the suspect, who was driving a green 2001 Chevrolet Silverado, according to witnesses at the scene.

11-Year-Old Girl Injured. An accident on the eastside of Indianapolis leaves police searching for the driver, according to RTV6. Rickonna Dixson and her 11-year-old daughter are waiting on East Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive to turn into the Kroger at the Twin Aire Shopping Center. Rickonna recalls looking in her rearview mirror and seeing a truck she thinks is moving too fast. When that truck slams into her, the impact is so hard it pushes her into oncoming traffic where she is struck by a van.

“When we were hit, all I could think about was my daughter in the back seat,” Rickonna says. “It’s a miracle, really a miracle, that my daughter made it. She has half of her ear missing. My car is totaled.” Police are still looking for the driver of the 1997 black Dodge Ram that hits them.

Leaving the Scene of An Indianapolis Auto Accident Costs More

A Fox 59 investigation finds a sharp increase in the number of hit and run car accidents after analyzing crash reports obtained from the Indianapolis Metro Police Department (IMPD). “In 2016, there were 5,049 hit and runs reported to IMPD; 543 of them involved injuries. The next year, that number jumped to 5,539 hit and run reports. The number of injuries jumped as well, to 594. By October of 2018, IMPD had already written up 4,236 hit and run reports with 398 of those reports involving injuries.”

In the face of more hit and run accidents than ever, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb recently signed a bill into law creating more serious penalties for drivers who leave the scene of a crash. Now, a hit and run that results in a fatality is considered to be a Level 5 felony. Before, drivers thought they would see more leniency in sentencing after leaving the scene. Today, the law clearly states that running will result in a more serious punishment.

14 Hit-and-Run Accidents a Day in Marion County? The Number Is Rising

Analyzing data records for Marion County, a noticeable spike in the total number of hit-and-run incidents is revealed. In 2007 there were a total of 5,315 hit and run accidents reported, and that number stays pretty consistent for the next seven years.

The total number jumped in 2015 to 6,016, then 7,603 in 2016 and 7,038 in 2017. That’s a 117% increase in the total number of accidents from 2014-2015 and a 126% increase from 2015-2016.

Even in the year with the lowest number of incidents (4,908 in 2011), there is still an average of 14 hit and run accidents per day. And that number appears to be on the rise.

indianapolis car accident

Reasons Drivers Leave the Scene of An Auto Accident

Why would someone leave the scene of an accident? After all, it’s unlawful and irresponsible, not to mention inhumane. The most common reasons include:

  • The driver has legal problems unrelated to the crash and does not want to have to deal with the police when they come to investigate
  • There is a warrant for the driver’s arrest
  • The driver is drunk or high
  • The driver does not have a driver’s license
  • The driver does not have current auto insurance
  • The driver is experiencing an emergency
  • Simple fear or panic

Hit-and-Runs Resulting in Injury

Fortunately, most hit and run accidents do not cause personal injury. There can still be great cost associated with a hit and run, including property damage and emotional distress. Even just focusing on the number of accidents with injury, the number is rising along with the number of total accidents.

For instance, in 2007 there were 624 hit and run accidents resulting in injury. The numbers hover around that until 2016, when they jump to 801. Then, in 2017, the number drops back slightly to 741. There was a 116% increase from 2014 to 2015 and a 129% increase from 2015 to 2016.

Hit-and-Runs Resulting in Death

The most shocking jump in numbers when analyzing the Marion County data is the number of hit and run accidents resulting in death. In 2007, only four hit-and-run auto accidents claimed a person’s life. By 2014 that number jumped to 14 and then jumped to 20 in both 2015 and 2016. In fact, of the 120 fatal hit and run accidents over the past 11 years, nearly half (45.83%) occurred in the last three years.

At Karpe Litigation, we’re all too familiar with the pain and suffering that can be caused by a hit and run auto accident. If you should ever find yourself in a situation where you have caused an accident, make sure to remain on the scene.

Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys

If you are a victim of a hit and run auto accident, talk to the professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group today. We are experts in auto accident law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.

The Truth About Slip and Fall Injury Cases

Karpe Litigation Group

Slips and falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims for people aged 55 years and older.

personal injury cases

Recently in Woodbridge, New Jersey, Alexander Goldinsky, a 57-year-old independent contractor, enters an otherwise empty break room in a building where he is working. He takes ice and spreads it all over the floor, then sprawls himself on the iced surface and waits … until someone discovers him on the floor. Later, he files an insurance claim to cover ambulance services and treatment he receives for injuries he says he sustained during the fall.

Luckily, video surveillance records Mr. Goldinsky faking his slip and fall, prompting local law enforcement officials to arrest him in January 2019 and charged with one count of insurance fraud in the third degree and one count of theft by deception in the third degree for fraudulently filing an insurance claim. Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey says in a statement, “Fraudulent claims cost everyone and we will aggressively prosecute those who illegally manipulate the system.”

Unfortunately, not all slip and fall cases are as cut-and-dry as Mr. Goldinsky’s case. The truth about slips and falls? They are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims as well as occupational injury for people aged 55 years and older, according to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI). Slips and falls are also the reason for the largest number of lost work days.

Factors That Constitute a Slip and Fall Injury Case

While Mr. Goldinsky clearly tries a scam to collect insurance money, many legitimate cases of slip and fall injury do occur. NFSI statistics show slips and falls account for over 1 million of the more than 8 million emergency room visits each year where falls are the cause.

A “slip and fall case” is a type of personal injury lawsuit where a person slips and falls on another person’s property. A wider definition of this is a “premises liability claim” where the owner of the property is liable for the injury due to the expectation that they maintain a reasonably safe environment.

Premises Liability in Indiana

Any personal injury sustained on someone else’s property constitutes a premises liability. Property owners are expected to protect against unreasonable harm. The extent of this liability depends on person who is injured:

  1. People who are invited guests, such as store patrons
  2. A trespasser who is not invited
  3. A licensee, who has permission to be there, but is there for their own reasons

lost work days

Examples of Premises Liability

According to the law, an individual may be injured on someone else’s property in a number of ways, constituting a premises liability. Some examples include:

  • Injuries on a construction site, particularly when the injured parties are not workers
  • Falling trees and the injuries they cause
  • Lack of security, including lights and cameras, that results in an assault from a third party
  • Drownings in pools
  • Injuries as a result of things falling from shelves
  • Slip and fall injuries caused by standing water, ice or snow
  • Slip and fall injuries caused by uneven ground or flooring and poor building upkeep
  • Injuries due to defective staircases or decks
  • Hidden extension cords or high door thresholds and the injuries they cause

The Legal Results of Slip and Fall Injury Cases

What would motivate Mr. Goldinsky to pull such a scam in that break room? Slip and fall injuries have the potential for huge compensation when such cases go to trial. A case in Honolulu awarded Ernie Verdugo $2 million in general damages and another $144,000 for special damages after Mr. Verdugo slips and falls in the Mai Tai bar. The exit path was blocked by a crowd of people and the tile floor in the bar was covered with beer. Another case in Colorado awarded a trucker $10 million for injuries sustained in a Walmart involving a grease spill (big box retail stores tend to have higher settlements because their insurance coverage gives them the means to pay what the case is worth.)

If you are injured in a slip and fall incident, you may be entitled to sue for damages that include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Permanent disability and loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering

The Importance of Notice in a Slip and Fall Case

If you are injured in a slip and fall case, it will be important for you to understand “notice.” It is up to you, as the injured party, and your attorney to prove that some kind of duty, or notice, was owed to the injured party.

You must also establish that the owner of the property knew, or should have known, about the dangerous situation that resulted in the injury. A judge may make his decision on whether or not to hear the case based solely on this notice. For this reason, it is important to take certain steps if you are involved in a slip and fall injury.

For instance, in the case of Austin v. Walgreen Co, Northwestern Indiana resident Robin Austin failed to prove that her local Walgreens Pharmacy had “actual or constructive knowledge” of the wet floors that led to Ms. Austin breaking her knee. This decision was held up in a court of appeals.

The Steps to Take in a Slip and Fall Case

In the event that you are in a slip and fall incident that leads to injury, there are important steps you should take.

  • First and foremost, seek medical attention if you are injured. Putting off medical attention can make the injury worse.
  • Document the pertinent information surrounding the event. Take photos and write down all information before too much time passes.
  • Collect contact information from any witnesses and make notes about the condition of the environment at the moment of the accident. Pay special attention to what is on the floor, the level of lighting and any other factor that may have contributed to your fall.
  • Get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney

A slip and fall injury can be devastating for the injured, incurring medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional trauma. If your injury is the result of a property owner’s negligence, you need to be compensated appropriately.

Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys

If you believe your slip and fall injury is the liability of the property owner, talk to the professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group today. We are experts in police misconduct and civil liberties law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.

What Indiana is Doing to Lower Percentage of Uninsured Drivers

Ranking eighth among states with the highest percentage of uninsured motorists, Indiana institutes “no pay, no play” laws that discourage driving with no insurance by penalizing repeat offenders.

As the average number of uninsured motorists (UM) continues to increase across America, many state governments remain concerned about the percentage of uninsured drivers in their own states – including Indiana. Many are implementing measures to help lower the averages, after studies reveal the cost to insured drivers has climbed 75% over the past 10 years.

According to InsuranceJournal.com, insured drivers or their insurance companies must pay for physical damages and health costs from an accident when an uninsured driver is at fault. What’s more, if the driver is under-insured, their policy limits may not be high enough to cover all costs.

With approximately 32 million uninsured drivers on the road (about 13% of all drivers nationwide still do not carry insurance), states like Indiana have implemented random insurance verification checks and no pay, no play laws that limit the ability of uninsured drivers to seek compensation in the event of an accident. The most current data from the Insurance Information Institute finds Indiana ranks eight among states with the highest percentage of uninsured motorists, increasing to 16.7% from 16.0% in 2009. For comparison, Maine -which ranks 51- is one of 24 states that requires drivers to have uninsured motorist insurance. Maine also has one of the highest bodily injury liability insurance requirements of any state, at $50,000 per person.

How Fault Works in Indiana 

There’s no denying that car accidents can be expensive. The damage to your car means you will need to repair it or replace it. These things take time and you will most likely have to rent a car in order to get to work. If your injuries are extensive, you may end up missing work or be unable to return to work altogether. There are costs involved in medical treatment, follow-up therapy, medical equipment and prescription medications.

For these reasons, it is important to have insurance. Indiana law requires drivers to demonstrate “financial responsibility” in order to operate a vehicle. In most cases, this boils down to Hoosiers purchasing car insurance.

When looking at financial responsibility and recovery, it is important to consider how fault works in Indiana. Indiana employs a “comparative fault” standard for personal injury cases.  Payment of an auto accident claimant’s total monetary damages is reduced by the percentage a jury finds the claimant at fault.  Further, Indiana automobile accident claimants will not be compensated from the other driver’s insurance unless the other driver was at least 51% at fault.

uninsured indiana drivers

The Complexities of No Pay, No Play Statues in Indiana 

Chapters 27-7-5.11 and 34-30-29.2 of the Indiana Code are commonly referred to collectively as the “no pay, no play” statutes. Under these laws, insurance companies can avoid paying non-economic damages to a repeat uninsured motorist in the case of an accident. The law is aimed at individuals with a history of driving with no insurance rather than first-time offenders.  If the claimant had no insurance at the time of the accident, and a previous citation for not having auto insurance in the previous 5 years, the limitations of this statute apply.

The various types of non-economic damages that insurance companies can avoid paying include:

  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering
  • Physical impairment
  • Emotional distress
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Loss of companionship, services, and consortium
  • Any other non-pecuniary loss proximately caused by the accident

Uninsured drivers are still able to recover economic damages including medical expenses, costs of treatment and rehabilitation, lost wages, loss of economic or educational potential, loss of productivity and other pecuniary losses resulting from the accident.

Indiana’s “No Pay, No Play” laws have many nuances and can have a wide variety of effects for drivers involved in an accident. Insurance companies work hard to stay on top of regulations so they can minimize the amount of compensation they have to pay.

Other states that currently have no pay, no play insurance laws include Alaska, California, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota and Oregon. In most cases the no pay, no play laws allow uninsured drivers to sue for economic damages, such as medical bills and vehicle repairs, but limit the ability of suing for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. While these laws are meant to discourage driving without insurance, the states that have no pay, no play laws actually have a higher percentage of uninsured drivers, with 13.2% compared to 12% average for states without these laws.

Other Measure to Discourage Uninsured Drivers

In a number of states, Insurance Verification Systems have been enacted. Insurers are required to report to the state transportation authority when an auto insurance policy lapses or is cancelled. This allows the government to have a database of currently insured vehicles and gives law enforcement the ability to identify uninsured drivers. The states that currently have verification systems are Georgia, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Ohio, Texas and Wyoming.

The state of Ohio has implemented a random selection program where a certain number of drivers are selected each week at random and are required to provide proof of insurance. Any driver who fails to provide proof of insurance in a given timeframe receives a random selection suspension of driving privileges.

Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys

If you or a loved one is injured or killed in an auto accident involving an uninsured driver, contact the professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group today. We are experts in injury law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.

Drive Smart and Avoid Nasty Car Accidents

Indiana drivers are more distracted than ever, and we’re not alone. Learn defensive driving strategies you can use every time you’re behind the wheel and avoid an accident on the road.

safe driving tips

When driving your car on the roads and highways of Indiana, alone or with passengers, driving safety should be your top concern. It’s not only crucial that you know the basics of safe driving, you must practice them every time you’re behind the wheel, if you hope to prevent or avoid an accident like this one that occurred recently on I-70. Distracted driving is at least partly to blame for this multi-vehicle accident involving at least seven cars, semi-trailers and trucks, closing the highway and leaving two people dead.

When it comes to the worst states for distracted driving, Indiana ranks 31, with a distracted driving fatality rate of 1.08. That’s one too many per year for Indiana lawmakers, who are considering a new bill that makes holding a cellphone or any other electronic communications device in your hands while driving illegal. Laws are one way to help drive smart when you’re on the road; safe steps to drive by are another.

10 Safe Driving Behaviors to Stop Preventable Auto Accidents Before They Happen

Defensive Driving – As a defense driver, you assume other drivers might make mistakes. You are on guard in the event that other drivers make errors and watch ahead for advance warning of any hazards on the road. By watching ahead, you have enough time to avoid potential accidents.

You also learn to anticipate hazards by scanning frequently in front of traffic, as well as the side and back around the car, and adjust speed or direction to react safely to any situation. It is recommended that drivers scan ahead to where they will be in 10 to 12 seconds. For highway driving, keep your car positioned far enough from other vehicles to have enough time to successfully avoid them, if they suddenly swerve into your path. 

Right of Way – In general, the vehicle that arrives last must give right-of-way to other vehicles. Drivers should give right-of-way when entering traffic, when turning left in front of approaching traffic and when changing lanes. You should only move in your intended path or direction after assuring that you will not conflict with other traffic. Drivers should assume that other drivers will not see you when you maneuver into their path.

When pulling into traffic, proceed slowly, look and listen. Be aware of any blind spots, such as those in rearview mirrors and behind windshield pillars or highway road signs. Vehicles can seemingly appear out of nowhere so caution is the key to yielding the right-of-way.

Start-up and Back-up – When a car has been parked long enough, pedestrians and other vehicles may be resting within a few feet. Starting up forward, backward or to the right or left creates a potentially hazardous situation. Before starting the car, you should walk around the car and look underneath to make sure there is the right clearance.

After checking around your car, it is important to start up quickly before other vehicles or pedestrians approach. Start moving slowly at first to allow any vehicles or pedestrians who may have unexpectedly approached to safely move away.

Negotiating Curves – When negotiating curves at an excessive speed, cars can lose traction and slide off the road. Commercial trailers or other top-heavy vehicles risk rolling over. It is important to reduce speed before entering a curve in order to have enough time to correct direction and maintain control of the vehicle. Keep side wheels off the shoulder of the road. Side wheels may drop or sink in the shoulder, increasing the chances of an accident.

Passing – Safe passing maneuvers require well-developed skills. Drivers must make many critical decisions in a short amount of time. The steps to pass another vehicle successfully include checking sight distance ahead and mirrors for rear traffic and traffic passing you; estimating speed and position of approaching vehicles and the time needed to safely pass; accelerating, steering and checking for traffic entering on side roads. Safe drivers consider all steps quickly to prevent an accident. Safetyinfo.com recommends:

  1. Before you pass, check to be certain no one is passing you.
  2. Assume the driver in front of you doesn’t know you are passing. That driver may pull to the left to pass a vehicle in front or make a left turn.
  3. While you are passing, watch carefully for vehicles that may be entering the roadway from side roads or driveways.
  4. Assume vehicles approaching from the opposite direction will not see you or slow down for you to complete your passing maneuver.
  5. Watch out for vehicles passing other vehicles from the opposite direction.
  6. If the vehicle you are trying to pass speeds up, let it go. Don’t get in to a dangerous race.
  7. Don’t take risks. If in doubt, don’t pass.
  8. Signal your intentions to pass.

Crossing Intersections – It is probably not a surprise that a majority of car accidents happen in intersections. Vehicles coming from different directions into an overlapping space creates a reason for safe driving habits to kick in and anticipate a hazardous situation.

Count to three before entering an intersection on a green light. Look both ways to make sure other vehicles are not trying to race through a yellow light. Exercise caution when passing semi-trailers because long trucks have a considerable blind spot on their right side. If you cannot see a truck’s side mirrors, it’s unlikely that the driver can see you.

safe driving behaviors

Using and Changing Lanes – Lane use and lane changing accidents usually involve sideswiping and rear-end collisions. These are usually the result of following too closely or being inattentive of the traffic conditions ahead. Defensive driving is the best countermeasure for lane changing accidents.

Observing safe following distance and staying aware of blind spots -especially with large commercial trailers- is the best way to avoid lane changing hazards. If you cannot see ahead of the vehicle you are following, increase your following distance.

Parking – Parking on a travel lane creates a potential hazard. While in metropolitan areas drivers expect cars parked on or partially on a travel lane, drivers on rural or high-speed areas do not anticipate vehicles parked in their lane. Attention levels may be lower and there might not be enough time to react. You should try not to park in travel lanes, even partially, in order to avoid accidents. If you need to park on the shoulder of the road, always put on flashers, day or night.

Driving in Adverse Conditions – The two biggest factors causing accidents in adverse conditions are reduced traction and reduced visibility. Reduced traction conditions include rain, snow, ice, slush and gravel on roads. Reduced visibility conditions include twilight, darkness, rain, snow and fog.

To drive safely in adverse conditions, you should develop skills in compensating with speed and control of your vehicle. In addition, you should be prepared to compensate for other drivers who may not have the skills to deal with adverse conditions.

Pedestrian Interaction – Most pedestrian accidents occur when a person walks into a roadway because they misjudge how fast a vehicle is coming, they don’t see a vehicle coming or because they assume the vehicle sees them and will slow down or stop. You should be constantly aware of the potential errors a pedestrian might make and compensate accordingly.

Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys

The safest, most defensive drivers in Indiana can still find themselves involved or injured in a car accident. The professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group are experts in injury law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.

Safe Accident-Free Driving Means Driving Without Distractions

Every day in the United States, nine people are killed and 100 injured in accidents where the reported cause is distracted driving. To help raise awareness of this widespread danger on America’s roadways, government agencies have designated April as National Distracted Awareness Month.

dangerous drivers

What Defines Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving encompasses a variety of behaviors that generally fall into three main types:

  • Visual – the driver takes their eyes off the road.
  • Manual – the driver takes their hands off the wheel.
  • Cognitive – the driver takes their mind off of driving.

Distracted driving can also be a combination of two or all three of these types. For example:

Texting – Incidents involving texting while driving are on the rise in the United States, despite efforts to raise public awareness of the issue. Taking your eyes off the road for just the few seconds it can take to look at a text is enough time to cause an accident. Obviously, the time it takes to type and send a text while driving is an even greater hazard. Taking your eyes off the road for just five seconds is enough time to travel the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour – without you even seeing where you’re going.

Talking on Phones – Along with texting, talking on cell phones is another area where the explosion of mobile technology is contributing to the rise of distracted driving. While hands-free models make it possible for drivers to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel, talking on phones still present a cognitive distraction, causing drivers take their minds off of driving.

Music – Playing music too loudly inhibits a driver’s ability to hear and respond to emergency vehicles and other audio cues that alert them to danger. This doesn’t mean you must drive a vehicle in silence. Keeping music at a volume where you can still hear sirens and respond accordingly can make the difference between reacting to a hazardous situation or causing one.

Passengers – When other people are in your car for the ride, it can place major demands on your attention. Turning to look at passengers when speaking to them takes your eyes off the road.

Eating – Eating and drinking any beverage while driving requires a person to take their hands off the wheel. This activity creates a dangerous situation because the driver is not fully in control of the vehicle.

Navigation Systems – Modern maps and GPS systems are very useful for drivers. However, the mapping information should be entered into the device or application before the car is in motion, rather than while driving is in progress.

Lost in Thought – The greatest percentage of distracted driving incidents resulting in death are caused by drivers who report they were “lost in thought” when the accident occurred. Drivers should remain aware of their actions, as well as the actions of other vehicles and pedestrians, at all times.

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What National Distracted Driving Awareness Month Does

To raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) designates April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Safety Council. Law enforcement officers nationwide are mobilized to look out for distracted driving behaviors, such as texting and talking on cell phones. The NHTSA partners with States and local police to enforce distracted driving laws, leading the fight to keep us safe.

The NHTSA and the National Safety Council mount awareness campaigns and public service announcements to help make drivers aware that safe driving means driving without distractions. They maintain a presence on social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter), sharing stories and driving tips to help save lives.

The key to the NHTSA’s efforts to educate the public on distracted driving and other risky driving efforts is their partnership with state and local police. The States determine various laws regarding driving safety that vary from State to State and the NHTSA provides Federal investments in locally-driven awareness campaigns and provides information for drivers to learn about the laws in their State.

The biggest NHTSA campaign is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month that occurs every April. During this time the NHTSA pairs nationally broadcast advertising with a locally driven crackdown called U text. U drive. U pay.

Join the Effort

Everyone can get involved in the fight against distracted driving and the effort to save lives. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states, “To prevent tragedies due to distracted driving, motorists are urged to:

  • Turn off electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting to drive.
  • Be good role models for young drivers and set a good example. Talk with your teens about responsible driving.
  • Speak up when you are a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to make the call for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the driving task.
  • Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are the best defense against unsafe drivers.”

Teens: Teen drivers are the best messengers when it comes to ending distracted driving. Teens are encouraged to speak up to their friends when they see distracted driving, to have their friends sign contracts saying they will not drive distracted and to get involved in their local chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). Formerly Students Against Driving Drunk, the organization encourages students to avoid making potentially destructive decisions to prevent driving accidents. Teens can share on social media to remind their friends and family about the dangers of distracted driving.

Parents: The best way for parents to contribute to teens developing safe driving behaviors is to lead by example. Parents should never exhibit distracted driving. Have everyone in the family sign a pledge to commit to distraction-free driving. Remind your teens if state laws dictate, distracted driving could lead to a delayed or suspended license.

Educators and Employers: Spread the word at your school and place of business about the importance of distraction-free driving. Ask your students to commit to distraction-free driving or set a company policy. Encourage employees to exhibit distraction-free driving at all times as a good example to fellow drivers and young people.

The National Safety Council provides materials for promoting National Distracted Driver Awareness Month, including free posters, videos, fact sheets and more to share at your school or business.

Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys

If you or someone you love has been harmed by a distracted driver, speak with the professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group today. We are experts in injury law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.

What to Do If You Sustain Spinal Cord Injury in a Car Accident

Karpe Litigation Group

Spinal cord injuries resulting from a car accident can affect every part of the body, causing permanent damage or paralysis and impeding the ability to perform daily activities.

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Every year, 17,500 Americans sustain injuries to their spinal cords. These can be the result of a sports injury, a bad fall or another type of injury, and it is often due to a car accident. Injuries to the spinal cord can result in the loss of function of arms, hands, shoulders, trunk or legs. The location of the injury on the spine determines the level of weakness or paralysis. The four groups of vertebrae in the spine each relate to specific body functions.

Car Accidents Can Cause 4 Types of Spinal Cord Injuries

1. Cervical Spinal Cord Injury C1-C8

The cervical area of the spinal cord controls signals to the back of the head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands and diaphragm. Cervical level injuries cause weakness or paralysis to both arms and legs, leading to quadriplegia (also known as tetraplegia). The cervical area of the spine is divided into high-cervical nerves (C1-C4) and low-cervical nerves (C5-C8). According to spinalinjury101.com, the specific levels of injury include:

High-Cervical Nerves (C1-C4)

  • Most severe of the spinal cord injury levels, causing paralysis in hands, arms, trunk and legs
  • Quadriplegia, also known as tetraplegia, occurs when arms and legs are affected
  • Patients may not be able to breathe on their own, cough or control bladder and bowel functions
  • Patients’ ability to speak is reduced or impaired
  • Patients require complete care for daily activities such as bathing, dressing and eating
  • Patients can achieve possible movement on their own using specially designed wheelchairs
  • Patients will not be able to drive a car

Low-Cervical Nerves (C5-C8)

  • These cervical nerves control arms and hands
  • Patients may be able to speak normally and breathe on their own
  • C5 injury
    • Patients can raise their arms and bend their elbows
    • Most likely will have total paralysis wrists, hands, trunk and legs
    • Are able to speak and breathe but most likely will be weakened
    • Need assistance with daily activities but are able to move independently with specialized wheelchairs
  • C6 injury
    • Nerves affect wrist extension
    • Patients have paralysis in hands, trunk and legs
    • May have the ability to bend wrists back
    • Can speak and breathe on their own, but with a weakened ability
    • Can move in and out of bed with assistive equipment
    • May be able to drive an adapted vehicle
    • Most likely do not have voluntary control over bladder and bowel
  • C7 injury
    • Nerves control extension of the elbow and some extension of fingers
    • Patients can straighten arms and have control of shoulders
    • Have the ability to do most daily tasks
    • May have the ability to drive an adapted vehicle
    • Little or no control over bladder and bowel
  • C8 injury
    • Nerves control some hand movement
    • Patients should have the ability to grasp and release objects
    • Are able to do most daily activities but may need assistance with more complicated tasks
    • Are able to drive in an adapted vehicle
    • Have little or no control over bladder and bowel

2. Thoracic Spinal Cord Injury T1-T12

Injuries to the thoracic spinal cord are less common due to the protection of the rib cage. Thoracic injuries usually do not affect arms and hands, mostly causing paralysis to the legs (paraplegia) and loss of control of bowel and bladder.

Thoracic Nerves (T1-T5)

  • Nerves affect muscles, upper chest, mid-back, and abdominal muscles
  • Injuries usually affect trunk and legs (paraplegia)
  • Patients’ arm and hand muscles are usually unaffected
  • Most likely can use a manual wheelchair
  • May be able to drive a modified car
  • May be able to stand with a standing frame or walk with braces

Thoracic Nerves (T6-T12)

  • Nerves affect muscles of the trunk, abdominal or back (depending on the level of injury)
  • Injuries usually result in paraplegia
  • Patients’ upper body movement is not affected
  • When patients are seated, fair to good control and balance of trunk
  • If abdominal muscles are intact, are able to cough productively
  • Have little or no control of bladder and bowel
  • Are usually able to use a manual wheelchair
  • Are usually able to drive an adapted vehicle
  • May be able to stand with a standing frame or walk with braces

3-Lumbar Spinal Cord Injury L1-L5

Lumbar level injuries typically involve paralysis or weakness of the legs (paraplegia) and loss of sensation, control over bladder and bowel, and sexual dysfunction. Shoulders, arms and hands are usually unaffected.

Lumbar Nerves (L1-L5)

  • Injuries generally result in loss of function in hips and legs
  • Patients have little or no voluntary control of bladder and bowel, but can manage on their own with special equipment
  • May need a wheelchair and may be able to walk with braces

4-Sacral Spinal Cord Injury S1-S5

Sacral level injuries typically result in loss of control of the bladder and bowel, as well as sexual dysfunction. Some loss of function of the hips and legs is also possible.

Sacral Nerves (S1-S5)

  • Injuries generally affect the functioning of hips and legs
  • Little or no control of bowel and bladder
  • Most likely will be able to walk

Spinal Cord Injuries Resulting from Car Accidents are Costly

When victims of a car crash sustain spinal cord injuries, the costs can be astronomical. Medical bills and the cost of daily living while missing work can pile up quickly, and damages to the body resulting from a spinal cord injury tend to be permanent. Securing a tough and experienced legal team can help recover these costs.

Personal Attention from Professional Attorneys

If you or someone you love has injured their spine in a car accident, speak with the professional attorneys at Karpe Litigation Group today. They are experts in injury law, winning the most challenging cases and helping those in need for 20 years and counting. There is no fee until we win for you. Committed to making things easy for you, we are happy to meet by appointment on evenings and weekends, and travel to you when needed. Give us a call today at 1-888-228-7800 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.