Yes, Distracted Walking Is Real and Dangerous

Yes, Distracted Walking Is Real and Dangerous

Distracted driving is the focus of nationwide campaigns to promote driver safety. Texting and other use of hand-held devices is at the core of these efforts. Some may think it is a joke, but distracted walking is also on the rise and can result in serious injury and death.

Pedestrian deaths have decreased since 1975—from 7,516 to 4,884—but have increased 19 percent since the lowest death rate in 2009.  Males are far and away the most likely to die as pedestrians, representing 70 percent of such deaths. This rate has been consistent since 1975. When a pedestrian death occurs between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., a blood alcohol content above 0.08 is present 49 percent of the time. In 2014, 76 percent of pedestrian deaths occurred in urban areas, while that rate was only 59 percent in 1975.

Pedestrian injuries increased in 2012 and have remained at a higher level. While recorded pedestrian deaths are fairly accurate, the number of pedestrian injuries are grossly underreported, so the overall effect of injury from distracted walking is hard to discern.

Walking while being distracted is very much like distracted driving. You see people doing everything from eating to reading the newspaper while performing both of these activities. As we are all aware, texting, e-mailing, dialing, and Internet surfing on handheld devices are the latest distractions. Indeed, the nature of these devices with two-way communication increases the opportunity for distraction as we grapple with the device to see an incoming message.

When it comes to walking, pedestrians can be struck by cars while mindlessly crossing the street as they pay more attention to their phones than oncoming traffic. However, injuries also occur without the involvement of a vehicle.

Pedestrians, especially in urban areas, are subject to other hazards. A survey by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 34 percent of injured pedestrians reported having tripped on uneven pavement or stones or stepped in a hole. These are exactly the kinds of hazards that would normally be avoided by observation that is negated by being distracted while walking. Obviously, there are myriad other potential hazards on an urban street such as light posts, trash cans, railings, and other people.

Remember that in Indiana, if an injured party is more than 50% at fault for his or her injuries, no damages may be recovered from others. It is important to avoid distracted walking, which may contribute to an injury for which you may not be able to collect compensation.

If you or a loved one have suffered a personal injury in an accident, contact Blackburn & Green today at (800) 444-1112 or (260) 422-4400 or complete our online form. We are experienced in Indiana personal injury lawsuits, and we’ll help you assess the circumstances of your case in a free evaluation.

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City Can Be Sued after Resident Falls on Street

City Can Be Sued after Resident Falls on Street

Governmental entities can sometimes escape civil liability under the Indiana Tort Claims Act (ITCA). In a recent case involving a fall injury in Beech Grove, however, the city was not so lucky.

A resident of Beech Grove was walking from her home to the library. As she crossed the street, she had to step slightly outside of the crosswalk to avoid a passenger vehicle that had stopped in the crosswalk. She stepped in a hole and fell, breaking her leg.

She brought a lawsuit against the city, arguing that the city failed to properly maintain the street. The city filed a motion for summary judgment, asking that the citizen’s lawsuit be denied without even holding a trial because “discretionary function immunity” applied under the ITCA. Under that law, certain governmental entities and their employees are not liable for certain losses, including those that result from the “performance of a discretionary function.”

In short, the city argued that rather than repairing the street, it planned to renovate the entire area. The trial judge denied the city’s motion, but the city won an appeal in the Indiana Court of Appeals. The citizen asked the Indiana Supreme Court to review, and it agreed to do so.

The Indiana Supreme Court held that the intermediate appellate court had made a mistake when it found that the city’s motion for summary judgment should have been granted. The Court explained that for discretionary function immunity to apply, the court was required to review closely the nature of the governmental actions and the decision-making process that was involved. It therefore considered sworn testimony by the city’s mayor, as well as meeting minutes from the city council and city’s board of works and safety.

Ultimately, the Court determined that the city had failed to show that it had chosen a complete renovation rather than spot repairs for the street. Although the city showed that financing for the renovation project had been approved, it had not demonstrated that it had “engaged in a policy-oriented decision making process.” More specifically, the Court did not see evidence that demonstrated a “cost-benefit analysis, weighing of other options, and prioritization discussions.”

Indiana law relating to claims against governmental actors can be complex. The attorneys at Blackburn & Green have decades of experience in personal injury litigation, including lawsuits against governmental agencies. We can help you seek fair compensation if you are injured due to someone else’s fault. We offer free initial consultations at our office locations or at your home or hospital room. Call (800) 444-1112 or (260) 422-4400 to be connected with one of our 26 convenient office locations across Indiana, or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.

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Whiplash: How It Happens

Whiplash: How It Happens

Whiplash happens when the head is suddenly pushed backward and forward with great force. These abrupt movements strain the soft tissues of the neck—that is, the muscles, tendons, and ligaments—as those tissues are forced to extend beyond their normal range.

Falls, contact sports such as football, and some forms of physical abuse may lead to whiplash. Although there are a number of activities that may result in this painful condition, auto accidents are the most common.

A rear-end collision often causes the requisite “back-and-forth” head movement, typically affecting the driver or passengers in the front car. As a car rear-ends a car ahead of it, those occupying the front car are at the mercy of physics. Even if the impact is not severe, any collision involves considerable force that can cause whiplash.

After an accident, it is critical that you watch for early signs and symptoms of whiplash. Within the first 24 hours from the accident, stiffness and pain in the neck are early indications of an injury. The pain associated with whiplash typically worsens when the victim tries to move his or her neck. The pain may also radiate to the shoulder and upper back, often accompanied with numbness or tingling sensation of the arms.

In most cases, whiplash is considered a minor injury. However, some victims may experience complications such as blurry vision, ringing in the ears, difficulty concentrating and sleeping, and being irritable. Some may also report memory problems and depression.

These varying effects depend on the severity of the injury, so the course of treatment is different for different people. Some more fortunate victims who suffered lesser damage usually recover quickly. However, cases involving serious damage to the neck muscles may take longer time to heal, and the treatment regimen can be more complex. Medication may be prescribed to control chronic pain. Moreover, specialized rehabilitative treatments may be needed such as physical therapy.

Another detriment that may accompany whiplash is the loss of income while the victim is still recuperating and unable to report to work. All these are considerable grounds to seek legal consultation when you experience whiplash from a car accident.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, seeking fair compensation is important. You don’t have to go alone. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Blackburn & Green offer free initial consultations at our office locations or at your home or hospital room. We can help you evaluate your case. Call (800) 444-1112 or (260) 422-4400 to be connected with one of our 26 convenient office locations across Indiana, or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.

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What Is the Purpose of Accident Reports?

What Is the Purpose of Accident Reports?

Anyone who has been involved in an automobile accident knows that the experience can be rather chaotic. There are often various victims of the crash—other drivers, passengers, or even pedestrians—and then there are those who help. Emergency personnel, witnesses, law enforcement personnel, and others lend assistance in the immediate aftermath of the wreck.

After everyone leaves the scene, the events usually begin to fade into memory, but the need for information about the incident grows. All drivers must carry insurance for a reason: to cover their own losses and pay damages to others if they are at fault. In order to determine which insurance carrier must pay for which losses, the details of a wreck are later reviewed with a fine tooth comb.

One of the best sources of information about a wreck is a police report. Police officers respond to all but the most minor of auto accidents. When they do respond, they are obligated to complete a report that normally contains the following information:

  • the date, time, and location
  • a diagram of the location showing the streets, direction of travel, and point of impact of the vehicles involved
  • the names of all persons involved, as well as witnesses
  • the names and addresses of those injured and other information such as whether and how they were transported to medical facilities
  • weather at the time of the wreck
  • a description of all property damage
  • a description of the vehicles involved

Indiana crash reports include a space for the officer to indicate primary causes of the crash, whether attributable to the drivers, the cars, or the environment. They also require the officer to indicate whether the crash was attributable to aggressive driving.

Depending on the severity of injuries or damages, the insurance companies may also assign an adjustor to investigate the accident. This, of course, is done after the fact by collecting information from others. The police report is usually the starting point for an insurance adjustor, followed by interviews of the drivers, passengers, and witnesses, and perhaps inspection of the damaged cars or property.

In addition, accident reports are used by state and federal agencies to improve the safety of our highways.

If you suffered injuries in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced attorneys of Blackburn & Green will begin working on your behalf immediately. We offer free initial consultations at our office locations or at your home or hospital room. Call (800) 444-1112 or (260) 422-4400 to be connected with one of our 26 convenient office locations across Indiana, or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.

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Will Electronic Truck Driver Logs Improve Traffic Safety?

Will Electronic Truck Driver Logs Improve Traffic Safety?

The federal government has mandated that many over-the-road truckers start maintaining their logs electronically. The mechanism truckers will use are called “electronic logging devices” (ELDs). The trucking industry is preparing for the transition to ELDs, which are anticipated to improve trucking safety.

The transition to ELDs will officially occur between December 2017 and December 2019. They are being phased-in over a two-year period that depends on the method drivers currently use: paper, logging software, or automatic onboard devices.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) anticipates that ELDs, which automatically record information in conjunction with a truck’s engine, will help improve traffic safety in many ways:

  • improving the accuracy of logs by automating them and removing the variable of human input
  • organizing log information in a way that allows truckers and carriers to easily manage scheduling and avoid fatigue
  • helping to prevent carriers from harassing truckers into violating hours of service regulations
  • making it difficult, if not impossible, for truckers to falsify their logs
  • making it easier for truckers and companies to comply with important federal safety laws

In a press release, the FMCSA announced that it anticipated that ELDs would “help reduce crashes by fatigued drivers and prevent approximately 20 fatalities and 434 injuries each year.” At bottom, the federal agency estimates that the result of these reduced crashes will have an “annual safety benefit of $394.8 million.”

The transition to ELDs should also help plaintiffs in personal injury cases when they bring lawsuits against trucking companies and drivers. The new law requires ELD records to be backed up and maintained for six months. It should now be easier for personal injury attorneys to locate driver log records, and those records should be much more accurate with regard to drive and rest times as well as vehicle speeds and locations.

The experienced personal injury attorneys of Blackburn & Green work to help injured people who were harmed by wrongdoers, such as trucking companies that violate the law. If you suffered an injury in an accident with a big rig, schedule a free consultation at one of our 26 office locations across Indiana by calling (800) 444-1112 or (260) 422-4400. You may also complete our online form to get started today.

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Can Truckers Park on the Side of the Road in Indiana?

Can Truckers Park on the Side of the Road in Indiana?

It is a common sight: lines of tractor-trailers at truck stops and rest areas. Those of us who drive passenger vehicles may not realize that there is a shortage of adequate parking for drivers of big rigs. For that reason, we may wonder why they sometimes seem to be parked everywhere, including on the side of the road.

Indiana law strictly regulates when a driver may stop, stand, or park a vehicle on the side of the road. Generally speaking, vehicles may not be “upon the paved or main travel part of the highway outside of a business or residence district” when it is “practicable” to park the vehicle off of the highway. Vehicles may also not be parked on bridges, blocking driveways, or in other officially designated “no parking” areas. You can read more about illegal parking at our earlier blog here.

Certainly, a large truck parked on the side of the road could present a hazard to those driving by. These vehicles are often over 50 feet long. However, trucker fatigue plays a major role in driver error leading to highway accidents, and truckers are legally bound by hours of service regulations. These federal rules mandate that big rig drivers take rest periods at certain minimum designated intervals. For these reasons, officials do not always enforce state parking laws.

Fortunately, the Indiana Department of Transportation is one of eight states receiving federal funding that will help truckers identify available parking at upcoming rest areas and exits. The signs will appear on I-65 and I-70. They will automatically display the number of available spaces in lots at 15 truck parking sites.

The attorneys at Blackburn & Green believe that trucker safety impacts all drivers, and we are dedicated to helping drivers injured by the negligence of others. If you were injured in an accident with a commercial motor vehicle, schedule an appointment with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys by calling (800) 444-1112 or (260) 422-4400. You may also complete our online form to get started today.

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How to Decide Whether to File a Lawsuit after an Accident

How to Decide Whether to File a Lawsuit after an Accident

Statistically, a number of injury claims associated with auto accidents do not end in front of a judge. Rather, most are resolved earlier in time through settlements. Settling injury claims before reaching trial is an option that many victims choose due to some advantages, including quicker monetary compensation, lesser attorney’s fees, and avoiding the hassle of trial and the uncertainty of an unpredictable jury verdict.

While settlements are advantageous in some cases, it is often necessary to bring a lawsuit. Weighing the pros and cons and deciding whether or not to file, however, can be very taxing.

There are two key points to ponder when considering whether to file a lawsuit: (1) the severity of the injuries and damages and (2) the confidence to establish who caused the accident.

When a car accident victim only suffers minor injuries and there is no significant damage to property or wage loss, settlement without filing a lawsuit may be a better option. Also, when the evidence is unclear about who caused the accident, it is usually better to settle without the formality and expense of a lawsuit.

However, in cases involving serious injuries, long-term disability, or death, a lawsuit may be advisable. Every victim has the right to seek reasonable compensation for medical treatment and lost income. Most importantly, the physical pain from serious injuries and the emotional pain of losing a loved one are grave consequences that no amount of money can repay.

Moreover, when there is a clear indication that the defendant carries the greater burden of fault in an accident, this may solidify the choice to file a lawsuit. For example, if the accident occurred due to the defendant’s speeding or because the defendant was drunk, a lawsuit is usually the best course of action. A lawsuit can help relieve some of the financial burdens that severe accidents cause to victims of reckless drivers.

In short, accepting a settlement can work favorably for both parties in cases involving minor damages or troublesome evidence. However, when the damages are serious or liability is clear, you will typically recover higher money damages in a lawsuit.

At Blackburn & Green, our attorneys have decades of experience with Indiana tort law. If you were injured in an accident and are not sure whether to file a lawsuit, contact us today by calling (800) 444-1112 or (260) 422-4400, or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation. We can provide you with competent, compassionate legal counsel in this time of need.

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Indiana Supreme Court Dismisses Traffic Convictions against Driver Due to Delays

Indiana Supreme Court Dismisses Traffic Convictions against Driver Due to Delays

Did you know that a person who may be guilty of serious traffic offenses could have his or her case dismissed because the state did not bring the person to trial within one year? This recently happened with an Indiana man who was charged with four serious traffic offenses.

The defendant in the case was charged with two offenses relating to driving under the influence and two offenses relating to driving without a valid license. He was arrested in December 2011, but his trial was not scheduled to take place until October 2014, nearly three years later. The defendant unsuccessfully objected that his trial was outside the one-year period.

The Indiana Supreme Court reiterated the one-year rule and an important limitation on the rule: that it did not apply “where a continuance was had on [the defendant’s] motion, or the delay was caused by his act,” or due to congestion in the court’s docket. Although some of the delays were attributable to the defendant’s requests for continuances, much of the time that had passed was not.

In fact, at the pretrial conference for the case, the defendant told the judge that he had been sentenced to 10 years in prison on an unrelated charge. Although the court originally set his trial in early 2013, the defendant did not show up because he was in prison. The Indiana Supreme Court found that if the trial had gone forward on this date, it would have been within the one-year period “because of delays attributable to the defendant.”

However, the trial was not held on that date due to the defendant’s failure to appear. Instead, the trial was reset in October 2014. The prosecutor and the defendant’s lawyer were ready to proceed on that date. However, no one had arranged to have the defendant present.

The Indiana Supreme Court held that both the trial court and the prosecutor knew that there was a new trial date and that it would be necessary to have the defendant transported from prison to attend. However, even if the defendant’s failure to appear was his fault, that would only have given the trial judge a “reasonable period of time . . . to reschedule a new trial date.” The trial court did not reset the trial until nearly one year after the prior one was scheduled.

The Indiana Supreme Court found that this period of time could not be considered reasonable, so it reversed the trial judge’s denial of the defendant’s motion to discharge the case against him. It also remanded the case to the trial court to grant his motion.

If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident with another driver who was cited for breaking the law, the attorneys of Blackburn & Green are here to help. We have decades of experience with Indiana personal injury cases and will put our experience to work for you. We also offer free initial consultations at our 26 office locations or at your home or hospital room. Call (800) 444-1112 or (260) 422-4400 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.

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What if You Hurt Someone While Trying to Help Them?

What if You Hurt Someone While Trying to Help Them?

Have you ever wondered whether you can be held legally responsible if you injure someone while you are trying to help them? Both Indiana courts and the state legislature have addressed this issue. The answer depends on whether you are rendering assistance in an emergency or accident situation. If you are, Indiana’s Good Samaritan law applies. Outside of an accident or emergency, different rules apply.

The Good Samaritan Law

The Indiana legislature has enacted a law that governs potential liability for harm inflicted while helping someone in an emergency situation. This law is often referred to as the Good Samaritan law.

Indiana’s Good Samaritan law only applies to true emergencies and accidents. Additionally, only three categories of people are covered by this law: (1) someone who comes upon the scene of an accident or emergency; (2) the driver of a vehicle who is physically incapable of determining whether people in other vehicles need assistance (under limited circumstances); and (3) someone who is called to the scene of an accident or an emergency. The law does not apply to doctors or other health care providers who are assisting patients in their facilities.

When the law applies, it gives broad coverage to those who help others gratuitously. In fact, it gives those who help immunity from being sued civilly if they cause a personal injury in the following circumstances:

  • in rendering emergency care
  • in providing or arranging medical treatment or care
  • in failing to provide or arrange additional medical treatment or care

Good Samaritans may only be held civilly liable if they are grossly negligent or if their injury-causing acts are intentional.

Outside of Emergencies and Accidents

Different rules apply outside of emergencies and accidents. The Indiana courts have recognized that when we “specifically undertake” to do something to help someone, we must do so in a reasonable manner. Additionally, we have a duty to exercise reasonable care under the following circumstances:

  • When we undertake to help someone
  • When we know or should know that our help “will reduce the risk of physical harm to the other” person
  • When we fail to carry out our assistance with enough care, thereby increasing the person’s risk of harm, or the person we are helping relies on us to use reasonable care to assist him or her

These laws and rules help people who help others by removing the concern of being sued, so long as we carry out our assistance in a reasonable manner.

The personal injury attorneys at Blackburn & Green have decades of experience in Indiana law, and we can provide you with compassionate legal counsel. Please call today to arrange a meeting at one of our 26 office locations across Indiana, at your home, or in your hospital room. Call (800) 444-1112 or (260) 422-4400 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation today.

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Where Can’t You Park Legally in Indiana?

Where Can’t You Park Legally in Indiana?

Indiana has strict laws that govern where drivers are allowed to stop, park, or leave a vehicle unattended. Most of us could probably name some of the common places that we are not allowed to park our cars, such as in an intersection, close to a fire hydrant, or in a crosswalk. However, the law contains many more provisions, some surprising. It is particularly important to know these exceptions so that you know where to pull over legally and safely in the event of an emergency or the necessary use of your mobile device.

Unless it is necessary “to avoid conflict with other traffic,” “conflict with the law,” or police officer or traffic signal directions, drivers may not stop, park, or leave their vehicles in the following locations:

  • on a sidewalk
  • in front of a driveway, whether public or private
  • in an intersection
  • within 15 feet of a fire hydrant
  • in a crosswalk
  • within 20 feet of an intersection crosswalk
  • within 30 feet of a “flashing beacon, stop sign, or traffic control signal”
  • within 50 feet of a railroad crossing
  • within 20 feet of a fire station entrance
  • next to or across from a “street excavation or obstruction” if stopping or parking “would obstruct traffic”
  • next to another vehicle that is “stopped or parked at the edge or curb of a street”
  • on a bridge or in a tunnel
  • in a fire lane

Additionally, officials have the ability to mark other places where parking, stopping, and leaving vehicles is illegal. Of course, the law contains an important exception that applies to disabled vehicles but only if it is “impossible to avoid stopping and temporarily leaving the disabled vehicle on the highway.”

Even when it is legal to stop or park a vehicle on the highway, the driver must comply with the following requirements:

  • The driver must leave ample room for other vehicles to pass freely.
  • The parked vehicle must be clearly visible from at least 200 feet in both directions.

Laws that dictate where it is legal to stop and park cars serve important public purposes, many of which are geared at avoiding accidents.

If you or a family member have suffered an injury in a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. For a free case evaluation, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Blackburn & Green: (800) 444-1112 or (260) 422-4400. We help injured people rebuild their lives.

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