Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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A federal judge recently provided tentative approval of a new settlement offer by the National Football League (NFL) to players who suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI) during years of league play.

In recent years, legal action taken by retired football players against the NFL made traumatic brain injury a household term in the United States. Once admired for athletic grace and strength, many former football players suffer conditions like:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

For those who suffer repetitive brain trauma from any cause, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a devastating result. CTE has been diagnosed in former football, soccer, and baseball players who died of disabilities or committed suicide.

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Football fans do not want the game to change, but they also do not like the fact that so many players have sustained serious traumatic brain injuries on the field. This includes President Obama, who recently admitted that if he had a son, he might not let him play football given the risks of injury. “I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence.” The White House took a step in this direction by holding the Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit.

The Summit invited 200 representatives from professional football and soccer organizations, health advocates for children, and medical experts to share ideas about preventing sports-related head injuries, especially in school-age children. The NFL offered $25 million for youth safety programs, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Pentagon agreed to spend $30 million to study the effects of concussion on college students.

Medical research has shown that multiple concussions can cause depression and an increased risk for suicide — a finding tragically confirmed by the deaths of National Football League (NFL) players Jovan Belcher, Junior Seau and Paul Oliver, among others. Recently, retired players brought a class action suit against the League, citing the long-term consequences of head injuries. These can include:

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Dozens of people in the United States are killed annually in dog attacks, and about 800,000 dog bites require medical attention each year. Even when a person survives an attack, the consequences can be devastating. In 2012, there were nearly 28,000 reconstructive procedures to repair dog bites. Unfortunately, small children are most vulnerable to attacks.

Normally dog owners are held to a “negligence standard” in determining liability. This means that owners must take reasonable precautions to control the dog and protect others from harm. However, an owner who is aware of a dog’s violent propensities becomes strictly liable if the dog attacks. For example, if the animal previously bit a person, the owner is strictly liable for harm caused by the dog thereafter.

Under Indiana law, dog owners are strictly liable if their dogs bite a person who is fulfilling a duty under state, federal or postal law. Generally, owners of wild animals are also strictly liable for harm caused by them.

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Unfortunately, accidents are a fact of life. In 2011, there were more than 188,000 traffic crashes across the state of Indiana, resulting in nearly 46,000 injuries and 749 deaths. Tragic accidents can also happen off the roadways, such as injuries related to trains, explosions, fires or construction sites. If you or a loved one suffers a catastrophic injury, you may be eligible to recover a wide range of damages. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Compensatory damages are awarded in an amount that compensates the victim for their injuries, essentially “making them whole” again. This may include property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
  • Punitive damages, on the other hand, are awarded in an amount that penalizes the defendant for their conduct. In Indiana, punitive damages are capped at three times the amount of compensatory damages or $50,000, whichever is greater.
  • Under Indiana’s comparative fault law, an injured party cannot recover compensatory damages in a fault-based claim if they hold the greater percentage of fault. When an injured party is able to recover, their damages are reduced based on their percentage of fault. The following examples illustrate this legal principle:
    • Pam jumps in front of Diana’s car and gets run over. The jury determines that Pam is 51 percent at fault, so she is barred from receiving compensation. 
    • Peter rides his bicycle in the street and is hit by David’s car. Peter’s sustains $100,000 in damages. The jury determines that Peter is 20 percent at fault, so his award is reduced to $80,000.

After an accident, you need to consult an Indiana personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Theodoros & Rooth’s injury lawyers work hard to recover maximum damages in every case.

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When you are injured in an accident or some other incident, you have the right to sue those who are responsible for your injury. However, your right to sue does not last forever. The statute of limitations is the time period within which you must file your lawsuit. The length of that time period depends on what type of lawsuit you are bringing.

Why are there statutes of limitations? A statute of limitations sets an expectation for when a defendant can be sued. That way, the defendant is not waiting around forever for a lawsuit to be filed. In addition, a statute of limitations ensures that the court hears the lawsuit before evidence is lost or memories fade. For the same reasons, there are also statutes of limitations on many criminal charges.

The statute of limitations begins to run on the day that the claim arises. Sometimes that is easy to determine, like the day of the car accident. However, the limitations period can be delayed if the injury is not discovered until later. This usually happens in a medical malpractice case.

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An accident is often caused by one person’s negligence. But sometimes figuring out who was at fault is not so easy. Sometimes two or more people caused the accident. What happens if the plaintiff is one of the people to blame for the accident? Does that mean the plaintiff can’t bring a lawsuit? That depends on the law in your state.

Traditionally, under the theory of contributory negligence, a plaintiff’s negligence completely barred the recovery of damages in a lawsuit. Over the years, however, states have adopted some type of comparative negligence theory. Generally, speaking, there are two types of comparative negligence:

  • Pure Comparative Negligence. The pure comparative negligence approach provides that the damages a judge or jury awards to the plaintiff are reduced by the percentage of the plaintiff’s fault. For example, if the jury awarded the plaintiff $10,000 and found that he or she was 30 percent at fault for the accident, the plaintiff would receive $7,000.
  • Modified Comparative Negligence. Many states have adopted a modified comparative negligence approach. Under this theory of comparative negligence, a plaintiff cannot recover if he or she is equally or more responsible for the accident. However, the states differ on how to apply the modified approach. Some states have determined that a plaintiff is barred from recovering if his or her responsibility is 50 percent (equally responsible) or more. Other states have determined that a plaintiff is barred if his or her responsibility is 51 percent (more responsible) or more.

Indiana law has adopted the modified comparative negligence approach, and it uses the equally responsible approach. As a result, if a plaintiff in Indiana is 50 percent or more responsible for the accident, he or she cannot recover for damages.

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Auto accidents happen every day. Sometimes, you see the aftermath on the side of the road. Sometimes it’s a loved one who has been involved in an accident. And sometimes, it’s you who is involved in an accident. The results of an auto accident can vary — from a scratch on the bumper to a serious injury and possibly death.

Listed here are some statistics about certain types of auto accidents in the state of Indiana for 2011, compiled in a report by the Indiana University Public Policy Institute:

  • Total auto accidents. There were 188,132 traffic collisions that resulted in an injury or property damage. That was a 2.5 percent decrease from 2010.
  • Fatal accidents. There were 674 fatal auto accidents that resulted in 749 fatalities. This was a 3.9 percent decrease from 2010.
  • Speed-related accidents. Speed-related accidents totaled 17,517, which was 9.3 percent of all accidents. Speed-related fatal accidents totaled 131, which was 19.4 percent of all fatal accidents.
  • Alcohol-related accidents. A driver with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or greater is legally impaired. There were 133 fatal accidents and 140 fatalities involving a legally impaired driver. That means 20 percent of all fatal accidents were alcohol related.
  • Motorcycle accidents. The number of motorcycle accidents increased 3.6 percent, while the number of motorcycle fatalities jumped from 110 in 2010 to 117 in 2011, a 6.4 percent increase.

If you were injured in a traffic accident, an Indiana auto accident attorney can help recover the damages you deserve.

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Football is, by nature, a rough game — players give and receive hard hits as part of their jobs, putting enormous physical strain on their bodies, and often sustaining multiple concussions and other head injuries throughout their careers. But only more recently have the serious long-term effects of repeated head trauma come to light. Many retired players, once gridiron gladiators, find themselves dealing with debilitating brain injuries that worsen as they age.

In late August 2013, the National Football League (NFL), a $10 billion enterprise, agreed to settle a class action suit brought by 4,500 retired players for head injuries they suffered during their NFL careers. The action was settled for $765 million.

Our firm represents clients suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBIs, such as concussions, often have permanent, disabling effects and commonly result from blows to the head. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive, incurable disease that can develop as a result of one or more TBIs.

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On July 1, 2013, pregnant women in Indiana will have the choice to have home births attended by midwives. This practice of home birthing, long an underground tradition, will now be regulated by the state. Indiana joins 28 other states that permit the practice.

House Enrolled Act 1135 recognizes a new category of midwives —“certified direct entry midwifery”— who routinely attend home births. The Indiana Medical Licensing Board has been charged with licensing certified direct entry midwives and to adopt rules and regulations from a midwifery committee that includes midwives and doctors. Before the House Enrolled Act 1135, only certified nurse-midwives could attend to home births.  However, most of those midwives work exclusively in hospitals or obstetric practices.  Few were available for home birthing. This new category will allow for competent medical care for the approximately 1,000 women who give birth at home in Indiana each year. This bill was especially important to the Amish community in Indiana.

Physicians still play a role in home birthing. Mothers who are planning a home birth must be seen by a physician twice during her pregnancy, in the first and third trimesters, to supervise the care given by the midwife.

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When we think traumatic brain injury, we usually think football and combat. Wrong ― in 2009, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons:

  • Bicycle accidents played a role in 86,000 of the 447,000 sports-related head injuries treated in emergency rooms.
  • Football injuries accounted for only 47,000.
  • Baseball was even safer with only 38,394.

Cycling is the leading cause of sports-related head injuries in children under 14 years of age, roughly double the number related to football.

Although Indiana requires helmets on children 17 and younger while riding motorcycles and mopeds, there is no mandatory helmet law for bicycle riding.