| Read Time: 2 minutes | premises liability

Premises liability legal options protect injured victims

  At the end of a hard winter, it can be helpful to review premises liability protections available to victims of slip and fall and other types of accidents. Victims may wonder what exactly premises liability refers to. Premises liability law includes a set of protections for victims who have suffered harm on another party’s property. Premises liability claims can include slip and fall claims, trip and fall claims and other types of claims for injuries that occur on the property of another. Slip and fall accidents are a common type of premises liability injury, especially in the winter time, that can lead to a premises liability claim for damages. Slip and fall injuries, however, can occur in a shopping center or retail store, for instance, if the walkways are not kept clear, clean and safe for shoppers. Victims of a slip and fall accident can suffer serious physical injuries, as well as emotional and financial harm as a result of the accident. In general, property owners and possessors of property owe a duty of care to those on their property to maintain the property in a safe condition. Property owners typically have a duty to keep the property free of hazardous property conditions or warn potential victims of the dangerous condition. In some circumstances, the status of the injured victim at the time of the accident can have an impact on a claim for damages. Victims who have suffered a slip and fall or other type of injury on another party’s property may want to learn more about premises liability legal protections. Depending on the circumstances, victims who have suffered an injury may be able to recover damages associated with the physical, financial and emotional harmed they have suffered. Source: FindLaw, “Slip and Fall Accidents Overview,” Accessed March 14, 2017

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | medical malpractice

Know the most common medical errors in the United States

When you place your health care in the hands of a qualified physician or other professional, you trust that they are going to make decisions that are right for your care and your situation. Unfortunately, medical mistakes are all too common and are the third leading cause of death in the United States, right behind cancer and heart disease. This statistic highlights the fact that medical errors are problems that need fixing to protect patients. Knowing the most common medical errors can help patients protect themselves from devastating consequences. Medication errors Affecting almost 1.5 million people each year, medication errors can come in a variety of forms. The wrong dose, a bad reaction, bad combination or even the wrong drug can have a negative effect on a patient who trusts the doctor to get it right. Patients can protect themselves by always asking questions about medications they are given and disclosing any prescription or over-the-counter drugs they are taking before they are prescribed a new medication. Excessive blood transfusions Many of medical professionals believe that the more blood cells given to a patient, the more likely they are to contract an infection. Over half of blood transfusions given in the United States were considered inappropriate in one study. Before any patient undergoes a transfusion, loved ones or the patient should ask why the procedure is necessary. Never be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable with the treatment. Premature babies and too much oxygen Finding the right balance of too much oxygen and not enough can be particularly difficult in premature babies. An oxygen overdose on a premature infant can cause blindness, so finding the right balance based on the baby’s weight is imperative. This one simple thing can have lasting ramifications, so parents of pre-term babies should never be afraid to question the amount of oxygen their child is receiving. Infections picked up in hospitals and clinics Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospital infections are contracted by about one in every 25 patients. This error has a simple fix, as you can remind providers to always wash their hands or wear gloves before treating you or a family member. Preventing unnecessary illness or death Most of these errors are avoidable if the patient and the physician are on the same page and both equally devoted to quality, safe care. If you have been harmed by a medical error and feel your health care professional was at fault, you may benefit from speaking to an attorney about your case.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | social security disability

Understanding the Social Security disability application process

Being unable to work because of a disability can be difficult to accept and a can be a challenging period in a disabled individual’s life. While Social Security disability benefits can be helpful, the application process may seem complex. Disabled individuals should not, however, be intimidated by the SSD application process and should understand that being familiar with the process can be helpful. The majority of initial claims for disability are denied but there is a multi-layered appeals process. Certain information is required as part of the initial application for SSD benefits. Medical records and a diagnosis from a doctor are required, as well as verification of the disabled individual’s inability to work. Depending on the circumstances, additional documents and information may be needed including a birth certificate or proof of birth; W-2 forms or self-employment tax forms; naturalization papers; or military discharge papers. Even if the applicant’s impairment is on the Social Security Administration’s list of disabilities, an application for disability benefits may still be denied. Among initial applications, 70 percent are denied. If the application is denied, the SSA provides an extensive appeals process. The first level of appeal is a reconsideration request, which the applicant has 60 days to request. The reconsideration entails a review of the applicant’s entire claim by a reviewer other than the initial reviewer. The next step in the appeals process is a hearing before an administrative law judge followed by an appeal to the Appeals Council, which can be made in writing within 60 days of the denial by the administrative law judge. Because the process of applying for Social Security disability can be long and complicated, it is important to be familiar with how to qualify and what the process entails. It can also be helpful to have trained guidance along the way.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | car accidents

Texting and driving and other risky acts common for millennials

It is an unfortunate reality that an auto accident is a constant possibility when out on the road. Residents of Kentucky and Indiana are undoubtedly aware of this, some by experiencing it firsthand. Research can often be beneficial to understand how and why an accident might have occurred. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently released a report stated that the recklessness of millennials is a significant issue. These drivers, between the ages of 19 and 24, were found to be more likely to do the following: go above the speed limit by 10 to 15 miles per hour; go through a red light when they could have stopped; engage in texting and driving; and operate their vehicles after using marijuana. The executive director of AAA says that drivers in this age range are of the belief that they can drive their vehicles with these behaviors and it is acceptable to do so. This information was released as the number of drivers who were killed in an auto accident has been rising steadily. In 2015, there were more than 35,000 people killed in a car crash. That is a rise of more than 7 percent from 2014. Auto accidents are the most common causes of death among teens. In their study, AAA found that 88 percent of drivers age 19 to 24 said that they had driven above the speed limit, gone through a red light, or texted while driving. Millennials were 1.6 times more likely to use their smartphones for texting or emails while driving; they almost two times as likely to type or send an email or text; they drove 10 mph over the speed limit 1.4 times as frequently as other drivers; they were more than two times as likely to speed while in a school zone; and almost half ran a red light. Seven percent of millennials said they smoked pot on a regular basis within an hour of getting behind the wheel. These statistics are a concern for any driver, but they are even more important to consider after there has been an accident. Knowing how it happened can be accomplished through crash reconstruction and this can help a case seeking compensation. Since car accidents can lead to hefty medical expenses, lost time at work, a need for long-term care and worse, a lawsuit is often the only way to make up for it. Discussing the matter with an attorney who can help with moving forward with a claim is imperative. Source: Kentucky.com, “Who are the worst drivers? Millennials say they are,” Ashley Halsey III, Feb. 15, 2017

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | social security disability

Is there a way to expedite the disability benefits process?

If you or your loved one is seriously injured or sick, you are likely well aware that time is critical. You already know the importance of getting medical help right away and notifying an employer of any accommodations or leave requests as soon as possible, and you are almost certainly accustomed to acting fast. That is why it can be incredibly frustrating to learn that the wait time for a traditional application for disability benefits to be processed can be more than a year. Thankfully, this wait can be decreased dramatically for people with certain conditions covered under Compassionate Allowances, or CAL. As noted by the Social Security Administration, Compassionate Allowances conditions include conditions that are most certainly eligible for coverage under Social Security disability. They include: Many types of cancer Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease Various heart conditions Malignant multiple sclerosis Mixed dementias Severe neurological disorders These and the many other illnesses on the list of CAL conditions obviously meet the definition of disability, so the SSA allows these claims to be expedited. Instead of waiting months or years for an application to be processed, CAL applicants wait a matter of weeks. However, there are still the same eligibility requirements in place, and the SSA will still need to review an application, confirm medical evidence and possibly conduct a random quality review. This means that there is plenty of room for delays, especially if an application is incomplete, incorrect or improperly submitted. These are delays that applicants can avoid by consulting an attorney who has experience building a claim or appeal and navigating the complex Social Security system. When everything goes according to plan, you will be able to avoid these delays and have a Social Security disability claim processed as soon as possible. This will allow you and your loved ones to secure the financial benefits you need immediately.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | premises liability

Avoid these 6 springtime hazards

Around this time of year, a lot of people start thinking about spring cleaning projects. After all, there are many tasks we might have been avoiding during the winter that suddenly seem very important once the warmer weather rolls around. With this in mind, it can also be a good time to remind readers about some springtime hazards in or around the home that can lead to serious injury if they are not addressed. Below are just some of the common types of accidents and injuries people suffer during this time of year. Slipping in wet entryways after a rainfall Tripping on items like boots or shovels that have not been cleared from a stairwell Head injuries from falling objects in construction zones that start cropping up after winter Drowning accidents in pools or hot tubs that have not been properly maintained or secured yet Bites by dogs or other pets that might have been kept inside more during the winter Assaults or other incidences that happen in poorly lit or secured areas These hazards, like the projects in and around our houses, may not have been that concerning during the winter. But now that people are spending much more time outside, walking around the neighborhood and traveling, it is crucial that they are addressed and remedied, if possible. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen if a property owner is negligent. If you or a loved one is injured because of these or other dangerous conditions on another person’s property, you should understand that you might be eligible to receive compensation for damages you have suffered. To learn more about the possibilities of filing a personal injury claim in Indiana, it can be a good idea to consult an attorney.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | medical malpractice

What makes a successful medical malpractice case?

Hardly anyone disputes that doctors, nurses and health care providers have difficult, stressful jobs. They make mistakes. Sometimes, circumstances are outside of their control, and, despite their best efforts, patients die or suffer from terrible complications. That is why it can be very difficult to prove a medical malpractice claim in Indiana or Kentucky. The law is quite complex, and a successful medical malpractice case can take time. Do not believe, however, that it is impossible to recover compensation that you deserve. A successful medical malpractice claim must prove four things: · The health care provider had a duty to provide care to you. This is signified by the doctor/patient relationship. · There was a breach of duty in the care you received. You must prove that your provider failed to meet an acceptable standard of care. Typically, this is proven through the expert testimony of another doctor in the same field. · That you suffered injuries or a loved one died. Because medical malpractice cases can take a long time and require a large commitment of resources from your attorney, there typically needs to be a large amount of compensation at stake. · There is a connection between the doctor failing to provide an acceptable standard of care and your injuries or the death of your loved one. Confused? Talk To An Attorney. You should never try to prove medical malpractice or negotiate a settlement on your own. Because there can be a great amount of damages at stake, health care systems invest a lot of money in defending themselves from malpractice claims. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can discuss your case with you and help you determine the best way to proceed. This could mean negotiating a settlement, or it could mean taking your case to trial if your attorney thinks that is the best way to maximize your compensation. Additionally, if you think you have a claim for medical malpractice, do not speak with insurance adjusters about your case, and do not sign over any medical records without first talking to your attorney. Your lawyer should handle all interactions with the defense to protect your rights.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | car accidents

Know the cell phone laws in Indiana to prevent being caught off guard

Two years ago, according to the IndyStar, a little-known law was passed in Indiana which banned drivers age 21 and under from using cell phones in the car. Many people were unaware that the bill included drivers 18 through 21 until the law was passed. Although the laws have not updated much since, it is important to know the exact laws for Indiana to stay out of trouble and to prevent accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, distracted driving is a huge problem in the United States. From 2011 through 2013, accidents caused by distracted driving increased by 10 percent. Both federal and state lawmakers have begun to address this phenomenon, but drivers are the ones who really must take actions to prevent accidents. What is the law in Indiana? Hand-held ban? No All cell phone ban? Drivers under 21 Text message ban? All drivers Federal law also applies to drivers in Indiana. Federal employees are prohibited from texting while driving when on government business. The Federal Railroad Administration also bans the use of cell phones and electronic devices on the job. Commercial vehicle drivers are also banned from texting while driving. Hand-held devices are also banned in commercial vehicles carrying hazardous materials. Responding to the law Although drivers over 21 are allowed to talk on the cell phone in the car, that does not mean you should talk on the cell phone when you are behind the wheel. It is safer to pull over and take a call or get a hands-free device that lets you answer a call without taking your hands off the wheel. Distracted driving does not only occur when you are using your cell phone. You can be distracted by eating, taking a drink or even talking to a passenger. Distractions occur when you take your eyes off the road, take your hands off the wheel or take your mind off of your driving. Texting is one of the worst distractions because it involves all three types of distractions. Know your responsibilities Because Evansville is close to the state lines of Illinois and Kentucky, you should also be aware of laws in those states. Illinois has much stricter rules about cell phone use than Indiana does. If you have been injured in an accident and believe the driver was distracted, you should talk to an attorney about your rights for compensation. Take care of your medical bills and damage to your car by talking to a legal advocate about your options.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | safety

Being Safe on the Road: Motorcycle Edition

Most of us know someone who lives for “wind therapy” – that feeling of freedom that comes with riding a motorcycle. Maybe YOU are that someone. Spring and summer are by far the most popular seasons for motorcyclists, especially for those with a bike gathering dust in the garage all winter long. Not surprisingly, nearly two-thirds of all motorcycle fatalities occur from May through September each year, with the peak of these fatalities occurring in August. How do you keep from being part of that statistic? Rules of the Road You probably know that motorcycles are required to obey the rules of the road just like automobiles do. But because motorcyclists don’t have the benefit of all that sheet metal wrapped around them like someone in an automobile does, there are some additional precautions you would be wise to take. Take a Motorcycle Operator Safety Education Course. Not only will you gain valuable experience and knowledge, but the Indiana BMV will waive the motorcycle knowledge and riding skills tests for individuals who complete this course. Wear a helmet. Indiana’s helmet law states that riders under the age of 18 as well as riders holding an instructional permit must wear a helmet. Even though the law doesn’t require other motorcyclists to wear a helmet, protecting your brain should be Priority #1. Gear up. Yes, it’s tempting to ride in shorts on a hot day, but riding gear can protect you in an accident. Gloves, boots, pants, and jackets designed especially for ridingcan make the difference between a few scrapes and bruises and a serious case of road rash. And while black leather might make you look cool, consider reflective clothing of some sort to increase your visibility. Ride with your headlight on during the day. A headlight will help to make your motorcycle more visible to motorists during daylight hours. Don’t forget, the hours of dawn and dusk can be especially tricky for motorists to see other vehicles on the road. And of course it goes without saying that headlights are crucial at night. Make sure your bike is properly equipped with rear-view mirrors, a speedometer, and turn signals. Additionally, make sure your front and rear brakes work properly and that your handlebars are no higher than 15 inches above the level of your seat. You will also need footrests for yourself and a passenger, if you ride double. When riding in a group, ride two abreast. A single motorcycle may occupy a lane by itself, but may NOT share that lane with an automobile. And while we’re on the subject, it’s illegal and highly dangerous to split lanes – that is, drive between other vehicles. Ride sober or get pulled over. Impaired driving laws extend to motorcycles, too. In fact, a motorcyclist who rides drunk is 10% more likely to be involved in a fatal accident. Law enforcement officials in the state of Indiana are participating in the“Ride Sober or Get Pulled Over” program developed by the NHTSA – you’ve probably heard the commercials on your radio. Take it seriously, and don’t drink and ride. Indiana’s “Red Light Law” Because motorcycles often are not heavy enough to trip road sensors for traffic lights, a law passed in 2014 now allows motorcyclists to proceed through a red light after being stopped for two minutes. In order to take advantage of this law, you must come to a complete stop, wait two minutes, and proceed only if there are no other vehicles crossing the intersection. Keep Off-Road Cycles Off the Road Off-road cycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are just that – designed to be used off-road, not on the streets and highways. These types of vehicles are missing equipment that is necessary for them to travel safely on a public road, including mirrors, brake lights, directional signals, and a speedometer. Still, this doesn’t keep some people from riding them on public roads, and as a result more than 300 riders die each year in crashes on public roads. While some states allow these types of vehicles to be licensed for on-road use with equipment modifications, Indiana does not. Motorcycle Safety is for Everyone Motorcycles and automobiles must share the road and be aware of each other, particularly since motorcyclists are nearly 30% more likely to die in a crash than occupants of a car, and are five times more likely to be injured in a traffic accident. As we enter the final months of motorcycling weather, many people will take to the roads to enjoy fall colors and a bit of Indian summer. It will be a last hurrah before the motorcycle goes into storage for the winter, leaving riders dreaming of spring again. At Gerling Law, we encourage motorcyclists and drivers to respect each other and travel safely. If, however, you’re involved in a motorcycle accident, you’ll want an experienced attorney to help protect your legal rights. Contact Gerling Law today – it won’t cost a thing to see if we can help!

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | car accidents

Why the insurance company is not your friend

You’ve just been hurt in a car accident, or you slipped and fell on someone else’s property. No matter what the cause of your injury is, one thing you can expect soon after is a call from the insurance company. It could be yours or the responsible party’s provider. While the adjuster may sound friendly and concerned about your well-being, it is important to remember what that person’s motivations are. Insurance Companies Make Money By Denying Your Claim People pay for insurance to cover their medical bills and other losses in the event of accidents. When the insurance companies actually have to pay out on policies, however, they lose money. Their motivation, the same as any other business, is to make money. Unfortunately, that can often come at your expense. After a car accident or a fall on someone else’s property, the responsible party’s insurance provider may make every effort to avoid having to give you compensation. Look Out For These Warning Signs When an insurance adjuster calls to ask about the accident, there are some important questions or other signs to be on the lookout for that they do not intend to treat you fairly: Asking you to send medical records not related to the accident: A common tactic insurance companies use to deny claims is to argue that your injuries are unrelated to the accident. Do not send them anything. Asking you to give a statement or details about the accident: You do not have to give a statement to the insurance company. They can use this statement to twist your words into an admission of liability. Advising you to accept a settlement that doesn’t cover your losses: Do not agree to anything without talking to an attorney. You could be leaving compensation on the table. Delaying or refusing to answer your questions: Insurance companies cannot unnecessarily delay the processing of your claim. Talk To A Lawyer Today One of the first things you should do after an accident is contact an attorney. Skilled, experienced personal injury lawyers know the tactics that insurance companies use to try and avoid paying out compensation. Additionally, they can handle all interactions with the insurance company. This can prevent any avoidable errors that could harm your claim for compensation. By letting the insurance companies know that you have an attorney on your side, they will know that they need to take you seriously.

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