| Read Time: 4 minutes | news

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Indiana?

Losing a loved one is never an easy experience to go through, especially when the death is sudden and preventable. Wrongful death happens when a person is killed because of another person or entity’s negligence or misconduct. If your loved one was killed under these circumstances, you may be eligible to bring an Indiana wrongful death lawsuit.  Why File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Indiana? A monetary award cannot replace your loved one; however, the law does not have a more effective remedy to offer you for your loss. An Indiana wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action that allows the family to seek justice on behalf of their deceased loved one. The monetary award can help support the deceased’s surviving dependents. In some cases, the lawsuit may be used to serve as an example to others that the behavior that caused the death will not be tolerated and there are consequences.  Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Indiana? In Indiana, if the deceased is an adult, the personal representative (often referred to as the executor of the estate) or the deceased’s estate is the person who files a wrongful death lawsuit. This person is usually the surviving spouse, an adult child, sibling, or parent. Either or both parents may file for a deceased child.  What Is the Average Settlement for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Settlement? No two wrongful death cases are alike, which means settlements vary depending on the circumstances of the lawsuit. Factors such as the age of the deceased, their earning potential, medical treatment at the time of death, and more may be taken into consideration. Indiana caps wrongful death awards by juries for people without dependents at $300,000.  The following are some of the damages you may be able to recover. Lost of Financial Support These damages are especially important when the deceased was the primary provider for the household. Compensation covers the income that the deceased would have provided from their future employment earnings to support dependents.  Medical Expenses Costs of medical care can vary greatly depending on whether the deceased person was receiving medical care for the injury or illness that ultimately led to their death. Doctors, hospitals, diagnostic services, and pharmacies must all receive compensation, despite the outcome of treatment.  Loss of Parental Guidance Monetary awards cannot come close to adequate compensation for losing a parent. Surviving minors may receive financial compensation in an attempt to make up for not having their parent present to raise them and guide them.  Loss of Affection and Care This segment of wrongful death damages is also called “loss of consortium.” It pertains to the loss of a significant other and all the emotional and physical components of a relationship. This compensation may be hard to quantify. The surviving spouse should be prepared to answer a lot of questions about the happiness of their marriage.  Household Service Contribution Running a household is difficult even with multiple people contributing. Maintaining a home, caring for children, doing chores, preparing meals, and all other things that we often take for granted are relevant in your Indiana wrongful death lawsuit.  Burial Expenses Funeral and burial expenses can get expensive and may be covered under your Indiana wrongful death lawsuit damages.    Legal Fees If you succeed in your wrongful death claim, the court will likely grant attorney fees to be paid by the defendant. Legal fees are not assessed until after the verdict.  Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim Not every accidental death that occurs is a wrongful death. To succeed in your Indiana wrongful death cause of action, all the following elements must be satisfied:  A person died; A negligent or intentional act caused the death to occur; Surviving family members incur losses as a result of the death; and Appointment of a personal representative of the estate.   There are many ways that wrongful death can occur. Circumstances vary with every case, and it is important to understand causation. Here are some common circumstances that may lead to a wrongful death cause of action: Vehicle or airplane accident,  Occupational exposure to hazardous conditions or substances, Criminal activity,  Premises accident,  Death during a supervised activity, and Medical malpractice.  The most difficult component of your Indiana Wrongful Death case is proving that the action of the party, whether negligent or intentional, is what led to the death of the deceased. Without the action, death would not have occurred.  How Can a Wrongful Death Attorney Help? Wrongful death claims in Indiana can be complicated, and there are a lot of things to take into consideration. An experienced personal injury attorney can conduct an independent investigation into the death of your loved one to ensure that you have all the evidence necessary to prove your case. One very important benefit of hiring an attorney early is that they can help you accurately determine how much your claim is worth. This could require extensive evidence gathering, including witness testimony.  According to the Indiana statute of limitations, you must file your claim no later than two years after the death occurred. Failing to file within that time frame could bar you from ever filing the wrongful death lawsuit. Your attorney can make sure all your paperwork is submitted in a timely manner, conduct settlement negotiations, and litigate if necessary.  Contact Us Today Navigating the legal system is difficult at best. Gerling Law has been serving the legal needs of Indiana for over 50 years. We pride ourselves on treating each client with compassion and respect. What you are going through is undoubtedly difficult and painful. We are here to fight on your behalf for what you deserve. Contact us today for your case evaluation. Go with Experience. Go with Gerling. ®

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | FAQ

Reasons My VA PTSD Claim Was Denied

The Veterans Benefits Affairs (VBA) claims process is a lengthy and daunting process that often raises uncomfortable emotions related to a person’s service, injury, or resulting illness. Although the VBA touts its benefits, the reality is that many service members are ultimately left with little to no recourse for the damaging effects of their service. Some physical injuries can be traced directly to a military event. But some of the most catastrophic service injuries relate to the psychological aftermath of a traumatic experience. Many of these experiences result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can drastically inhibit a service member’s quality of life and everyday activities. Generally, under the VA standard, those who serve in the armed forces and who receive a discharge “under conditions other than dishonorable” are eligible for VA benefits. You may be wondering, Are there reasons my VA PTSD claim was denied? The answer is yes — the VA denies meritorious PTSD claims for many reasons. Why Are PTSD Claims Denied? Under 38 CFR § 3.304(f), service connection for PTSD requires medical evidence diagnosing the condition under 38 CFR § 4.125(a). You must provide medical evidence that there is a link between their current symptoms and an in-service stressor. You must also present credible supporting evidence that the claimed in-service stressor actually occurred. Although the standard appears straightforward, the inherently bureaucratic nature of the system along with complex evidentiary requirements makes this an exceedingly challenging process. Even though 38 USC § 5107(b) provides that the VA must give you the “benefit of the doubt,” the VA continues to deny PTSD claims because of errors and evidentiary issues. So if you are wondering why your PTSD claim was denied you are not alone. Denials are relatively common with PTSD claims. Let’s take a look at a few common reasons why the VA has denied PTSD claims. Insufficient evidence One of the most common reasons the VA gives for denying PTSD claims is lack of evidence. Obtaining the evidence the VA wants to see to approve a claim can be a challenge; however, it is possible. A knowledgeable PTSD appeals attorney can help veterans present a compelling application while saving them time and stress. Missing Records To qualify for VA benefits with a PTSD diagnosis, you must include the necessary service records. The VA will often deny a PTSD claim if it does not have a record of your service. If the VA denied your PTSD claim for missing records, you can appeal the decision. Eligibility Requirements Often the VA will deny a claim based on some perceived ineligibility. However, the VA is not always correct in its initial assessment and can be convinced to reconsider an initial decision. Steps for Submitting Your Claim Many service members rely on the assistance of non-attorney representatives or fellow service members when submitting their claim and appealing a PTSD claim denial. But these cases require the experience of an experienced PTSD appeal attorney. An attorney can ensure that service members properly complete each step of properly submitting a PTSD claim, and they can appeal denials. Every step is an opportunity for service members to present compelling evidence to support their claim for service-connected benefits. First Step The first step in a PTSD claim involves providing medical evidence of a current disability. Veterans can get denied if they do not have a current PTSD diagnosis from a medical professional. While many seek treatment from licensed counselors, the VA generally requires the diagnosis to come from a physician, registered nurse, or nurse practitioner. A service member’s diagnosis must be based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). In some cases, the VA will deny a “hostile enemy zone” claim if the diagnosis did not come from a VA psychologist or psychiatrist. Medical providers must indicate the level of disability per the VA’s rating schedule. The VA may deny a claim if there is an issue with the diagnosis or if the service member fails to attend a “Compensation & Pension” exam with a VA medical provider. Second Step Those who succeed on the first step must then prove the link between the in-service stressor and PTSD. There are generally three types of in-service stressors in PTSD cases: Combat or hostile enemy zone claims; Military sexual trauma (MST) claims; and Non-combat-related PTSD cases occurring during peacetime. Proving this link can be exceedingly difficult. PTSD often occurs after a stressful event, and not every event is documented. Although the VA maintains the duty to investigate the stressful event, its investigations are often less than diligent. An attorney can help you gather the necessary letters of support from mental health providers and others who may have witnessed or can verify the in-service stressor. Verifying In-Service Stressors In cases where the veteran was diagnosed with PTSD while still in the military, the in-service injury is generally established. However, because the VA and Department of Defense have different characterizations of discharge standards, the veteran’s discharge may pose an obstacle to obtaining benefits.   Typically, in hostile enemy zone cases, the in-service stressor related to the veteran’s fear of hostile military or terrorist activity does not need corroboration. However, non-combat and in-service personal assault claims require credible supporting evidence that the stressor occurred. Evidence of these stressors may be found in military personnel records, service medical records, “buddy statements,” or statements of family members. However, in many cases, service members understandably downplay the effect of their stressful experiences, so the evidence may not exist in these records. In other situations, if the evidence does exist, it may be encompassed within hundreds of pages of documents. Many service members receive denials because they cannot obtain the primary evidence to corroborate the stressor. In other cases, the VA claims processor may not find the evidence credible or probative. An attorney can help by gathering evidence through the following means: Service personnel records, Pay and hazard pay records, Military occupation evidence, Military performance reports, Unit and organizational histories, War diaries,...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | FAQ

How to Win a VA Disability Claim Appeal

When you receive the letter with the VA’s decision to deny your disability compensation claim or underrate your disability rating, you do not have to simply accept it. Maybe when you filed your original claim, you didn’t have evidence that your injury was service-related. Maybe you didn’t provide descriptions of the disability from friends or family. Read on to learn about your options and how to win a VA disability claim appeal.  What Are the Options for Decision Review and What Are the Deadlines? The VA offers three ways to appeal the denial of a claim made after February 19, 2019: a Supplemental Claim, Higher-Level Review, and Board Appeal. The deadlines and evidence required for these appeals vary depending on the method you choose. If you have new evidence, you should choose an option that allows you to submit it. Claim denials dated before February 19, 2019, go through a legacy appeals process, or you can choose to appeal using the modernized decision review options. Supplemental Claim If you want to submit new evidence for the VA to review, you can file a Supplemental Claim. The evidence in your Supplemental Claim must be new (the VA didn’t have the information before it made its original decision) and relevant (the information could prove or disprove something) to your claim. The VA’s duty to assist applies to Supplemental Claims. You can file a Supplemental Claim by mail or in person. There is no time limit to file a Supplemental Claim. If you file within one year of the original decision and the VA grants your Supplemental Claim, the effective date of your payments will relate back to the original claim, and you may receive retroactive payments. The VA should return a decision on your Supplemental Claim in 4-5 months.  Higher-Level Review If you don’t have new evidence to submit but want an additional review of your claim, you can request a Higher-Level Review of your initial claim or Supplemental Claim decision. A new, senior reviewer will determine whether they can change the decision because of a difference of opinion or an error.  You must request a Higher-Level Review within one year of the date of your VA decision notification letter. You can request a Higher-Level Review online for disability compensation claims, but you must request a review of all other types of claims by mail or in person. During the review, you can speak with the reviewer on the phone to explain why you think they should change the decision, such as an error in your decision notification letter. You can expect a decision from the Higher-Level Review in 4-5 months. Board Appeal A Veterans Law Judge on the Board of Veterans’ Appeals will review your claim in a Board Appeal. You will submit a Notice of Disagreement for an initial claim, Supplemental Claim, or Higher-Level Review decision by mail, in person, or by fax. You must submit your request for Board Appeal within one year of the date of the VA’s decision notification letter. If you are appealing a contested decision (when multiple people claim a benefit that only one can receive), you must request Board Appeal within 60 days. If you do not have new evidence to submit, you can request a direct review of your claim. On direct review, the Veterans Law Judge will review your claim using the evidence in your original claim. You can expect a decision on direct review within one year. If you want to submit more evidence, you may do so within 90 days of your request for Board Appeal. In addition, you can request a hearing with the Veterans Law Judge in a virtual hearing, video conference hearing, or in-person hearing in Washington, D.C. You have the option to submit new evidence during the hearing or for 90 days after the hearing. If you submit new evidence or request a hearing, the Board may take more than one year to decide. How to Win a VA Claim and How to Win a VA Appeal The best way to appeal a VA disability claim is to give the VA new evidence and have an experienced, accredited VA attorney help you during your decision review.  What Evidence Do I Need to Win a VA Claim? To win your VA claim, you must prove that your disability is service-connected. You must show that your disability directly resulted from your military service or was made worse by your service. You will want to start collecting evidence as soon as you start seeing the disability, even if it’s during service. Your evidence should come from a medical professional and laypeople (friends, family, or co-workers) who have witnessed your disability. Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Win My VA Appeal? While it’s not required to have representation for a decision review, it is a good idea to have an accredited VA disability attorney to help with your appeal. An accredited VA attorney cannot charge you legal fees until you win your claim. Even then, you will pay legal fees directly from the benefit payment you receive, not out of pocket. VA appeals can be complex. A VA attorney can help gather evidence, file paperwork, find medical experts, and research the law. Only a VA disability attorney is qualified to perform these services effectively. Winning a VA appeal isn’t guaranteed, but knowing that you have experienced VA attorneys dedicated to your appeal is the best way to get the benefits you deserve. At Gerling Law, we recognize that those who served this country are not always treated fairly during VA disability claims. We have recovered over $500 million for our injured and disabled clients since 1963. You fought for your country; now let Gerling Law fight for you. You only pay if you win. Get a free consultation from an experienced member of our team today. 

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Personal Injury

Average Settlement for a Herniated Disc in Indiana

Herniated disc pain can be excruciating. When your herniated disc is the result of someone else’s negligence, you might be under additional stress, wondering who will pay your medical expenses. Understandably, many prospective clients want to know the average settlement for a herniated disc. Various factors impact the value of all personal injury claims, including herniated disc lawsuit settlements. To understand what your claim is worth, you need to speak with an experienced Indiana personal injury lawyer at Gerling Law. What Are Average Herniated Disc Settlement Amounts? There is no average range for herniated disc settlements or any other type of personal injury claim. It’s impossible to provide a typical settlement value because each case is unique. While herniated discs are one of the most common injuries in a car accident, they are often one of the most contested by insurance companies. Insurance adjusters are quick to point the finger at a pre-existing condition. Diagnostic tests can show you have a herniated disc, but they won’t tell the doctors when your injury occurred. Even if you do have a pre-existing herniated disc, it does not necessarily prevent you from getting compensation. For example, you might be entitled to a herniated disc car accident settlement if the collision aggravated your injury. You might be researching compensation for herniated disc car accidents online and wondering why an insurance calculator won’t work to provide an average settlement amount. There is no such thing as a herniated disc settlement calculator—at least not an accurate one. Using an online calculator for your injury claim will not give an accurate value because online calculators are simply incapable of considering all the variables that influence your claim. Factors That Influence Your Herniated Disc Settlement Amount To reach a potential value for a herniated disc injury, we look at various factors that impact your claim. Some of the most important ones include: Your age; Your medical history; Any pre-existing conditions; The prognosis of your herniated disc; Who caused the accident; Your total damages, including medical expenses and time off work; and Your pain and suffering. All cases are unique, which means these factors will vary from case to case. For example, older people may not have lost earnings because they are retired or not working a full-time job. Or if your prognosis for recovery is not good, you could have a higher figure for pain, suffering, and additional medical expenses.  When you retain Gerling Law to represent you, our skilled legal team will help you calculate the total value of your damages and advise you on what a fair settlement range would be. How to Prove Damages in a Herniated Disc Injury Case Proving liability is a crucial part of successfully pursuing a herniated disc settlement. Indiana is a modified comparative negligence state. That means if you share fault for the accident that caused your herniated disc injury, you still might be eligible to collect a portion of your damages. However, you cannot be the primary cause of the accident. For example, if a jury finds you 20% at fault, you could still collect 80% of your damages. If you’re 50% at fault, you could collect 50%. Unfortunately, if you are 51% or more at fault, you will be barred from recovery. Because of this law, insurance companies will look to place the maximum amount of fault on you whenever possible. This tactic reduces their potential payout or may even eliminate it if they can show you were at least 51% at fault. By hiring our skilled Indiana personal injury lawyers, we can protect your rights and work tirelessly to prove liability and damages against the at-fault parties. Why Hire an Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer for Your Herniated Disc Claim You need a legal advocate on your side. Unfortunately, insurance companies rely on the fact that you don’t know the legal process or how to calculate your total damages and negotiate a settlement. At Gerling Law, our top priority is to protect your rights and help you pursue the maximum amount of compensation possible.   We will request all relevant records that show proof of your herniated disc, such as an MRI. We will also obtain all your prior medical records to establish whether you had a pre-existing condition or spinal pain complaints. If necessary, we will hire a medical expert to review your medical history and testify whether the accident caused your herniated disc or aggravated a pre-existing herniated disc. If there were any witnesses to your accident, we will get their statements as well. Contact Gerling Law If you sustained a herniated disc in a car accident—or in any type of accident—contact Gerling Law today to learn how we can assist you. We have decades of experience helping injured victims just like you. We always put our clients first and will do what’s best for you. We have a proven record of success, recovering more than $500 million to date for people in the tri-state area. Call our office or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can start working on your case. Go with Experience. Go with Gerling. ®  

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Car Accident

GEICO Car Accident Settlement Amounts in Indiana and Kentucky

If you’ve been injured in a car accident with a driver insured by GEICO, you may have questions about the company and its claims process. Here is everything you need to know about filing a claim with GEICO and how our experienced personal injury attorneys can help. About GEICO While you may be familiar with GEICO’s famous commercials, its company history may surprise you. GEICO, which stands for Government Employees Insurance Company, was established in 1936 primarily for military service members and federal employees. In 1974, GEICO extended its insurance policy offers to the general public and is now one of the largest insurers in the country. While GEICO initially offered only property and life insurance, it now focuses on auto insurance. What Is the Average GEICO Car Accident Settlement? Since many settlements made with insurance companies like GEICO are confidential, it’s nearly impossible to determine the average settlement. Even if you calculate an average from publicly available data, it would not accurately reflect most settlements with the company.  In addition, there are a variety of factors that affect the value of each settlement. For example, the average GEICO car accident settlements for crashes involving broken bones may be drastically different from those involving paralysis or traumatic brain injuries. Generally, the only way to know the true value of your claim is to have an experienced personal injury lawyer review your case. Should I Contact the GEICO Claims Department After an Accident? You should file your claim with GEICO as soon as possible after the accident. However, there are a few things you need to be careful of when pursuing your claim. First, make sure you do not provide any statements to GEICO’s insurance adjuster. The goal of the adjuster is to find any reason to minimize or deny your claim, so they may use anything you say against you. They may tell you that they need a recorded statement to proceed with the claims process. If this happens, politely decline and contact one of our GEICO car accident attorneys. Second, don’t agree to early settlement offers. Insurers commonly make the claims process a hassle, hoping that you accept a low offer out of desperation to pay bills. While the offer may seem good at first, it may not be enough to cover future medical treatment costs or other expenses related to the accident. Finally, don’t attempt to negotiate your settlement amount without an attorney. Companies like GEICO have entire legal teams to intimidate claimants into accepting a low offer. An experienced car accident lawyer knows the tactics used by GEICO to deny a claim and will gather the evidence needed to make a persuasive case. How Long Does It Take for GEICO to Settle a Claim? The amount of time it takes for GEICO to settle a claim depends on the circumstances of the case. Generally, insurance companies make their first settlement offer within just a few weeks after receiving the claim. However, these initial offers usually undervalue the claim. For cases involving a lawsuit, it may take months or even a couple of years to get a fair settlement. In addition, if GEICO refuses to settle, the company may try to fight you in court. At that point, it’s up to the jury assigned to the case. How Long Does It Take GEICO to Send a Settlement Check? After agreeing to settle, GEICO should send the check within 2 to 7 days after signing the settlement release. However, adjusters often do not send the settlement check promptly. If you have a lawyer handling your case, GEICO typically sends the check to them. They then use the check to pay any outstanding medical bills or attorney fees. Once your lawyer addresses these payments, you’ll receive the remaining amount. Do GEICO Car Accident Settlement Calculators Give an Accurate Estimate? In a word, No. Online calculators don’t give an accurate estimate for GEICO car accident settlements. There are many factors that affect a GEICO personal injury settlement that calculators ignore, including: The severity of your injuries, Future medical treatment costs, and Pain and suffering. While most calculators focus on economic damages (such as repairing your car) associated with your claim, they often ignore the intangible aspects of your injury. What if you can’t participate in one of your usual hobbies because of your injuries? What about your pain, suffering, and emotional distress? Do your injuries require lifelong care? Lawyers use various methods to calculate the value of intangible or noneconomic damages. The most common is the per diem method (assigning a value to each day the person is incapacitated) and the multiplier method (multiplying economic damages by a number between 1 and 5, depending on the severity of the damages). Some of the damages are incalculable and subjective. And many personal injury cases include non-economic losses like this. For this reason, a GEICO settlement calculator can’t accurately assess the value of most claims. The Benefits of Working with One of Our Lawyers While it’s not necessary to hire a lawyer for your car accident claim for every case, it’s absolutely essential for cases involving serious injuries. At Gerling Law, our personal injury attorneys help clients navigate all the major steps in a claim, including: Identifying the party responsible for your injuries, Gathering the necessary evidence for your claim, Collecting medical documentation of your injuries, Finding and interviewing accident witnesses, and Negotiating with GEICO and other insurance companies. When you get into an accident, handling these aspects of your claim may be overwhelming and intimidating. Our goal is to fight for the compensation you need, so you can focus on recovery. If you or a loved one sustained an injury in a car accident, call Gerling Law today or contact us online for a free consultation. We proudly serve clients living throughout the states of Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. Go with Experience. Go with Gerling. ®

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Dangerous Drugs

Average Wrongful Death Settlement in Indianapolis?

Losing a loved one in an accident leaves their family and friends devastated. As they move through the stages of grief, they begin searching for answers and recognize the financial stresses associated with the loss of a loved one. Potential plaintiffs often ask what a wrongful death lawsuit average is when deciding if they want to pursue one. Unfortunately, there is no one average number. No two cases are exactly alike, so there is no way to compare cases to each other. The amount of compensation you can receive will depend on a number of factors. Understanding what a wrongful death claim requires and how damages are calculated can help the family decide how to proceed. Our Indiana wrongful death lawyers will explain. For immediate assistance, please don’t hesitate to send us a message or call (888) 437-5464 today for a free consultation. What is a Wrongful Death Suit? Wrongful death is a civil claim brought by the deceased’s surviving family or personal representative against the negligent party. It is completely separate from a criminal charge, with a different burden of proof. Every state defines wrongful death in its own way, but there are common elements: Duty of Care. The plaintiff must show that the defendant had a responsibility to avoid behaviors that could cause foreseeable harm to the plaintiff (the deceased);  Breach of Duty. The plaintiff must show that the defendant violated their duty of care; Causation. The defendant’s violation/breach caused the person’s death; and Damages. The deceased and their family suffered injury or damage as a result. In these situations, the family has the option to file a wrongful death lawsuit and seek compensation. What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Case? A wrongful death claim covers those losses experienced by the next of kin after the deceased’s death. These can include: Loss of future inheritance, Loss of parental guidance (if they had minor children), Loss of spousal companionship (also called consortium), Loss of the decedent’s benefits such as retirement, and Loss of the decedent’s future income. Depending on your state, you may also be able to pursue a claim for losses suffered by the deceased prior to their death, such as medical expenses and pain and suffering. Your attorney can help you understand the laws that apply to you. How Are Wrongful Death Damages Calculated? Because each case is so different, it’s hard to name a number, or even a range, for damages. However, there are several factors that may affect a typical wrongful death settlement amount. Usually, the main consideration is the decedent’s status and circumstances at the time of death. Factors to consider include: Age of person at time of death; The deceased’s career, education, and earning capacity; Their state of health; Income at time of death; and The age and needs of the deceased’s legal dependents. The final amount of damages cannot be a guess. It must be supported by objective evidence, which can require expert witnesses. Because of this, it is so important to have a personal injury attorney on your side who knows how wrongful death cases work. If a case does reach a jury, the plaintiff can also ask for punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant whose conduct is considered grossly negligent or intentional. Some states put a cap (limit amount) on this category. In Indiana, punitive damages are capped at the greater of three times compensatory damages or $50,000, whichever is greater. Kentucky and Illinois do not limit punitive damages. Who Can Bring an Indiana Wrongful Death Claim? Each state has its own laws stating who has the standing to bring a wrongful death claim and who can collect damages. Usually, only immediate family members like spouses, children, and parents of unmarried children can recover damages in a wrongful death suit. Often, these individuals also have standing to bring the wrongful death suit. However, many states require a deceased’s personal representative (executor, executrix, or court-appointed administrator) to bring suit on behalf of the family members. Is a Wrongful Death Settlement Taxable in Indianapolis? The IRS considers any portion of a settlement or award that is “compensatory” as non-taxable. Compensatory damages are intended to repay someone for a loss that they have already sustained and are not considered “income” for tax purposes. If the case goes to trial and a jury awards punitive damage, the result may be different. It is possible that any punitive damages in a jury award or settlement may be taxed.  How an Indiana Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help You Navigating a wrongful death claim can be complicated and overwhelming. You may be grieving and wondering if a claim is in the family’s best interest. Sometimes insurance companies contact family members shortly after an accident and offer an amount that seems substantial. But in most cases, their offer will be significantly less than the family’s actual losses. A wrongful death claim will take an additional toll on everyone involved, so having an attorney is essential. First, they will be your advocate against the responsible party, insurance company, or opposing counsel. They know the law and how to navigate the legal system on your behalf. The loss of a loved one cannot be reclaimed through a wrongful death action. But a claim can compensate a family for emotional and economic harms so that they can begin to move forward. An experienced lawyer can help you negotiate a wrongful death settlement or represent you at trial if necessary. Suffering After the Loss of a Loved One? Did you lose a family member or loved one due to the negligent actions of another? The team at Gerling Law is incredibly sorry for your loss, and we want to help you if we can. Our Indiana wrongful death attorneys are dedicated advocates who will fight hard to get you the compensation you deserve after such a tragedy. We have successfully represented clients in Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky in wrongful death suits and other personal injury matters...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Personal Injury

Calculating Pain and Suffering in Indiana

If you sustain severe injuries in an accident, chances are you may experience physical or emotional distress during recovery. In Indiana, plaintiffs may pursue compensation for their pain and suffering in the form of damages. However, you may be wondering, How do you calculate pain and suffering? Let’s take a look at how a personal injury attorney may calculate your pain and suffering depending on your situation. Damages Available in Indiana In personal injury cases, there are three types of damages available for victims to pursue: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Each category has an effect on the total settlement amount and requires different types of evidence. Economic Damages These damages compensate the plaintiff for any calculable losses from their injuries. This includes any monetary losses, such as medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and more.  Non-Economic Damages Also known as general damages, non-economic damages are any non-calculable losses sustained by the plaintiff. In other words, these damages are intangible and highly subjective. Pain and suffering falls into the category of non-economic damages. Punitive Damages These types of damages are awarded only in cases where the defendant acted with malice or gross negligence. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant for extremely reckless misconduct. Popular Pain and Suffering Calculation Methods in Indiana While methods vary between attorneys, many use the multiplier method to calculate non-economic damages like pain and suffering for their clients. The multiplier is usually a number between one and five depending on the severity of the injury. Your attorney will multiply that number by the amount of your economic damages. Consider the following example: Susan gets into a car accident and suffers permanent paralysis in her lower body. Her economic damages amount to nearly $1,000,000. Susan was a competitive swimmer, so in addition to losing the ability to walk, she can no longer participate in this activity. Because of Susan’s significant losses, her attorney pursues a pain and suffering multiplier of five. Susan and her lawyer decide to sue the defendant for $6,000,000 total, which includes $1,000,000 in economic damages and $5,000,000 in non-economic damages. One thing to keep in mind is that some cases may use a multiplier higher than five, especially if the injury results in total disability. However, keep in mind that the State of Indiana caps the amount of damages for some types of cases. For example, under IC 34-18-14-3, a plaintiff may not recover more than $1.8 million for an act of medical malpractice that occurs after June 30, 2019. Do Online Indiana Pain and Suffering Calculators Really Give Accurate Settlement Estimates? No, Indiana pain and suffering calculators do not give accurate estimates. Since every person has unique circumstances, it is impossible for a calculator to determine an estimate that matches your case. The best way to find an accurate estimate for your settlement is to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. How Much Is My Pain and Suffering Worth? The value of your pain and suffering depends on several factors. Since there is no objective way to determine pain and suffering, the jury usually decides whether to award pain and suffering based on the following: The type of injury sustained by the plaintiff, The type of medication required to treat the injury, The effect of the injury on the plaintiff’s quality of life, The length of the plaintiff’s recovery, and The strength of the evidence provided. While these aren’t the only factors that the jury may take into consideration, they are a major part of their calculation. Here’s an example from a 2001 Indiana case where the jury awarded pain and suffering damages. On May 6, 1995, trucker Jerry Stanton made a delivery to Kroger’s Indianapolis Distribution Center. Before leaving, he decided to take a break and parked his tractor trailer next to another parked trailer. A Kroger employee, Ira Ritter, began backing up a tractor into the parked trailer without looking, pinning Stanton between her vehicle and the trailer. He suffered devastating injuries, including a pelvic fracture, broken ribs, lung contusions, internal bleeding, and hemorrhagic shock. Stanton sued Ritter for more than $65 million in damages. When the case went to trial, the jury determined that Stanton was 20% at fault for the accident and awarded him $55 million in damages. There are several reasons why the jury awarded such a large amount. First, the doctors who testified for Stanton said it was the most severe injury they’d ever seen in their careers. Second, Stanton had to be resuscitated several times over the first month of recovery and developed respiratory distress syndrome. Finally, due to Stanton’s injuries, he could no longer participate in any outdoor activities that he used to enjoy. Based on these circumstances, the jury found Stanton’s award justified. How to Prove Pain and Suffering Generally, the best way to prove pain and suffering after an injury is to document it. There are a few ways you can do this depending on your circumstances: Keep a diary. Make sure to mention any of the difficulties you experience due to your injury, including changes in mood, excessive pain, or trouble performing daily activities.  Visit a therapist. Seeing a mental health professional is a good way to document changes in your state of mind after the injury. Mention difficulties to your doctor. If your injury prevents you from getting sleep, performing basic tasks, or enjoying life, tell your doctor, so they make a note in your medical record. These are just a few ways of documenting your pain and suffering. If you have trouble writing it down on your own, try asking family members or friends to provide their own testimony. How Can an Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer Help? Instead of relying on an Indiana pain and suffering calculator, it’s best to go with a skilled personal injury attorney. They will calculate your potential settlement based on every detail of your case, including your bills, future medical costs, loss of quality of life, and...

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Veterans Disability

How Long Does an Expedited VA Claim Take?

Veterans can file for veteran disability compensation. Veterans may qualify for disability benefits if they suffer from physical or mental conditions before, during, or after service, so long as the  conditions are related to service. Veterans who would like the opportunity to receive compensation must file a VA claim.  If you wish to file a VA claim, the process may take some time—anywhere from three to six months to receive a decision. Certain circumstances, including missing information in the claim, can slow down the process. Fortunately, in some cases, you may qualify for a VA expedited claim process.  There is, however, no exact way to determine how much faster the expedited VA claim process is. Claims are deemed “priority” or “non-priority,” meaning priority claims will be handled first. Still, because there are other priority requests, expedited claims may still take a little time.  First and foremost, before deciding whether you are a qualified candidate for an expedited VA claim, it is important to understand the criteria.  Common Circumstances That Can Get a VA Claim Expedited If you are a veteran interested in expediting your VA claim, you must first qualify. There are special circumstances that, if present, can allow a veteran to expedite the VA claim due to hardship. The Veteran Is Going Through Financial Hardship If a veteran is experiencing extreme financial hardship, they may be able to expedite their claim. The veteran applying will need to provide evidence of their financial situation, which can include: Collection letters, Past-due bills, or Eviction notices. If the evidence submitted is substantial enough to support the claim of financial hardship, your VA claim will be taken care of more quickly. The Veteran Is Terminally Ill If a veteran is suffering from a terminal illness, their claim will be expedited. Medical evidence of the terminal illness is needed to qualify. Medical proof can include medical records or a letter from a physician. The veteran can provide this documentation themselves or allow the VA to gather their private treatment records. The Veteran Is Diagnosed with ALS Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a disease affecting the nervous system, eventually causing the loss of muscle control. As with a terminal illness, veterans diagnosed with ALS will qualify for an expedited VA claim if proof is present. The veteran can provide this to the VA, or the VA can obtain these records for them. The Veteran Was Seriously or Very Seriously Injured or Ill During Military Operations Veterans filing VA claims are likely already suffering some injury or illness. However, veterans that have suffered an injury or illness during military operations can qualify for an expedited VA claim. The VA sets this category apart, defining it as “a disability resulting from a military operation that will likely result in discharge from military service.” To qualify, veterans must provide a copy of their military personnel records and medical evidence showing severe disability or injury. With permission from the veteran, the VA can get the required treatment records on their behalf. The Veteran Is of Advanced Age Veterans 85 years or older may qualify for an expedited VA claim. In their request, the veteran will simply need to provide their accurate date of birth. The Veteran Is a Former Prisoner of War Veterans who were prisoners of war are eligible to have their VA claims expedited. Veterans must provide a copy of their military personnel records, including their DD Form 214 (Certificate of Release of Discharge from Active Duty), and other important information, such as their service number, branch and dates of service, or any other information relevant to their detainment. The Veteran Received a Medal of Honor or Purple Heart Award Veterans decorated with a Medal of Honor or Purple Heart Award will qualify to have their VA claim expedited. The veteran will need to furnish a copy of their military personnel records, including DD Form 214 or some information exhibiting receipt of the Medal of Honor or Purple Heart. What Can I Do to Make My VA Claim Go Faster? If you are a veteran and qualify under one of the above-mentioned criteria, you may wonder how to speed up your VA disability claim. To do so, you must fill out a Priority Processing Request form.  What Can an Attorney Do for Me? An attorney cannot guarantee that your VA claim will go any faster. Nonetheless, your lawyer can help in a variety of ways, including: Thoroughly explaining the process; Answering your questions; Helping you navigate the VA claims process; and Supporting you from beginning to end.  The VA claims process can be tricky and challenging to handle on your own. With the assistance of a qualified attorney, you can have a better chance at a successful outcome to your claim. Consult with a VA Disability Attorney Today Gerling Law exists to help clients get the help they need during a trying time. We believe in putting our clients first and always having their best interests at heart. Gerling Law’s attorneys are all experienced and well-versed in the law, making them your best ally. We aim to help our clients in any way we can, getting them on the right path to recovery. Our firm offers free consultations. Contact us today, and let’s see how we can help you. Go with Experience. Go with Gerling. ®

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Defective Consumer Devices

Serious CPAP Machine Side Effects and Risks: What You Should Know

Due to the risk of severe and potentially life-threatening CPAP machine side effects, the FDA recently announced the voluntary recall of some CPAP, BiPAP, and ventilator devices manufactured by Phillips Respironics. A design and manufacturing flaw causes these devices to expose users to potentially lethal particles and gasses. As a result, users could develop cancer, organ failure, and other significant health issues. If you or a loved one sustained harm from using one of these faulty medical devices, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other damages. The defective medical device attorneys of Gerling Law are committed to the pursuit of justice for wrongfully injured clients. We can assist you with filing a Phillips CPAP lawsuit today. What Are the Most Common CPAP Side Effects? Some types of mild CPAP machine side effects are common. Two of the most common side effects of CPAP equipment include dry mouth and nasal discharge. Some users might find it difficult to sleep while others might develop a skin rash around the mask area. Some gastrointestinal problems can develop if a user swallows the pressurized air.   Fortunately, many of these conditions typically resolve on their own once users become accustomed to using the equipment. In the case of sleep disruption, simply adjusting the machine’s pressure or mask tightness can take care of the problem. Switching to a different type of mask can also reduce or eliminate many of the most common side effects. These issues tend to occur across the board and affect users of all CPAP brands and types. Some other side effects, however, are much less mild. In fact, some CPAP side effects can be life-threatening—and these symptoms do not resolve on their own. What Are the More Serious CPAP Machine Side Effects? Some potentially severe CPAP machine side effects are specific to Phillips Respironics devices. For users of Phillips CPAP machines, serious side effects can develop as a result of breakdown in polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) sound abatement foam. Phillips used this material in the design and manufacturing of CPAP devices for the purpose of reducing operational sound and vibration. When PE-PUR foam breaks down, the resulting broken foam particles (known as black debris) can potentially enter the airway of CPAP machines. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can also enter the airway as a result of foam degradation. When someone inhales or ingests these compounds, they can develop respiratory side effects. These side effects, which can be toxic or even carcinogenic (cancer-causing), include the following: Headache, Dizziness, Chest pressure, Respiratory tract irritation, Airway inflammation, Asthma, Nausea or vomiting, Liver or kidney damage, and Cancer. These complications can lead to life-threatening or permanent injury. Some Phillips CPAP users require extensive medical intervention to save their lives or to prevent permanent damage. Details Regarding the Phillips CPAP Machine Recall In late June of 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a notice of voluntary recall and warning regarding CPAP machines manufactured by Phillips Respironics. The warning described the potential health risks of using these devices, including the more serious side effects described above. Phillips voluntarily recalled devices that were manufactured during the period of 2009 to April 26, 2021. The manufacturer provided a listing of all the recalled Phillips CPAP models. Users were instructed to immediately stop using the affected CPAP and BiPAP devices and consult with their physicians regarding next steps. Through testing and lab analysis, Phillips identified a number of CPAP toxic chemicals that were present after the breakdown of PE-PUR foam. The results, including the following, were shocking, discovering the presence of: Diethylene glycol, Dimethyl diazene, Phenol, 2,6-bis (1,1-dimethylethyl)-4-(1-methylpropyl), Toluene diisocyanate, and Toluene diamine. These chemicals are all used in the manufacturing of other chemicals and industrial products. Toluene diamine, for example, is often used as a sensitizer for explosives. Exposure to Toluene diamine is known to cause cancer, organ damage, and genetic defects. This chemical can also cause fertility damage. Toluene diisocyanate can be fatal if inhaled, while Diethylene glycol can be toxic if swallowed. In its lab analysis report, Phillips stated the following. “Based on the test data and information available to date, Philips believes that most degraded foam particulates are too big to be deeply inhaled.” Whatever the stated opinion of the manufacturer might be, patients continue to develop significant health problems and complications as a result of having used the Phillips devices.  What You Should Know About the Phillips CPAP Lawsuit The list of injuries related to Phillips Respironics products continues to grow. Multiple forms of cancer—including bladder cancer, breast cancer, brain cancer, and leukemia—have been linked to these faulty devices. Organ failure, heart attack, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) have also been reported. Whatever type of complications you developed as a result of using a Phillips CPAP machine, you have a challenging road ahead of you. You will likely need extensive and potentially ongoing medical treatment and care. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you could be left disabled and without a way to earn a living.  If you or someone you love sustained injuries or other damages related to a Phillips CPAP machine, you deserve justice and fair financial compensation. Filing a Phillips CPAP lawsuit can help get you the resources you need. Contact a CPAP Lawsuit Attorney Today to Get Started If you believe you suffered side effects from using a CPAP machine, it is important for you to explore your options for taking legal action. At Gerling Law, we help CPAP injury victims in Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, or anywhere else in the United States. Our firm has more than a half-century of experience. We fight to get injury victims the justice they deserve. You could be entitled to recover compensation for your medical treatment, lost wages, emotional trauma, and more. We offer injury victims a no-cost, no-obligation consultation and case review. Our experienced personal injury attorneys are passionate about getting justice for wrongfully injured clients. You do not have to face this significant challenge alone. Call us...

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| Read Time: 6 minutes | FAQ

What to Expect From Your C&P Exam for Veterans with PTSD

What Is PTSD? The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) describes posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a mental health problem sometimes developed after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, such as: Military combat, A natural disaster, A car accident, or Sexual assault. When a veteran files a VA claim to receive disability benefits for PTSD, the VA requires you to complete a Compensation and Pension (C&P) Exam.  The VA disability attorneys at Gerling Law are committed to getting you the compensation you deserve. You fought for our country, now let Gerling Law fight for you.  What Does the C&P Exam Do? The C&P exam, sometimes called the VA’s PTSD test, verifies that the veteran has PTSD, even if he or she has already received a PTSD diagnosis from a qualified medical professional. Additionally, the C&P determines whether the PTSD is service-related and the severity of the condition. Service-related means that the veteran’s PTSD was either: Directly caused by military service; Occurred while in the military; Aggravated by military service; or  Caused by conditions that are service-related.  In order to receive disability benefits for PTSD, the VA requires that the condition be service-related. Additionally, the VA requires veterans to prove the following: The stressor(s) occurred during your military service; You cannot function as well as you once could due to your PTSD symptoms; and You have been diagnosed with PTSD by a qualified medical professional. Many veterans face difficulty proving when and where their stressor occurred. This is especially difficult when veterans have multiple stressors. Some events, like the death of a fellow soldier, could be well documented through medical reports and obituaries. But other stressors present proof challenges due to the lack of documentation of the incident. In some cases, the VA needs an independent verification that the stressor occurred, outside of the veteran’s statements.  Who Administers C&P Exams? In most cases, the VA provides psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals to administer the exam. The administrator has access to the veteran’s medical records, recorded statements, treatment notes, and any other information relevant to the veteran’s disability claim. A failure to thoroughly review a veteran’s claims file could warrant challenging the results of the C&P exam, if necessary.  How Does the C&P Exam Determine Whether a Veteran has PTSD? The VA assigns veterans with a disability rating based on the severity of his or her disability in order to compensate the veteran for the loss of productivity in the workplace. The more a disability interferes with the veteran’s ability to work, the higher the disability rating assigned to the veteran. Higher disability ratings translate to larger disability payments. Disability Rating The VA rating formula ranges from zero percent to 100 percent in increments of 10. The VA assigns disability ratings based on the results of your C&P exam. The VA examiners use statutes that outline the disability levels to determine the level applicable to you. 0% Disability Rating A zero percent disability rating means that the veteran has been formally diagnosed with PTSD, but the symptoms are not severe enough to interfere with occupational and social functioning or to require continuous medication. The VA does not offer disability compensation to veterans with a 0% disability rating.  30% Disability Rating A 30% disability rating occurs most commonly with VA disability claims. At this level, the veteran displays occupational and social impairment with an occasional decrease in efficiency and intermittent periods of inability to perform job tasks. Symptoms associated with this rating include: Intermittent depression; Panic attacks; Chronic sleep issues; Mild memory loss; Feelings of suspiciousness; and Anxiety.  The symptoms described for a 30% PTSD rating aim to indicate veterans with mild cases of PTSD.  50% Disability Rating With a 50% disability rating, the veteran displays occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity. Symptoms associated with this rating include: Circumstantial, circumlocutory, or stereotyped speech; Regular panic attacks; Short and long term memory loss; Inability to understand complex commands; Impaired judgment; Issues with motivation and mood; Flattened affect; and Inability to form and maintain effective work and social relationships.  Compared to the symptoms described for a 30% PTSD rating, 50% rating symptoms occur more frequently and last longer. 70% Disability Rating Veterans assigned a 70% disability rating experience PTSD that causes significant levels of impairment in multiple facets of life, both occupationally and socially. The 70% disability rating appears one step below the highest disability rating for PTSD. Symptoms associated with this rating include: Suicidal ideations; Obsessive rituals that interfere with routine activities; Illogical, obscure, or irrelevant speech; Near-continuous panic or depression; Lack of impulse control; Spatial disorientation; Neglecting personal appearance and hygiene; Inability to work in stressful situations; and Inability to form or maintain effective relationships. The 70% disability rating criteria represent the widest array of symptoms and reflects a progression of the symptoms described by earlier disability ratings.  100% Disability Rating A 100% disability rating requires the veteran’s PTSD symptoms to be so severe that he or she is unable to function in everyday life. The symptoms associated with a 100% disability rating include: Gross impairment in thought processes or communications; Persistent delusions or hallucinations; Grossly inappropriate behavior; Persistent danger of harming self or others; Intermittent inability to perform tasks of daily living; Disorientation to time or place; and Inability to remember the name of self or close relatives. This disability rating represents a total impairment when it comes to your work and personal life. Veterans assigned a 100% disability rating to receive the maximum amount of disability compensation available.  What Should I Do Before a C&P Exam? First of all, do not skip your C&P exam as that could result in the denial of your disability claim. Before your exam, you should document the most persistent, severe symptoms associated with your PTSD. You should note any symptoms you believe are associated with your PTSD, even embarrassing ones.  Many people get nervous before taking a test or are unsure of what to say at a PTSD exam, causing...

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