| Read Time: 3 minutes | auto

Safe Driving Tips You Need to Know

If you’ve got a license and are out on the road regularly you have probably broken some traffic laws subconsciously. Have you ever rolled through a stop sign because no one else was around? Or sped even five miles over the limit? Ever checked your phone or sent out a quick text while at the wheel? These are only a few of the many causes of car accidents in the U.S. Small road violations can lead to big accidents, even if you think no one else is around. Safe driving is important even when no one else is looking or the violation may seem small. Here are some eye-opening statistics regarding vehicle accidents in the United States: 40,000 accidents result in death each year 90 deaths per day Accidents resulting in permanent injuries reaches 2 million a year Fatal injury accidents happen more on the weekends 1,600 kids under the age of 15 die every year in some sort of vehicle accident These high numbers mean that you could be a part of these statistics. We share this information not to scare you, but to help protect you and your loved ones. Safe Driving Tips We’ll start with the obvious – wear your seat belt! The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 15,000 lives were saved in 2017 because drivers and passengers made the smart decision to click their seat belt. Everyone should know that if you are using your phone behind the wheel, you’re not driving safely. In most states, it is illegal to even be on your phone while behind the wheel of a vehicle. Of all the accidents that occur each day, the National Safety Council reports that 1 in every 4 accidents is caused by a driver distracted by his or her cell phone. Another important safe driving tip – never get behind the wheel when you have been drinking or may be under the influence of any kind of drugs or alcohol. This is also important for those times when you may be on a new medicine. Age Can Be a Factor Another important thing to note is that people between the ages of 16 and 19 are at a much higher risk of being in an accident than those who are older. About 8,000 young people are killed in auto accidents between the ages of 16 and 20. One of the most terrifying moments in a parent’s life, but exciting for most teens, is the day they get their license and are finally able to hit the open road without a parent or guardian in the front seat next to them. This is why it is extremely important to go over road safety if you have a teen receiving their license. Tell your kids to wear their seat belt, put their phones down, and never, ever get behind the wheel if they have consumed any amount of alcohol or drugs, even if they think they are “okay to drive.” Hopefully, they will pass along the lessons they learn to their friends, too. Next time you get behind the wheel, remember these statistics and remind yourself that safe driving takes priority over speed and convenience. If you have been involved in an auto accident, Gerling is here to help. Gerling Law is a leading personal injury law firm dedicated to providing aggressive legal representation to individuals and their families.  With over 50 years of experience, Gerling Law has helped thousands of people in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in a wide variety of personal injury and consumer protection cases, including trucking accidents, wrongful death, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence and social security disability. Gerling Law takes pride in the fact that we have never represented insurance companies, hospitals or large corporations and that we fight against powerful companies for our clients. If you need an experienced, dedicated personal injury lawyer, Gerling Law is here to help.  You can always reach us at 888-GERLING (888-437-5464) or through our website at www.gerlinglaw.com.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | auto

A police report could be vital to your case

A fender bender. A side swipe in the parking lot. Even the smallest of vehicular accidents require a police report. Why? This could be a vital piece of evidence in your personal injury case. Even if you think you just have a small concussion from a fender bender, you need to call 9-1-1. Police reports are actually extremely important when it comes to a personal injury case. There are multiple reasons for this. First, an official police report will document exactly what happened for every party involved. This means that no one can report to their insurance company a false story. However, if the same report is submitted to everyone, no lies can be spread. Secondly, the report will give insurance companies a more realistic picture of the accident scene and what happened. This will help prove who is at fault for the accident. Police presence helps YOU Police are also well-trained in accident situations. As a result, they can do a lot for you if you are in an accident. The police will find and question any witnesses, which allows you to focus on your own injuries and seeking medical attention. The police will most likely be able to figure out who is at fault, too. And, if it is not you, this is good news. Police reports will help you avoid any kind of scam or losing more money than you already have. If you find yourself injured because of an accident, it is imperative you seek out the police to file a report. This will be extremely helpful for your attorney in your case. Gerling Law is a leading personal injury law firm dedicated to providing aggressive legal representation to individuals and their families.  With over 50 years of experience, Gerling Law has helped thousands of people in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in a wide variety of personal injury and consumer protection cases, including trucking accidents, wrongful death, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence and social security disability. Gerling Law takes pride in the fact that we have never represented insurance companies, hospitals or large corporations and that we fight against powerful companies for our clients. If you need an experienced, dedicated personal injury lawyer, Gerling Law is here to help.  You can always reach us at 888-GERLING (888-437-5464) or through our website at www.gerlinglaw.com.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | auto

Car seat safety – there's an 85% chance you're doing it wrong

Ensuring protection for yourself while operating a vehicle is usually a top priority – buckle your seat belt, look before merging, etc. But what about the others in the car with you, like children? Each state has very specific laws about car seat safety in regards to children. Let’s take a look to better protect the little ones you love. Indiana It is encouraged to keep an infant rear-facing for as long as possible. Legally, those under a year old and less than 20 pounds have to be rear-facing. Once your baby reaches a year old and 20 lbs. you may opt for a front-facing seat using an internal harness. Harness straps should be secure and snug at the armpit level. Indiana State Police suggest keeping your child in a front-facing seat with harness until they reach 40 lbs. Then, your young one can graduate to a booster seat until the age of eight, as long as they meet certain weight requirements. Kentucky In Kentucky, car seat safety laws are similar to Indiana. Infants must remain in a rear-facing seat until the age of one or upon reaching the weight of 20 lbs. When your child reaches 40 lbs. or the age of 4, they may move up to a booster seat. Once they turn 8, or becomes over the height of 57 inches, they may get rid of the booster seat and only use a seat belt. It is important to enforce seat belt safety with your children. It can be the difference between life or death. Illinois In Illinois, infants and toddlers under the age of 2 must be secured into a rear-facing car seat. However, if they are 40 lbs. and 40 inches they may advance to a front-facing seat with a harness. Once the height and weight requirements for the manufacturer is met, children may move on to a booster seat. Booster seats in Illinois are recommended for children ages 7-12. You might be thinking 12 seems a little too old, but this suggestion is due to the fact that some 12-year-olds might not have grown enough to safely fit into an adult seat belt. Following these car seat safety laws can be vital to the safety of your children or other little loved ones you may be transporting. While you may be a safe driver, that can’t be said for everyone on the road. Taking these laws seriously and ensuring the protection of young children is extremely important. Gerling Law is a leading personal injury law firm dedicated to providing aggressive legal representation to individuals and their families.  With over 50 years of experience, Gerling Law has helped thousands of people in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in a wide variety of personal injury and consumer protection cases, including trucking accidents, wrongful death, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence and social security disability. Gerling Law takes pride in the fact that we have never represented insurance companies, hospitals or large corporations and that we fight against powerful companies for our clients. If you need an experienced, dedicated personal injury lawyer, Gerling Law is here to help.  You can always reach us at 888-GERLING (888-437-5464) or through our website at www.gerlinglaw.com.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Accident Lawyer

Statutes of Limitations: How to beat the clock

You may have heard the term SOL or statutes of limitations. More importantly, if you haven’t, you could be literally SOL. Why? Because the statutes of limitation set a time limit for filing lawsuits. In other words, if your case isn’t filed by the SOL deadline, it can never be filed at all. Statutes of limitations are different for every state Time limits are different for every state Did you know that every state sets its own time limits for personal injury claims stemming from a vehicle collision? For instance, in communities like Evansville, Henderson and Owensboro that are close to state borders, it’s important to know the statutes of limitations for Indiana and Kentucky, because you could be in an accident in either state. So, you need to arm yourself with the right information. When the statutes of limitations clock starts ticking… Time limits for filing a personal injury suit depends on two factors. First, what kind of accident you were in. And, second, what state the accident happened in. In Indiana, the statutes of limitation for bringing a personal injury suit for a car accident is two years. But to bring a fraud suit, Indiana gives you six years. Unlike Indiana, Kentucky only gives you one year for personal injury in a car accident, but five years for fraud. However, the proverbial clock starts ticking at the same time for both states: on the date that you had the accident. Additionally, there is a limit to how long you have to collect a favorable judgment. It is 20 years for Indiana. While Kentucky’s is just 15 years. By calling an experienced injury attorney right after your accident, you can know what your time limit is In conclusion, if you’ve been injured in a car or other kind of accident, you need to take action before the statutes of limitations run. Let an experienced injury attorney help you avoid making the costly mistake of missing your statutes of limitations. Gerling Law is a leading personal injury law firm dedicated to providing aggressive legal representation to individuals and their families.  With over 50 years of experience, Gerling Law has helped thousands of people in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in a wide variety of personal injury and consumer protection cases, including trucking accidents, wrongful death, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence and social security disability. Gerling Law takes pride in the fact that we have never represented insurance companies, hospitals or large corporations and that we fight against powerful companies for our clients. If you need an experienced, dedicated personal injury lawyer, Gerling Law is here to help.  You can always reach us at 888-GERLING (888-437-5464) or through our website at www.gerlinglaw.com.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Accident Lawyer

Vicarious Liability and how it effects YOU.

Your car is, well, yours. You’re going to be behind the steering wheel nearly every single time that vehicle goes out on the road. However, there will be moments when someone else is driving your car. Perhaps your teenage son or daughter needs to take the car somewhere with their friends. Or maybe a friend or employee needs to take your car out for an important purpose. How does this relate to “vicarious liability” and you? Most of the time, this won’t be a problem. Your friend, family member, or associate will take the car out and return it without issue. However, there are people that loan their car out to their close confidants. Then, they later find out shortly after they have left with their vehicle that they got into an accident. Vicarious liability means that you could still be partly liable for the accident even if you weren’t even in the car when the accident happened. Parents can be held liable if their children cause an accident under the “Family Car Doctrine,” or if the friend that you give the car to is known to be a risky or dangerous driver, you could be held liable for any accident they cause under vicarious liability. These are tricky situations, and if you are being held responsible for an accident under vicarious liability, be sure to take it seriously. Also, make sure if you’re loaning your car out that it is to someone responsible and safe.

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | auto

Few details in Indianapolis accident that kills bicyclist

A 23-year-old bicyclist was killed in a motor vehicle accident in Indianapolis, Indiana recently after a car struck the bike while it attempted a left turn. The accident happened just before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, and the police are investigating the accident. The driver of the motor vehicle stayed at the scene and cooperated with police, even submitting to a blood draw. The bicyclist was in his bike lane and then attempted to make a left before the car hit him – but little else is known about the circumstances of the wreck. We will have to wait for the police report before we know more about this incident, but it does look like it was a “true” accident. It is important to remember with all motor vehicle accidents that the police report carries significant weight – and that it can be changed after the fact if new information comes to light. But the report will take some time to complete, and for victims that are awaiting critical information to support their personal injury lawsuit, patience is crucial. The other lesson from this story is that bicyclists are at risk out on the road, and the drivers of other vehicles are often combative and unwilling to share the road with them. This can lead to avoidable and negligent accidents that cause significant harm to the bicyclist, or even death. Victims in these accidents should seek legal counsel so that they are aware of all of their options in the wake of a bike accident. Source: FOX 59, “Coroner’s office identifies bicyclist killed after crash on city’s northwest side,” Oct. 3, 2017

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | auto

Self-driving cars are not without their problems

While the following story didn’t happen here in Indianapolis, it still carries some significant weight for the entire country. It revolves around the ongoing saga of self-driving cars, and what the future holds for these tremendous, but problematic, vehicles. One big piece of news from yesterday was that the U.S. House of Representatives accelerated the move towards self-driving cars by allowing automakers to release more of these vehicles to the public without the autonomous vehicles meeting certain safety standards. That may sound dangerous, but it would seem the point is to experiment and accelerate the production of self-driving cars, which promise to dramatically cut back on preventable, human-caused car accidents. But alongside this piece of news is a report that numerous Uber self-driving vehicles have run red lights in San Francisco, and that one was involved in a minor accident in that city recently. The wreck was a rear-end accident that saw another vehicle crash into the autonomous car after the driver had turned off the self-driving mode to allow some pedestrians through. There is also video in our source article showing a self-driving car just casually driving straight through a red light. Obviously there are some serious issues with the Uber self-driving fleet, but this could be a wide-spread problem with self-driving cars in general – not just Uber. In any case, more problems will undoubtedly show up as these vehicles become more popular and more widely available. Figuring out legal liability will be a new issue that needs to be addressed in the world or personal injury law. Source: San Francisco Business Times, “Uber’s self-driving vehicle has first California car crash in San Francisco,” Riley McDermid, Aug. 30, 2017

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | auto

Kids, Coats, and Carseats

There are few things more adorable in this world than a small child dressed for winter. The vision of rosy cheeks, a red nose, knitted hat, and warm coat fit the image of an idyllic childhood winter spent playing in the snow. But while that big, puffy coat or snowsuit might protect your little one from winter’s harsh cold, it can have quite the opposite effect when it comes to traveling in the car. Every winter, consumer safety groups and news outlets remind parents of the dangers of buckling a child wearing a heavy winter coat into a car seat. It seems counterintuitive to put a child into the car without a coat, but it should be considered to have as few bulky layers as possible between a child and the car seat harness designed to keep them safe in a car. Why? The average puffy coat or snowsuit adds four inches of bulk to your child’s frame when fitting the harness straps for a car seat… but that four inches of bulk can be compressed to virtually nothing in the event of a crash. Adult seat belts operate with tensioners that react to the force of a crash by retracting – infant and child car seats do not possess this type of mechanism and therefore will not hold a child securely in the seat once the coat or snowsuit is compressed. Even a low impact crash at 30MPH can have serious consequences for a child whose car seat straps are not properly secured. (For the record, bulky coats on adults in the car are similarly hazardous, regardless of the belt tensioning mechanism.) How to Test Your Car Seat’s Harness Fit How do you know if your child’s winter coat affects the safety of your car seat? A simple test can help you to determine if your child is buckled in safely. Dress your child in his coat and buckle him into the car seat, making sure the seat harness is tight against the coat. Take your child out of the car seat and remove the coat. Place your child back in the car seat without the coat, and rebuckle the harness. Check fit of harness straps. Ideally, you should not be able to pinch the strap between your thumb and forefinger at collarbone level. Additionally, the chest buckle should be at armpit height. If the harness straps are loose, the coat interferes with the proper fit of the seat harness and should not be worn while the child is traveling in the seat. How Do I Keep My Child Warm in the Car? There are ways to keep your child warm in the car that do not involve wearing a bulky coat. First and foremost, dress your child in thin, snug layers, just like you would yourself. A blanket tucked around an infant that is properly buckled into a car seat or infant carrier can provide the necessary warmth for travel. For older children, simply have them slip their arms through the sleeves of their coat and let the back of the coat rest against their chest; this will allow them free movement of their arms while also letting the coat do its job of keeping them warm. When it comes to keeping your child safe in a car seat, remember that bulky coats, snowsuits, and aftermarket items designed to be used with a car seat can actually do more harm than good in the event of a crash. A car seat is designed to provide protection for its passenger under very specific circumstances; adding padding, layers, or any aftermarket products such as a head positioner can negate the car seat’s manufacturer warranty. The only exception is the accessories that come packaged with a car seat, for use with that specific seat. These items have been properly crash-tested by the manufacturer to exacting federal standards and have been designed for use with that particular seat. Adding anything else to your car seat – including those fun little toy bars – compromise the very safety of the child you seek to protect. If you’d like to know more about the dangers of children wearing bulky coats in car seats, watch this recent report from NBC’s Today Show. The dramatic footage of a simulated low-speed impact accident explains the danger in ways that words can’t. Our children are the most precious cargo we’ll ever transport. Your kids might look adorable in their puffy coats, but when it comes to car seat safety, buckle them in without their coat on. A little momentary discomfort from the cold is worth their continued safety in the event of a crash!

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | auto

Are You Using the Right Car Seat?

Anyone with small children knows how important it is to protect them. From the moment we bring them home from the hospital, our lives are spent in protection mode – locking up medicines and household chemicals, plugging off electrical outlets, wrapping the corners of the coffee table with foam bumpers. And when you take your little bundle of joy out on the road, you buckle them into a car seat. Car seats have been around for well over 100 years, but didn’t come into favor as a safety device until the mid-1980s. These early child restraints were rudimentary at best, and lacked the variety of features that modern seats have today. Nowadays, there are different types of seats for different ages, and sometimes it’s difficult to know which is the right seat for your child. Types of Car Seats The best car seat for your child is one that is selected based on your child’s age and size. This means that you’ll likely need a number of different seats as your child grows, before he or she is old enough and big enough to use a regular seat belt. Rear-Facing Seats The NHTSA recommends keeping your child in a rear-facing seat from birth to three years. Most new parents take their newborn home from the hospital in an infant carrier-style seat, which locks into a base installed in the car. Once your infant reaches the top range for height and weight as established by the seat’s manufacturer, you can move them into a rear-facing toddler seat. Rear-facing seats provide better support for a young child’s head and immature neck and spine. Front-Facing Seats Many parents purchase a car seat for their toddler that can be used both rear-facing and front-facing, which can save money in the long run. However, the temptation to turn your child forward facing too soon is great with such a seat. Front facing seats are designed for children ages 4-7. Booster Seats Once your child has reached the maximum height and weight for his or her front-facing seat, you can graduate them into a booster seat. A booster seat allows your child to use your vehicle’s safety belts, but gives your child a “boost” so that the safety belts are in the proper position to be effective. Booster seats are designed for use by children ages 8-12. Seat Belts Many older children look forward to the day they graduate from a booster seat to using regular seat belts like mom and dad. After your child has outgrown his booster seat in regard to height and weight, seat belts are the next step for safety as a passenger. For a child to use a regular seat belt, he or she must be at least 4’9″ and past the age of 12. Regardless if you’re a new parent or an old pro, the biggest rule to remember is that children under the age of 12 are safest riding in the back seat. It’s tempting to treat your child to a ride in the front seat the closer they get to the teenage years, but should you be involved in an accident, your car’s air bags can seriously injure or even kill a young child. Many vehicles today have a switch that allows you to disable passenger air bags in the front seat, but even with this precaution the front seat can be a dangerous place for a child. Properly Installing a Car Seat It’s estimated that three out of four car seats in use are installed incorrectly. Aproperly installed car seat is snug in the vehicle seat and you should not be able to move it more than one inch in any direction along the belt path. But not all car seats fit all vehicles. The best car seat is one that is appropriate for your child’s age, weight, and height, and one that fits securely in your vehicle. Fortunately, assistance and education in the installation of car seats is available in most communities, typically conducted by law enforcement agencies or hospitals. In Evansville, the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office provides instruction on the installation of car seats , as does St. Mary’s Health System. The Women’s Hospital at Deaconess offers a list of car seat check points for parents throughout the Tri-State. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 14, but the use of car seats helps to reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers. Protect your most precious cargo while you travel, and use a properly installed child safety seat.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | auto

Auto Repair Claims – What You Need to Know

With 253 million cars on the road in the US, there’s a pretty good chance that accidents will happen, even to the most careful of drivers. Over five million non-fatal crashes occur every year, setting into motion millions of insurance claims. Insurance companies, under the guise of swift claims service, often mislead claimants in an effort to reduce the amount paid out for each claim. If you’ve been involved in an accident and need your car repaired, you may be encouraged by the insurance company to have the repairs done at one of their “preferred” body shops – and they’ll give you a list of reasons why this is a good idea; however, they may not tell you the entire truth: Repairs are “guaranteed” – Sometimes insurance companies will tell you that they cannot guarantee repairs if they are not done by one of their preferred body shops. This is not true. It is the body shop’s responsibility to warranty the work they do. You will need to pay the difference between what the preferred shop would charge and another shop charges – Initial insurance estimates often fall short of actual expenses; body shops must follow the standards set forth by the auto manufacturer to return your vehicle to pre-accident condition. You are not be required to pay the difference between a preferred shop’s rates and those of a non-preferred shop, unless your insurance policy explicitly states that this is the case. Preferred shops will give you quicker service – Most damaged vehicles can be inspected within three days of the accident, regardless of whether it’s at a preferred shop or not. Inspections by a claims adjuster which take longer than three days can be the result of an insurance company dragging its feet in an attempt to steer you toward a preferred shop. Shops not on the preferred list are labeled as difficult to work with – Translation: the non-preferred shop will not cut corners or withhold information from the vehicle owner. Claims settlement takes too long at a non-preferred shop – Settling a claim is in the hands of the insurance company, and a longer-than-usual repair time can be a result of an inaccurate estimate on the insurer’s part or a slow response time by the insurer to the body shop. Why do insurance companies try to steer you toward “preferred” repair shops? Remember, the purpose of an insurance company is to produce profits for its stockholders. Consider this: the average collision claim in 2013 was $3,144. Multiply that figure by the over five million accidents that occur each year, and you can see why insurance companies want to hold the line on claims payouts. In an effort to produce maximized profits through the reduction of claims paid, insurance companies will sometimes enter into agreements with repair shops. Known as a Direct Repair Program (DRP), this agreement between an insurer and a repair shop guarantees a certain flow of work into the shop in exchange for a discounted rate for repairs. Unfortunately, in the quest to maximize profits, sometimes the insurance companies put a squeeze on the repair shops – tightening budgets, reducing payouts, encouraging the use of junk or substandard parts, pressing for shortcuts. In order for the repair shop to continue to make a profit on the insurance work, the customer receives substandard repairs. And these repairs can be dangerous. Auto Repair Claims and Your Rights If you’ve been involved in a car accident and need repairs made to your vehicle, the main thing that you must remember is that you can take your car to any body shop that you choose. It’s the law! Your insurance policy will spell out the agreement between you and the company, but your insurance company must pay to return your car to pre-accident condition, minus your deductible if you were at fault in the accident. You also have other rights: You have the right to expect genuine, OEM parts You have the right to a guarantee that your vehicle will be repaired to factory standards You have the right to a minimum five-year warranty on factory replacement parts You have the right to a paint warranty of at least three years You have the right to a lifetime warranty on all labor performed in the course of the repairs If you’ve been involved in a traffic accident, getting your car repaired can become an even bigger nightmare than the accident itself. Insurance companies like to capitalize on the fact that being without your car is a major inconvenience, and will sometimes push you toward quick repairs at a “preferred” shop in order to minimize expenses and maximize profits. Don’t fall for these tactics. Your safety and the safety of those riding with you could be at stake.

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