Deadline Has Passed for State Negligence and Wrongful Death Claims in Indianapolis Stage Collapse

On August 13, 2011, high winds caused a stage to collapse at the Indiana State Fair, killing seven people and injuring dozens more. Multiple personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits have been filed as a result of this tragedy, including 100 claims filed with the State of Indiana. Although the deadline for filing with the state was November 1, 2011, a few more claims that were postmarked on that date but arrived late may be added to the total.

The state of Indiana has a cap of $5 million on what it will pay for the accident, which sounds like a large sum of money, except it has to be divided among numerous victims. The maximum payout per person is $700,000. If this amount is paid out to the seven families whose relatives were killed, that adds up to $4.9 million, leaving only $100,000 for all of the other victims to split, including those who were seriously injured. The state has not decided how the money will be split, only that families of those who were killed and those who were seriously injured will be compensated first.

One of the attorneys representing some of the victims is fighting the $5 million cap with a personal injury lawsuit from and is questioning whether someone other than the state should be deciding how to divide the money. He thinks having individual cases heard by judges and juries would be fairer to the victims. Another attorney cautions victims to read the fine print if they receive part of the settlement from the state. She says accepting the money may preclude them from pursuing lawsuits against other parties.

In addition to the $5 million from the state of Indiana, a State Fair Relief Fund was established for victims of this accident. This fund is made up of money donated by the public to assist those victims that were hospitalized. Unfortunately, not all injured victims qualify for aid from this fund. An overnight hospital stay before October 2, 2011 is a requirement to receive money from this fund, which Kenneth Feinberg, a compensation specialist said is “a pretty good indicator of seriousness of injury.” Not all victims are seeing it that way. One woman who suffered a head injury and is unable to work for at least 2 ½ months does not qualify because she did not stay overnight. Another man who required knee surgery after October 2nd also does not qualify, even though he is unable to work and is only receiving two-thirds of his pay through workers compensation. The deadline to file a claim for part of the $500,000 remaining from this fund is November 14, 2011.

Recent Kentucky Car Accident Involving Teens Highlights Need for Safer Driving

On Monday, October 17, 2011, three teens were involved in a fatal car accident in Bloomfield, Kentucky. The accident report states the 17-year-old driver was going east on Old Bloomfield Road after school when she lost control of the car, causing it to go off the right side of the road. The driver over-corrected, sending the car across the center line and into the ditch where it rolled over multiple times before stopping. The driver’s sister, who was located in the back seat, was pronounced dead at the scene. A friend riding in the front seat was ejected from the car and remains hospitalized with head trauma and other injuries. The driver’s injuries were moderate.

Police are investigating the crash to determine the cause. Alcohol is unlikely, especially in light of the fact that the students had just been released from school for the day. Speed is being considered but has not been established as the cause. The hilly, curvy road may have contributed to the accident, as police and those who live in the area both say it is dangerous and has claimed lives in other accidents. Whatever the cause, it is important to note that the one who was least injured, the driver, was wearing her seatbelt. The others were not. This tragic accident again highlights the importance of seatbelt use.

Ironically, the week this accident occurred was also National Teen Driver Safety Week. The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) took part in Safety Week and continues to raise Kentucky teens’ awareness of the dangers of driving throughout the year. One of the largest contributors to teenage driving accidents is distraction. KOHS uses a Distracted Driving Simulator to show teens how dangerous distracted driving is by allowing them to talk or text on a cell phone while they attempt to drive safely in the simulator. Director Bill Bell says “All too often, the devices are winning and our kids our losing, with tragic results.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that 691 fatalities in 2009 were caused by a distracted teen driver.

Distractions are not the only cause of teen accidents. There are many other causes and ways for teens to stay safe on the road.

• Always fasten your seatbelt and make sure your passengers fasten theirs too. The number of passengers should be limited to the number of seatbelts in the vehicle (or the number restricted by state law for younger teen drivers).

• Keep your vehicle maintained, including the tires and windshield. Tires that are bald or improperly inflated can contribute to accidents. Dirty windshields can make it difficult to see the road, signs, and other vehicles around you.

• Be aware of those around you. Always check the intersection to make sure it is clear before proceeding on a green light. Watch for motorcycles and bicyclists that may be more difficult to see. Watch for other drivers who are not driving safely and may run red lights or turn improperly. Keep a safe distance from erratic drivers who may be under the influence or distracted.

• Slow down in inclement weather. Rain and snow can make the pavement slippery and impair visibility. Watch for potholes that have formed after cold, wet weather.

• Never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Deaths caused by teen drivers have been declining for the last nine years. Keeping these tips in mind will help to continue to reduce the number of these fatalities. However, if you or someone you know is involved in a serious car accident, help is available. Please contact florida criminal defense lawyer Steven Frederick for assistance.

Seven Killed, Four Injured, in Indiana Truck Accident

On Thursday evening, October 27, 2011, seven people were killed and four more were injured when a semi rear-ended a minivan. The accident occurred on the Indiana Toll Road near Bristol, Indiana. Based on witness reports, the minivan hit a deer and slowed down or stopped on the road. The semi came from behind and rear-ended the minivan. Investigators Amaro Truck Accident law firm – Woodlands, TX think the truck was going about 65 mph when it hit. The seven fatalities were all passengers in the minivan. The truck driver was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The other three survivors remain hospitalized in critical or stable condition. Two of the victims were children, one of whom was an infant. It appears that all of the passengers in the minivan were related.

Many factors could have contributed to the high fatality rate of this accident. The most obvious is that none of the minivan passengers were wearing seatbelts. This may have been a result of having more passengers in the vehicle than it was designed to carry. There should never be more people in a car than there are seatbelts. Unfortunately, even the infant was not properly restrained in his or her car seat. Another cause was the minivan slowing or stopping on the road instead of moving to the berm. While relocating the vehicle may not have been possible in this situation if it was severely damaged from hitting a deer, it is important to remove the vehicle from the roadway if it is drivable to avoid additional collisions.

According to the Associated Press, the truck driver did not appear to be intoxicated. Throughout the investigation, several other issues will most likely be addressed. An impairment that is common in long-distance truck drivers is lack of sleep. Operating a vehicle without enough sleep can be just as dangerous as driving after drinking. Whether the truck driver was distracted or not also could have played a part in the accident. In Kentucky in 2010, 11 people were killed when a semi driver crossed the median and ran into a van. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded the semi driver was using his cell phone at the time of the accident. Currently, it is illegal in Kentucky to be texting while driving, and banning the use of cell phones by commercial drivers is being considered as a result of this accident lawyer