Archive for May, 2019


10 Safe Group-Riding Tips to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents

May 27, 2019

Motorcycling is a passion for some people and many enjoy riding together in groups just for the journey, rather than traveling to reach a destination. Unfortunately, motorcycling can be a dangerous hobby. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that four out of every five motorcycle accidents result in a serious injury or death.

When motorcycling in a group, preparation and communication are essential for a successful, enjoyable ride.

Here are ten tips to ensure a fun and safe group ride.

1. Prepare Via a Pre-Ride Meeting

All riders need to be on the same page and a pre-ride meeting can ensure that. Start by going over your route, what the destination is, and what (if any) stopping points you have along the way. There should be no confusion among the drivers, since that could lead to problems on the road. Providing the address of the destination is also helpful, so riders can plug it into a GPS app on their phone in case they get separated from the group. Also, discussing how tolls will be handled if there are any that need to be paid on the route can prove to be helpful. In addition, at least one rider should carry a first-aid kit and a tool kit.

2. Follow the Leader

In your pre-ride meeting, designate a leader. This person should be an experienced rider and needs to know the limitations of the group so that he or she can set a safe pace and not perform any maneuvers that may be over the skill level of some riders. The leader also needs to relay hand signals to the rest.

3. Assign a Tail Rider

The tail (or sweep) rider is the last rider in the group. This person should also be one of the more experienced riders in your group. They can keep an eye on the entire pack in front of them, giving them a chance to help riders who get stuck or separated in traffic to safely catch up to the rest of the group.

4. Gear Up

Safety is paramount. Wear a full-face helmet, long pants and sleeves made of a thick, protective material (like leather), eye protection, and boots that cover your ankles. Add reflective pieces to your gear and bike, and always use your headlight (even during the day) so you give yourself the best chance to be seen by other motorists.

5. Stay Together

Now it’s time to hit the road! The leader will want to be sure to minimize the possibility of the group getting separated. This is especially important at traffic lights. If a light is about to turn red, slow down and stop at the light (if it is safe to do so) to keep your group together. If you’re the leader and you notice a light change just as you’re passing through the intersection, try to find a safe space to stop on the side of the road to wait for the rest of the pack to get the green light and catch up with you.

6. Ride in a Staggered Formation

You’ll want to be sure to ride in a staggered formation in order to keep a safe distance between you and your fellow riders. Staggered means the leader should be on the left side of the lane. The next rider should be behind the leader but on the right side of the lane. The next rider should be behind the second bike but back on the left side of the lane, and so on.

7. Keep a Safe Distance

The staggered formation helps with this point. But you’ll also want to keep a safe distance from vehicles ahead of the pack. Staying two seconds behind any vehicle or a fellow rider is a good rule of thumb.

8. Passing Vehicles

Riders should pass other vehicles one at a time. All motorcycles in the group should maintain their staggered position in case a situation occurs where the passing lane gets congested when only half of the group is able to make the pass. If this happens, the leader should keep the rest of the group behind him or her in the right lane until all members can safely make the pass.

9. Take Breaks

Find out how comfortable your most inexperienced rider in the pack is, and then determine when and where to take breaks. It’s important not to pressure a new rider out of their comfort zone. The most novice rider should also be placed in the middle of the pack. This way, they can follow veteran riders in front of them with confidence, and they also won’t have to worry about aggressive drivers or other potential pitfalls that the tail rider may have to deal with.

10. Don’t Succumb to Peer Pressure

If you are a novice motorcyclist and you feel that the ride is above your skill level, or you otherwise feel uncomfortable, safely leave the group. Signal to the tail rider that you’re pulling off. Since you will have the destination loaded into your phone, you can always meet the rest of the group there at your own pace. Thanks to the convenience of cell phones, the rest of the group won’t have to worry that you are lost or can’t find your way back home.

Unfortunately, even the safest motorcyclist can be the victim of an accident thanks to a driver who isn’t paying attention. Most studies find that 60 percent of multi-vehicle accidents involving motorcycles are the fault of the driver in a car or truck.

If you have been injured or a loved one has died in a motorcycle accident, contact us for a free consultation. The attorneys at Stewart & Stewart are experienced in motorcycle accidents in Indiana and know what it takes to get clients the compensation they deserve. Give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website today.


Are Truck Drivers Receiving Enough Training?

May 25, 2019

There’s a major shortage of truck drivers in America. Due to that, there are many inexperienced drivers on the road. Deadly accidents involving trucks are also on the rise (up 11 percent from 2010 to 2015) and trucking transportation occupations accounted for more work-related fatalities than any other profession in 2015. Driver training programs have also come into question when looking at reasons behind these accidents.

How Large is the Shortage?

According to American Trucking Associations, the shortage at the beginning of 2018 was 51,000 drivers. That’s a significant increase from just two years prior, when the shortage was around 36,000 drivers. A changing economy and popular services like Amazon Prime that promise fast delivery are causing the issue. Employers are offering signing bonuses, wage raises, and other incentives (like giving drivers more opportunities to be at home), but many businesses fear that it won’t be enough to slow down the shortage wave.

Despite the shortage, the median pay for a heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver was $42,480 in 2017. That’s not a bad salary for a job that doesn’t require a college degree, and many experts believe that number will be closer to $50,000 by 2020. However, for an industry where the demand for drivers greatly outweighs the supply, a higher wage may be necessary to attract more drivers.

Are New Drivers Getting Adequate Training?

In an effort to try to get new workers on the road, a potential truck driver can pass the exam for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with just three to four weeks of training. This can lead some to question whether it’s enough formal training. The leading causes of truck accidents are faulty equipment (mainly tires and brakes), distracted driving, driver fatigue and inadequate training.

As with any education, there are good and bad truck driver training schools. More reputable ones will allow you to stay past the three-to-four-week training period if students need work in a particular area before taking the exam. Others will also allow recruits to retrain with them if they fail the CDL test.

In addition, just like any other industry, there are good and bad truck companies. Many will hire a driver with a new CDL and put them through a paid, months-long, training period where they continue to work on maneuvers and shadow more experienced drivers until they feel they’re ready to head out on their own.

However, some schools and employers do not go to any of these lengths to make sure a driver is qualified to operate a truck before he’s put on the road alongside millions of Americans.

For example, one truck driver school in Florida was shut down by the state, with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles writing that the company’s “practices posed an immediate serious danger to…public health, safety, and welfare.” Some of the infractions that were found by the investigation included: ignoring difficult parts of the CDL test, tampering with CDL skills test score sheets and conducting fraudulent testing activities. The state forced 1,500 graduates from that program to retake and pass the CDL test or face a loss of license.

There are sure to be other instances of “schools” like this, so you need to protect yourself and get informed if you are the victim of an accident involving a tractor trailer.

If you have been injured or a loved one has died due to a crash caused by an inexperienced truck driver, you deserve to be compensated. At Stewart & Stewart, we know what it takes to get our clients the money they deserve, and we will work hard to get that for you. For more information, give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website today.


Can I Sue the Manufacturer if a Faulty Tire Caused My Accident?

May 21, 2019

Your car’s tires help you to avoid obstacles and control your car at high speeds as you drive. A faulty tire can cause a catastrophic car wreck that leaves you reeling. Expensive medical bills, lost wages while you are in the hospital or without transportation, and post-traumatic stress are just a few of the ways you can suffer afterward. Severe injuries or the loss of a loved one can impact you for the rest of your life. You may be able to sue the manufacturer under Indiana law for damages if there is evidence that a defective tire caused your car accident.

Every year, popular tire manufacturers like Michelin, Goodyear and Firestone issue recalls for faulty tires. Unfortunately, recalls typically only take place after numerous accidents and injuries have already been linked to the tires. There are many things that can go wrong in the production process that can result in faulty tires such as a poor design, the use of improper materials or production. The tire manufacture is responsible for these types of defects. They can also be held responsible for failing to provide adequate warnings or safety instructions such as not listing the maximum load for the tire.

Tire blowouts and tread separation are the usual culprits of a car accident caused by a faulty tire. The reason a car has a blowout is that the rubber exterior tears or separates from the interior fabric reinforcement and steel belting. When this happens, the tire loses air pressure quickly which can make your car veer off the road, crash into another vehicle or barrier. Tread separation is when the grooved rubber on the outside of the tire separates from the rest of the tire. Those grooves are what help your tire grip the road, especially when it is slick, and protect it from being torn by debris on the road. Tread separation makes a tire more likely to blowout or hydroplane on wet roads. Design and manufacturing defects are often the cause of these problems.

How to Build a Case Against a Tire Manufacturer

To build a case against a tire manufacturer, you and your attorney must prove that the tire was defective and that you suffered harm or injury because of it. Hiring an attorney who is experienced in auto accidents and product defects and will investigate your accident is the best way to determine if the tire manufacturer is liable. They may hire an expert to examine pieces of the tire, the accident report, and any pictures you have from the scene of the car accident to a tire engineer. If your tire failed because of normal wear and tear or because you overloaded your vehicle with a weight that exceeded your tires’ max capacity, you may not be able to seek damages from the manufacturer. Under Indiana law, you cannot recover damages if you are 50 percent or more at fault.  

You don’t have to try to carry the burden of pulling your life together after a car wreck alone! Our team of Indiana car accident attorneys at Stewart & Stewart are here to help you. We will investigate your accident and build a case to get you the money and help that you deserve. Even if the accident happened a couple of years ago, you may still be entitled to compensation for your physical and emotional suffering, medical expenses, permanent scars, lost past wages or diminished earning capacity. You have two years, from the date of the car accident or death of your loved one, to file a personal injury claim or wrongful death claim in Indiana. Our team of personal injury lawyers work around the clock to fight tire manufactures on behalf of survivors like you. If you would like to learn more about how we can help, call us at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website today.


What Can I Do if I am Involved in a Train Accident?

May 17, 2019

Train accidents are more common than the average person knows and they truly tend to bring about deadly and traumatic consequences. Studies have shown that there are 5,800 train-vehicle crashes each year in the United States alone, accounting for up to 1,000 deaths. Common problems include derailments, mechanical failures and collisions with other trains, cars and even pedestrians. And while train companies are constantly upgrading equipment and safety procedures to reduce these numbers, there is still plenty of room for improvement—a scary realization when one realizes just how dangerous they can be.

Victims from these accidents can sustain extremely traumatic injuries, which include third degree burns, injuries to the spinal cord and even brain damage. Yet many do not get the medical care that they deserve, or the assistance they need to live a comfortable life. Even if you have a completely understandable reason to go up against a railroad company, they tend to be extremely combative. Most are large corporations with teams of lawyers that excel at deflecting blame, often arguing that tracks have been vandalized, or that the victims themselves are responsible. It’s a sad truth that is all too common. So what should you do if you’ve been a victim of a train accident?

Firstly, you should take care of locating and preserving any evidence that you can find. Whether they are eyewitness accounts, medical records or even damaged property, it’s much better to have proof of malfeasance and not need it than to need it and not have it.  Secondly, especially if your car was involved in a train collision, you should contact your insurance company. Take advantage of every resource at your disposal and do not settle for anything less than you deserve. These accidents occur for many reasons, from human error to track and signal defects, but in most of these instances, a third party can absolutely be held liable; as a victim, you should understand what your legal options are.

If you believe that an individual, like an engineer or some other railroad employee, was responsible, and therefore liable for the crash, you should file a personal injury claim. They must have been in a position to directly prevent the accident from occurring to be liable—a stipulation that can be quite difficult to substantiate without professional assistance, either from law enforcement officials, or legal counsel.

If you believe that a train company, manufacturer, track owner or material vendor was responsible, you might be able to hold the company itself liable, and claim damages for property loss, medical bills or even loss of wages, depending on the circumstances. Families, who have lost a loved one, can also file a wrongful death claim if they feel the organization is directly responsible. In any of these scenarios, having a personal injury attorney that you can trust is paramount to building a successful case.

Stewart & Stewart has the skills and resources you need to track down relevant evidence, locate witnesses and successfully negotiate with difficult insurance companies. We consult with expert mechanics and government agencies to ensure our clients get the best representation possible. Whether it’s a personal injury claim, a negligence claim or even a wrongful death lawsuit, we have the expertise and passion to get you the results you deserve. For more information, give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website.


How Do I Deal with an Insurance Dispute Following an Accident?

May 14, 2019

Let’s face it, car accidents are never pleasant, but most of us are bound to deal with at least one over the course of our driving career. Unfortunately, the insurance claim process that follows can sometimes be even worse. When the system works as it should, claimants get the settlement they deserve without too much trouble; but when it doesn’t, insurance disputes arise.

These disputes can manifest themselves in a number of different ways, but every one begins with the same fundamental issue: insurance companies don’t want to pay. At the end of the day, these companies are in business to make a profit, no matter what their commercials say, and will do whatever they can to keep their costs as low as possible. This could lead them to deny your claim, try to shift more blame your way, or offer you a settlement far below your expectation.

That’s why we’ve compiled this brief guide on how to deal with these disputes, so you can get the relief you’re owed, without losing your head along the way.

Don’t Get Pressured into a Bad Deal

It is more than likely that the first offer you receive will fall short of what you believe you deserve. Remember that you are not required to accept it. This first number likely represents the bottom range of what the insurance company is willing to pay, and they will probably reassess if you are willing to make them. Sure, they may stick with their initial offer, but there is no reason to accept it blindly on the first pass.

Don’t Panic

The second lesson, which really applies to the whole process from start to finish, is to keep a clear head. Whether we like it or not, insurance disputes happen all too frequently and can be incredibly frustrating. It is easy, even tempting, to get angry during these negotiations; try your best to stay calm. Chewing out the obnoxious insurance rep might make you feel better now, but it will only hurt your position in the long run. There is nothing to be gained and a lot to lose.

Get an Independent Appraisal 

Many drivers are not even aware that they can do this, and it will cost some extra cash up front, but it can seriously improve your chances of getting the outcome you deserve. Obviously, the insurance company will conduct their own appraisal, but they are almost universally low due to the aforementioned pressure to save their own skin. Taking the time to get an expert, independent appraisal is sometimes the only way to get a fair deal, especially if you feel that your insurance company is trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

Consider Hiring an Expert

Not every case requires legal representation, but if you’re dealing with an active insurance dispute following an auto accident, finding an experienced, trial-ready, law firm can be an excellent legal and financial decision. In the vast majority of cases, claimants recover significantly more when using an attorney than when self-representing—while avoiding a lot of unnecessary frustration and complication.  

Even if you have already begun dealing with an insurance dispute, it may not be too late to hire an auto accident attorney to help out. Indiana Accident Attorneys at Stewart & Stewart have handled hundreds of auto accident insurance dispute cases, and understand how to get the best possible outcomes for our clients. 

Visit our website for more information about auto accident insurance disputes, or contact us today to talk to one of our expert personal injury lawyers about your case.