15
Jul

What Are My Options for Trial?

July 15, 2018

Court Room Before you enter into a trial, you must enter the discovery phase. This phase includes a lot of back and forth; a lot of questions and answers being exchanged, a lot of evidence being examined, and a lot of depositions. It’s the part of the case where your attorney is building value and beginning to paint the picture of what their argument is going to be at trial and what the insurance company is going to be up against. Once that discovery phase comes to an end, there comes the proverbial fork in the road. This is where your attorney will explore settlement or mediation or continue to get ready for trial.

Settlement

The first option, exploring settlement, often comes in the form of a formal attempt.  Most courts require that you go to what’s called a mediation or settlement conference before trial. Some courts require that you make this effort before they will give you a trial date. If your attorney goes forward with this attempt to resolve your case without a jury’s intervention and we go for what’s called mediation or a settlement conference, it’s possible to settle your case that way. The beauty of mediation or federal court settlement conference is that it gets everybody in the building at the same time. If you have two, three, four, five attorneys working on a case at those times, that can be a beautiful thing because it gets everybody in the same room at the same time and everybody is there with one goal in mind and that’s to try to get the case settled.

Mediation

In mediation, there is the introduction of the mediator. This is someone in the middle who isn’t working for your attorney and isn’t working for the other side, either. They’re truly a third party and the mediator’s sole job is to get the case solved as best they can. It’s equally possible that after the discovery phase is complete, your attorney may be able to settle your case informally with just a few phone calls and emails. It really depends on what the insurance company’s posture is in terms of how they value your case. If they value your case well below what you and your attorney value your case at, that can be an issue in terms of resolving it without a jury trial.

Trial

Even if you go to mediation and put forth these efforts to settle a case and you’re unsuccessful first, it’s still equally possible that your case will be resolved before a jury trial. If your attorney isn’t successful at mediation or successful at resolving informally and they keep going to trial, then the discussion about settlement is often rekindled. In this case, your attorney will continue to get your case ready for trial so that you can have your day in court.  There’s risks all along the way.  There’s risks for both sides.  One of those risks is the expenses associated with a trial. During trial, your attorney has to file the lawsuit, pay for deposition transcripts, pay for medical records, medical bills, and certified copies of all of those.  If you can settle the case before going to trial, you save a lot of money and that money just goes right back on your bottom line.

If you feel your case may enter trial, it’s important to hire experienced trial attorneys. At Stewart & Stewart, we are trial lawyers and it’s what we do but we are always keeping in mind that we want to do what’s right by you.  We want to fight for our clients’ interests. The bottom line is, this is your case, you are the one who was injured, you are the one who has been living it, and you are the one who might be dealing with it for the rest of your life.  For us, we’re much more used to the process but more importantly; we’re not the one who was hurt so we’re very cognizant of that.  We keep your interests in mind moving forward, but we still remain zealous and we fight hard for you.

If you are in need of a trial attorney, contact us at Stewart & Stewart. Give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website for more information.

14
Jul

5 Main Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents

July 14, 2018

When you are spending so much of your time on the job, you expect that your employer will maintain a safe work environment. Yet more than a million and a half work accidents happen every year, leaving thousands of employees out of work at any given moment as they recover from on-the-job injuries.

5 reasons most Slip and fall accidents occurUnder Federal law, you are entitled to a safe workplace, and you should not have to fear falling victim to an injury while at work. One of the most common injuries that can happen to employees whether they work in an office building or they work at a construction site is slipping and falling. You may be rushing to a meeting and slip on a wet floor or you may trip over poorly mounted scaffolding—but in either case, falling on the job can result in painful, long-lasting injuries. Here are the main causes of these all too common slip and fall accidents.

Improper Training

If you work in an environment that requires the use of machinery, being on your feet, or using your hands, it’s imperative that you receive the proper training before you begin work. If you are not shown how to do your job correctly, it can lead to an increase in injuries, especially slip and falls.

Uneven Surfaces

Everywhere from construction sites to office buildings are at risk for uneven flooring. It is your company’s responsibility to create a safe workplace, and that includes correcting uneven surfaces. If your company fails to do this, you are at risk for slip and falls that can cause serious injury.

Improper Cleaning

In addition to correcting uneven surfaces, your company must also ensure they clean your work space with the utmost care. If there is a spill in the break room that is not cleaned up in a timely manner, and you slip on it and hurt yourself, your company could be liable for your injuries.

Inappropriate Footwear

Many jobs require a certain type of footwear in order to ensure slip and falls don’t occur. If your employer does not provide the shoes for you, it is up to you to purchase, and wear, the shoes that are needed to keep you safe.

Weather

While weather is no one’s fault, per say, it is one of the leading causes of slip and falls in the workplace. And although your employer can not stop the rain or the snow, if you do fall on their property, they can be liable as they are obligated to keep the area safe for employees.

If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, contact the attorneys at Stewart & Stewart. Give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website for more information.

12
Jul

3 Common Wage Disputes in Indianapolis

July 12, 2018

Common Wage disputes Here in Indiana, we have state and federal wage and hour laws that protect workers and ensure they receive fair and timely wages. The Indiana Minimum Wage Law ensures that workers are getting paid the salary or hourly wage they deserve, while the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act gives local Indiana workers the assurance that they are treated fairly while at work. Both of these laws protect workers should their employer underpay them, fail to pay overtime, or force you to work outside of your scheduled hours.

At Stewart & Stewart, we handle many cases involving wage and hour here in Indianapolis. Some of the most common are as follows.

Underpayment of Wages

In Indiana, the minimum wage is currently set at $7.25/hour or $2.13/hour for tipped employees whose tips cover the difference in minimum wage. If your employer fails to pay you this set minimum, you are entitled to a lawsuit. Being paid under this minimum makes it extremely difficult for an average person to live a sound life, pay bills, and keep a roof over their heads. Employees with families will find more trouble with this, so it’s imperative to speak with an attorney if your employer fails to pay you what you deserve.

Working Off the Clock

You may think it’s normal to be forced to work outside of regular hours without any pay. In Indiana, if you work more than 40 hours in one week, you may be entitled to additional compensation and back pay. Your employer should set hours in your contract, and if you consistently work over these hours, you should contact an attorney to help you get the compensation and overtime money you deserve.

Unpaid Commissions

Many employees rely on commissions in their jobs, especially when those commissions make up a bulk of their take home pay. Here at Stewart & Stewart, we often see cases where an employer fails to pay the full amount of the commission as highlighted in the contract. When listed in a contract, the employer becomes legally obligated to pay out these commissions in full, and the failure to do so can result in a lawsuit.

If you have been a victim of one of these wage disputes, contact an experienced wage and hour attorney today. Give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website for more information.

11
Jul

5 Road Safety Tips to Help You Avoid Accidents

July 11, 2018

Accidents happen everyday, and sometimes, no matter how careful we are, it is impossible to avoid one of those accidents. When we get into our cars, we never expect to experience an accident that may not only ruin our day, but cause extensive injury and medical issues we may have to deal with for years to come.Distracted drivers cause accidents. Don't text and drive

Practicing safe driving is something we all must do every time we get into our cars, whether we are simply driving to the grocery store down the street or taking a road trip across the country. To help you avoid accidents, here are five of the top road safety tips all drivers should abide by.

Avoid Distractions

Distractions can come in many forms. We may hear our phone go off, be looking for a good song on the radio, or even see a billboard that catches our attention. Simple distractions occur almost every second that you are behind the wheel, which is why it is extra important to try to avoid these distractions while the car is in drive. Consider putting your cell phone in the back seat so you cannot reach it or creating a playlist you want to listen to before you get into the car.

Take Care of Your Car

It’s imperative that all drivers keep their cars in top condition. In addition to regular oil changes and tire rotations, drivers should also pay attention to small inconsistencies they may notice and take their car in when something doesn’t feel right. Avoiding caring for your car could lead to break downs on a busy street, the loss of important functions and other hazards that cause serious accidents.

Wear Your Seat Belt

This is something we hear all the time when we are younger, and while this is common sense for the majority of drivers, it has also been witnessed that many adult drivers actually fail to put on their seatbelt while driving. Always wear your seatbelt to avoid additional injuries should an accident occur, and ensure that all passengers also have their seatbelts fastened before starting the car.

Don’t Drive Under Bad Circumstances

Drinking while driving is a common and dangerous mistake that many people make, but there are other symptoms someone may have that should also prevent them from getting behind the wheel. If you are overtired and drowsy, taking a new medication, or feeling under the weather, it is usually best to avoid driving. Similarly, if the weather is bad or the traffic is heavy, consider delaying your journey until conditions lighten.

Follow the Rules of the Road

Sticking to the speed limit, following road signs, and keeping a good distance between you and the vehicle in front of you are all important aspects of driving that can help you avoid accidents.

If you have been involved in an accident, contact the attorneys at Stewart & Stewart. Give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website for more information.

18
Jun

Stewart & Stewart To Represent Family of Hit-and-Run Victim

June 18, 2018

A warrant is outstanding for Omar Lopez who is wanted for Hit & Run and fleeing the scene of an accidentOn June 8, 2018, Annastaisha Leslie Sandlin was walking back from a friend’s place when she was hit by a silver SUV on Shelby Street near Standish Avenue, traveling southbound. The driver behind the wheel, 20-year old Omar Lopez, fled the scene of the crime and eventually ditched the vehicle near Madison Avenue and Bacon Street.

Lopez was apprehended by a witness of the crash, who followed Lopez until he climbed a barbed wire fence and got away. On Tuesday, June 12, an official warrant was put out for Lopez’s arrest for leaving the scene of an accident that caused death to a person.

Sandlin, a 50-year old resident of Indianapolis, was killed during the hit-and-run accident near the University of Indianapolis. The law offices of Stewart & Stewart have taken on the case on behalf of the Sandlin family.

For more information about the case, visit Fox 59, WTHR or the Indy Star. To learn more about your own rights involving a hit-and-run, contact the offices of Stewart & Stewart today.

15
Jun

What is Social Security Disability?

June 15, 2018

According to the Social Security Administration, Social Security Disability is a benefit that someone is entitled to based on their work record. If you’ve worked for enough quarters prior to an injury or an illness that causes you to be unable to work for an extended period of time (at least 12 months), then you are able to file for disability based on your work record.

There’s also something called Supplemental Security Income that’s more of a needs-based income and is reserved for those that don’t have enough working quarters to qualify for Social Security Disability. Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability are both based on disability and the inability to return to any kind of gainful employment and both give out a monthly income to help people live and keep a roof over their head.

For many, getting Social Security Disability isn’t easy. In fact, most people will face a denial or other hardships during the application process.

Why Did I Get Denied?

A lot of denials are simply based on the fact that the Social Security Administration doesn’t gather all of the medical records that are pertinent to the case and don’t receive the medical opinions from the individual’s treating doctors and physicians. There are certain injuries, illnesses and medical conditions that qualify an individual under different requirements that the Social Security Administration has. If those medical records show that those medical conditions or those sections are met, then you will get approved at the initial or reconsideration stage.

On the other hand, for instance, for a back injury, there’s certain medical findings for a back injury that qualify someone for social security benefits and if the medical records aren’t submitted or physician statements aren’t submitted to the Social Security Administration showing that those requirements are met, you will get denied.

How can an Attorney Help with Social Security Disability?

An attorney knows the process, the waiting times and what needs to be submitted to the Social Security Administration. Your attorney will gather your medical records and make sure they get submitted on time. They will also make sure that your appeals get filed on time. The process can be daunting, so a good attorney will help you understand how long it will take and counsel you through the process, staying by your side through the application to the hearing, should there be one.

Often times, people get denied at the initial stage of filing for Social Security Disability and then they also get denied at what’s called a reconsideration stage. Once that reconsideration stage is denied, your attorney will then file for a hearing. This whole process often takes much longer than 12 months, often taking as long as 18 to 24 months to get to the hearing level. Once you’re at a hearing level, you want to make sure that you have someone representing you that knows what they’re doing so they can make sure to point the judge in the right direction and make sure they have the proper medical opinions and medical reports and that the judge can actually see the individual’s level of disability.

Overall, an attorney provides a lot of organization, a lot of understanding and a lot of communication. They make sure that the Social Security Administration gets what they need because if you’re claiming Social Security Disability, you have to make sure that you’re providing everything that the Social Security Administration needs and if that’s not happening, then their chances of getting approved are very, very small. A good attorney will make sure that all of that happens correctly.

If you are applying for Social Security Disability, contact the trusted attorneys at Stewart & Stewart. Give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website for more information.

13
Jun

What Do I Need to Do If I am Injured on the Job?

June 13, 2018

Getting injured on the job is something no one wants to deal with, but unfortunately, it is much more common than we may think. Whether your job requires a lot of manual work that puts you at a higher risk for injuries, or you have a desk job where the chances are much lower, getting injured at work can happen to anyone. Once injured, a person will go through a difficult battle of getting the medical attention the need, the wages they deserve and the rights to certain benefits. If you’ve been injured on the job, here are the first things you need to do.

Get Medical Help

If it’s a serious injury, you need to make sure you are taken to the emergency room or to see a medical professional right away. The emergency room will tell you to follow up with your primary care doctor or a specialist of some kind, which is the next step.

One thing that injured workers in Indiana need to know is that the employer or their insurance company has the right to essentially “direct their care.” Often times, they’ll go to an emergency room but after that, they’re sent to an occupational medical center or a med-tech to follow up. No one is telling you not to go and get treatment. If your employer is not stepping up to the plate and you have some sort of emergency situation, obviously go and get the treatment you need, but remember that an employer in Indiana has the right to essentially choose the doctors and the medical providers that follow up with you and that are in charge of giving you your treatment.

Report the Injury

The most important thing that someone should do when they’re injured on the job is to make sure to report the injury. Often times, there’s some sort of dispute as to how the injury was reported or what kind of injury was reported, or whether or not it was witnessed. The biggest thing to do if you get hurt at work is to make sure somebody knows about it. Make sure your boss knows and that you comply with whatever guidelines that your employer establishes. Often times, there’s an employee handbook that everyone has to have, and everyone has to have read or reviewed, and there’s a protocol for reporting an ‘on the job’ injury. It’s imperative that you make sure that protocol is followed.

If you fall and you land on numerous parts of the body, make sure all of your injuries are included in your initial report. Each part of your body that’s hurt, or that you suspect there’s some sort of injury to, needs to be reported. Often times, someone will report, “Oh, I fell down.” In this instance, they may end up with an injury to their neck, to their back, to their shoulder, or to their knee, and if it’s not expressly stated in there then by the time they get to their doctor and get evaluated, the insurance company will say, “Hey, we’re covering your knee because that’s what you told us right off and we’re not covering your hip or your back,” or whatever it might be that ends up hurting a few days down the road when the swelling goes down on the knee. Just make sure that whatever you hurt, whatever gets injured, that it’s all clearly reported to your employer.

Hire an Attorney

If you’ve suffered an injury and you think there’s going to be some time that you’re going to miss from work and you think you’re going to have to be receiving some significant medical care, the earlier an attorney gets involved, the more they can protect someone’s right to their benefits. Many people want to please their employer and they try to play by the rules by not hiring an attorney. But then they try to go to the doctors and all of a sudden, six weeks down the road, they’re released. They’ve seen maybe a doctor once or twice and the doctor just sent them packing on their way and yet they still have pain and they still can’t return to work. It it usually at this point someone will look to hire an attorney, but it is much harder to undo what’s been done than to try and control the situation from the outset. But, no matter when you look to hire an attorney, it’s essential to have representation so that you make sure you’re getting the benefits that you are entitled to.

If you have been injured on the job, contact the trusted attorneys at Stewart & Stewart. Give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website for more information.

31
May

How Can a Law Firm Help Parent’s Handle Bullying at a Child’s School?

May 31, 2018

A child being bullied is a personal injury case.  If your child is being bullied to the extent that you need to take legal action, it’s vital that you look for a family-oriented law firm to help you. At Stewart and Stewart, we all have children in our local schools, on our little league teams and are a part of a community we hope to be safe and bully-free. We’re very involved in the community and we keep tuned into what’s going on with our schools and what’s going on with our children in our schools. Unfortunately, school bullying has become more of a problem and it’s more pervasive today than it’s ever been, graduating beyond the school grounds and into social media and online outlets where some bullies feel that they’re protected and can bully emotionally through words.

The outlet for school bullying has grown and that explains why it’s more pervasive today than it’s ever been. The arena has grown and the ability for one child to bully another one has become greater. But, regardless of the format of the bullying, whether it’s at the lunch table or on a laptop, it affects our kids’ wellbeing, their grades and sadly, their own self-worth.

At Stewart and Stewart, two of our last four jury trials were cases involving school bullying scenarios. Our message to the jury in these cases is always the same and it’s not a difficult message or a complex legal argument. Instead, it’s a common-sense rule that when we put our kids in school and they walk in that front door, we as parents or guardians should be able to trust that the school will keep them safe.  If school bullying finds its way into the lives of our children, we should also be able to trust that the school is going to handle that situation quickly and appropriately.

Even if the incident doesn’t occur on school grounds, if it’s involving two students from the same school, it’s going to find its way back into the school.  The question becomes how is the school handling this?  Did they handle it appropriately?  Did they have measures in place to prevent the bullying from happening in the first place?  If they did, what did they do to remedy it?  What did they do to help the situation?  Even if they did do all that they could do, even if they did have all the rules in place and the measures in place to protect students from bullying, did they find out about bullying and not do anything about it?  Did they ignore it?  Did they not tell the parents?

At Stewart and Stewart, we have had several cases where the school has tried to deal with the bullying on their own internally but not consult the authorities or even tell the parents. Children are not as forthright about being bullied as they are about other, more positive things. It is not natural for a child to feel intimidated, so school bullying can affect them in ways they don’t quite understand. Oftentimes, many of these children think there’s something wrong with them and avoid telling their parents the extent of the situation.

If the school ignores those concerns and fails to keep our kids safe, they become liable for the parable effects the school bully has on our students.  School bullying is the cornerstone of a whole host of problems students can face, from suicidal thoughts, low self-worth, grades plummeting, and other aspects that affect a child’s life.

Your attorney should deal with school bullying just like any other personal injury case.  Whether the bullying caused physical or emotional distress, there is an injury occurring. In all of these cases, schools, just like drivers, doctors and dog owners, have rules to follow. Schools aren’t any different, they’re not exempt from lawsuits, so we look at that school bullying case the way we look at all other cases that cross our desks.

If your child has been the victim of bullying, know that you have the right to contact an attorney to fight for your child’s rights. Our team at Stewart and Stewart has handled many of these cases and we are passionate about helping the children of our community lead safe and bully-free lives. Give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website for more information.

30
May

Do I Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage on My Insurance Policy?

May 30, 2018

What happens when I get in a wreck with someone who doesn't have insuranceEven with laws in place that require drivers to carry auto insurance, many still go without it. Every day, innocent people are hurt in car wrecks where the at-fault party doesn’t have insurance. When this happens, a car wreck can become much more complicated and harder to resolve. That’s why it’s so important to carry uninsured coverage on your own auto insurance policy to be ready for situations like this. If you don’t have uninsured coverage on your policy and you are in a wreck with someone who doesn’t have insurance, a judgment against that driver may only be worth as much as the paper it’s written on, which is extremely unfortunate.

Because of this, it’s so important to be ready for that scenario to happen by acting proactively and getting an uninsured coverage policy. If you do have uninsured coverage, your attorney will look to your own insurance company for help once an accident occurs. Your insurance company steps into the shoes of the person who hit you from an economic standpoint.  If you have uninsured coverage, you’ve paid premiums for that and you’ve done your job so your own insurance company becomes the source of recovery.

Our legislator has done their part in requiring drivers to have insurance by making it a law, but it doesn’t mean that everybody is going to have auto insurance. If you get into an accident with an uninsured driver and don’t have uninsured motorist coverage, your collision coverage will usually cover the costs, but you won’t be able to seek any payments for medical bills. If neither you or the driver has insurance, you will have to pay for all repairs and medical bills out of pocket, and could be in trouble with the law.

Whether you have uninsured motorist coverage or not and have been involved in an accident with a driver who does not have auto insurance, it’s important to hire a lawyer to help you get the settlement you deserve. Car accidents involving uninsured motorists can be difficult as you first must prove fault, which is harder to do without two insurance companies working together to make a deal.

If you’ve been involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, contact the car accident attorneys at Stewart and Stewart. We have tons of experience dealing with these situations and will work hard to make sure you and your family receive the recovery that is deserved. Give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website for more information.

29
May

Do I Still Have a Case if They Say the Accident is My Fault?

May 29, 2018

what happens if the insurance company says you are "at fault"If an insurance company or a representative of the insurance company tells you that you’re at fault, it’s imperative to take this with great caution. This statement is a legal determination and it can directly impact your case. If an insurance company is telling you that you are at fault for an accident, it doesn’t mean you are, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you don’t have a case.

The bottom line is the insurance company owes no allegiance to you, the injured person, but they do to their driver or their dog owner or their business owner who caused your injury. If the only source is the insurance company’s determination that somebody is at fault, it would be extremely wise for you or your loved one to hire your own attorney as this statement is a legal determination and should not be taken lightly. An attorney will combat this assertion or, at the very least, determine whether or not it’s genuine.

Fault can also be determined on the scene when a police report is filled out. While the majority of these reports are correct, there are countless cases where a person has been deemed “at fault” because of a mistake or error within the report. It takes a second set of legal eyes to look at each piece to make that determination. Many insurance companies will look at a report and make a quick decision, but most of the time, it requires much more than that—it requires an investigation.

If you are deemed to share the fault, even by up to 50 percent, you’re still entitled to pursue damages for your injury.  You can share fault in a case and still have a case, although that case might be much more difficult to settle.

By hiring an attorney, they will be able to go to trial and aid and assist the jury in understanding the law so that they can make a reasonable determination of fault allocation.  In other words, it’s up to the jury to decide what your percentage of fault is in any given case and it’s the attorney’s job to make sure that they reach that accurately.  Overall, if you have a case and somebody tells you that you’re at fault, it’s wise to get a second opinion.

If you were in an accident and deemed at fault by an insurance company or through a police report, contact the personal injury attorneys at Stewart & Stewart. We will help you with a second opinion and work hard to determine if that “at fault” description is just. Give us a call at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website for more information.