Recent temperatures above 70 degrees for the first time in 2015 served as a reminder that it will soon be “Riding Season” for the tens of thousands of motorcycle and bicycle enthusiasts in Indiana. The Big Thaw also revealed the obscure dangers that lurk on our crumbling roadways as the vanishing freeze gives way to pavement failures, with potholes here, there, and everywhere!  It is not too soon, or too early, to once again raise awareness of the importance of safely Sharing the Road, recognizing the increased presence of pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.

Our practice of vigorously representing motorcyclists who have suffered harm by distracted, negligent, and drunk drivers spans over four decades.  Through our work, the attorneys and staff at Ladendorf Law have experienced along with our clients the human suffering of catastrophic injury and the avoidable loss of a loved one.

Being “Like Family, Because We Are,” our law firm recognizes our social and moral obligation to the community we serve.  Ladendorf Law supports several benefit and charity rides across the State throughout each Riding Season.  Once again, we are humbled to be the primary sponsor of the Second Annual Memorial Ride in honor of former Grant County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Andry, who was killed at the age of 49 when a distracted driver turned left in front of Lt. Andry’s motorcycle in July 2013.

The Second Lt. Michael Andry Memorial Ride will be held on June 20, 2015 beginning in Greentown, Indiana.  Funds raised through the Second Lt. Michael Andry Memorial Ride will benefit the Grant County Sheriff’s Gifts For Kids, Marion’s Cops & Kids and the Howard County Benevolent Fund, which helps children through the Howard County Sheriff’s Department.  For more information on the Ride, visit Facebook:

The first Lt. Michael Andry Memorial Ride took place July 12, 2014 in Marion, Indiana on the one year anniversary of Lt. Andry’s tragic death.  Ladendorf Law was there as the primary sponsor.  Through the organizing efforts of Lt. Andry’s family and the generosity of the many riders and participants, the Ride was a tremendous success, raising $10,000 in donations for two of Lt. Andry’s favorite charities: Grant County Sheriff’s Gifts For Kids and Marion’s Cops & Kids .  Go back in time for a birds-eye-view of the moving tribute to Lt. Andry as kickstands go up and 100 bikes begin the 130-plus mile ride escorted by the State Police:

steve-reevesStephen Warren Reeves,65, of Indianapolis, passed away Monday, May 27, 2013 at his daughter’s residence in Plainfield.

He was born December 15, 1947, in Indianapolis. Stephen was the son of David and Rosemary (Long) Reeves.

Survivors include his mother of Indianapolis; daughters, Jodi (husband, Norman) Craney of Plainfied and Brianna (husband, A.J.) Byrne of Glendale, Arizona; son Steve (wife, Melissa) Reeves of Troutman, North Carolina; brother, Mike (wife, Pauline) Reeves of Lebanon; grandchildren, Lexis, Sarah, Jenna and Whitney (husband, Tyler), Hayden, Fayth, Cora, Hailey, Drew and one on the way. He was preceded in death by his father.

Stephen graduated from Ben Davis High School in 1965. He taught welding at North Central High School in Indianapolis for several years. Steve hosted and created “Steel Horse”, Indiana’s only program for motorcycle riders and enthusiasts. His purpose of this show was to enlighten the public on how much the biking community gives to those in need. Steve wanted everyone to “BE THERE” for the action and donate to the beneficiaries of the charity rides.

Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 29, 2013 and from 9:30 to 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 30, 2013 at Plainfield Christian Church, 800 N. Dan Jones Road in Plainfield. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at the church, with Josh Cadwell and Scott Schnizler officiating. Interment will be in Westridge Cemetery in Indianapolis. Services entrusted to Freeman Family Funeral Homes and Crematory , 819 S. Harrison St. in Shelbyville, Indiana.

Remember to attend and support the Steve Reeves Memorial Ride on July 13, 2013 beginning at Southside Harley-Davidson. Casual attire, per Steve’s request.

Online condolences may be shared at:

NASCAR Driver Tony Stewart Hires Indianapolis Defense Attorney James Voyles

The motor sports world suffered a great loss on Saturday, August 9, 2014 when Kevin Ward, Jr. died of massive blunt force trauma after he was struck during a sprint car race by Tony Stewart’s vehicle.  As this perplexing and tragic event is being investigated, no criminal charges have been filed to date.  However, WTHR News reported that Stewart has retained seasoned Indianapolis defense attorney James Voyles just days after the fatal wreck.

Regardless of what the New York prosecutors decide to do as far as criminal charges are concerned, it is likely that Tony Stewart will face legal action in the civil arena. That is, even if New York authorities conclude that Ward Jr.’s death was entirely accidental, his family could conceivably pursue a wrongful-death civil case under a theory of negligence.

The differences between proving manslaughter in criminal court and proving negligence in civil court are significant.  For one, the level of intent is much lower for negligence, as a wrongful death plaintiff need only show that the defendant’s actions fell below a standard of reasonable care under the circumstances.  (By contrast, a prosecutor needs to prove the act that caused the death was intentional, or at minimum, severely reckless.)  Moreover, theburden of proof in a civil case requires the plaintiff demonstrate that it is more probable than not that the defendant was negligent and that the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff damage.  The time-honored criminal burden of proof is that all elements of a criminal charge be demonstrated “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a much higher bar to meet.

In spite of the ugliness of the scene that resulted in Ward Jr.’s death, there remain challenges for his estate if it seeks to bring a wrongful death claim. Ladendorf Law founding attorney Mark Ladendorf explained some of these challenges in an interview with WTHR (local NBC) on Monday.

From a claimant’s perspective, Mark’s first concern is whether Kevin Ward Jr. executed a waiver or release of liability prior to participating in the sprint race.  Athletic releases–which operate to bar a future civil claim in exchange for the athlete being allowed to participate–are pervasive in motor sports.  In many instances, the language of the release / waiver signed by a deceased individual can be binding upon his heirs in a wrongful death case.

Second, Mark discussed one of the critical differences between the substantive laws of New York, where the incident occurred, and Indiana, which is Tony Stewart’s home state.  Under the Indiana Adult Wrongful Death Statute (codified at I.C. 34-23-1-2), the estate of an emancipated adult who is killed through the fault of another can only collect at most $300,000 in “non-economic damages” — that is, damages that represent the loss of love, care and companionship.  This is only one type of “damage cap” created by the Indiana Legislature to limit a party’s recovery.  The State of New York, by contrast, does not cap wrongful death damages for the statutory survivors of the deceased.

To view portions of Mark Ladendorf’s interview with WTHR, click here.

Ladendorf Law will continue to follow this developing story. Our practice is devoted exclusively to representing victims of personal injury accidents, medical malpractice and wrongful death.  Please do not hesitate to call us if we may assist you, your friends or acquaintances with a case.

I’m sure you have heard of those mystical personal injury law suits where the plaintiff supposedly recovered millions of dollars for a stubbed toe. Well, this example is obviously hypothetical, but you get my point. The majority of the public feels that civil plaintiffs recover millions all the time for the slightest of injuries. In fact, let’s be honest, the public perception is really that when a plaintiff has a personal injury claim, they are looking to “hit it rich.”

In reality though, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Most victims of personal injury really just want their lives to return to normal…or at least as close to normal as possible. In fact, even if an injured party wanted to “hit it rich” from a personal injury claim, in many instances, the law doesn’t allow them to do so.

A personal injury case (motor vehicle collision case, medical malpractice case, products liability case, etc.) is what the legal world refers to as a “tort claim.” A tort lawsuit is a suit where one person (“the plaintiff”) sues another (“the defendant”) for damages that the defendant caused to the plaintiff when the defendant committed an act of harm recognized by our civil laws (e.g. negligence). What do “damages” mean? Damages are compensation for the harms that were caused by the wrongful act.  This compensation is strictly for the damages sustained…no more…and no less. Specifically, tort law intends for the damages a plaintiff recovers to compensate them in a manner so to place them in the same position they would have been had they never suffered the injury in the first place. Obviously, a jury award cannot physically fix their bodies or award the plaintiff a time machine to travel back to a time when they were not injured.  What the jury award does do is provide a plaintiff with an amount of money to hopefully help them live with their injuries in a more “normal fashion.”

To provide guidance to a jury, the law specifies what losses should be included in the damage compensation awarded. Those include:

  • The reasonable value of necessary medical care, treatment, and services (past and future);
  • Loss of wages (past and future);
  • The value of a loss of earning capacity;
  • The value of loss of enjoyment of life the Plaintiff has suffered;
  • The value of the physical and emotional pain and suffering the Plaintiff has suffered; and
  • The value of disfigurement and / or deformity resulting from the injuries the Plaintiff has suffered.

All of the damage considerations can then be affected by the extent of the injuries; whether the injuries are temporary or permanent; the length of life a plaintiff would have to live with the injuries; and the effects of inflation or depreciation of the damages awarded.

In cases of death, dismemberment or permanent debilitating injury, the amount awarded for damages can rise to an extremely high number. But, given the fact that a compensation award is intended to bring the plaintiff back to the same position she would have been had she never suffered an injury in the first place, it’s only fair.

With all of that considered, did you know that Indiana law places a cap on the damages a plaintiff can recover in certain types of cases? If a Plaintiff is injured, she should be allowed to recover all of their damages, no matter how much is at stake, right? Similarly, if a Plaintiff is injured, a Plaintiff should be allowed recover all of their damages, no matter what geographic location she resides in, right? Finally, if a Plaintiff is injured, she should recover all of their damages, no matter how they were injured, right? I mean, isn’t that what I just spent the first few paragraphs explaining? Well, regretfully, I was correct in my theoretical explanation above. But according to Indiana lawmakers, practice should be different than theory. In fact, over the last 40 years the Indiana Legislature has placed numerous monetary caps on the damages a Plaintiff can recover.

For instance, if a Plaintiff suffers an injury due to medical malpractice, a Plaintiff can only recover a maximum of $1.25 million…no matter how much a jury would actually award. I.C. 34-18-14. Or, if an unmarried adult with no dependents is killed via an act of negligence, the maximum amount their estate can recover is $300,000.00 plus attorney fees. I.C. 34-23-1.

These caps may seem like a lot of money and may seem fair to some; however, keep in mind that what these caps really stand for: the state lawmakers placing a maximum value on individual’s lives and state lawmakers categorizing certain individuals based on the type of negligence involved.

Statutory caps on damages remain a hot topic among the attorneys who are confronted with them on a consistent basis. Regretfully, all too often it also affects injured parties.

Ladendorf Law is constantly keeping up to date on the legal ramifications and changes in statutory damage caps and fighting hard for our clients as we navigate through the complicated statutes that continuously “stack the deck” against victims of personal injury. If you or your loved ones have been injured by the negligence of another, contact Ladendorf Law to allow us to answer your questions concerning these statutes and more as well as conduct a free case evaluation.

When technology and philanthropy come together, beautiful results can happen.  This video, taken by a drone hovering above the American Legion Post #10 in Marion, Indiana, followed the motorcycle riders who participated in the inaugural Lt. Michael Andry Memorial Ride on July 12, 2014.

The initial couple of minutes show the Legion grounds and the bikes departing.  The drone catches up with the riders en route on the 137 mile journey.  It concludes with still photos of former Grant County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Andry on his bike and the cross at the scene of his untimely crash that led to his death.    Incredible aerial videography, particularly for those who have never seen what a drone can do.

A recap of the July 12, 2014  Lt. Michael Andry Memorial Ride, by Ladendorf Law attorney Dan Ladendorf:

Approximately two hundred people – volunteers and participants alike – stood under partly cloudy skies waiting for the formal invocation to kick-off the Lt. Michael Andry Inaugural Memorial Ride. A young lady was invited to the microphone where she acknowledged Lt. Andry’s selfless actions when he came upon the scene of a crash several years ago and played a role in making her presence at this event in his memory even possible.  In his work, Lt. Andry touched the lives of many people in unforeseen ways and made his community a better place until a senseless crash on July 12, 2013 claimed his own life at the young age of 49.

Despite Saturday’s stormy forecast, the only thunder overheard at American Legion Post #10 in Marion, Indiana was the roar of one hundred motorcyclist departing for a 137 mile ride in memory of Lt. Andry, a twenty-one year veteran of the Grant County Sheriff’s Department.  A law enforcement escort accompanied the procession of bikes over the Salamonie Reservoir with a scheduled stop at Brandt’s Harley Davidson in Wabash.  The ride continued across the Mississinewa Reservoir, through Converse and into the Town of Swayzee, where Lt. Andry began his career in law enforcement as the Town Marshall.   A second stop in Greentown provided a short respite before riders passed byKnox Chapel Cemetery where Lt. Andry is laid to rest.  Upon returning to the Legion, afternoon activities included food and a silent auction.

Ladendorf Law was the primary sponsor of the ride and is grateful the Andry family invited our participation in the event, which promoted driver and motorcycle safety.  Ladendorf Law attorney Dan Ladendorf was on-hand at the Legion in the hours before the 11:00 a.m. ride commenced.  Proceeds from this year’s inaugural ride are earmarked for the benefit of two law enforcement related charities including the Grant County Sheriff Department’s “Sheriff’s Gifts for Kids” program and the Marion Fraternal Order of Police “Cops and Kids” program. Both charities assist less fortunate children during the Christmas season and were supported by Lt. Andry before his untimely death.

The inaugural Lt. Michael Andry Memorial Ride ride was held on the one year anniversary of Lt. Andry’s death, which was caused by the negligence of another driver who executed a left turn directly into and across the path of Lt. Andry’s motorcycle on SR 13 just north of Elwood, Indiana.  Lt. Andry’s family intends to continue the event each year in celebration of his life and in support of his commitment to the community in which he lived and worked.  Ladendorf Law looks forward to being along for the ride.

Like family.  Because we are.

dan + family

Dan Ladendorf hands this young lady a special “Ladendorf Law” kickstand puck.
Dan Ladendorf hands this young lady a special “Ladendorf Law” kickstand puck.


Kickstands up! Time to roll out for the 100+ mile ride.


Lt. Michael Andry Memorial Ride volunteers… hard at work!
Lt. Michael Andry Memorial Ride volunteers… hard at work!

Twas three days before Christmas, and what what do you know?

I just woke up to catch my favorite Sunday morning show.

“What show might that be?” my friends sat and wondered.

Why, it’s the Holiday Special, courtesy of Steel Horse Thunder!

Many of us at Ladendorf Law made the trek through the snow and ice to Southside Harley Davidson this past Saturday morning, where Scott, Andy, and the Steel Horse Thunder crew were preparing their final episode of 2013.  It’s going to be a holiday special you will not want to miss, so make sure to set those alarms for this Sunday, December 22nd, at 10 AM on MyINDY TV.  You never know who might be wishing you good tidings…

Ladendorf Law comes along for the ride with the Steel Horse Thunder production crew
Ladendorf Law comes along for the ride with the Steel Horse Thunder production crew

For more pictures during the production of this week’s Steel Horse Thunder episode, click to our Facebook page.  Happy Holidays!


This week’s national headlines featured a criminal case for the ages at the intersection of law and social science.  It also reintroduced America to what has been described as the “All-Consuming Epidemic” for children of extremely wealthy families: “Affluenza.”

The facts of the juvenile criminal proceeding that shocked the nation are simple, though incredibly tragic.  From theLos Angeles Times recap:

“According to officials, the teenager and some friends were seen on surveillance video stealing two cases of beer from a store. He had seven passengers in his Ford F-350, was speeding and had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit, according to testimony during the trial. The pickup fatally struck four pedestrians: Brian Jennings, 43; Breanna Mitchell, 24; Shelby Boyles, 21; and her mother Hollie Boyles, 52.”

Texas prosecutors had sought the maximum 20 years in state custody for the boy for the death of the four pedestrians, but his defense attorneys were able to successfully argue to District Judge Jean Boyd that the ideal sentence for the offender is rehabilitation, as opposed to prison.  Couch will serve 10 years of probation and is anticipated to submit to rehabilitation at a California facility at a cost in excess of $450,000.

So how was it that Couch got off with such a glaringly light sentence under the circumstances?  A piece of exculpatory evidence?  A remorseful plea of mercy at the sentencing hearing?  Other mitigating factors?  Well, sort of.

This time, what carried the day was the defense’s argument that Couch himself was a victim.  The defense presented psychologist G. Dick Miller to testify that Couch was suffering from “affluenza” —that he lived such an extravagant, materialistic, consequence-free life that he was unable to understand or control his behavior. According to Christopher J. Ferguson at, this is perhaps the first time in American jurisprudence that having too easy a life has been considered a mitigating circumstance.

Read more: “Affluenza” is Junk Science |

As expected, this sentencing has sent a shock wave through the news media, the blogosphere, and the legal community.  Major criticisms are being levied against the validity of “affluenza” as a defense in our system of justice.  Over at USA Today, the debate is heating up over the future of “affluenza”-type defenses.   Is the “affluenza” defense merely an extension of the law’s insistence that criminal culpability requires an appreciation of the consequences of one’s actions?  Or is this a product of pop psychology without empirical support that would have the odious effect of condoning differential treatment between those litigants who have hoards of money and those who do not?
Although Couch’s sentence would seem to create the sort of double standard based on wealth that the law abhors, I hesitate to be Chicken Little here.  While defense attorneys in both the criminal setting and the civil arena (where the burden of proof is much lower) may try to replicate the success of Mr. Couch’s lawyers, I ultimately don’t see the “affluenza” defense gaining much traction in our courts of law.  For one, “affluenza” as a psychological construct has not received blessing within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association.  Second, prosecutors and plaintiffs’ attorneys will likely respond to the Couch decision by challenging the admissibility of any purported expert testimony on “affluenza” generally and as applied to a particular case.  Finally, our courts of law and the judges who lead them are going to take heed of the public outrage over the “Blame the Parents” implications of this decision.  Judges, particularly in those jurisdictions which select their judges through popular elections, are keenly aware of the political and professional consequences of appearing “soft on crime.”  Although this criticism usually manifests itself with career offenders, there is good reason to believe that citizens will be equally outraged by a judge who over-sympathizes with a wealthy young defendant who seeks to avoid responsibility by claiming that he is the victim of his family’s wealth and the lack of boundaries that attend to that affluence.  The courts will therefore reject the classism that is inherent in the “affluenza” defense to preserve their own accountability to “We the People,” and this most recent case, though intriguing, will become an outlier.


Check out this Northern Indiana news release on Dan Ladendorf’s recent recognition as 2013 Trial Lawyer of the Year, from Page A01 of The Rochester Sentinel, December 5, 2013:

Manitou resident top trial lawyer

The Sentinel report

An Indianapolis lawyer with a summer home on Lake Manitou is the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association 2013 Trial Lawyer of the Year.

Daniel A. Ladendorf, of Ladendorf and Ladendorf, received the award for his efforts to get the 2013 Indiana General Assembly to pass amendments to the state’s hospital lien statute.

“The changes will help to protect all future residents who find themselves in need of hospital services as a result of someone else’s wrongdoing,” Ladendorf said. “Prior to the changes, effective July 1, 2013, hospitals routinely ignored the benefits to which an injured patient was entitled under a private health insurance plan or Medicare, seeking instead to collect its full charges from those patients who, for example, were injured by a drunk driver.”

State Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, introduced the legislatation and State Rep. Jud McMillin, R-Brookville, carried it through the House.

The changes stop hospitals from asserting liens against Medicare patients and require hospitals to give patients credit for any contractual adjustments or write-offs it agreed to under the patient’s health plan, according to the association’s press release. The release says Ladendorf’s work on the amendments followed a case involving the wrongful death claim for the estate of a woman who died of injuries from a car wreck. The release says the collision was caused by another driver who failed to yield.

Instead of collecting a reduced payment from Medicare, the hospital set a $155,000 bill for the patient and took out a lien against any recovery her estate made in the wrongful death claim against the driver who caused the crash. However, the estate could only collect $100,000 in damages, limited by the at-fault driver’s liability insurance coverage.

According to the release, Ladendorf also found many Indiana hospitals refused to credit an injured patient’s account for the write-off it agreed to accept as a condition of providing in-network services under a patient’s health plan.

He was also involved in testimony before Senate and House committees considering lien statute amendments, pointing out the lien statute was first adopted in the 1930s, before Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance plans provided assurances to hospitals of payment for services.

Attorneys Stephen L. Williams, Terre Haute, and Thomas E. Hamer, Anderson, nominated Ladendorf for the award.

Ladendorf earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1983 from Indiana University. He received his law degree from Indiana University in 1986.


From ABC News earlier this week:

An appeals court has cleared a driver in a fatal crash after agreeing she faced an “unforeseen emergency” when a back-seat passenger untied her bikini top.

Brittany Lahm of Manhattan briefly took her hands off the wheel when her bikini top came off while she was driving on the New York Thruway in July 2008, the Daily News reported ( ).

Lahm and a group of friends were returning to Rockland County after a day at the New Jersey shore when Brandon Berman allegedly pulled the bikini strings. He was killed when the vehicle hit a guardrail and flipped.

In a 3-1 decision, the Brooklyn Appellate Division last week upheld a Rockland jury verdict, which found Lahm’s bikini top problem constituted “a sudden and unforeseen emergency not of her own making.”

The verdict came after a 2011 civil trial brought by Jason Pelletier, one of four passengers in Lahm’s car.

Pelletier, who was injured in the crash, sued Lahm for damages. He testified that she leaned forward for about 20 seconds as she attempted to retie her bathing suit top. His lawyers argued that she should have pulled over before trying to adjust her top.

Lahm testified that she took her hands off the wheel for only a second.

Of all the muddied waters in Indiana tort law that we navigate as trial lawyers, one of the muddiest has to be what is discussed in the ABC News article as the “sudden emergency doctrine.”  The common law tort of negligence requires that one must act as a reasonably prudent person, and a failure to do so renders that person liable for all foreseeable damages to another caused by that failure.   However, because incidents sometimes occur based at least in part on conditions outside of our control, the law has long recognized that a person confronted with sudden or unexpected circumstances calling for immediate action is not expected to exercise the judgment of one acting under normal circumstances.  Willis v. Westerfield, 839 N.E.2d 1179, 1184-85 (Ind. 2006) (citing W.P. Keeton, D. Dobbs, R. Keeton & D. Owen, Prosser and Keeton on the Law of Torts § 33 at 196 (5th ed.1984).   The basis of the sudden emergency doctrine is that “the actor is left no time for adequate thought, or is reasonably so disturbed or excited that the actor cannot weigh alternative courses of action, and must make a speedy decision, based very largely upon impulse or guess. Under such conditions, the actor cannot reasonably be held to the same accuracy of judgment or conduct as one who has had full opportunity to reflect, even though it later appears that the actor made the wrong decision, one which no reasonable person could possibly have made after due deliberation.” Id.

Okay, fair enough.  So, the sudden emergency doctrine is not really intended to lessen the standard of care and judgment that a person must exercise in the course of their actions, but a emergency is simply one of the circumstances that a judge or jury can consider in forming a judgment about the person’s fault.

However, despite the fact that Indiana courts have made very clear that the sudden emergency doctrine applies only in narrow circumstances, you would not believe how often defendants attempt to raise “sudden emergency” as an excuse for their negligent conduct.   In our work as trial attorneys, we often see the party or parties defending a case try to invoke the sudden emergency doctrine when the road conditions are less than pristine on account of weather (e.g. rain or snow).  Or, in a recent federal court case, the defendant (the driver of a semi tractor trailer) rear-ended a second semi rig in front of his, forcing the latter semi into our client’s vehicle and causing serious injury to our client.  Although the defendant in that case was cited by the investigating officer for following too closely, he tried to raise “sudden emergency” to diminish his responsibility for causing the multi-vehicle, multi-impact collision.  (Thankfully, the trial court refused to consider a “sudden emergency” jury instruction.)

Admittedly, the sudden emergency doctrine still has its place in tort law and trial practice, but it should be a limited one.  For one, in a case involving a motor vehicle collision, defendants should not be automatically granted the right to argue “sudden emergency” to a jury just because the roadways were slick on account of rain, sleet, snow, or even ice.  Why?  Because the danger in this instance is not “so imminent” that the defendant would not have known about the possibility, leaving no time for deliberation.  Second, a defendant should not be permitted to claim sudden emergency for rear-ending a slowing vehicle because he could not bring his vehicle to a stop prior to impact.  Finally, in the medical setting, a medical provider should not be afforded the luxury of sudden emergency doctrine if he or she damages a patient’s tissue or organ from overcauterizing during surgery.