We received a call yesterday from a biker who informed us that Rider Insurance is no more.  So, we had our intrepid law clerk make some calls to get the facts straight so we could share with the biker community.  The person he talked to at Rider Insurance told us that they are now owned by Plymouth Rock Insurance.  Plymouth Rock does not offer insurance to Indiana residents, so if you’re currently with Rider, it looks like your policy will NOT renew when it comes time.

Rider is recommending that those in Indiana insure through Dairyland Insurance and Rider is offering a replacement policy through Dairyland. A nonrenewal notice was/will be sent out to those covered by Rider from Dairyland Insurance.  If you have Rider, be on the lookout for mail from Dairyland, Rider, or Plymouth Rock explaining further.

While Rider may be recommending that you insure yourself through Dairyland, remember that you don’t have to.  You have the right to pick the insurance company of your choice.

What’s most important, though, is that no matter who you choose to insure your bike, you be sure to buy sufficient coverage if the worst should happen.  1 out of 7 drivers in Indiana are uninsured.  Many more only have state minimum coverage of $25,000 of liability coverage.  If you’re hurt in an accident, $25,000 can be exhausted before leaving the Emergency Room.  We highly recommend speaking to your insurance agent to get exact information on your coverages, particularly your uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.  We hope you never need it, but if you ever would, you’re going to be very thankful that you looked into it to protect yourself and your family.

Call us if you have any questions that we can help with and be safe out there!

The news broke over the last week that David Bisard was released from prison to start serving probation. Many in the Central Indiana biker community and the community overall have expressed outrage that Bisard could be released after serving only 3 ½ years of an announced 16 year sentence.  I want to take the chance to try to show how this happened and let you know how you can make sure your voice is heard.

First, in 2014 the Indiana Legislature re-wrote the criminal code for the state. Notably, the old system of felonies graded by letter (4 levels from D to A) was replaced by a number system (6-1).  Bisard was sentenced under the old system for his convictions for:

1: Operating a Vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.15 Causing Death – Class B Felony

2: Operating a Vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.08 Causing Serious Bodily Injury – Class D Felony

3: Operating a Vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.08 Causing Serious Bodily Injury – Class D Felony

For a Class B Felony, the penalty range was 6-20.  A Class D Felony ranged between 1-3 years.  So the maximum possible penalty Bisard, or anyone else facing the same charges, could have received on paper was 26 total years.  He also could have gotten as low as 6 years.  Bisard’s actual sentence was:

Class B Felony: 13 total years.  10 years in prison.  3 years suspended to probation.

Class D Felony: 1 ½ total years.  1 ½ totals years in prison

Class D Felony: 1 ½ total years.  1 ½ totals years in prison

TOTAL Sentence: 16 total years.  13 years in prison.  3 years suspended to probation

So how does someone sentenced to 13 years in prison get out in 3 ½? First is good time credit.  When he was sentenced, an inmate received one day of good time credit for each day served.  So when he was sentenced to 13 total years in prison, it effectively was a 6 ½ year prison term.  Second, Bisard also received jail credit days for the time he was in custody awaiting trial.  Additionally, he received his associates degree while in prison and was given the benefit of another time cut.  Good Time Credit and time cuts happen every day because of the system that was and is in place.  Most of us are just generally unaware of it unless it happens with a defendant that has harmed us or one of our loved ones.

What’s Broken?

There are a number of issues with the sentencing laws for this crime. For example, with the rewrite of the criminal code the maximum actual number of years for what Bisard did is now 8 years instead of 10.  Also, with the rewrite, there is never a mandatory executed sentence for a drunk driving causing death unless there is also a hit & run component.

The definition of “Serious Bodily Injury” also deserves to be looked at by the legislature. As it is written, serious bodily injury covers everything from a broken arm to putting someone in a coma.  In either case, there are no enhancements beyond the 1-3 year penalty range for the degree of injury or level of intoxication.  This is more pronounced now because the equivalent charge has a 1 – 2 ½ year penalty range with the same 50% credit time system.

The civil law system also has disadvantages in a case like this. Because Bisard was working as an IMPD officer at the time of the crash, any claim for compensation by those injured by him is subject to the Indiana Tort Claims Act (click HERE for a video with more information on the ITCA).  So whether someone has passed away or suffered lifelong and debilitating injuries, the most the government can be required to pay to compensate is $700,000 per person.  At first blush this sounds like a great deal of money, unless you’ve seen the medical bills that come along with catastrophic injury.

How to be Heard

The problems with the David Bisard sentencing are not unique to him. Victims, and their families, all over the state have this happen to them every day.  The only people who can make changes to the criminal and civil laws that allowed this situation to happen are the legislators at the Indiana General Assembly.  Click HERE to find your legislator and let your voice be heard.

Matthew S. Bigler, Esq.

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:  https://www.facebook.com/mikeandryride

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:  http://ladendorf.wpengine.com/birds-eye-footage-1st-lt-michael-andry-memorial-ride/.

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:

http://www.freemanfamilyfuneralhomes.com

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.

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!

Since the day our firm was founded by attorney Mark Ladendorf, Ladendorf Law has been exceptionally fortunate to represent so many good people over the years who have turned to us for a voice when they are hurt by the most unfortunate circumstances.  Without our clients, our work would be meaningless, and it is our clients who push us to want to work harder every day.  The greatest reward we can receive is a satisfied client who leaves our representation knowing we did all we could to restore his or her life in the only way we know possible–by navigating the complex legal system to obtain fair compensation from the responsible party.

Sometimes our efforts are recognized by people in our community other than our direct clients.  This past Thursday, November 7, 2013, was one of those days for Dan Ladendorf.

In his nearly fourteen years as a civil trial lawyer, Dan has always gone the extra mile to resolve claims for hundreds of personal injury victims who seek our counsel.  In addition to his “day job,” Dan has served for the last six years as the Chair or Co-Chair of the Government Affairs Committee for the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA).  This Committee is charged with the extraordinary task of coordinating bipartisan efforts among ITLA membership to push for pro-civil justice legislation and oppose bills that would seek to diminish the fundamental rights of Hoosiers to trial by jury.

This past General Assembly legislative session was particularly significant for Dan and the ITLA, but more importantly, for our clients.  As a result of tireless research, bill drafting, lobbying, alliance building, vote counting, and a few breaks along the way, Dan’s relentless pursuit of changes to the Indiana Hospital Lien Statute came to fruition.  Effective July 1, 2013, hospitals no longer have a first-priority “super lien” for the full amount of their charged bill against a claim for bodily injuries resulting from a third party’s negligent conduct.   (The details of the changes to the Hospital Lien Statute will be explored in subsequent posts.)

This past summer, Dan received multiple nominations from his peers for the high honor of the ITLA’s 2013 Trial Lawyer of the Year.   Although there were several other distinguished attorneys nominated for this year’s award, Dan received a large majority of the ballots, and on November 7, 2013, he was presented with the award by none other than his older brother and 2013-2014 ITLA President Mark Ladendorf.

2013-2014 ITLA President Mark Ladendorf congratulates Dan Ladendorf with the Trial Lawyer of the Year plaque
2013-2014 ITLA President Mark Ladendorf congratulates Dan Ladendorf with the Trial Lawyer of the Year plaque
The plaque presented to Dan Ladendorf
The plaque presented to Dan Ladendorf

“We are members of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association.  It is the only statewide association dedicated to open access to the courts and preservation of your right to a jury trial.  I am very humbled by this award, which might be best expressed in this: Even if we are occupied with important things, even if we attain honor or fall into misfortune, still let us remember how good it once was here, when we were all together, united by a good and a kind feeling which made us perhaps better than we are.’”

Congratulations, Dan, on this prestigious award and what it represents: A life of service to the improving our system of justice in Indiana.

For more photos from the Awards Ceremony and post-event reception at Loughmiller’s Pub in downtown Indianapolis, enjoy the following:

Dan Ladendorf dines with family and friends at Table 1
Dan Ladendorf dines with family and friends at Table 1
(Left to Right): Amy Van Ostrand; Dustin Fregiato; Tim Devereux; Cheryl Brockman; Lance Ladendorf; Dan Ladendorf; Julie Weiler; Mark Ladendorf
(Left to Right): Amy Van Ostrand; Dustin Fregiato; Tim Devereux; Cheryl Brockman; Lance Ladendorf; Dan Ladendorf; Julie Weiler; Mark Ladendorf
Dan Ladendorf entertains his audience with musings about growing up, mentoring, and the “architects” of the changes to the Indiana Hospital Lien Statute.
Dan Ladendorf entertains his audience with musings about growing up, mentoring, and the “architects” of the changes to the Indiana Hospital Lien Statute.
Lance (left), Dan (center), and Mark Ladendorf (right)
Lance (left), Dan (center), and Mark Ladendorf (right)
Ladendorf Law spends a night on the town to celebrate the Trial Lawyer of the Year
Ladendorf Law spends a night on the town to celebrate the Trial Lawyer of the Year
A living tribute to Bob and Shirley Ladendorf
A living tribute to Bob and Shirley Ladendorf

 

This past Saturday, October 12th, Mark, Julie and Amy from our office were at Harley Davidson North in Indianapolis this morning at the “Rock For The Cure” ride to benefit the breast cancer segment of the IU Simon Cancer Center.  Steel Horse Thunder TV was on hand as well for this special event, which drew a large number of motorcycle riders and enthusiasts to support an important cause.   Check out some of our pictures from this glorious Saturday morning in Indianapolis!

Mark Ladendorf and Julie Weiler are up early to wave on the riders.
Mark Ladendorf and Julie Weiler are up early to wave on the riders.
Paula of Rock for the Cure, Mark Ladendorf, and Julie Weiler at the "Rock for the Cure" ride to benefit breast cancer at Harley Davidson North in Indy
Amy Van Ostrand and Mark Ladendorf of Ladendorf Law at the “Rock for the Cure” ride to benefit breast cancer at Harley Davidson North in Indy.
Amy Van Ostrand of Ladendorf Law and Mark Ladendorf at the "Rock for the Cure" ride to benefit breast cancer at Harley Davidson North in Indy.
Amy Van Ostrand and Mark Ladendorf of Ladendorf Law at the “Rock for the Cure” ride to benefit breast cancer at Harley Davidson North in Indy.
Kickstands ready to go up at the Rock for the Cure ride at Harley Davidson on 96th Street.
Kickstands ready to go up at the Rock for the Cure ride at Harley Davidson North on 96th Street.

Attorney Mark Ladendorf was recently recognized as a finalist for the 2013 Inspire Awards presented by College Mentors for Kids.  The Inspire Awards, presented by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, are dedicated to recognizing outstanding mentors in the workplace and community.  On February 27, 2013, a reception was held at The Indiana Roof Ballroom where Mark and other nominees were honored for their efforts in mentoring future generations of leaders in Central Indiana.

Mark was acknowledged in part for his involvement as a young lawyer in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.  Through the program, Mark mentored and developed a lifelong bond with James “Jamie” Pheifer, now an assistant general counsel and human resources counsel at OneAmerica in Indianapolis.   What started with Star Wars films and Indiana Pacers basketball games evolved into a more mature friendship once Pheifer turned 18 and the program technically ended.  In 1996, Mark stood as a groomsman in Pheifer’s wedding, and in 1998, Mark proudly watched Pheifer receive his juris doctor (J.D.) from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Mark’s alma mater.  Fourteen years later, Pheifer was present to celebrate my own graduation from that same law school with his “big brother” and my father, Mark Ladendorf.  The circle, in a sense, had been completed.

Erin Peckinpaugh of WTHR-TV, who nominated Mark for this award, said the following of the people who inspire us: “There are people who inspire simply because that’s who they are.  If you are in their presence, you feel empowered to give back; to leave your mark on the world.  There isn’t a single meeting with Mark where I don’t leave feeling motivated to do more for the community.”

We are proud of Mark and Jamie for not only their professional achievements, but more importantly, for the principle their friendship embodies: that profound experiences can result from unlikely beginnings.   As Memorial Day approaches, may all of us be thankful for and commemorate those mentors in our lives who help shape us into the people we are today.