|By Schoettle, Anthony|
"It's not uncommon for a personal injury firm to become uniquely attuned to certain injuries because of the intensive and detailed advocacy they do," said
Caress has a personal perspective on the needs of his clients.
Not a day goes by that the lifelong
His law practice sits at
The 45-year-old marathon runner and triathlete has watched two-wheeled and two-legged traffic increase exponentially on the
Unfortunately, Caress also has seen an increase in accidents involving cyclists, walkers and runners. No place is that more evident than at his law practice.
About one in five of Caress' cases now features an accident involving a cyclist, fitness walker or runner. In some cases, a cyclist and a runner or walker are involved.
"We do see cases, especially on the
Of course, the accidents can involve motorists tangling with a cyclist or pedestrian - and that's when things can get even more serious.
"The same accident between two cars can be nothing more than a fender bender, but when a cyclist or [pedestrian] is involved, it can involve serious personal injury," he said.
Given the rise of outdoor offerings like downtown's
"Societal trends tend to impact legal needs, so to make the decision to dedicate time and resources to this focus absolutely appears to be a logical choice," she said.
"While there are a lot more cyclists on the central
Caress said cyclists, pedestrians and motorists all need to become better educated about how to handle encounters with one another and how the laws apply to each.
Bettinger agreed, noting motorists and cyclists seem equally confused about legalities such as proper hand-turn signals, rights-of-way at trail/road intersections, and roadway lane usage for cyclists and pedestrians.
"I'm seeing a lot more commuters these days," noted Bettinger, who has been a long-distance cyclist for more than 40 years. "As we're getting more people out riding, we're getting more people out there not experienced riding in traffic and not familiar with the laws that apply to them."
Knowing the rules
The demand for legal representation for cyclists and pedestrians injured in accidents has become so strong that, 18 months. ago, Caress launched IndianaBicycleLaw.com to address common concerns among non-motorized users of central
"We wanted to get out in front of this and create a resource," said Caress, who spent more than 16 years focusing on personal injury cases at Cline Farrell Christie Lee and Caress before setting out on his own in 2011.
On the website, Caress and his associate,
The website is getting 10 times the traffic it got a year ago, Caress said. "I think by word of mouth, people are beginning to learn what we offer."
A handful of high-profile accidents involving cyclists in the last year - including the death of 23-year-old
And Caress is honing his expertise.
For instance, he has learned how to proceed without a police report, which is often nonexistent when two cyclists or a pedestrian and a cyclist have an accident. Establishments like the Monon Center in
He and Worland also spend a significant amount of time studying the law pertaining to cyclists and runners, including how and when motorists are supposed to yield.
Caress got into personal-injury law after graduating from law school at
"I like the idea of helping people whose lives have been turned upside down," he said. "That's where I thought I could make the biggest positive impact."
Caress, who has completed five marathons and a half-Ironman triathlon, combined his love for helping the injured with his passion for cycling and running when he saw a segment he said has "been underserved."
He often tells cyclists, "Assume no one sees you." But, he said, that's only a rule of the road.
"I saw law firms doing work for a lot of other [special interest] groups, but I didn't see anyone focusing on the unique needs of cyclists," Caress said. "It's my job to make sure that, within the legal system, they are seen and heard."
Specialties: personal injury [15 percent to 20 percent from accidents involving cyclists and runners/walkers]
Education: bachelor's and law degrees from
Experience: Cline Farrell Christie Lee & Caress, 1996-2011
Hobbies: longtime distance runner who took up cycling and triathlons in 2007 [has completed five marathons and a half-Ironman triathlon]
Family: wife, Megan; four children: Emma, 15; Cole, 14; Atticus, 9; Stella, 7
Source: IBJ research
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