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police vehicleRecently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case involving a car accident that was allegedly caused by a police officer’s negligence. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss whether the city that employed the officer was entitled to governmental immunity. Ultimately, the court concluded that because the officer failed to drive with “due regard for the safety of others,” immunity did not apply.

The case presents an important issue for Indiana car accident victims who have been injured in an accident involving a government official or employee because similar government immunity laws apply in Indiana.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff was injured when the defendant police officer made a left turn against a red traffic signal while responding to an emergency. The plaintiff testified that the police vehicle’s emergency lights were on, but that the sirens were not engaged. The accident investigator’s report indicated that the plaintiff was no speeding at the time of the collision, and it would have been impossible for her to see the police vehicle approaching due to the slope of the intersection roads.

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car accidentWhen someone is involved in an Indiana car accident that was caused by another driver, there is a good chance that the at-fault driver will not have adequate insurance coverage to fully compensate the accident victim for their injuries. This is also the case in Indiana hit-and-run accidents where the at-fault driver evades law enforcement and is never located.

In these cases, if the accident victim has an insurance policy with underinsured motorist (UIM) protection, they can file a claim with their own policy seeking additional compensation. However, in Indiana, the minimum requirement for UIM insurance is just $25,000 per person. Thus, in some serious Indiana car accidents, the accident victim’s total damages will exceed both the at-fault driver’s insurance limits as well as their own UIM insurance limits.

When these policies are maxed out, many accident victims may believe that they are out of options. However, that may not be the case. Under Indiana law, the default is that all insurance policies will “stack,” meaning that a policy can be used along with another policy that offers coverage to the driver. Thus, an Indiana accident victim who has multiple insurance policies can combine, or “stack,” all coverage amounts until they are fully compensated. Thus, it is very important for an accident victim to know each of the policies that they are covered under, including other family members’ policies and employers’ policies.

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car accidentWhen a victim of a car accident files an Indiana personal injury lawsuit against the party they believe was responsible for causing their injuries, the case proceeds through a number of stages before it goes to trial. Through each stage, the parties learn a little more about the strength of their case, the opposing party’s likely arguments, and the amount of damages that may be recovered by the plaintiff if she is successful.

At any time up to and during a trial, the parties can agree to settle the case. At its core, a settlement agreement is a contract between the parties. The details contained in an Indiana settlement agreement vary widely, but in general the defendant would agree to compensate the plaintiff an agreed amount of money and, in turn, the plaintiff would release the defendant from liability related to the accident.

Of course, Indiana settlement agreements must be carefully drafted. In the event that an agreement leaves questions unanswered or uses overly broad language, certain issues can arise. In a recent personal injury case, the plaintiff’s attempt to settle a case with several liable parties almost resulted in excusing other parties that the plaintiff did not intend to excuse from the case.

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private propertySome of the most difficult jobs of a lawmaker is to weigh legitimate but competing interests and develop a reasonable compromise that everyone can live with. The Indiana recreational-use statute is a good example of Indiana lawmakers attempting to secure ample outdoor space for recreational activity while at the same time ensuring that Indianans remain safe while at play.

A recreational-use statute is a law under which qualifying landowners cannot be held liable for injuries that occur as the result of another party’s recreational use of the property. Indiana’s recreational-use statute is contained in Indiana Code section 14-22-10-2, and provides that landowners who do not charge a fee for others to use their property for “swimming, camping, hiking, sightseeing, or any other purpose,” do not assume responsibility for injuries occurring on their property.

Of course, the recreational-use statute does not apply to willful or intentional conduct on the part of the landowner. Thus, landowners who open up their land for public use but refuse to fix known hazards may still be liable for a visitor’s injuries. In order to get around the application of the recreational-use statute, an injury victim must be able to first prove that the landowner knew of the hazard’s existence. A recent slip-and-fall case discusses this requirement.

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police stopRecently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a plaintiff’s claim against the city that employed a police officer who struck her car while responding to an emergency call. The case presents important issues that frequently arise in Indiana personal injury cases that are brought against government employees or entities under the Indiana Tort Claims Act.

The Facts of the Case

A police officer was responding to an emergency call at a hotel for a person who was unconscious. The officer decided to cut through a parking lot that was adjacent to the hotel’s parking lot. As the officer was approaching the hotel, he pulled forward into traffic slightly so that he could see the hotel from his location. As he did so, the plaintiff’s vehicle clipped the police vehicle’s front bumper.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the officer as well as the city that employed him. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the officer was negligent in the operation of his vehicle, and that the city was vicariously liable for the actions of the officer, which were conducted while in the course of his employment. The plaintiff also claimed the city was negligent in hiring the officer.

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drunk drivingRecently, a state appellate court released an opinion in a motor vehicle accident personal injury case that raised an important issue that commonly comes up in Indiana personal injury cases, especially in the common scenario in which an insurance company is involved in defending the lawsuit. The case required the court to decide if an insurance company that wrote a policy for an employer could be liable for an employee’s drunk-driving accident.

In the end, the court held that the insurance policy, which applied to permissive users, did cover the employee’s conduct. Thus, the insurance company was liable for the plaintiff’s myriad injuries.

Case Facts

The plaintiff sustained injuries in a drunk driving accident. The drunk driver was operating a company vehicle when the accident occurred. The plaintiff was successful in a suit against the defendant, and was awarded damages of roughly $1.5 million. However, the defendant was not able to pay the damages award, and so the plaintiff filed a claim to hold the defendant’s employer responsible. Because the defendant’s employer had an insurance policy with uninsured motorist protection, the plaintiff argued that the insurance policy was on the hook for his damages.

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semi truckDue to Indiana’s location in the central part of the country, the state sees a constant flow of large commercial vehicles traveling along the state’s highways as trucks travel from the East to West Coast and vice-versa. For the most part, semi-truck drivers are well-trained, responsible motorists who take pride in the work they do. However, each year there are thousands of Indiana truck accidents that are caused by negligent truck drivers.

According to the state’s most recent data, there are approximately 14,000 Indiana truck accidents per year. While some of these accidents are minor, it is reported that there are over 3,500 people injured and 120 killed each year due to Indiana truck accidents. In most cases, the motorist who is injured is not the truck driver, but instead the drivers or passengers of the other vehicle that is involved in the collision.

There are several causes of truck accidents in the state, and in some cases the most common causes overlap with the common causes of Indiana car accidents. However, equipment related accidents accounts for a higher percentage of the total number of truck accidents. These incidents include those that are the result of improperly maintained or inflated tires, brakes, signals, and lights.

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golf cartWhen someone is injured due to the unintentional conduct of another, the injured party may be entitled to compensation for their injuries through an Indiana personal injury lawsuit. One of the first legal questions that must be answered in these cases is what duty was owed to the injury victim. In a recent personal injury case involving a plaintiff who was injured by his golf partner while on the course, the court wrestled with this exact question.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and defendant were golfing together, using a golf cart to navigate through the course. On the eighth hole, the plaintiff was seriously injured when the defendant struck the him with the golf cart. The two sides offered very different versions of what occurred.

The case was tried in front of a jury. When it came time to instruct the jury on the relevant law, the parties disagreed on the standard under which the defendant’s conduct should be viewed. The defendant claimed he could only be liable if he acted with reckless indifference, whereas the plaintiff claimed the proper standard was negligence.

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Legal News GavelRecently, a federal appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving competing theories of how the plaintiff’s injury occurred, requiring the court to determine which of the two proposed alternatives were more likely. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s version of events was the only plausible version, and thus permitted his case to proceed.

The case presents an important issue for Indiana personal injury accident victims because it illustrates a common defense that defendants frequently raise in Indiana slip-and-fall cases.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured after he slipped and fell in a Wal-Mart aisle. The accident was caught on video, and showed that prior to the plaintiff’s fall, a Wal-Mart employee came through the area with an automated floor-cleaning machine. The machine was designed to dispense soapy liquid, scrub the floor, and squeegee the remaining liquid before sucking it back up into the machine.

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The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) provides a means for citizens to file a personal injury lawsuit against the United States government. And while the substantive laws governing Indiana car accident cases do not change depending on the defendants named in the case, there may be additional procedural requirements in cases that are filed against a government defendant.Legal News Gavel

One of the most important differences when a case is filed against a government defendant is the notice and timing requirements. In a recent case, a federal appellate court determined that a plaintiff’s claim against the United States Post Office (USPS) was time-barred, based on her failure to comply with the timing requirements of the FTCA.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when a USPS vehicle struck her car. Two weeks after the accident, the plaintiff filed an administrative claim with the USPS, seeking compensation for her injuries. Seven months later, the USPS responded, denying the plaintiff’s claim.

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