Indiana Federal Court Decision Protects Plaintiffs Injured in Auto Accidents

In a recent decision, the federal court for the Northern District of Indiana denied an insurance companies’ request to throw out a plaintiff’s Indiana personal injury lawsuit. In Kopey v. Brown (South Bend Division, 3:11 CV 477), the insurance company argued that because the plaintiff had injuries from a prior accident, that they could not collect damages from a subsequent accident that may have aggravated those prior injuries.

red-light-875740-m.jpgA Terrible Accident
The plaintiff was coming to a stop at an intersection in Mishawaka, Indiana in August 2010 when she saw a car speeding towards her in her rear view mirror. She had little time to brace for impact, and was rear-ended by a car being driven by the defendant. The plaintiff was injured in the accident, and previous injuries she had from a 2007 accident were also aggravated. The defendant was not insured, so the plaintiff filed a claim with her own insurance company, Progressive, to cover the expenses related to the accident under her uninsured motorist protection.

Refused Coverage By Her Own Insurance Company
In response to the plaintiff’s insurance claim, Progressive refused to cover the charges. The company argued that she could not show that it was the second accident that caused her injuries and not the first accident or something else entirely. The plaintiff then filed this suit, claiming that her injuries should covered by her policy. In response to her request to bring the case to trial, the insurance company argued that the plaintiff had not presented any evidence of causation, and moved for summary dismissal of the suit.

The Issue before the Court and the Ruling
To receive damages for a personal injury lawsuit in Indiana, a plaintiff must show that there was 1.) a relationship between herself and the defendant that expresses or implies a duty, 2.) that there was a breach of the duty by the defendant, 3.) that the plaintiff suffered injury, and 4.) that the breach of the duty was the cause of the injury. In Kopey v. Brown, the only element that Progressive was contesting was the causation, and the Court focused their analysis on that issue.

To survive the defendant’s motion, the plaintiff argued that she would be calling her doctor as an expert witness to testify that the second accident caused or substantially aggravated her injuries. The insurance company argued that the plaintiff’s proposed testimony was not relevant to, and contained no solid evidence of, causation. The Court was convinced to give the plaintiffs broad leeway with their proposed testimony, and rejected the insurance company’s motion. This ruling kept the plaintiff’s case alive, and she may therefore be compensated for her injuries when the case proceeds to trial or is settled by Progressive.

The plaintiff’s claim was salvaged in this case because plaintiff’s counsel had an inside out knowledge of personal injury law and civil procedure, and made the best arguments to convince the Court to rule in their favor. Insurance companies will often use any argument they can to avoid covering expenses, even when they’re contractually obligated to do so. In order for an accident victim to receive the compensation they they deserve, it is important to contact an attorney quickly whenever injury and expenses are suffered.

Have You Been In An Indiana Auto Accident?

The skilled and competent Indiana accident attorneys at Parr, Richey, Obremskey, Frandsen and Paterson will be glad to review your Indiana personal injury case and would be honored to represent your claim. There is no upfront fee or obligation, so don’t be afraid to contact a dedicated Indiana personal injury lawyer at Parr, Richey, Obremskey, Frandsen and Paterson today. Please call 888-532-7766 to set up a free consultation, or access us online.

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