Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case discussing what the court called the “sudden emergency doctrine,” explaining how it may be applied to excuse what may otherwise be considered negligent behavior. The case is important to Indiana car accident victims because the doctrine is also applied by Indiana courts.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was driving in a line of cars, all of which were entering the highway. As one of the cars was proceeding up the on-ramp, another motorist pulled around the side of her vehicle, passed her at a high speed, and made an obscene gesture in her direction. The passing motorist then slammed on her brakes, causing the motorist to also suddenly brake.
The plaintiff was traveling immediately behind the motorist who had just been passed. When that motorist applied the brakes, so did the plaintiff. The plaintiff stopped in time to avoid a collision. However, the defendant truck driver was immediately behind the plaintiff and, as the cars in front of him quickly slowed down, the defendant also applied the brakes.