Articles Posted in Aggressive Driving

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.

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Earlier last month, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia released an opinion regarding an incident of road rage that went too far, resulting in serious injury to one of the drivers involved. In the case, Phillips v. Stear, the court reversed a lower court’s opinion that had found that the plaintiff failed to make out his case against the defendant.

The Accident

The accident that gave rise to the case occurred back in December 2010. According to court documents, the plaintiff and the defendant were both traveling in the same direction on the highway when the defendant swerved in front of the plaintiff, applied quick pressure to the brakes, and then made an obscene hand gesture toward the plaintiff. As a result of the rapid slow-down in front of him, the plaintiff truck driver also applied the brakes. However, as he did so, he lost control of the truck and crashed it off the side of the road.

A witness to the accident followed the defendant as he fled the scene, relaying the driver’s license plate information to the police. The police conducted a brief investigation and shortly thereafter located the defendant and issued a citation for an improper lane change. The defendant paid the ticket.

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Earlier this month in Wayne Township, an elementary school principal and one of his students were killed when their vehicle was struck by an SUV. According to one news source, there were four other students in the car, each of whom was also injured in the morning rush-hour accident.

Evidently, the principal would pick up children on his way to school who needed a ride. Two of the injured children in the vehicle were his own, and three were students to whom he was giving a ride. According to the report, the accident occurred when the principal’s SUV was struck by a car that authorities claim was speeding and “driving erratically.” The driver of the SUV was injured as a result of the accident and was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. It is not clear if charges have yet been filed, but a police investigation is underway.

Aggressive Driving on Indiana Roads

While the exact cause of this accident is still subject to a pending investigation, it seems as though the driver’s speeding and erratic driving were the cause of the fatal accident. This kind of aggressive driving puts everyone on the road at risk, and it is especially negligent during rush hour or other times when roads are heavily populated.

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