Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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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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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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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semi-truckRecently, 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 this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Indiana car accident case discussing whether a man who was killed by an uninsured driver was covered under his employer’s car insurance policy. Finding that the policy did not include the employee as a covered person under the terms of the contract, and finding that the terms of the contract were clear, the court rejected the estate’s claim against the insurance company.

Legal News GavelThe Facts

The plaintiff was the estate of a man (“decedent”) who was killed while he was mowing his lawn. Evidently, the decedent was mowing his lawn when a driver who was high on methamphetamine struck him. The at-fault driver did not have car insurance.

The decedent’s employer had an insurance policy that contained uninsured motorist (UIM) protection. Additionally, the decedent was named as a “listed driver” in that policy. However, that policy provided that UIM coverage was extended only to “you and others we protect.” In this case, “you” referred to the decedent’s employer, as the insured.

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A state appellate court recently issued an opinion in a car accident case involving a plaintiff’s claim that was denied by the defendant insurance company. The case required the court to consider whether a lower court was proper to grant the insurance company’s motion for summary judgment based on the fact that the plaintiff waited eight months to notify the company of the accident.

Car AccidentThe case is important for Indiana car accident victims because it illustrates the importance of taking swift and appropriate action to preserve an accident victim’s right to recover in the wake of a serious Indiana car accident.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was struck by another driver in August, 2015 while driving her ex-husband’s car. The plaintiff’s ex-husband had a policy with the defendant insurance company that included underinsured motorist (UIM) protection.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case that raises an interesting issue confronting many Indiana car accident plaintiffs. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s insurance company was required to provide underinsured motorist coverage in an accident involving a horse-drawn carriage. Ultimately, the court took a close look at the insurance policy’s language before determining that the policy did not cover the accident.

Legal News GavelThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a passenger on a horse-drawn carriage that had just finished participating in a Christmas parade. After the parade, and while on the way back to the plaintiff’s vehicle, the carriage was rear-ended by another vehicle. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of the collision.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against several parties, but relevant to this discussion, a claim was filed against his own insurance policy under the policy’s underinsured motorist clause. That clause provided coverage for an accident involving “a land motor vehicle or trailer of any type” with inadequate insurance coverage. The policy also defined the term “trailer” as a vehicle that was designed to be pulled by a car, truck, or van.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating the importance of being truthful in all testimony before the court. The case presented the court with the opportunity to determine whether a lower court was proper to dismiss a plaintiff’s case, based on the fact that he provided answers that were later determined to be misleading. Finding that the plaintiff’s answers were given with the intent to subvert the judicial process, the court held that the lower court was acting within its discretion to dismiss the plaintiff’s case.

Legal News GavelThe case is important to Indiana car accident plaintiffs because it illustrates the importance of a dedicated personal injury attorney who can advise a client on how to properly answer questions in a truthful manner without disclosing unnecessary facts that may ultimately harm their case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident that he claimed to have been caused by the defendant’s negligence. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, arguing that he sustained injuries to his neck, back, and shoulder.

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As a general matter, the state and local governments enjoy immunity from personal injury lawsuits. However, each state has a tort claims act that statutorily waives immunity in some situations. Each state’s tort claims act is a little different, with most states outlining the situations in which immunity is waived. Indiana’s Tort Claims Act, however, is different in that it is framed in terms of which actions are immune from liability.

Legal News GavelOne area in which governments are entitled to immunity from Indiana personal injury lawsuits is in the design of roadways. Under Indiana Code section 34-13-3-3, government entities are immune from lawsuits based on the design of roadways when the claim arises 20 years or more after the roadway had been constructed or substantially redesigned. The statute does not apply to the government’s ongoing requirement to maintain roadways in a safe condition.

A recent case illustrates how courts view cases brought under the various tort claims acts.

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The legal theory of negligent entrustment allows for an Indiana car accident victim to seek compensation from the owner of a vehicle who negligently allowed another person to use the vehicle that was involved in the accident. Since a negligent entrustment claim allows for an accident victim to hold a third party (the vehicle’s owner) liable for the negligent actions of a party (the driver), it is a form of vicarious liability.

Legal News GavelCommonly, negligent entrustment claims are brought against those who lend their cars to young or intoxicated drivers. Each state has its own laws when it comes to establishing a negligent entrustment claim, but a universal requirement is that the plaintiff be able to establish that the owner of the vehicle had some reason to believe that the person they allowed to use their car posed a danger to other motorists.

A federal appellate court recently issued a written opinion in a negligent entrustment case illustrating how courts analyze these claims.

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