Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Those who have lived through an Indiana winter know that driving during the winter months can be a challenging experience. As a whole, Indiana gets over two feet of snow per year; however, certain areas in the north part of the state can see over five feet of snow per year. On top of that, Indiana gets over 42 inches of rain each year. Combine these levels of precipitation with the cold temperatures of an Indiana winter, and the result are icy roads that can be difficult to navigate, even at slow speeds. Not surprisingly, according to the most recent state government statistics, most Indiana car accidents occur in January.

Notwithstanding the difficulties that nasty weather can present, Indiana drivers have an obligation to always drive carefully. Drivers must take into account the weather conditions when getting behind the wheel and adjust their driving tendencies accordingly. For example, motorists should slow down and give other vehicles more room during times of inclement weather or reduced visibility. Despite this requirement, there were over 8,200 Indiana car accidents in 2018, where the cause was listed as, “speeding too fast for weather conditions.” In fact, approximately 20 percent of all Indiana traffic accidents in 2018 occurred during some type of adverse weather event.

Motorists who have been involved in an Indiana weather-related car accident may be able to recover compensation for the injuries they sustained in the crash. By contacting a dedicated Indiana personal injury lawyer, accident victims can learn more about how to pursue a claim for compensation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is beginning its investigation of whether a vehicle manufactured by Tesla had its autopilot function activated immediately before an Indiana car accident. According to a local news report, the Tesla driver and his wife were driving on 1-70 when they slammed into the rear of a firetruck that was stopped with its emergency lights on in the passing lane. No firefighters suffered injuries in the accident; however, the driver sustained critical injuries, and his wife died as a result of the accident.

According to Tesla, their autopilot system is an advanced driver-assistance tool that allows vehicles to center lanes, self-park, automatically change lanes, autonomously navigate road conditions, and summon the car. Tesla representatives advise drivers to remain alert, keep their hands on the steering wheel, and prohibit the use of this system if the vehicle presents a warning symbol. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, claims that the company’s data suggests that drivers using their autopilot system remain safer than those who do not. However, there have been conflicting reports on the efficacy of their system and data. For example, although the CEO claims that drivers should keep their hands on the wheel, he has posted videos depicting users operating this feature without their hands on the wheel. Moreover, the NHTSA has investigated several accidents that occurred during the use of this system. Officials urge drivers to use extreme caution when using this system because many accidents were a result of user error and the system’s design.

Determining liability after an Indiana Tesla autopilot accident is complicated because accidents involving autonomous cars are an evolving area. For example, there may be several parties that are liable for these types of accidents depending on who was operating the vehicle, what went wrong, and whether there were any other contributing factors. For instance, if the accident was a result of faulty technology, the manufacturer of the car or technology may be liable. If the accident was because of driver error, such as the failure to read or follow by the operating manual, the driver could be responsible for damages related to the accident. Further, in some cases, the at-fault party may argue that the injured person somehow contributed to their losses. It is essential that injury victims consult with an Indiana attorney to ensure that their rights and remedies are addressed.

Anyone who has spent time in Indiana between the months of December and February knows that Indiana winters are no joke. Indeed, the average overnight temperature during an Indiana winter is well below freezing, at just above 20 degrees. And with an average of over eight inches of rain and more than 20 inches of snow each winter, Indiana roads can be difficult to navigate during the winter months. Not surprisingly, there are a significant number of weather-related car accidents each year.

Winter weather poses a number of challenges to motorists. For example, the presence of ice or snow on the road seriously affects a vehicle’s ability to maintain traction on the road, increasing both a car’s stopping distance and the chance of the driver losing control. During snowstorms and on foggy days, the visibility may be extremely limited, making it hard for drivers to see more than a few feet ahead of them. Unprepared motorists may also face equipment issues, such as damaged windshield wipers, bald tires, or worn brakes. These factors can all contribute to a car accident.

Despite the difficulties that winter weather presents to motorists, it is up to drivers to take the necessary precautions, regardless of the conditions. Some steps that drivers should take when driving in winter weather include:

  • Reduce speed:  Speed limits are based on optimal conditions, and drivers should reduce their speed when there are potentially dangerous weather conditions.
  • Give other drivers space:  What may be an acceptable following distance when driving on dry pavement may not be enough room to come to a stop on a wet or icy road. Drivers should give other motorists a little extra room.
  • Check the car’s tires:  Improperly inflated and poorly maintained tires can contribute to a driver losing control of their vehicle.
  • Go easy on the brakes:  In wet weather, a car’s braking system is more likely to lock up. Thus, drivers should anticipate the need to brake and apply firm, consistent pressure rather than slamming on the brakes.
  • Always pay attention:  While distracted driving is always dangerous, it is especially hazardous during periods of inclement weather. Even a momentary glance away from the road can result in a serious accident.

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Recently, an Indiana news report covered a fatal car accident that occurred on I-70. According to Indiana State Police, the accident victim was driving on the highway when he swerved into another car. The driver died on impact, and the other driver was taken to the hospital for life-threatening injuries. Investigations revealed that the accident victim was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.

In Indiana, seat belt use is a mandatory requirement that can help to protect many accident victims from severe injuries or death. Seat belts help drivers and passengers by preventing them from flying through their vehicle’s windshield, smashing into the dashboard, or falling out of the car. Seat belts are proven to mitigate the injuries and damages that accident victims suffer during a car accident.

When an individual is involved in an accident with a negligent driver, the other driver may try and limit their liability by pointing to the victim’s failure to wear their seat belt. Insurance companies and defendants might claim that the plaintiff’s injuries and damages would not have been as severe had they were wearing a seat belt. Although this may be true, Indiana law does not allow defendants to use evidence of an accident victim’s seat belt non-use as a factor in a comparative negligence determination.

Earlier this month, a 26-year-old man was killed in a tragic car accident in Indiana County. According to a local news report covering the accident, the crash occurred around 3:00 a.m. at the intersection of Ofman and Shellbark Road in West Wheatfield Township. The driver, who is presumed to have been driving too fast, failed to stop at an intersection and then drove into a wooded area. The car then hit several trees and rocks, and as a result, the car’s passenger was thrown through the windshield, and the car landed on him. Police believe that the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol, adding an extra layer of tragedy to the accident.

Many car accidents are unavoidable, but in some situations, the driver is actually able to avoid certain risk factors that contribute to the accident, including intoxicated driving. Unfortunately, however, intoxicated driving remains a leading cause of Indiana car accidents. Most often, these cases involve alcohol intoxication, although the law does not distinguish between alcohol intoxication and intoxication from other substances. No matter what form, intoxicated driving puts the driver, the passengers, and others on the road at risk.

Driving while intoxicated is against the law, and when a fatal accident occurs as a result of an intoxicated driver, criminal charges are always possible. These charges may come with fines or jail time for the driver, depending on the nature of the crash and the injuries. However, these criminal charges do little to help the accident victim’s family deal with the expenses they occurred, or the tragic loss they suffered as a result of the accident.

In June, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Indiana car accident case discussing whether an expert witness’s disciplinary history is admissible in a personal injury trial. Ultimately, the court concluded that such an account is admissible, but that in this case, specific evidentiary rules prevented the admission of the reasons for the disciplinary action.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was sitting in her vehicle at a stop sign when the defendant rear-ended her. The plaintiff went to the hospital, and was released that evening with a neck brace and a prescription for pain medication. Later, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant.

In support of her case, the plaintiff planned on presenting evidence from a treating physician who was going to be a medical expert at trial. The defendant asked the expert whether he was ever subject to any disciplinary proceedings, to which the expert responded affirmatively. However, the expert would not get into any details. Before trial, the defendant asked the court to compel the expert to disclose the reasons for the disciplinary action taken against him. The court denied the defendant’s request, holding that the fact that the expert was subject to prior disciplinary proceedings was not relevant because, at the time of trial, the expert’s medical license was valid. The jury ultimately returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, and the defendant appealed.

Dangerous roads are one of the most often overlooked causes of Indiana car accidents. In part, road design and maintenance may be overlooked because it can be difficult to successfully pursue an Indiana personal injury claim based on the dangerous design or negligent maintenance of a road. However, the possibility of encountering an obstacle should not discourage an accident victim from discussing their case with an attorney.

There are numerous ways in which a road might be dangerous. The most common defects found on Indiana roads are surface defects and planning defects. Surface defects include cracking pavement, potholes, and eroded shoulders. These are often results of poorly maintained roads. Planning defects have to do with the layout of the road itself. Common examples of planning defects are blind corners, confusing intersections, and poorly lit roads. Under Indiana law, it is possible for an accident victim to recover based on either surface defects or planning defects. However, issues of governmental immunity may be a hurdle that accident victims must overcome. A recent case discusses governmental immunity in the context of a car accident that was allegedly caused by a defectively designed road.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was heading southbound on a motorcycle when a vehicle attempted to make a left turn in front of him. The plaintiff was unable to avoid the collision and crashed into the passenger-side door of the motorist’s vehicle. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the state government, arguing that the intersection was dangerous and that the government failed to warn motorists of the dangerous intersection.

When someone is injured due to the alleged negligence of another party, the injury victim can pursue a claim for compensation against the parties they believe to be at fault for their injuries. These cases all fall under the umbrella of Indiana personal injury cases. However, there are several different types of personal injury cases, and courts apply slightly different legal standards according to the type of claim that is brought. A recent state appellate decision illustrates the importance of the legal standard that is applied by the court.

The case arose when the plaintiff, who was a guest at the defendant’s property, was injured in a golf cart accident. The defendant was driving the cart at the time of the accident. The plaintiff sued the defendant, claiming that the defendant acted negligently by operating the golf cart in an unsafe manner. The plaintiff’s claim made no mention of a premises liability theory, and did not mention the defendant’s status as the owner of the property where the accident occurred.

The defendant claimed that he did not violate a duty of care that he owed to the plaintiff. The defendant characterized the plaintiff’s claim as one of premises liability, arguing that the plaintiff was a licensee on his property, and thus he only had a duty “to refrain from willfully, wantonly, knowingly, or intentionally injuring her.”

In March 2019, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury case discussing whether the defendant motorist was entitled to summary judgment based on the evidence presented. The case raises an interesting issue that frequently comes up in Indiana car accident cases in which each party offers a very different version of the events leading up to the accident.

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff was jogging down a road when he was approached from behind by the defendant motorist. The defendant was traveling at approximately 35 miles per hour. As the defendant got close to the plaintiff, he crossed the double-yellow line to try and safely pass the plaintiff. However, as the defendant was re-entering his lane, he crashed into the plaintiff, causing the plaintiff to break his leg. When police officers arrived on the scene, the plaintiff told them that the defendant ran a red light before striking him. The defendant denied the allegation, claiming that he had a green light. The police officer initially cited the plaintiff for darting out into traffic, but that citation was later dismissed.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment in his favor, arguing that the plaintiff was the one who jumped out into traffic, striking his vehicle. The court denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, allowing the plaintiff’s case to proceed towards trial. The defendant appealed.

Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) case that may impact Indiana personal injury and wrongful death cases involving minor victims. The case required the court to determine if a claim under the FTCA is automatically tolled while the plaintiff is a minor. Ultimately, the court noted that the FTCA contained no explicit provision calling for minority tolling, and thus held that FTCA claims were not subject to minority tolling.

Statutes of Limitations

Generally, all personal injury claims must be brought within a certain period as outlined in the relevant statute of limitations. However, there are some situations in which a statute of limitations is “tolled” or delayed. For example, in some cases, a statute of limitations will be tolled during the period in which the plaintiff is a minor. Another common example of when tolling may occur is when a plaintiff does not discover their injury until a later date

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was nine years old when his father was killed in a car accident. After the accident, the plaintiff’s mother filed an administrative claim with the Federal Highway Administration (FWA) seeking compensation on behalf of her son for the loss of his father. However, it was not until six years later that the plaintiff’s mother filed a lawsuit in federal district court on behalf of her son. Once the plaintiff turned 18, he was substituted for his mother as plaintiff.

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