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Articles Posted in Car Accidents

When imagining a typical car accident, the first thought may be a collision between two cars. However, crashes often may initially only involve one or two vehicles, but end up resulting in a much larger accident as additional vehicles are unable to avoid crashing into the already-disabled vehicles. These accidents are referred to as chain-reaction crashes, and can pose various challenges when assigning fault and responsibility following a major incident.

In a recent news article, two people were tragically killed in a chain-reaction car accident that shut down roads for nearly eight hours. According to the report, a woman was driving a Nissan Rouge early in the morning when she lost control of her car and crashed into a concrete barrier. Her vehicle traveled back into traffic, colliding with a Chevrolet Equinox. The Nissan then crashed into a semi-truck, and another vehicle hit the Equinox.

Following the accident, the driver of the Nissan and her passenger were ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead on the scene. Local authorities shut down roads for nearly eight hours in order to conduct their investigation, which resulted in a significant diversion of traffic to a nearby expressway.

The human instinct to help those in need, even at the risk of one’s own safety, is commendable. When a person is injured during such a situation, the rescue doctrine can come into play. In Indiana, the rescue doctrine allows an individual who is injured attempting to rescue someone from a dangerous situation to hold the negligent actor liable. In order to bring a successful claim, the rescuer must prove: (1) the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to protect him from injury; (2) the defendant failed to perform that duty; and (3) the plaintiff’s harm resulted from the defendant’s failure to protect him from injury. If an individual is considered a rescuer, then he is owed a duty of care by those that contributed to the dangerous situation.

In a recent case, another state supreme court was recently tasked with deciding whether a man qualified as a rescuer when he was injured after encouraging others to stop fighting. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff was a rescuer despite exerting no bodily activity to intervene in the situation. However, in Indiana, an individual must actually attempt to rescue and exert physical effort to be qualified as a rescuer.   

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured after attempting to rescue a taxi cab driver from an intoxicated passenger. Hearing cries for help, the plaintiff approached the cab and told the passenger to stop punching the driver. The plaintiff was then hit over the head and run over by the passenger. He filed a lawsuit against the taxi cab company because they had knowledge of previous passenger attacks on drivers but had failed to install partitions or security cameras. Relying on the rescue doctrine, he claimed he was injured while rescuing the driver, who was owed a duty by the cab company, meaning it also owed a duty to him. Among other issues, the court was tasked with deciding whether the plaintiff was considered a rescuer even though he did not take bodily action to save the driver from danger. The court ruled that, rather than requiring physical intervention, one must assess whether a plaintiff can qualify as a rescuer based on three important factors: (1) the plaintiff’s reason for acting, (2) the plaintiff’s reasonable belief that someone was in imminent peril, and (3) the utility of the plaintiff’s conduct. The plaintiff satisfied the test and qualified as a rescuer.

Everyone knows that driving involves a certain level of risk for the driver and their passengers. However, many Indiana car accidents are preventable and drivers are able to reduce many of the risks that can lead to an accident. When these avoidable accidents occur because of a lack of compliance with Indiana laws, the parties responsible can be held accountable through an Indiana personal injury lawsuit.

In a recent news report, a local construction worker was tragically killed in northwest Indiana. Evidently, at around 2:00 am, the individual’s construction vehicle was pulled over onto the right shoulder of the road when a semi-truck hit the worker’s vehicle, killing him. The construction worker was in his vehicle and responsible for collecting barrels on the shoulder of the road when the semi struck his car. According to the ongoing investigation by state police, authorities are still examining how the construction truck was struck by the semi when it was pulled off the road and on the shoulder, especially as road conditions appeared dry at the time of the incident. Because the investigation is ongoing, it is still unclear if any charges will be filed as a result of this incident.

Tragedies like this are a somber reminder of the risks that motorists can be exposed to when driving or involved in an accident. While car accidents can occur anywhere and often happen on a regular basis, many Indiana construction and highway workers, emergency responders, and individuals who work for law enforcement are more likely to be in roadside accidents because of the nature of their work. However, many of these incidents would be avoidable if Indiana motorists simply exercised a more proactive, vigilant approach while driving on a daily basis.

Under Indiana Code Title 9 Motor Vehicles section 9-21-8-35, motorists should proceed cautiously and change lanes when they approach emergency vehicles that are displaying flashing lights or giving audible signals. Individuals who fail to abide by these rules may be subject to criminal or civil charges. Some common vehicles that Indiana drivers should watch for are:

  • Police vehicles
  • Fire trucks and rescue crews

Drinking and driving is against the law because drunk drivers are far more likely to get into a car accident and injure or kill someone else. When this happens, accident victims can bring them to court in a civil negligence suit to recover for their injuries. What many people do not realize, however, is that the victims may be able to sue someone else too—those who served alcohol to the intoxicated driver.

The family of a 21-year-old woman killed in a tragic car accident last March is doing just that. According to a local news report covering the accident and subsequent lawsuit, the incident occurred on Saturday, March 7. The intoxicated driver, a 31-year-old woman, was driving a white SUV the wrong way on the highway when she hit another car, a white Chevrolet, head-on. Two women in the Chevrolet, age 21 and 22, were killed. There were also two children in the backseat of the Chevrolet; one of them died, and the other was taken to the hospital. The intoxicated driver was also taken to the hospital with severe injuries, and the criminal investigation into the crash is ongoing.

The family of the 21-year-old victim wasted no time in filing a civil negligence lawsuit. In the lawsuit, they accuse both the driver and Sazerac, the liquor brand the driver worked for. According to their complaint, the driver was a recruiter for Sazerac and was attending their Northwest Ordinance distilling Mardi Gras party shortly before the crash. The complaint alleges that Sazerac agents and employees saw the driver drunk and yet still allowed her to drive away. The driver, heavily intoxicated, drove away at 9 p.m., and about fourteen minutes later, 911 began receiving calls about the crash. Tragically, the local news article reported one of the calls made by a sobbing caller: “Oh my God, there’s somebody on the highway, and they’re driving the wrong way, and they just smashed somebody… those people are dead. There’s no way they survived that.”

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.

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