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.
On appeal, the court discussed the summary judgment standard, explaining that summary judgment only requires the plaintiff to present “slight evidence” in support of each element of their claim. If the plaintiff offers sufficient evidence, the court must deny a defendant’s motion for summary judgment, leaving the ultimate determination to the jury.
Here, the court began by stating that the plaintiff presented evidence to support each element of his claim against the defendant. The court explained that as a pedestrian, the plaintiff was owed a duty that the defendant arguably violated when he struck the plaintiff with his vehicle, as the plaintiff claims. Additionally, there was sufficient evidence to find that the defendant’s actions in striking the plaintiff were the cause of his injuries.
The court noted that when a case involves a credibility determination between two very different versions of the same chain of events, summary judgment is not proper and a jury should resolve the case. Here, the court reasoned that the defendant’s version of the events contradicted to the plaintiff’s, giving rise to a material issue that must be resolved by the jury.
Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of an Indiana car accident, contact the dedicated Indiana personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse. At Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse, we represent injury victims across Indiana in all types of Indiana personal injury cases, including car, truck, motorcycle, and pedestrian accidents. To learn more, call 888-532-7766 to schedule your free consultation today.