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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

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Indiana truck drivers travel over several millions of miles on the state’s roadways each year, and over 400,000 of these vehicles are involved in crashes. Indiana experiences a high number of trucking accidents every year, in part because of the state’s geographic location. The state acts as a conduit for freight delivery between states, which results in significant truck traffic. Further, commercial vehicle registration is significantly less expensive than several other surrounding states. Many trucking companies maintain hubs in the state because of the lower registration fees.

Indiana truck accidents are among the most likely to result in serious injury or death because large trucks can cause significant damage. Many trucks weigh up to 80,000 pounds or more when they are loaded with cargo. The sheer magnitude of these vehicles makes them disproportionately more likely to be involved in a multi-vehicle accident.

Truck drivers often remain unscathed during these accidents because their vehicles protect them. For example, recently, an Indianapolis man died in a wrong-way crash with a semi-truck. According to a local news report, the 72-year-old man died when he was driving in the wrong lane and slammed into an enormous truck. The driver of the Freightliner noticed the man approaching him and tried to avoid the collision but could not do so in time. The truck driver and his co-driver did not suffer any injuries. Another vehicle then collided into a state patrol car while police were investigating the scene of the accident.

The Court of Appeals of Indiana recently issued an opinion in a lawsuit stemming from injuries a woman suffered after she fell and hit her head outside of her apartment complex. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the apartment complex and rental company, alleging that they breached their duty of keeping the public walkways and entry areas safe from dangerous conditions. In response, the apartment company filed a motion for summary judgment and a motion to strike the plaintiff’s expert report. The trial court granted the defendant summary judgment, and the woman filed an appeal arguing that there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the apartment complex breached its duty to the plaintiff.

Under Indiana law, summary judgment is designed to terminate litigation when there is no dispute as to a genuine issue of material fact. A material fact is one that is relevant to the ultimate resolution of an issue in the case. In the context of negligence cases, summary judgment is frequently inappropriate because the cases are often fact-specific and governed by a “reasonable person” standard. However, the court may grant summary judgment motions when an undisputed piece of material evidence eliminates a critical element of a negligence claim. Plaintiffs who want to recover from a landlord must show that the landlord breached a duty that they owed the plaintiff. Moreover, typically, plaintiffs cannot succeed on a negligence claim merely by showing that they fell and suffered injuries; they must generally show that the landlord knew or should have known about the hazard.

In this case, the plaintiff argued that the apartment company failed to remove hazardous ice, which caused her to slip and fall. Further, in addition to evidence of her fall, the plaintiff testified that on the day of the accident, she tried to avoid a slippery area by walking on the service ramp. Although, she could not see the ice on the service ramp, she assumed she slipped because of the ice. The defendants maintain that the ramp was not icy, and they bolstered their position by pointing to the plaintiff’s statement that she did not see the ice. The court reasoned that because the plaintiff’s claim was not based on inferential speculation, there remained a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the apartment company breached its duty to maintain a safe walkway. Ultimately, the court reversed the trial court’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings.

Naturally, family members who lose a loved one as a result of another’s negligence hope to seek justice on their loved one’s behalf. While no amount of compensation could take the place of a lost loved one, it can provide the family with some financial and emotional relief during these tragic times. Under state law, an Indiana wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate when the death of an individual is the result of another’s wrongful act or omission. In these cases, the representative or estate of the deceased individual serves as the plaintiff to establish liability and seek monetary damages. Many of these lawsuits stem from Indiana medical malpractice claims, nursing home abuse and neglect cases, and motor vehicle accidents.

Indiana allows a personal representative of the individual’s estate to file a claim, but courts will only award damages to the deceased’s spouse, child, or dependents. In cases where there are multiple beneficiaries, courts will decide how the award should be divided. Lawsuits involving children must be brought by the child’s parent or legal guardian.

Like all civil lawsuits, Indiana wrongful death claims must follow the state’s strict statute of limitations. Under the law, plaintiffs must file their wrongful death claims within two years of the victim’s death. Family members who do not comply with the statute of limitations may risk dismissal and any chance for recovery. These time limits apply even when the victim is a child or if there is an ongoing criminal lawsuit for the same event.

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.”

Zantac is an over the counter drug used by many for acid reflux and heartburn. However, new research suggests that it may be causing cancer. According to a recent article, the United States Food and Drug Administration, responsible for regulating drugs across the country, is requesting that manufacturers pull Zantac from the market immediately because an ongoing investigation has found a human carcinogen in it. Apparently, the carcinogen—N-Nitrosodimethylamine or NDMA—can increase in the medication over time, posing a serious risk to public health and Indiana residents who may take the drug.

The FDA has sent letters to manufacturers asking them to withdraw the products from the market. Consumers are advised to stop taking any of the medication that they currently have, and to not buy any more. Additionally, consumers are asked to dispose of their unused Zantac, following the instructions in the medication guide or on the FDA website. If consumers need to continue taking medication for acid reflux or heartburn, they can take another approved medication that has not been found to have NDMA in it.

Although the announcement from the FDA was just made recently, concerns have been present for months. CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart all announced in September that they would no longer sell Zantac, and drugmaker Sanofi voluntarily recalled the drug in October.

In a recent opinion, the Indiana Supreme Court addressed the amount of time a plaintiff has to bring a product liability lawsuit against a company. The case originated after a plaintiff suffered injuries while working on his employer’s machine. The employer purchased the new device from the defendant in 2003, about 11 years before the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff filed a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer, alleging that the machine was defective. The parties agreed that the ten-year statute of repose barred the plaintiff’s lawsuit, but they recognized a judicial exception to the statute. The appeals court acknowledged the exception, but because of “questionable provenance,” certified the question of whether the statute of repose can be extended by post-sale repair/refurbishment/reconstruction of a product, to the high appellate court.

Under the Indiana Products Liability Act, plaintiffs must bring a claim of this nature within two years after the action accrues or within ten years after the delivery of the product to the purchaser. Nevertheless, if the cause of action comes more than eight years but less than ten years after the original delivery, the action may begin any time within two years after the initial cause of action. The statute provides exceptions for asbestos-related claims. In this case, the court found that the law is unambiguous, and the exception does not apply in the plaintiff’s lawsuit. The plaintiff acknowledged that he suffered his injuries eleven years after his employer acquired the product; however, he asked the court to interpret the statute to include an additional exception.

The plaintiff argued that a further exception exists for products that undergo a significant change, thereby creating a new product and restarting the statute of limitations. Although some courts have addressed this issue, Indiana courts have not applied it as an exception to the statute of repose. The court reasoned that the law requires them to look at the plain meaning of the statute. However, they did address the implications of a “new product” exception. This exception would require the court to identify what properties define a product, and what change is necessary to create a new product. The court ultimately found that because the legislature is silent on the issue, there is no reason to go beyond the plain meaning of the statute. Therefore, they found that his lawsuit was barred due to the statute of repose.

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Indiana premises liability case discussing if a bar owed the plaintiff, who was a patron of the bar, a duty of care. Specifically, the case required the court to determine if the bar’s duty to the plaintiff extended to an attack carried out by a third party. Ultimately, the court concluded that the bar could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because the bar did not know that the fight was impending.

According to the facts as laid out in the court’s opinion, the plaintiff and his friend were socializing at the defendant bar. When the bar closed, the plaintiff, his friend, and the remaining customers left. In the parking lot, the plaintiff and another man got into a fight, leaving the plaintiff permanently blind.

The plaintiff sued the bar, arguing that it was negligent in failing to take the necessary precautions to protect guests in an area that was known for criminal activity. The bar responded that it did not have a duty to protect the plaintiff from the unforeseeable criminal acts of a third party. The plaintiff claimed that the bar should have been aware of the dangers, because the police were called five times in the preceding year for fights occurring outside the bar between the hours of 3:00 and 3:30 a.m.

Recently, an appellate court released an opinion addressing when Indiana courts can impose individual liability on a government employee. The Indiana Tort Claims Act (ITCA), provides very few avenues of relief for individuals who wish to recover after suffering injuries that were caused by the negligent acts or omissions of a government employee. However, recovery is possible in certain types of accidents.

In this case, the Indiana State Police issued a trooper an unmarked Dodge charger, commonly referred to as the officer’s “commission.” As part of the officer’s responsibilities, he was required to maintain radio contact at all times, even while off-duty, abide by traffic laws, and to respond to emergencies as needed. On the day of the incident, the trooper completed his shift, and went home to change before his son’s baseball game. As he was driving to the game, he shifted from the northbound lane into the southbound lane to pass the vehicle in front of him. When he entered the southbound lane, he noticed an oncoming motorcycle, and he shifted back. However, in an attempt to avoid the officer, the motorcyclist swerved, causing the motorcycle to roll over, ultimately ejecting himself and his passenger.

The motorcyclist suffered serious injuries and subsequently filed a negligence lawsuit against the trooper. The trooper moved to dismiss the case, arguing that he was immune from suit because he was acting within the scope of employment while driving his vehicle. Lawmakers designed the ITCA to ensure that government employees can exercise their judgment without constant threats of litigation. Lawsuits against government officials can only succeed if the alleged negligent act or omission was clearly outside of the employee’s employment. These analyses are generally a question of fact; however, in some instances, courts may find that the act was not within the scope, as a matter of law.

Indiana accidents between commercial truck drivers and passenger vehicles often cause serious and potentially fatal injuries. These accidents tend to be more severe than collisions between two passenger vehicles because of the sheer magnitude of semi-trucks. One of the most dangerous types of Indiana truck collisions is underride accidents. Rear underride accidents occur when a truck slows or suddenly stops, and the car behind the truck cannot stop in time. In these cases, the car slides underneath the truck, often resulting in the car’s roof sheering off. Side underride collisions occur when the smaller vehicle crashes into the side of the truck and slides underneath the truck. Front underride accidents involve a truck backing into and crushing a smaller car.

Many reasons heighten the risk of an Indiana underride accident. The most common cause of these accidents is inclement weather, sudden traffic changes, truck malfunctioning, and truck driver error. Truck drivers may be liable for the accident for engaging in negligent or unsafe driving behavior. Additionally, trucking companies, truck part manufacturers, shipping agencies, loading companies, and other drivers may be responsible. These parties may be liable for failure to follow federal regulations, manufacturing defective parts, mis-loading cargo, and other negligent behaviors.

To prevent these accidents, Federal regulations, require that commercial trucks have rear underride guards. The underride guard is designed to stop the smaller vehicle from sliding underneath the truck. However, underride guard material varies greatly, and it is not always sturdy enough to protect against these accidents. Additionally, there are no federal regulations mandating side underride guards.

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