The Court of Appeals of Indiana issued an opinion addressing common issues that many residents face after falling at an apartment complex. The case stems from injuries a woman suffered after falling and hitting her head outside of her Indiana apartment. She filed a negligence lawsuit against the apartment complex and rental company, alleging that they were liable under Indiana’s premises liability laws. She argued that her injuries were a result of the company’s failure to keep public areas of the apartment complex free from dangerous hazards. At trial, the court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff appealed.

Under Indiana law, a lessee who wishes to recover from a negligent landlord must be able to establish that the landlord breached a duty that they owed to the tenant. Merely alleging that a fall took place is insufficient to prove that the landlord or property manager was negligent. Although inferential speculation is not enough to prove negligence, plaintiffs can overcome a summary judgment motion if they provide enough details to show a genuine issue of material fact that needs resolution. For the purposes of summary judgment, a material fact is one that is relevant to the ultimate resolution of a pertinent issue.

In this case, the plaintiff argued that she fell because the apartment complex failed to clear the public area of ice and snow. In support of her allegation, she provided testimony that indicated that the day she fell, “it was pretty cold,” and she noticed that the entry of her building looked “slippery and icy.” She further testified that a close-by service ramp did not look slippery; however, she fell as soon as she stepped onto the ramp. The defendants argued that the plaintiff’s inference that the ramp was slippery was based on inferential speculation. However, the appellate court found that the plaintiff’s observation of icy conditions creates a genuine issue of material fact. The appellate court ultimately reversed the trial court’s summary judgment order and remanded the case.

Often, when we think of an Indiana drunk driving accident, we think of it from the perspective of the drivers or passengers in another vehicle. However, many DUI accidents are single-vehicle accidents in which the driver of the car is unable to maintain control of the car. In such cases, the passengers in the car may be injured due to no fault of their own.

Indiana personal injury law allows for anyone who was injured due to the negligence of another to bring a claim against the at-fault party. Thus, even in a single-vehicle accident, passengers who were injured in a drunk driving accident could pursue a claim against the drunk driver. Notably, the claim would not be against the drunk driver themselves so much as it would be against their insurance company.

Accidents victims should be aware, however, that there can be hurdles to recovery in these situations. For example, the defendant in a drunk driving lawsuit may claim that the passenger knew the driver was drunk, and assumed the risk of an accident by agreeing to ride with them. While Indiana courts have held that such a situation will not bar a plaintiff from recovering for their injuries, assumption of the risk in this context may reduce the amount of compensation that the accident victim receives.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been tracking the spread of COVID-19, otherwise known as the novel coronavirus, throughout the United States. The CDC has focused its efforts on protecting the population most likely to suffer death because of exposure to the virus. These vulnerable populations include individuals who have underlying medical conditions, those over 65-years-old, and those residing in long-term care facilities. A recent news report describes the rapid spread of the disease in an Indiana nursing home, making the importance of containing the virus more abundantly clear. Nursing homes that do not appropriately protect their staff and residents may face liability for any ensuing damages.

According to another news report, as of a few weeks ago, there are approximately 150 nursing homes across 27 states that have at least one resident with coronavirus. Although the figure may seem like a small fraction of the total number of nursing homes in the United States, the rates of infections are rapidly growing. The virus poses serious threats to individuals at these facilities since most are experiencing the enumerated underlying conditions making them “high-risk.”

Recently, two Johnson County nursing homes reported that a number of their residents and staff have tested positive for COVID-19. One nursing home sent a number of their residents to a local hospital after the individuals reported symptoms of the virus. Reports revealed that the number of cases at the facility rose to 15, with eight individuals in the hospital, six in isolation, and the remaining still awaiting test results. Officials reprimanded the facilities for sending residents who were experiencing mild symptoms to the hospital. They criticized the facility for overburdening the hospital system instead of treating mild cases on-site.

The Indiana Product Liability Act (IPLA) provides injury victims with an avenue for relief against a manufacturer or seller of a defective product, for the physical harm caused by the product. The IPLA defines consumers as a buyer or any individual who uses the product or any reasonable bystander who suffer injuries because of the product. A manufacturer is an individual or entity that creates, assembles, constructs, or otherwise prepares a product or component before the sale to a consumer. The law requires that plaintiffs abide by the strict statute of limitations and repose to avoid dismissal.

Under Indiana law, plaintiffs must commence their product liability actions within two years after the cause of action accrues or within ten years after the delivery of the device to the original user. However, if the claim accrues at least eight years after but less than ten years of delivery, the action may be filed within two years after the claim accrues. There is a specific exception for asbestos-related claims, and plaintiffs will often try and carve out additional exceptions based on case law. However, these exceptions undergo strict analysis and require a thorough understanding of Indiana product liability laws.

For example, recently, the Indiana Supreme Court issued an opinion addressing a plaintiff’s request to apply an additional exception to the statute of repose. In that case, the plaintiff suffered injuries after using a defective machine at work. His employer purchased the product in 2003, which was over ten years before the plaintiff filed his lawsuit. The plaintiff and defendant agreed that the claim was time-barred, but the plaintiff argued that his claim falls within an exception. He cited previous court discussions that addressed instances when a product undergoes a transformation, in effect, creating a new product. The plaintiff contended that courts should determine the statute of limitations from the time a product undergoes a repair, refurbishment, or reconstruction. He reasoned that this transformation would render the product “new,” and as such, the clock should begin running from that time.

Recently, an Indiana high appeals court issued an opinion hinging on the scope of governmental immunity. In this case, an accident victim tried to sue an Indiana state trooper after they were involved in an accident. The state trooper was not on duty when the accident occurred but was driving a state police-issued vehicle, commonly called a “commission.” As such, the state trooper argued that he was not liable under the Indiana Tort Claims Act (ITCA). On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the office was personally responsible as his acts were “clearly outside the scope” of his employment.

Here, the state police issued the trooper his commission, which was subject to police standard operating procedures (SOP). The SOP provided guidelines for operating the vehicle when the vehicle was on or off-duty and during emergency and non-emergency situations. The SOP requires troopers to maintain radio contact even while off-duty, avoid violating traffic laws, unless necessary, and respond to emergency situations. Further, the SOP authorized troopers to use their commission, on a minimal basis, for their transportation.

On the day of the accident, the trooper completed his shift, went home to shower, and left in his commission to go to his son’s baseball game. While he was driving southbound to his son’s game, he attempted to pass the vehicle in front of him by crossing into the northbound lane. As he transitioned to the opposite lane, he saw a motorcycle approaching and quickly moved back into his lane. However, the motorcycle driver did not have enough time to slow down and ended up abruptly locking his brakes, which caused his vehicle to roll over and eject both he and his passenger. In response to the motorcyclist’s personal injury claim, the trooper argued that he was immune under the ITCA, because he was within the scope of his employment.

Individuals who suffer injuries in Indiana trucking accidents often face challenges determining the liable parties. Many people do not know that in addition to the negligent truck driver, there may be other individuals or entities who contributed to the accident and the victim’s injuries. Indiana trucking accident victims should seek damages from all potentially liable parties to ensure that they receive the maximum amount of compensation they deserve.

In commercial trucking accident lawsuits, defendants may include the truck driver, the trucking company, a business that commissioned the delivery, and anyone responsible for the truck’s parts or trailers. Truck drivers may be liable for their negligence in instances where they were speeding, distracted, fatigued, or otherwise operating their vehicle in an unsafe manner. Holding the trucking company and other related entities liable requires a thorough understanding of Indiana vicarious liability laws.

Vicarious liability is a type of secondary liability that imposes responsibility on the truck driver’s employer. The employer, frequently referred to as the principal, is liable for the negligence or actions of their employee, the agent. Trucking employers may be responsible if the employee was working under the employer’s direction, the employer possessed the authority to control the employee’s actions, and the employee’s behaviors occurred during the course and scope of employment.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), researches car and trucking accidents, compiles statistics, publishes findings, and provides the public with traffic safety resources. According to these agencies, the country has seen a steady increase in trucking accidents. These accidents can have severe and longstanding injuries for Indiana motorists, passengers, and pedestrians. Those that have suffered injuries in an Indiana trucking accident should understand the common causes of trucking accidents and who may be liable for their damages.

According to the FMCSA and NHTSA, most serious truck accidents include similar negligent behavior; however, many accidents have more than one contributing factor. The five most common reasons for truck accidents are driver fatigue, drug and alcohol use, driver error, speeding, and distraction.

Fatigue is the most common cause of Indiana trucking accidents because many truckers drive for many hours with limited rest. Truck drivers often suffer from fatigue because of their employer’s demand for, often unreasonable, fast delivery turnarounds in combination with trending consumer expectations. Many drivers turn to stimulants and other substances to meet these expectations and manage stress. However, the consequences of alcohol and drug use can be disastrous to other motorists. Further, many Indiana trucking companies fail to adequately train their drivers and teach them how to inspect and maintain their trucks. Untrained and inexperienced truck drivers operating large vehicles pose serious dangers to the public. Finally, distracted driving is a common cause of Indiana trucking accidents. These drivers often spend many long hours on the road, and they will often engage in risky behavior to take their mind off of driving and quell their boredom. Some drivers will look at their phones to visit social media or text their friends and family. Even some innocuous behaviors, such as reaching for something, can cause serious accidents.

Indiana train accidents are one of the most catastrophic types of accidents, typically resulting in serious bodily injury and property damage. After these accidents, injury victims and their families face the daunting challenge of recovering damages from the liable party. These cases pose challenges because there are typically many victims and several potentially responsible parties. These accidents frequently cause chain-reaction collisions, fatalities, injuries to passengers on board, and even passerby pedestrians.

Other than the number of injury victims and potentially liable parties, train accidents are similar to other personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. A lawsuit begins after an injury victim files a lawsuit with the court that holds jurisdiction over the accident. The defendant or their insurance company typically files a response, which includes any defenses they want to claim. The parties will then engage in pretrial motions, which include determining facts and other preliminary issues. If the case proceeds to trial, the judge or jury will determine liability and damages. Train passenger plaintiffs must understand that specific liability caps may limit their damages, and they should discuss their trial strategy with an Indiana train accident attorney.

Recently, a local Indiana news source reported on a fatal southern Indiana train crash. According to police reports, the collision occurred around 5 p.m. on a Saturday at a train intersection. Accident reconstructionists are still working on determining the exact circumstances surrounding the accident. However, reports indicate that the intersection only has two stop signs but no crossing arms. It is unclear how much time the train had to stop, but typically, trains of the size involved in the accident take a mile to come to a complete stop. Additionally, state police have not reported whether drugs or alcohol were involved, but they will likely request a toxicology report. According to the report, a high-school student who was a passenger in the car died at the scene of the accident. Another passenger in the vehicle was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.

Car accidents are tragic events, and can have severe, life-altering consequences for those involved, including permanent injury or death. Sometimes accidents occur even though no one was at fault—they are truly just accidents. However, more often than not, Indiana car accidents result from one driver’s negligence.

Negligent driving includes failing to follow traffic laws, distracted driving, driving over the speed limit, or driving while intoxicated. When someone is driving negligently and an accident occurs, Indiana state law allows the victim to recover against the at-fault driver through a civil suit. If successful, these suits can hold the negligent driver liable for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, as well as other expenses related to the accident.

For example, take a recent Indiana car accident that happened earlier this month. According to a local news report covering the story, the crash occurred in Cherry Tree, Indiana, late one Monday afternoon. A 32-year-old Cherry Tree woman was driving west in her SUV when she crashed into the driver’s side of a southbound pickup truck, driven by an 18-year-old Cherry Tree man, that had run a stop sign. The crash caused the truck to roll over onto its roof and hit a utility pole. One of the truck’s passengers, a 14-year-old boy, was tragically killed, and pronounced dead at the scene. At this time, details about the injuries of the others involved—including the two drivers and another passenger in the pickup—are unknown.

Each year, new technologies emerge in automobiles that are aimed at making drivers safer and preventing car and truck accidents. For example, cars may come with new high-tech safety features, such as forward collision or blind spot warnings, or automatic emergency braking. One very popular new feature is autopilot technology, which the car manufacturer Tesla is famous for developing. The autopilot feature allows the vehicle to steer, merge, accelerate, and brake automatically. However, drivers are still supposed to be actively supervising their vehicles while in self-driving mode, and they may be held liable through a car accident lawsuit if they are not.

A recent Indiana accident highlights the potentially large role that autopilot can play in civil lawsuits brought against negligent drivers. According to a local news report covering the accident, a Tesla car was traveling along I-70 on a Sunday morning when the driver failed to see a parked firetruck. The Tesla crashed into the rear of the firetruck, which was parked with its emergency lights activated, responding to another crash along the highway. The driver of the Tesla and his wife were seriously injured and transferred to a nearby hospital. The wife was tragically later pronounced dead at the hospital.

The driver of the Tesla told investigators that he regularly uses his vehicle’s autopilot mode but cannot remember whether or not he had it activated at the time of the accident. Investigators are working to find out whether autopilot was activated because that fact can change the liability analysis in this case.

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