Articles Posted in Auto Accident

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.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, despite a slight decrease in Indiana traffic deaths from 2017 to 2018, there were still close to 900 traffic-related fatalities in the state. In addition to the high rate of fatalities, there was also a significant number of serious injuries caused by car accidents. Those who have been seriously injured in a car accident should contact an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

Experts agree that there are several leading causes of motor vehicle accidents in Indiana. The top three most common causes of accidents are unsafe driver actions, loss of control, and driver distraction. Unsafe driving accidents typically occur because one or more motorists dangerously operated their vehicle. Typical forms of unsafe driving are following too closely, failing to yield, unsafe reversing, improper turning, ignoring traffic signs, and improper passing.

Loss of control is another top cause of car accidents in Indiana. Loss of control can occur when a driver operates their vehicle at high speeds during inclement weather. For example, drivers should reduce their speed during snow and rain to ensure that they can effectively brake to avoid a collision. When drivers fail to modify their speed for traffic and weather conditions, accidents are more likely to occur.

Earlier this month an Indiana dump truck driver caused a massive accident resulting in the deaths of an 80-year-old couple. According to a local news report, the truck driver is facing two counts of reckless homicide in addition to several other charges related to the accident. Evidently, witnesses reported that that they saw the dump truck driving erratically for several miles, ultimately resulting in a rear-end collision. After rear-ending the SUV, the truck crossed into a median and slammed into a minivan, killing the elderly couple inside. The initial accident caused a chain-reaction accident, involving a total of eleven vehicles. In addition to the elderly couple, several other drivers and passengers suffered injuries.

Indiana police officials arrived at the scene shortly after the accident and conducted a field sobriety test on the truck driver. The driver was smiling and laughing throughout the test, which officers determined he failed. The driver admitted that he snorted heroin earlier in the day. Additionally, the truck matched the description of a one that was involved in a hit-and-run accident a few hours earlier. According to court records, the driver previously pled guilty to operating a vehicle under the influence and drug possession in 2015. He violated the terms of his probation in both cases.

Indiana truck drivers with DUI or OWI charges on their licenses may still be able to receive or retain their commercial driver’s licenses. The penalties vary from a one- to three-year suspension to criminal charges in some cases. For many, it is unnerving to know that trucking companies can still hire drivers with such blemished driving histories. And while some drivers will never engage in unsafe or impaired driving again, many will continue to follow old habits.

As noted by the Indiana Department of Insurance, each newly written Indiana auto liability policy must include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage – unless it is rejected by the insured in writing. These limits mirror those of bodily injury liability (what you pay if you’re at fault for someone else’s injuries), with stipulated minimums being $25,000 per person and $50,000 per crash.Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage protects you in the event you are struck by an at-fault driver who does not have insurance or who fled in a hit-and-run accident. But just because you have this coverage does not mean you will be automatically entitled to collect it after a collision. Your Indiana car accident attorney will need to show:

  • The driver who struck you was negligent/at fault for the crash;
  • Neither the driver nor the automobile had auto insurance coverage (or enough coverage), OR you were unable to identify the driver; and

Head injuries and spinal cord injuries are common Indiana car accident injuries. Less recognized is a condition known as “internal decapitation.”A 22-year-old man from Indiana suffered this condition and incredibly survived. Even more stunning was the fact that this is the third time he’s reportedly cheated death. When he was born, he wasn’t breathing and suffered seizures. He was saved by CPR. Then as a teenager, he endured radiation and chemotherapy to survive a serious brain tumor. Now, he is reported to have beaten the odds with an internal decapitation after a serious car accident as he rode in the bed of a pickup truck.

As reported by Beacon Health System, internal decapitation occurs when the ligaments that attach the skull to the spine become severed. The head remains physically attached to the body, so “decapitation” is a bit of a misnomer, but it is still very serious because it can result in head movements that can lead to damage of the lower brain stem, which is essential to breathing function.

Local news reports of the incident explain that the car accident occurred in January, when the friend driving his pickup truck (because he’d been drinking) encountered a patch of ice, slid a long distance, and then flipped, causing the victim’s head to smash into the truck’s back window. Survival of this type of injury is rare, doctors said, with most either dying instantly or while being transported to the hospital. In this case, the man’s friend held him still on the ground so that he wouldn’t try to stand up before paramedics arrived. The emergency crews then worked very carefully to stabilize him before transporting him to the hospital. A spokesman for the South Bend hospital said this was only the second time they had ever treated a patient with this type of injury.

Most motorcyclists have a checklist they go through every time they head out. Pre-ride inspections usually involve making sure the bike is generally in good working order, the portable GPS is queued up, and they have all of the proper gear, such as helmets and extra gloves. There is often a double-check of road conditions and weather reports. It typically doesn’t involve a check of the lunar calendar. Maybe it should, since it might affect the chance of an Indiana motorcycle accident.

A new study published in the journal The BMJ (a weekly, peer-reviewed medical journal) concluded fatal crashes are more likely under a full moon. Why might this be?

Police, emergency room workers, and others routinely working night shifts often lament the “full moon madness,” insisting it is a real issue, and every time the moon was full, emergency departments and booking stations would be packed. But there hasn’t been a lot of independent data to back that. A 2011 study published in the World Journal of Surgery found that while 40 percent of staff believed lunar phases affect human behavior, most research found no solid correlation. Continue reading

Motorcycle crashes in Indiana and beyond are associated with high levels of injuries and fatalities for both passengers and drivers. There are more than 8 million motorcycles on U.S. roads, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports the proportion of fatalities attributed to motorcycles, as opposed to other passenger vehicles, has increased (with motorcycle deaths occurring 28 times more frequently than passenger car occupant deaths).

Examining ways to prevent Indiana motorcycle accidents – especially the worst of them – is important not just to the public health, but also to the economy. Recently, physician researchers with Indiana University School of Medicine conducted a study revealing some troubling news with regard to a specific danger for which motorcycle passengers are at great risk:  traumatic brain injuries.

The analysis examined three years of data from the National Trauma Bank, with researchers identifying more than 85,000 motorcycle accident trauma patients and separating them into groups of operators and passengers. For both, traumatic brain injuries were the most frequent injury among those who were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash. However, motorcycle passengers had “significantly” higher rates of injury and also lower helmet use compliance. The study is reportedly the first of its kind to examine the benefits of helmet use for motorcycle drivers compared to passengers.

The Indiana Court of Appeals recently affirmed a $9 million verdict – including compensatory and punitive damages – in favor of a motorcycle accident victim who was severely injured after a collision with a pickup truck in Schererville, about 20 to 30 minutes south of Gary, Hammond, and Highland. 

In a unanimous decision, the court decided to affirm the damages award, which was $9.1 million in compensatory damages and $30,000 in punitive damages, for which the defendant pickup truck driver was 100 percent responsible.

The defendant argued on appeal that the trial court abused its discretion in giving an erroneous jury instruction, but the appellate court found no evidence the jury instruction incorrectly stated the law, wasn’t supported by the evidence, or was covered in substance by other instructions. The court also could find no evidence the trial court abused its discretion in allowing the jury instruction, meaning the verdict and the damages award were affirmed.

There were 223,733 car accidents in Indiana in all of 2016, according to the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, of which 769 were fatal and nearly 53,000 involved serious personal injuries. Northern Indiana auto accident lawyers know the immediate aftermath of a crash can be, if nothing else, a bit chaotic and confusing. Obviously, if you are seriously hurt, your No. 1 priority is seeking prompt medical attention. Even if you don’t feel you have suffered major trauma, bear in mind injuries can be exacerbated when they aren’t treated right away.

Beyond that, there are a number of steps crash victims need to take in order to not only preserve their health but also preserve their rights and possible future civil claim. Indiana is a “fault” state when it comes to crashes, meaning you don’t have to recover personal injury protection benefits or meet a serious injury threshold before you can pursue damages against the at-fault driver. (This differs from the regulations in many no-fault auto accident states.)

Following these steps will help ensure you have evidence to substantiate your grounds for damages.