Articles Posted in Car Accidents

We’ve all felt it—the anxiety of trying to pull out of a parking lot into a busy road. On days where the parking lot and the roadway are busy, the anxiety is even greater because others are waiting on you to find an opening so that they can also get on their way. In these instances, however, the utmost caution is required to avoid an Indiana car accident. Taking unnecessary risks in a busy roadway could lead to fatal consequences, both to the driver and those with whom they share the road.

According to a local news report, two fatalities were reported following an accident outside a gas station. Evidently, a Jeep was exiting a gas station parking lot when it collided with a motorcycle. The motorcycle was driven by a man, and there was a female passenger on the back. Local authorities later reported that both individuals died from their injuries after the crash. Law enforcement and police accident reconstruction are still investigating the cause of the accident and establishing a timeline of events.

Even before pulling out onto a busy road to exit a parking lot, the parking lot itself can be challenging for drivers. When navigating parking lots, drivers are truly tested on both their driving skills and their patience. Sometimes, however, even the most experienced and skillful drivers find themselves in a tough spot because others are distracted and driving carelessly. If an accident occurs in a parking lot, determining who is at fault may be a complicated question. The most common accidents involve (1) a driver backing out of a parking space and colliding with a car proceeding down the road or (2) a driver pulling forward out of a parking space into a car moving down the road.

When someone imagines a car accident, they typically picture an incident involving two people or parties. However, there are often Indiana car crashes involving more than just two parties, vehicles, or people responsible. In light of often complicated circumstances surrounding the events leading up to the accident, it may be difficult to assign fault or figure out who is responsible. Regardless, parties who cause these incidents should be held accountable, and the complexity of having multiple defendants should not deter an accident victim from pursuing a claim following a car crash.

According to a recent news report, a major car accident involving multiple vehicles left four people dead and seven injured after a series of chain-reaction crashes. Evidently, the first crash occurred when two semi-trucks collided at around 4:00 am. An hour later, another truck crashed into the first crash scene, which left a local highway worker seriously injured and two state troopers with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. All three were transported to a local hospital to be treated. At 6:45 am, another accident occurred when a semi-tractor traveling at highway speeds caused crashed into at least seven vehicles. This collision involved two semi-tractor trailers, a dump truck and four passenger vehicles, and resulted in multiple fatalities and injuries. This final accident resulted in the death of the initial semi-tractor driver and three others.

After the second crash, electronic highway signs were set up to alert drivers that crashes had occurred ahead and that they needed to exercise additional caution. However, the subsequent accidents still occurred because of distracted driving by motorists and a lack of awareness of their surroundings. According to local authorities, had nearby bystanders failed to immediately provide assistance to those who were injured, there could have been even more fatalities.

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 Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration conducts research and create publications to provide the public with relevant crash statistics and data to prevent accidents and promote traffic safety. The agencies found that driver-related factors accounted for 87 percent of Indiana motor vehicle accidents and 96 percent of fatal accidents. According to the report, Indiana collisions have risen in the past four years, and fatal accidents have increased by 7.5 percent during that time.

Research indicates that unsafe driver actions are the leading cause of collisions in the state. Unsafe driver actions include behaviors such as following too closely, failure to give the right of way and speeding. After unsafe driver actions, a driver’s loss of control was the next most common cause of Indiana car accidents. Unsafe driving and loss of control often result in a disastrous head-on collisions.

Head-on collisions occur when two cars in opposite lanes crash into each other. These types of crashes are more likely to occur on undivided and rural roads in the state. Other common reasons for head-on collisions are fatigued and distracted driving. Often drowsy drivers will drift into the opposite lane and into oncoming traffic. Head-on collisions are the most dangerous type of accident, and victims may suffer brain and organ damage, broken bones, paralysis, significant emotional trauma, and even death.

When a motorist is injured in an Indiana car accident as the result of someone else’s negligence, state law allows the victim to recover damages against the party at fault through a civil lawsuit. However, plaintiffs should always be aware of potential reductions in their monetary award, including reductions due to comparative negligence. In Indiana, comparative negligence laws will reduce a plaintiff’s recovery if they were at all at fault, and the award may be lessened by the amount the plaintiff was at fault. For instance, if in a car accident the court finds that the plaintiff was 5% at fault and the defendant was 95% at fault, the plaintiff’s $100,000 award would be reduced to $95,000.

Plaintiffs often need a damages award to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other costs that they accrued in the aftermath of an accident. Luckily, Indiana law includes important limits on what can and cannot count as evidence of comparative negligence. An important example is seat belt non-use evidence. When an individual does not wear a seat belt, they may be more likely to get injured if they do get into an automobile accident. However, in Indiana, an appellate court made clear in a 2015 case that evidence of seat belt non-use cannot count as evidence to reduce a plaintiff’s award. According to the court’s written opinion, Indiana plaintiffs injured in car accidents can still receive the full amount of recovery, even if they were not wearing their seat belt at the time of the accident.

Even after the clear court opinion, defendants may still try to use seat belt non-use evidence to convince a jury or a judge to reduce a plaintiff’s award. Plaintiffs can use the 2015 ruling to suppress this evidence by filing something called a motion in limine. If granted, this motion ensures that a jury will not see or hear evidence about a plaintiff’s seat belt non-use, which could prejudice the plaintiff. While the rule is pretty straightforward, it can sometimes be difficult to spot sneaky attempts at introducing evidence or pinning the blame on the plaintiff, so accident victims are advised to be vigilant in their civil suits. Additionally, the assistance of an attorney experienced in spotting these issues can take some of the pressure off of the victim and their family while they recover from their injuries.

Indiana personal injury lawsuits often involve just two parties, the victim and the individual or entity that caused the victim’s injury. However, some Indiana car accidents include several parties, depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident. Most frequently, this occurs in multi-vehicle crashes. In such cases, it may be challenging to establish the course of events that led up to the victim’s injury.

For example, recently, seven people were injured, and three died in a multi-vehicle accident on an Indiana highway. Tragically, a 29-year-old woman and her toddlers were the individuals that suffered fatal injuries in the crash. According to a local Indiana news report, the deadly accident involved seven vehicles, including a semi-trailer. The domino effect apparently began when the semi-trailer slammed into the cars in front of the truck.

The truck driver told police officials that he was forced to slam on his brakes when a vehicle that was not involved in the accident cut in front of him. The sudden braking caused him to crash into several cars. However, other witnesses claimed that they witnessed the truck driver speeding on the highway. They believe he quickly applied his brakes because he did not notice the stopped traffic in front of him. One of the cars the truck hit was dragged about 300 yards before eventually crashing into two additional vehicles. Although state police arrested the truck driver, the driver still maintains that the accident occurred because he was cut off.

Those who have been injured as a result of another’s negligence may be able to recover various types of damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit. In an Indiana personal injury case, there are two types of damages that a plaintiff may recover, compensatory and punitive.

Compensatory damages are designed to make the plaintiff whole again. These damages often encompass economic losses that the plaintiff has suffered because of their injuries. Plaintiffs may try to recover economic and non-economic losses making a claim for compensatory damages. The most common economic damages are lost wages and medical expenses. Whereas, the most common claim for non-economic damages is for losses related to disfigurement or scarring. Also, Indiana plaintiffs may try to recover damages related to mental anguish, emotional distress, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and property damage.

Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for their behavior. Generally, punitive damages are only available in cases in which defendants engaged in fraud, willful negligence, malice, or egregious conduct. Punitive damages are intended to deter the defendant from participating in the same behavior. Indiana plaintiffs injured because of particularly egregious behavior may be entitled to punitive damages.

Although the Indiana Department of Transportation (DOT) declined to install a traffic signal at an intersection, possibly playing a role in a fatal car accident that later occurred at the site, the state appellate court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the agency.

Ultimately, the court ruled, provisions of the Indiana Tort Claims Act shielded the government from civil liability.

That does not necessarily mean plaintiffs were without any options for recovering damages, but it does mean those damages will not come from the state government. This negligence and wrongful death lawsuit outcome illustrates the difficulties associated with holding government agencies accountable in injury litigation, as they enjoy a number of broad legal protections.

Plaintiffs Assert Negligent Road Design in Fatal Crash

The case was filed following a deadly summer 2014 crash in West Lafayette, at an intersection constructed as part of the state’s Major Moves project, an aggressive, decade-long plan to improve Indiana’s highway infrastructure. When the Indiana DOT (INDOT) began construction, both city and county officials requested a temporary traffic control signal. INDOT, however, declined, finding the intersection didn’t meet traffic volume requirements to justify a signal, but did install a stop sign for east-west drivers. Continue reading

A woman injured in an alleged Indiana drunk driving accident this month won her appeal seeking pursuit of punitive damages against the defendant. The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the defendant. The ruling is a victory for victims of Indiana drunk drivers in once again affirming the well-established view of courts in Indiana (going at least as far back as the Indiana Supreme Court’s 1985 ruling in Williams v. Crist) about the egregious wrong one does in taking the wheel while drunk. In that case nearly 35 years ago, the state high court held unequivocally: A person guilty of impaired driving is automatically guilty of the “willful and wanton misconduct” requirement necessary to to seek punitive damages in an Indiana injury lawsuit.

Why Punitive Damages in Indiana Drunk Driving Claims Matter

If you suffer injury and/or other losses because of somebody else’s negligence, there are two general kinds of damages you can pursue. The first, compensatory damages, applies in every case and the goal is monetary compensation that aims to “make the plaintiff whole.”

Of course, our Munster drunk driving injury lawyers know that there really is nothing – no amount of money – that can achieve that goal. There is absolutely no price tag on catastrophic injuries or death, and those affected would give back every dime if it meant they could regain what they lost. Still, the goal of compensatory damages is all about what a plaintiff has lost and what can be offered to help them heal to the fullest extent possible. The amount is supposed to be calculated in a way that equitably compensates a person, sometimes dollar-for-dollar (i.e., medical bills), but other times for intangible losses like pain and suffering and loss of consortium.
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The Indiana Court of Appeals this month rejected an argument by an auto insurer that it should not be required to cover bodily injury damages caused by its insured because a policy exclusion barred him from coverage if he drove with a suspended license. As long-time Indiana car accident attorneys in Gary, we know well the ways in which auto insurance companies will seek to deny coverage. Exclusions drafted into auto insurance policies are the basis for many insurance claim denials. However, as our injury lawyers often explain, an insurance company denial is not the last word. With the help of a dedicated personal injury attorney, auto insurance denials can often be successfully challenged.

According to court records in the recent case, the insured/at-fault driver in this matter lost control of his vehicle and slammed into the side of the residence, resulting in both bodily injury and property damage for himself as well as the occupants of the dwelling.

Although the driver’s license was suspended at the time of the crash, his vehicle was insured by a policy he obtained months earlier. However, an exclusion contained in that policy stated: “We do not provide liability coverage for any ‘insured’ using a vehicle without reasonable belief that ‘insured’ is entitled to do so. This exclusion … does not apply to a family member using your covered auto, which is owned by you.”

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