Articles Posted in Car Accidents

In an issue of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled recently in an Indiana car accident lawsuit that a vehicle that is insured but denied coverage following a crash should be considered uninsured under state law. 

The case has implications for future uninsured motorist (UM) claims in Indiana.

Indiana requires every newly-written auto liability insurance policy to include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage – unless it’s rejected in writing by the insured. Minimum UM/UIM liability limits are $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident of UM benefits, $25,000 per accident for property damage, and $50,000 per accident for UIM benefits. This coverage protects insureds in the event they are involved in a crash with an at-fault driver who either doesn’t have auto insurance (as required by law) or doesn’t have enough auto insurance liability coverage to cover the full cost of the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.

Jurors in central Indiana have awarded more than $6 million in connection with injuries suffered in a fatal crash eight years ago. 

The Marion-Chronicle Tribune reported jurors awarded the two men damages – approximately $3 million each – for the negligence of another driver, who perished in the collision.

While the decedent’s estate insisted the crash was caused by a faulty throttle cable designed and manufactured by Ford Motor Co., jurors ruled the decedent was 100 percent at fault. Specifically, they ruled she pressed down on the accelerator rather than the brake, causing her vehicle to crash into the victims. Her estate will be responsible for the entire award.

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The widow of a man killed in a head-on collision in Indiana two years ago is suing the Indiana Department of Transportation, alleging the state agency is liable for her husband’s death, due to its failure to properly maintain the roadway. 

According to The Daily Journal, the decedent was driving his truck on State Road 135 near Trafalgar in December 2014 when another truck came barreling toward him – in his lane – from the opposite direction. The plaintiff’s husband died as a result of the crash, while her son, who was a passenger, was seriously injured, as was the allegedly negligent driver of the other truck.

In a lawsuit filed in Johnson County Superior Court, the plaintiff asserts there is a history of car accidents along that section of roadway that gave the state’s transportation department actual or constructive knowledge that safety improvements were necessary. Specifically, state officials should have installed center-line rumble strips, widened the road, and installed warnings signs near the road curves at the site of the fatal crash.

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Indiana car accident lawsuits in many cases involve more than just the drivers involved. If a driver was acting in the course and scope of employment or was operating an employer’s vehicle, the company could find itself facing claims of vicarious liability.

Corporate responsibility in such cases is based on the legal theory of respondeat superior, which is Latin for “Let the master answer.” What this means is that one can establish a claim of liability against an employer for the negligent acts of an employee carried out in the scope of employment – even if the employer did not engage in any negligent act. This is an important issue because it can directly affect how much compensation you may be able to collect for your injuries. The key determination that has to be made in order for respondeat superior to apply is whether the employee was acting in the scope of employment. Courts have generally broken this down into a four-part test:  whether the conduct is similar to that which the employee was hired to perform, whether the action occurred mostly within the authorized spacial and temporal limits of employment, whether the action furthered the employer’s business, and whether the conduct, although unauthorized, was foreseeable in view of the employee’s duties.

In the recent case of Hudgins v. Bemish, the Indiana Court of Appeals held that a trial court erred in granting summary judgment to a business defendant that argued it was not liable for the negligent acts of its employee. The appellate justices decided there were conflicting facts and inferences that could be drawn as to whether the driver was acting in the course and scope of his employment. Also, the defendant company hadn’t met its initial proof burden for summary judgment on the issues of negligent hiring and retention (which are direct liability claims).

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Most Indiana personal injury lawsuits involve a claim for reimbursement of medical expenses – past and future. Thus, a central point of contention for some litigants is “what is the reasonable cost of medical care?”

Many courts have accepted that the amount billed for services can be taken at face value as “reasonable” for services rendered. However, defendants are increasingly challenging these amounts, saying they should not be taken at face value as “reasonable.” One thing that constrains this rebuttal, however, is the collateral source rule. Jurisdictions vary greatly on the collateral source rule application and scope, and the law is constantly evolving. Indiana is no exception, as shown in the recent case of Patchett v. Lee, before the Indiana Supreme Court.

In general, American case law prevents the admission of evidence that a plaintiff or victim in a personal injury lawsuit received compensation from a source other than damages sought by the defendant. Thus, for example, if you are injured but had private health insurance that covered a substantial portion of your medical costs, that information would not be subject to review by the jury. The idea is that this could unfairly affect the jurors’ perception of the compensation to which a plaintiff is entitled.

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Law enforcement officials throughout the state will be cracking down on drunk driving during the Super Bowl weekend. It’s all a part of the “Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk”.

When it comes time for the big game, fans will be cheering either the Seahawks or the Broncos at a local sports bar, a restaurant or over at a friend or family member’s house. With these gatherings, we see a significant increase in the number of drunk driving accidents into the early and late evening hours. Many departments will have higher staffing levels to help get those dangerous drivers off of our roadways.

Our Highland drunk driving accident lawyers note these Super Bowl gatherings usually begin in mid-afternoon and extend deep into Sunday night, creating mayhem that rivals some of the other big drinking days, such as St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, July 4 and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, when kids returning from college regroup with their friends. Luckily, over 170,000 NFL fans pledged to be designated drivers this season – a new record! But that doesn’t mean we’re in the clear. We’re asking you to step up and do your part to help make our roadways as safe as possible during this year’s Super Bowl extravaganza.
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A massive mangle of metal and ice was still being sifted and cleared more than 24 hours after a major wreck on I-94 in Indiana, near Michigan City.

Ice, snow and white-out conditions are believed to have played a role in the fatal crash, which reportedly claimed three lives and resulted in dozens more injuries. Authorities reported at least one person was believed to have been trapped in a vehicle for hours before rescue workers could bring aide.

Our personal injury lawyers note two of the injured – two men, ages 79 and 48 – were listed by hospital officials in critical condition. Those killed included a Michigan couple in their late 60s.
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A 2008 National Highway Safety Traffic Safety Survey provided a number of conclusions concerning pre crash factors, including, but not limited to destructed driving, crash ability, road construction and environmental considerations.United States Department of Transportation Causation Survey.pdfAn assessment of the roadway design, environmental conditions, and participant interviews. Among such cases, roads slick with ice and other debris were the most frequent roadway-related critical causes of accidents.

The incredibly bad weather in Northwest and Central Indiana clearly reflects how the current icy and snowy weather and resulting slippery road surfaces have resulted in accident after accident. Perhaps the worst of which took place, January 23 2014, on Interstate 94, and US 421.The collision involved over 40 vehicles, including 15 tractor trailers and at least three fatalities. Whiteout conditions probably played a role making it difficult for truck and automobile drivers to see the road in from of them.

Just days ago, another multiple vehicle crash involving semi-trucks and other vehicles took place on Interstate 65, just outside Lafayette, Indiana. As a result, northbound and southbound. Lanes were closed for hours. Slick roads,winds, snow and fog limited visibility.
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A newly-married couple departed from their wedding reception and headed back to their hotel when they witnessed another vehicle run into some winter-weather road troubles. According to the Chicago Tribune, the couple saw another vehicle slide off the road and into a ditch. The two parked their vehicle in a nearby driveway and attempted to help the stranded motorist. The new groom walked to the troubled vehicle while his new wife waited in the car. As the groom helped the driver, he and the stranded driver, a local teacher, were hit by three passing vehicles. Both were killed.

The road was not icy, but they were two banks that were piled up along the ditch from snow plow trucks. Officials believe that these banks forced the two closer to the traffic while walking for help. No charges are expected to be filed against drivers involved, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Our Highland car accident lawyers understand that we all have car troubles from time to time. Whether it’s caused by unpredictable weather conditions or a breakdown that leaves you stranded. The key is dealing with these kinds of unfortunate mishaps is to know what to do and how to correct the situation without putting yourself or anyone else in danger.
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Most Americans can agree — impaired driving is a serious threat to everyone on our roadways. Officials with the National Safety Council (NSC) report that roughly 97 percent of surveyed drivers say that it’s a serious threat. At the same time, about 75 percent of drivers say that they support more severe and tougher penalties against those who endanger others by getting behind the wheel after drinking.

Still, someone is killed in an alcohol-related accident every 30 minutes in the U.S. And although there have been some serious changes in the 80s and 90s to help to reduce the risks of these accidents, the progress has since leveled off.

Our accident attorneys in Highland know about 40 percent of all traffic accident fatalities involve alcohol. With the New Year, we’re asking drivers to resolve to stay sober behind the wheel. Officials in Indiana and throughout the nation are working to help curb the dangers, too.
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