Indiana Appeals Court: $1.3M for Rear-End Accident Injuries Not Excessive

A verdict of more than $1 million in favor of an Indiana car accident victim was affirmed by the Indiana Court of Appeals, which found reasonable basis for this compensation, even though the rear-end collision was low-speed and caused only minor damage to the vehicle. Highland car accident attorneys point to the outcome of this case as an example of the fact that an Indiana auto accident need not be severe or result in horrific crash scene photos in order to result in serious injuries. So long as your injury lawyer can prove the damages you suffered were result of the collision, compensation should be made available from the at-fault driver.

Possible losses may include past and future medical bills, past and future wage losses and lost earning capacity, emotional anguish, loss of life enjoyment and loss of consortium. To pursue a comprehensive damage claim is not excessive; those are real losses, and you should not be the one to bear them without compensation if they were the result of someone else’s negligence.

According to court records in Tunstall v. Manning, the 31-year-old plaintiff was stopped at a stop sign preparing to turn right out of her apartment complex in Indianapolis when the defendant approached from behind, failing to realize plaintiff was still at the intersection. Defendant hit her brakes and swerved just before colliding with plaintiff, striking the rear left corner bumper, and pushing plaintiff’s vehicle onto the road. Fortunately, there was no oncoming traffic. After moving her vehicle out of traffic, plaintiff called 911 and then her mother. While at the scene, plaintiff experienced a headache and neck pain. She refused an ambulance but had a friend take her to the emergency room for treatment of whiplash.

Establishing Damages in a Low-Speed Indiana Car Accident

The plaintiff continued receiving treatment for ongoing spine and neck pain, diagnosed ultimately with two significant spinal strains, which required ongoing treatment and limited her range of motion, ultimately relegating her to suffering permanent injury and chronic pain and resulting in a permanent partial impairment rating of 28 percent. Her once-active lifestyle was substantially curbed, limiting her ability to lift objects, wear heels, dance, exercise, take long walks, model and travel. Pain limited the amount of hours she was able to work, and her boyfriend testified to a “drastic change” in their intimate relations since the crash. She also suffered from depression, experienced significant weight gain and anxiety.

Defendant presented expert witness testimony from a biomechanical engineer, who testified after an independent medical exam plaintiff suffered no permanent effects and was malingering (faking).

Following a three-day jury trial, the plaintiff was awarded $1.3 million in damages. Defendant appealed, arguing the damage award was excessive.

In weighing this assertion, the appellate court did not reconsider all the evidence, but rather set out to determine whether the evidence and reasonable inferences supported the verdict. In order for a reversal, the court would have had to find the award was “so outrageous as to impress the court at first blush with its enormity,” indicating the jury may have been prejudiced with passion or partiality or reached with consideration of improper evidence.

Defendant argued the award was excessive for a fender-bender, a common type of collision that is relatively minor.

The appellate court, however, ruled that even if a relatively minor collision, it resulted in a painful injury and a 28 percent permanent impairment rating for plaintiff. The court found that while “the jury might have assessed higher damages than we would have,” there was no indication given the evidence before the jury that it was excessive. Thus the damage award was affirmed.

This case shows why it’s important to discuss your auto accident with an experienced Highland car accident attorney in cases where injury or impairment are evident.

Indiana Injury Attorney Burton A. Padove handles personal injury claims throughout northern Indiana, including Highland, Gary and Hammond. Call Toll Free 877-446-5294.

Additional Resources:

Tunstall v. Manning, Aug. 20, 2018, Indiana Court of Appeals

More Blog Entries:

Indiana Car Accident Victim Survives “Internal Decapitation”, Aug. 9, 2018, Highland Car Accident Attorney Blog