The warmer months often bring an increasing use of bicycles. Although cycling is an important form of sustainable travel and can positively impact overall health, it also presents some unique dangers to road users. Cyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists are a vulnerable class of road users prone to serious injuries after an Indiana car accident.

A vulnerable road user refers to those who occupy space in an area dominated by larger vehicles, such as cars and trucks. As such, in an accident, these users are more likely to suffer fatal injuries because they are not enclosed inside a vehicle. For instance, a recent government agency reported a fatal accident between a biker and a sedan. The biker was peddling in a southbound lane around 10:00 p.m. when a sedan approached from the rear. The sedan and bicyclist attempted a lane change, and the front right of the sedan slammed into the biker, ejecting the biker into the opposite lane. The sedan driver then lost control of his vehicle and veered off the road and into a sign. The sedan driver then regained control but ultimately struck a tree. The bicyclist succumbed to his injuries at the hospital; the sedan driver did not suffer injuries in the incident.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) approximately 2 percent of motor vehicle fatalities involve bicyclists. A biker’s age, helmet use, speed of the car, and time of day are factors that influence the severity of an accident. While data indicates a decline in youth bicycle deaths, deaths among cyclists age 20 and older have tripled over 40 years. Moreover, the leading cause of bike-related deaths involves head injuries. Despite widespread knowledge regarding the importance of helmets, underutilization continues to be a problem.

Traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, claiming thousands of lives every year. Rollover crashes are a significant contributor to these statistics as they often lead to serious injuries and fatalities. Various factors increase the likelihood of an Indiana rollover accident; although, most are avoidable. However, determining the cause of the accident is critical to recovering damages after an accident.

According to crash data, rollover accidents have a high likelihood of serious and fatal injuries compared to other types of crashes. Some factors that impact the likelihood and severity of an accident are :

  • Restraint Use

Recently, the Court of Appeals of Indiana issued an opinion in a personal injury case discussing the availability of emotional distress damages. Ultimately, the court found in favor of the plaintiff, allowing him to pursue emotional distress damages based on the loss of his wife as well as for the serious injuries his son suffered.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in this case was a man who lost his wife in a tragic home explosion. His son was also seriously injured. According to the court’s opinion, Ceres, the defendant, refilled a propane tank at the plaintiff’s home. However, after filling the tank, Ceres failed to properly check the tank for leaks. The following morning, the plaintiff’s son turned a bedside lamp on, causing an explosion. The plaintiff’s son was able to escape the burning home through a basement window.

A few hours after the explosion, the plaintiff got off work and was driving home when he encountered a roadblock set up by a volunteer firefighter. The plaintiff could see his home was burning and obtained permission to proceed past the roadblock. He parked about 100 meters from his home and saw his son’s badly burned body on a gurney as he walked towards the home.

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In a recent opinion, the Indiana Supreme Court recently carved out an exception to the state’s longstanding negligent infliction of emotional distress rule. The change allows the parents of children who experienced sexual abuse by a caretaker to pursue emotional distress damages. According to the record, a mother filed a lawsuit against a school district after learning that an instructional assistant was abusing the woman’s profoundly disabled daughter. The woman filed a civil lawsuit alleging that she experienced emotional distress after the discovery. A lower court dismissed the claim based on the state’s archaic law that limits these damages to those who witness the injury or death of a loved one. While an appeals court permitted the economic damages to claim, they refused to expand the state’s law to allow the emotional distress claim.

Historically, the bystander rule for negligent infliction of emotional distress allowed recovery to those who experienced distress from witnessing a close family member’s sudden and unexpected death by the at-fault party. The Court loosened the rules in 2000, allowing lawsuits if a person observed the injury or death of family or its “gruesome aftermath.”

In this groundbreaking Indiana case, the Court held that the school owed a duty of care to the woman as a parent of a child at their school. The assistant confessed and pleaded guilty; however, the mother did not discover the abuse until after the confession. At which point, the mother suffered emotional distress, which included bouts of anger and the inability to control her emotions.

Head-on or frontal crashes are one of the most harrowing types of Indiana motor vehicle accidents. Head-on collisions often leave drivers, passengers, and bystanders with serious life-threatening injuries. In addition to the physical injuries, head-on accidents can leave victims with psychological trauma and emotional distress. While physical injuries or psychological trauma alone can impact a person’s livelihood, the combination of the two may require years of healing. In addition, these accidents can leave a fatal victim’s family reeling for answers and justice. A part of this justice often entails the family receiving compensation for the unfathomable loss of their loved one.

The most common head-on collision injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries;

Car accidents can be a harrowing experience, and the physical and financial impact can be just as devastating, regardless of whether there were multiple factors at play or if it was a single-vehicle accident. Indiana follows the “at-fault” theory of liability and insurance recovery. In at-fault states, such as Indiana, drivers who caused the accident are liable for the ensuing damages. In these cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance should compensate all parties involved in the accident. However, it is essential to note that its comparative negligence laws may impact this general rule. Under comparative fault, plaintiffs can recover from the at-fault party; however, the victim’s recovery will be reduced by their share of liability. Most importantly, the plaintiff will not be able to recover if their fault exceeds 50%.

While insurance companies use their own methods for determining liability and apportioning damages, they often cite the state’s comparative negligence laws when making compensation determinations. This is especially relevant after a single-vehicle accident, as insurance companies will go to great lengths to avoid paying out hefty claims. However, a single-vehicle accident does not automatically impute liability on the driver. There are many causes for a single-vehicle accident that do not involve the driver’s negligence.

Some common causes of single-vehicle accidents in Indiana are:

Cars are designed to move, and while many car accidents occur close to home, they can happen anywhere at any time. When drivers or passengers suffer injuries while out of state, they may experience challenges and confusion regarding their rights and remedies. Generally, Indiana victims who suffer injuries in another state can file a lawsuit where the defendant resides or where the car accident occurred. For instance, an Indiana victim who suffers injuries in an Illinois accident may file a claim in Illinois or where the defendant lives. Typically, the victim can only sue in Indiana if the defendant lives in Indiana or if they consent to be sued in the state.

Things can become further complicated when the defendant is a business entity, such as a truck driver or another business employee. In these situations, the plaintiff can file a lawsuit where the accident happened or where the business “resides.” Determining where the business resides involves ascertaining the state where the business was incorporated or where they have their principal place of business. However, injury victims may also sue in any state where the defendant has sufficient “minimum contacts.” Essentially, the law permits defendants to be sued in any state where they do business.

After determining where the lawsuit can be filed, the next step involves establishing which state’s laws apply to the matter. In most cases, the court will apply the law of the state where the incident occurred. It is important to note that auto insurance covers drivers regardless of where they are.

One of the unexpected effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been an increase in the number of cyclists taking to the road for transportation, recreation, and exercise. Cycling presents a healthy alternative to attending crowded (or closed) gyms, and is one of many individual activities that have become more popular in the age of social distancing. Along with the increase in cyclists on Indiana roads, traffic accidents involving bicycles and other vehicles have also increased, often with fatal consequences.

A recently published news report discusses the increase in cycling-related accidents and fatalities, and advocates for more legal protections for cyclists on the road. According to the report, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant increase in the number of cyclists on the road nationwide. An increase in auto-bicycle accidents has also been noticed since the beginning of the pandemic. Drivers have a legal duty to yield the right of way to a bicyclist traveling on a public road or highway. If the driver of a motorized vehicle is unable to safely pass a cyclist, the driver must stay behind the cyclist until it is safe to do so. The vague nature of many laws that give cyclists the right of way can lead drivers to make dangerous decisions when encountering cyclists on the road.

Most states have specific laws known as “safe passing” laws that require drivers to maintain a safe distance while passing a cyclist, and also permit drivers to cross over a double yellow line to safely overtake a biker. Indiana is one of only six states without laws that specifically address passing a bicyclist. Although there is no safe passing law on the books in Indiana, drivers are still required to yield the right of way to a bicyclist traveling on a public roadway in the direction of traffic. If a bicyclist is struck by a driver and injured or killed, the driver may be responsible in civil or criminal court for the damages related to the accident.

Motorcycle riding is a popular form of transportation and leisure throughout the country. Insurance companies and the media often portray motorcycling as an inherently dangerous activity. As a result, after an Indiana motorcycle accident, people assume that liability falls on the biker. However, like many other popular-held beliefs, these depictions often unfairly group motorcyclists into a group of reckless and unsafe individuals. In reality, the vast majority of bikers understand the ways to protect themselves and others from harm. Some common forms of protection include wearing protective gear such as element-proof clothing and helmets and practicing defensive driving. However, bikers cannot control the negligent acts of other road users. Moreover, bikers often experience injuries in an accident because of a defective or unsafe issue with their motorcycles or protective gear.

For instance, Indiana news reports recently recounted a tragic fatal Indiana motorcycle crash near the Notre Dame Exit. Investigators explained that the biker was heading east when his motorcycle experienced a potential tire failure. The tire failure caused the biker to lose control of the bike, throwing him and his passenger onto the road. The bike continued until stopping in the median. The bike passenger died at the accident scene, and the operator was transported to the hospital for serious injuries.

As the above case illustrates, motorcycle tire failures can have devastating consequences for bikers, their passengers, and anyone in the vicinity of the bike. In some cases, a tire failure may stem from a gradual leak, and in others, the tire may explode unexpectedly. Loss of pressure in the front wheel may cause an unexpected change in direction or cause the bike to overturn. Similarly, loss of pressure in the back wheel can result in imbalance and cause the bike to veer out of control.

The state Supreme Court recently addressed a critical question regarding the scope of the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act (IMMA). The underlying lawsuit arose when a woman ran a red light and crashed into another vehicle. The woman was traveling with her granddaughter, who testified that she saw her grandmother swallow two pills before saying, “I can’t stop,” while approaching the intersection. The husband and father of the decedents filed a lawsuit against the Physician who prescribed the woman opiates and against the Indiana Department of Insurance under the IMMA.

The plaintiff argued that the physician breached the standard of care by failing to :

  • To warn the driver of operating a vehicle under the influence of the medications he prescribed her,
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