To many, playing sports is more than just a recreational pastime. However, when someone gets hurt playing on an unsafe field, the injury can often be severe. Property owners, including those who own a sports field, have a responsibility to maintain a safe environment for people to practice and play on. When an individual is injured on another’s property, the injured party can bring a premise liability claim against the owner. In Indiana, an owner is liable for physical harm caused to a person invited onto his land if: (a) he knows his land is unreasonably dangerous; (b) the person would not likely realize the danger or fail to protect themselves from it; (c) he fails to attempt to protect them from the danger.

In a recent opinion, a state appellate court discussed whether the owner of a horse racing track could be held liable under premises liability theory after the plaintiff was injured while riding a horse on the track. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff could not raise a successful premises liability claim because he should have anticipated the risk that comes with horse racing.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured as he was exercising his horse on the track. Evidently, a jockey lost control of his horse and it collided with the plaintiff, who was thrown to the ground and injured. The plaintiff brought a premises liability claim against the owners of the race track, arguing that the racetrack owner owed him a duty to keep him safe and that the condition at the racetrack caused his injuries.

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.

Although, commercial trucks are essential to interstate travel and critical to the economy, they present a significant risk to motorists. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were 2743 fatal truck and bus crashes in the United States in 2019. These accidents resulted in the deaths of over 3,000 people. Trucks and buses include vehicles such as 18-wheelers, coal trucks, semi-trucks, and cement trucks. The size of these vehicles, particularly when carrying a heavy load, makes them challenging to control, especially in inclement weather or navigating poorly maintained roadways. Additionally, these vehicles can often cause or contribute to chain-reaction accidents because they take almost twice as long to stop as other passenger vehicles.

Many truck accidents occur in Indiana because the state has long stretches of highways that serve as a significant pass-throughs for long-haul truckers. A majority of fatal Indiana truck accidents occur in Putnam County, Tipton County, and Wayne County, Indiana. Most Indiana truck and bus accidents involve more than one underlying cause; however, they typically involve similar factors. Some common causes of Indiana trucking accidents are the result of defective truck parts, speeding, driver inexperience, driver impairment, fatigue, and distracted driving. Further, many accidents are the result of drivers failing to abide by state traffic laws designed to prevent accidents, such as Indiana’s Move Over Laws.

For example, recently, a Porter County truck accident claimed the life of a 38-year-old man. According to a local news report, the man parked his Dodge Ram on the shoulder of a highway where construction workers were performing maintenance. As he stepped out of his car, a tractor-trailer, hauling 37,000 pounds of pork, drove onto the shoulder and slammed into the man’s car. The collision caused the truck to go down a ditch and slam into trees. The tractor-trailer continued to travel east, crossing through lanes, ultimately slamming into a median wall and bursting into flames. State police, in conjunction with several other agencies, are continuing to investigate the cause of the accident.

The Court of Appeals of Indiana issued an opinion addressing common issues that many residents face after falling at an apartment complex. The case stems from injuries a woman suffered after falling and hitting her head outside of her Indiana apartment. She filed a negligence lawsuit against the apartment complex and rental company, alleging that they were liable under Indiana’s premises liability laws. She argued that her injuries were a result of the company’s failure to keep public areas of the apartment complex free from dangerous hazards. At trial, the court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff appealed.

Under Indiana law, a lessee who wishes to recover from a negligent landlord must be able to establish that the landlord breached a duty that they owed to the tenant. Merely alleging that a fall took place is insufficient to prove that the landlord or property manager was negligent. Although inferential speculation is not enough to prove negligence, plaintiffs can overcome a summary judgment motion if they provide enough details to show a genuine issue of material fact that needs resolution. For the purposes of summary judgment, a material fact is one that is relevant to the ultimate resolution of a pertinent issue.

In this case, the plaintiff argued that she fell because the apartment complex failed to clear the public area of ice and snow. In support of her allegation, she provided testimony that indicated that the day she fell, “it was pretty cold,” and she noticed that the entry of her building looked “slippery and icy.” She further testified that a close-by service ramp did not look slippery; however, she fell as soon as she stepped onto the ramp. The defendants argued that the plaintiff’s inference that the ramp was slippery was based on inferential speculation. However, the appellate court found that the plaintiff’s observation of icy conditions creates a genuine issue of material fact. The appellate court ultimately reversed the trial court’s summary judgment order and remanded the case.

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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been tracking the spread of COVID-19, otherwise known as the novel coronavirus, throughout the United States. The CDC has focused its efforts on protecting the population most likely to suffer death because of exposure to the virus. These vulnerable populations include individuals who have underlying medical conditions, those over 65-years-old, and those residing in long-term care facilities. A recent news report describes the rapid spread of the disease in an Indiana nursing home, making the importance of containing the virus more abundantly clear. Nursing homes that do not appropriately protect their staff and residents may face liability for any ensuing damages.

According to another news report, as of a few weeks ago, there are approximately 150 nursing homes across 27 states that have at least one resident with coronavirus. Although the figure may seem like a small fraction of the total number of nursing homes in the United States, the rates of infections are rapidly growing. The virus poses serious threats to individuals at these facilities since most are experiencing the enumerated underlying conditions making them “high-risk.”

Recently, two Johnson County nursing homes reported that a number of their residents and staff have tested positive for COVID-19. One nursing home sent a number of their residents to a local hospital after the individuals reported symptoms of the virus. Reports revealed that the number of cases at the facility rose to 15, with eight individuals in the hospital, six in isolation, and the remaining still awaiting test results. Officials reprimanded the facilities for sending residents who were experiencing mild symptoms to the hospital. They criticized the facility for overburdening the hospital system instead of treating mild cases on-site.

The Indiana Product Liability Act (IPLA) provides injury victims with an avenue for relief against a manufacturer or seller of a defective product, for the physical harm caused by the product. The IPLA defines consumers as a buyer or any individual who uses the product or any reasonable bystander who suffer injuries because of the product. A manufacturer is an individual or entity that creates, assembles, constructs, or otherwise prepares a product or component before the sale to a consumer. The law requires that plaintiffs abide by the strict statute of limitations and repose to avoid dismissal.

Under Indiana law, plaintiffs must commence their product liability actions within two years after the cause of action accrues or within ten years after the delivery of the device to the original user. However, if the claim accrues at least eight years after but less than ten years of delivery, the action may be filed within two years after the claim accrues. There is a specific exception for asbestos-related claims, and plaintiffs will often try and carve out additional exceptions based on case law. However, these exceptions undergo strict analysis and require a thorough understanding of Indiana product liability laws.

For example, recently, the Indiana Supreme Court issued an opinion addressing a plaintiff’s request to apply an additional exception to the statute of repose. In that case, the plaintiff suffered injuries after using a defective machine at work. His employer purchased the product in 2003, which was over ten years before the plaintiff filed his lawsuit. The plaintiff and defendant agreed that the claim was time-barred, but the plaintiff argued that his claim falls within an exception. He cited previous court discussions that addressed instances when a product undergoes a transformation, in effect, creating a new product. The plaintiff contended that courts should determine the statute of limitations from the time a product undergoes a repair, refurbishment, or reconstruction. He reasoned that this transformation would render the product “new,” and as such, the clock should begin running from that time.

Recently, an Indiana high appeals court issued an opinion hinging on the scope of governmental immunity. In this case, an accident victim tried to sue an Indiana state trooper after they were involved in an accident. The state trooper was not on duty when the accident occurred but was driving a state police-issued vehicle, commonly called a “commission.” As such, the state trooper argued that he was not liable under the Indiana Tort Claims Act (ITCA). On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the office was personally responsible as his acts were “clearly outside the scope” of his employment.

Here, the state police issued the trooper his commission, which was subject to police standard operating procedures (SOP). The SOP provided guidelines for operating the vehicle when the vehicle was on or off-duty and during emergency and non-emergency situations. The SOP requires troopers to maintain radio contact even while off-duty, avoid violating traffic laws, unless necessary, and respond to emergency situations. Further, the SOP authorized troopers to use their commission, on a minimal basis, for their transportation.

On the day of the accident, the trooper completed his shift, went home to shower, and left in his commission to go to his son’s baseball game. While he was driving southbound to his son’s game, he attempted to pass the vehicle in front of him by crossing into the northbound lane. As he transitioned to the opposite lane, he saw a motorcycle approaching and quickly moved back into his lane. However, the motorcycle driver did not have enough time to slow down and ended up abruptly locking his brakes, which caused his vehicle to roll over and eject both he and his passenger. In response to the motorcyclist’s personal injury claim, the trooper argued that he was immune under the ITCA, because he was within the scope of his employment.

Individuals who suffer injuries in Indiana trucking accidents often face challenges determining the liable parties. Many people do not know that in addition to the negligent truck driver, there may be other individuals or entities who contributed to the accident and the victim’s injuries. Indiana trucking accident victims should seek damages from all potentially liable parties to ensure that they receive the maximum amount of compensation they deserve.

In commercial trucking accident lawsuits, defendants may include the truck driver, the trucking company, a business that commissioned the delivery, and anyone responsible for the truck’s parts or trailers. Truck drivers may be liable for their negligence in instances where they were speeding, distracted, fatigued, or otherwise operating their vehicle in an unsafe manner. Holding the trucking company and other related entities liable requires a thorough understanding of Indiana vicarious liability laws.

Vicarious liability is a type of secondary liability that imposes responsibility on the truck driver’s employer. The employer, frequently referred to as the principal, is liable for the negligence or actions of their employee, the agent. Trucking employers may be responsible if the employee was working under the employer’s direction, the employer possessed the authority to control the employee’s actions, and the employee’s behaviors occurred during the course and scope of employment.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), researches car and trucking accidents, compiles statistics, publishes findings, and provides the public with traffic safety resources. According to these agencies, the country has seen a steady increase in trucking accidents. These accidents can have severe and longstanding injuries for Indiana motorists, passengers, and pedestrians. Those that have suffered injuries in an Indiana trucking accident should understand the common causes of trucking accidents and who may be liable for their damages.

According to the FMCSA and NHTSA, most serious truck accidents include similar negligent behavior; however, many accidents have more than one contributing factor. The five most common reasons for truck accidents are driver fatigue, drug and alcohol use, driver error, speeding, and distraction.

Fatigue is the most common cause of Indiana trucking accidents because many truckers drive for many hours with limited rest. Truck drivers often suffer from fatigue because of their employer’s demand for, often unreasonable, fast delivery turnarounds in combination with trending consumer expectations. Many drivers turn to stimulants and other substances to meet these expectations and manage stress. However, the consequences of alcohol and drug use can be disastrous to other motorists. Further, many Indiana trucking companies fail to adequately train their drivers and teach them how to inspect and maintain their trucks. Untrained and inexperienced truck drivers operating large vehicles pose serious dangers to the public. Finally, distracted driving is a common cause of Indiana trucking accidents. These drivers often spend many long hours on the road, and they will often engage in risky behavior to take their mind off of driving and quell their boredom. Some drivers will look at their phones to visit social media or text their friends and family. Even some innocuous behaviors, such as reaching for something, can cause serious accidents.

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