Wrongful Death Lawsuit: INDOT Liable for Fatal Indiana Crash

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.

This failure to act, the plaintiff alleges, was the proximate cause of her husband’s death.

Officials with INDOT declined to comment on the case, as is standard when it comes to pending litigation. More information will come to light during the discovery phase of the litigation, assuming the state chooses not to settle, and the case continues toward the trial phase.

The plaintiff is requesting unspecified damages for the plaintiff and her two sons.

An attorney for the plaintiff notes that while the family is seeking compensation for economic and non-economic damages, it’s critically important to them that the state undertake necessary safety improvements so that this kind of tragedy doesn’t befall yet another family. According to police reports, this particular stretch of road – between Trafalgar and State Road 44 –  has been the site of dozens of crashes since 2004. At least 12 drivers have been killed during that time frame.

The state has undertaken a few improvements since that 2014 crash. Center line rumble strips were installed between Bargersville and Morgantown. These devices give an alert to the driver that the vehicle they are operating has crossed over to the opposite lane. The express purpose is to help prevent a head-on car accident, like the one that claimed this man’s life. The plaintiff’s lawyer says if those same rumble strips had been in place two years earlier, after so many other deadly crashes, the plaintiff’s husband might have lived.

In addition, the plaintiff says the state should have properly banked or contoured the road. There was also no effort to upgrade or widen the road, despite its history of crashes. To do so would have been an exercise in reasonable care to keep the roadway in a reasonably safe condition for motorists.

An insurance claim against the other truck driver has already been settled, with no need for litigation, resulting in the plaintiff receiving an undisclosed sum, although the driver conceded no liability for the crash.

The lawsuit was filed just inside the two-year window provided by the statute of limitations for Indiana wrongful death claims.

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:

Lawsuit claims INDOT responsible for fatal crash, Dec. 13, 2016, By Jacob Tellers, Daily Journal

More Blog Entries:

Rogers v. Martin – Indiana Supreme Court Weighs Duty of Care for Party Hosts, Nov. 16, 2016, Highland Wrongful Death Attorney Blog

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