Your ordinary, everyday car crash can be a confusing and terrifying experience. However, a car crash involving an emergency vehicle on the other side can cause several issues with your case even if you do not think you were the party at fault for the crash. There are four main pieces of Indiana law that you should be aware of in the event you are injured or suffer property damage in a crash involving an emergency vehicle.
- The State of Indiana Has Decided it Cannot Be Sued in Every Situation:
The Indiana Tort Claims Act, Indiana Code Section 34-13-3, states that governmental entities like police departments, governmental buildings, fire departments, and other government employees who are acting within the scope of their employment can be held liable for injuries they cause to others but only in certain situations. The Act lists several situations where a governmental entity cannot be held liable, including temporary road or property conditions caused by weather, the performing of a “discretionary function” (one involving judgment or a policy-related decision), and highway or road design or maintenance as long as the road is in a reasonably safe condition. An entire list of the situations where an Indiana governmental entity cannot be held liable is listed under Indiana Code Section 34-13-3-3. Luckily claims arising from car crashes with a government-owned vehicle is a situation that the state allows us to sue a governmental entity.
- You Have Time Limitations that Must be Met in Order to Pursue Your Case:
Depending on whether you are pursuing a case against a state government entity or a local, county, and other municipal government entities in Indiana, there are different presuit requirements you must meet before filing a lawsuit. If making a claim against the actual state government of Indiana, you must make your claim within 270 days pursuant to Indiana Code Section 34-13-3. If making a claim against a local or municipal governmental agency (like a police or fire department), you are obligated to file a notice with both the government body being sued and the Indiana political subdivision risk management commission within 180 days of the date of the injury. Failure to abide by the time limitations above will result in the claim being rejected and ultimately barred, meaning you will no longer have a right to sue or make a claim against the governmental entity. See Indiana Code Section 34-13-3-8.
- You Are Limited in the Amounts Recoverable As a Result of the Crash:
Not only are you governed by time limitations as listed above when pursuing a case against the governmental entity in Indiana, but you are also limited in the amounts that are recoverable. For injuries or deaths that occur after January 1, 2008, damages are capped at $700,000.00 according to Indiana Code 34-13-3-4(1)(C). In addition, an injured person is barred from seeking punitive damages in a claim against a governmental entity in Indiana.
- If You Contributed to Causing the Crash You May Be Barred from Recovery:
In most car crash cases in Indiana, the case will be governed by the legal principle of comparative fault. Comparative fault means that even if you contributed to causing a car crash, you will still be able to recover if your fault does not exceed 50% as determined by a jury. However, in cases involving a governmental entity in Indiana, the comparative fault standard is replaced by the rule of contributory negligence. The legal theory of contributory negligence means that if the other side shows that you were in any way at fault, no matter how small the percentage, you will not be entitled to damages.
If you are injured in a car crash involving an emergency or governmental vehicle it is imperative to discuss your potential case with an attorney who has experience filing these types of claims and litigating against governmental entities. The attorneys at the Law Office of William W. Hurst, LLC, have successfully litigated cases against governmental entities. A head-on crash with an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department vehicle as well as a flipped vehicle resulting from the negligence of a municipal school corporation employee are just some of the scenarios our firm has been successful in pursuing for our clients. We have extensive experience preserving evidence from the crash to establish liability on the part of the state employee, collecting witness statements and other evidence to rebut arguments from the state when it attempts to shift blame to our clients, as well as the experience and tools to effectively negotiate with the state to achieve the best results.
If you have been injured in a car crash involving an emergency vehicle or other government-owned vehicle, call the Law Office of William W. Hurst, LLC, for a free case consultation at 317-636-0808 or visit our website at www.billhurst.com.