Two Recent Wrongful Death Cases Brought Against INDOT
It’s not every day that a wrongful death case is brought against the state government concerning a fatal traffic accident. In the past few months, we have had two cases brought against INDOT—the Indiana Department of Transportation.
Case #1: Failure to Properly Maintain the Roadway
In December, 2014, a man was driving his truck near Trafalgar, Indiana, on State Road 135 when he was hit head-on by a truck coming from the opposite direction in his lane. The man died; his son, who was riding with him, was seriously injured, as was the driver of the other truck. The widow of the man killed is now suing INDOT, alleging that the department’s failure to maintain the road properly is the reason for the accident.
The suit, filed in Johnson County in December, 2016, claims that the section of road in question has a history of accidents and that INDOT knew that safety improvements were needed. The particular improvements in question involved center-line rumble strips (which alert a driver that he has crossed the center line into another lane), widening the roadway, banking the road’s curve properly, and putting up warning signs at the curve where the fatal crash occurred. Not taking care of these safety measures, the widow has claimed, could be considered the proximate, or likely, cause of her husband’s death.
While INDOT has refused to comment on the case (which is standard operating procedure when it comes to lawsuits), the state has improved the area since the crash. Center-line rumble strips have been installed between Morgantown and Bargersville. The lawyer for the widow claims that the rumble strips might have saved the husband’s life by alerting the other driver in time to swerve back.
The suit, operating under the two-year statutory limit, was filed just short of the deadline to enable the collection of evidence. The plaintiff and her two sons are seeking unspecified damages.
Case #2: It’s Complicated
A Wisconsin man died during August, 2014, in a Hoosier Heartland Corridor interchange crash just south of Logansport in a two-vehicle crash. The plaintiff, the daughter of the man, has filed a case against INDOT, Primco Inc., and United Consulting Engineers Inc., alleging the wrongful death of her father.
In the suit, it is claimed that INDOT and the two companies were negligent in the design, construction, engineering, marking, and maintenance of the stretch of road in question. However, Sherriff Randy Pryor of Cass County said that the toxicology results for the driver who died revealed a blood alcohol content level of 0.19, which is over twice the legal limit of 0.08. Thus, there appears to be fault on both sides. It is worth noting that INDOT does not have blanket immunity from lawsuits.
Since the opening in October, 2013, of the four-intersection interchange, 63 crashes have occurred, with two of them fatal. But INDOT has made some safety improvements to the interchange since the accident, including bigger stop signs with flashing lights, as well as the additions of rumble strips, overhead beacons, and small concrete islands to guide traffic flow.
INDOT did not comment on the case.
When something goes wrong we are left to wonder…
Wrongful death claims can be costly to pursue, and many law firms are not in a position to effectively reach a resolution in these cases. You can be assured that our lawyers, and our financial resources, are willing to go the distance on behalf of you and your family. Our investigative team at McNeely Stephenson goes to work immediately to uncover the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’ and ‘how’. We are committed to bringing together the most qualified experts available, irrespective of cost, to uncover what happened. Your experts will come from around the world if necessary. Wrongful death lawsuits can be complex, and the proficiency of your experts is crucial in both the investigation and litigation phases of your claim.
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