Two years after a man was killed in a crash, his family has filed a wrongful death suit against the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT). The suit claims that INDOT, United Consulting Engineers (which designed the interchange where the crash happened), and Primco, Inc. (which completed the actual construction) were negligent. The suit also claims their conduct led to the death of Edward Jones.
Early Morning Fatal Crash
The report described the crash as occurring when Jones left the highway at the Burlington Avenue exit ramp, ran a stop sign, and collided with another vehicle crossing the intersection. Jones’ minivan rolled and he died at the scene. The other driver was hospitalized. That section of highway had been open for less than a year. In that time, there had already been several crashes near that location.
Possible Fault on Both Sides?
The suit against INDOT and the other parties specifically claims that their roles in the design, engineering, construction, marking, and maintenance of the stretch of the Hoosier Heartland Highway (US 24/35) near Logansport was negligent, and that their actions caused “bodily injuries, pain, suffering, and ultimately death.”
The design of that stretch of highway has been criticized before and since. After the crash that killed Jones, INDOT made numerous changes to improve safety at that particular interchange. The upgrades included upgrading to larger stop signs with flashing lights, adding “stop ahead” signs, installing rumble strips and overhead beacons, and placing small concrete islands intended to modify traffic flow in some locations.
The level of responsibility of the victim is sure to come up in this case. The toxicology report released after the crash by the Cass County Sheriff, Jones had a blood alcohol content level of 0.19 percent.
State Exposure to Claims
In many cases, suing the government in a case like this is an uphill battle. Government entities and the individuals who work for them are generally protected from lawsuits under a wide range of circumstances. Roads and highways, in fact, are specifically exempted (provided that they were designed more than twenty years before the incident that caused harm).
However, there’s some chance that this case could move forward, and even succeed. INDOT doesn’t have blanket immunity from such lawsuits.
Wrongful Death Lawyers in Indiana
When someone has died as a result of the negligence of others, a wrongful death claim may be filed. A lawsuit may help repair the financial and emotional burdens caused by a loved one’s death. It can also help improve safety and security for everyone by holding the negligent parties responsible.
Wilson Kehoe Winingham has years of experience pursuing wrongful death claims for our clients. If you need help understanding the process ahead or deciding whether this is the correct action to take, give us a call at 317-920-6400 today. As always, we offer a free consultation. You can also contact us online at any time to have someone reach out to you at your convenience.