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Statement in tort claim does not prevent woman from trying to recover for injuries

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Even though a woman originally stated she did not suffer any injuries after her vehicle was rear ended by a police car, the Indiana Supreme Court has ruled she can file a subsequent complaint against the municipality and the police department for personal injuries.

In City of Indianapolis v. Rachael Buschman, 49S02-1201-CT-598, the Supreme Court examined the amended statute pertaining to the Indiana Tort Claims Act and concluded the Legislature intentionally removed any requirement pertaining to specifying personal injuries. It affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in Buschman’s favor and remanded for further proceedings.

“It may well be true, as the City argues, that ‘public and legislative policy support requiring notice to political subdivision of the nature of the injury to allow them to investigate and prepare defenses,’ …and that Buschman could have amended her claim once she discovered her injuries,” Justice Mark Massa wrote for the court. “The statute, however, requires neither notice ‘of the nature of the injury’ nor an amended notice. If the legislature wishes to impose either or both of these requirements, it is free to do so. We, however, are not.”

Rachael Buschman was hit by an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer in July 2008. In submitting a tort claim notice to the city of Indianapolis, she included a statement that she had not sustained any injuries as a result of the automobile accident.

However, in July 2010, Buschman and her husband filed a complaint against the city and IMPD alleging she had suffered personal injuries because of the officer’s negligence.

The trial court granted the Buschmans’ motion for summary judgment.

On appeal, the city argued Buschman’s original tort claim did not comply with the requirement of the Indiana Tort Claims Act because it noted she has suffered no injuries.

The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed. It reversed the trial court, finding Buschman’s notice did not substantially comply with the requirements of the ITCA.

However, the Supreme Court found Buschman complied with the requirements outlined in Collier V. Prater, 544 N.E.2nd 497, 498 (Ind. 1989): The notice was filed timely, it informed the city that she intended to pursue a claim and it contained details about the accident.

“Although the notice also stated ‘No injuries,’ we note the statute no longer requires any statement regarding injuries, and we do not believe the General Assembly intended to penalize claimants for including information – even information that is ultimately found to be inaccurate – beyond what the statute requires,” Massa wrote.


 

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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