ILNews

Woman’s tort claim notice insufficient

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A trial court improperly granted summary judgment to a woman on whether her notice to the city of Indianapolis was sufficient to inform it of a potential personal injury claim, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

In City of Indianapolis v. Rachel Buschman, 49A02-1108-CT-782, the city of Indianapolis on interlocutory appeal claimed that the tort claim notice Rachel Buschman provided following an accident with a city police officer was insufficient. Buschman was rear-ended by the officer on July 25, 2008; on Aug. 1, she submitted her tort claim notice to the city. In it, she described the damage and said “no injuries.”

Less than a year later she sued the city, alleging as a result of its negligence she suffered personal injuries, including pain in her lower body and back and herniation of lumbar discs. The city contended that her claims were barred because her tort claim notice didn’t include information about personal injuries.

Buschman argued that at the time she mailed her notice, she only had soreness and didn’t believe she had an injury. It was later that she decided to seek medical treatment. The trial court concluded the notice was sufficient as a matter of law.

The Court of Appeals reversed because the notice contained an explicit denial of injuries so the city had no reason to investigate a personal injury claim or anticipate a claim for medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering, wrote Judge Michael Barnes. The judges rejected her claim that the purpose of the statute was fulfilled because the city knew of her intent to make a claim and they could investigate the specifics of the accident to prepare a defense.

“[W]e hold that, when a claimant’s notice contains a specific and definitive assessment of loss, his or her recovery is limited to the loss described in the original notice. Alternatively, if, as is the case here, additional losses are discovered after the notice has been submitted, we see no reason why the claimant could not amend the original notice or submit another notice in a timely manner,” he wrote.

The judges remanded for further proceedings.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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