A deadly accident involving multiple teenagers left one dead late last
week. 17-year-old Savannah Land was thrown from a Ford Edge in which she
was a passenger. She later died at IU Health Methodist Hospital.
The driver of the other vehicle, Angel Martin of Greenfield says she did
not stop at a stop sign at the intersection of County Roads 200 North
and 600 West. Witnesses corroborate the 18-year-old’s statement,
though at this time it is unclear why she did not stop. Both Martin and
Kellie Wagner, 49, experienced minor injuries. The investigation into
this accident is ongoing.
Seatbelt Usage Has Dropped in Indiana
In the case of this accident, Savannah Land was not wearing a seatbelt
at the time of the accident. Though certainly not advised, many Indiana
residents do not consistently wear appropriate safety restraints, especially
on rural roads. Seatbelt usage in Indiana (90%) remains higher than the
national average (87%), but it has slipped somewhat over the last few
years according to
crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
As with Savannah Land, more than half of teens aged 13-19 and adults 20-44
who die in car crashes are not wearing a seatbelt or appropriate safety
restraint each year nationwide. Without a doubt, seatbelts are the most
effective way of reducing serious injury and death in vehicle accidents.
Depending on the type of vehicle and the location of a person in the vehicle,
seatbelts can reduce the risk of fatal injury anywhere from 45% –
65%. In some states, failure to wear a seatbelt can prevent an accident
victim from recovering damages for their injuries. Indiana, however, is
not one of those states.
Indiana’s Comparative Fault Act
The Comparative Fault Act became law in 1985. It allows the victim of a
motor vehicle accident to recover damages, even if they are apportioned
some fault for the crash. The caveat is that the damages are reduced proportionally.
Prior to the Comparative Fault Act, a victim who was found to be at fault
in any way was barred from compensation completely, even if their degree
of fault was minor.
The Comparative Fault Act means a momentary glance at a text message or
a failure to wear a seatbelt will be looked at in comparison to the actions
of the other involved driver. Based on the details of a specific case,
fact-finders apportion fault and damages are awarded accordingly. For
example, if damages are found to be $100,000 but the claimant is found
to be 15% at fault for the accident, they are entitled to $85,000 in damages.
This ensures that those who are grossly negligent do not sidestep liability
for serious injuries to another human being.
If you have been injured in an accident, even if feel you may have been
at fault in some way, you are not barred from recovering damages. The
other driver’s insurance company will no doubt try to emphasize
your role in the accident, but the
vehicle accident attorneys at Wagner Reese are ready to fight on your behalf. Call us today for a
completely free initial consultation: (888) 204-8440.