The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court in the case of City of Indianapolis v. Bushman (pdf). This case centered around the proper application of IC 34-13-3-10 which, as a prerequisite to a lawsuit against a political subdivision based on a tort, requires the person to provide the political subdivision with a notice of the person’s intent to sue. The notice must:
describe in a short and plain statement the facts on which the claim is based. The statement must include the circumstances which brought about the loss, the extent of the loss, the time and place the loss occurred, the names of all persons involved if known, the amount of the damages sought, and the residence of the person making the claim at the time of the loss and at the time of filing the notice.
In particular, the court was concerned with the requirement that the statement include “the extent of the loss.” The plaintiff in this case had timely provided a notice, but unfortunately for her, the notice said:
Damage: Rear Bumper and side panels damaged, see estimate from Sam Swope. No injuries.
The notice was, therefore, insufficient to allow the plaintiff to proceed with a lawsuit for personal injuries.
To my knowledge, there is no penalty for submitting notices of tort claim that that make wild claims of injury with no basis in fact. This demonstrates that a plaintiff can suffer if he or she is too conservative with assessments of injury. I expect future notices of tort claim to more often include kitchen-sink allegations of injury, regardless of the plaintiff’s honest assessment.