Quickly Developing Icy Road Conditions Were Sufficient Evidence to Support Sudden Emergency Instruction in Negligence Action.

The defendant’s vehicle crashed into the back of plaintiffs’ vehicle while she was attempting to stop in traffic on an icy road. The plaintiffs filed a negligence action against the defendant, and the trial court gave a sudden emergency instruction to the jury. The jury found in favor of defendant, and the plaintiffs appealed. On appeal, the court affirmed, ruling that the trial court had not abused its discretion in giving the sudden emergency instruction. The instruction was proper where (1) the defendant must not have created or brought about the emergency through his own negligence; (2) the danger or peril confronting the defendant must appear to be so imminent as to leave no time for deliberation; and (3) the defendant's apprehension of the peril must itself be reasonable. The court noted that the sudden emergency doctrine was not an affirmative defense, but rather a circumstance to be considered. The evidence supported the issuance of the instruction because the weather was warm when the defendant began her journey. She did not realize the conditions were icy until she was unable to stop.  Darland v. Rupp, No. 06A04-1308-PL-403, 2014 Ind. App. Unpub. LEXIS 494 (Ind. Ct. App. Apr. 14, 2014)