If you have been injured in an Indiana truck accident, it is important to hire an experienced Indiana truck accident attorney who can help you get the compensation that you deserve. An experienced truck accident lawyer is one who will be able to obtain the most important compensation for you. Your attorney will fight for your rights and file any necessary paperwork and claims with the courts and insurance companies. It is also important to hire a truck accident attorney who charges reasonable fees for the services offered. Often in the personal injury law world, the attorneys are paid via a contingency fee, which means, that you don’t pay if you don’t win.
Truck Accidents Can Cause Serious Damage
A truck accident can cause serious damage to your vehicle as well as physical injury. Before proceeding, it may help if you understand the common causes, injuries, and what damages you may be able to recover. Truck accidents can result in serious injuries, including traumatic brain damage, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and whiplash. In some cases, trucks carry flammable goods like fuel, in which case an accident may cause a fire and result in burns.
A car driver may also experience internal injuries to organs like the kidneys, lungs, and spleen. These may occur due to sudden impact, often from the airbag or steering wheel column coming into contact with the abdomen. If the other driver’s negligence was to blame for the incident, a truck accident attorney can help you file a claim to get the compensation you deserve. Before proceeding, it may help if you understand the common causes, injuries, and what damages you may be able to recover.
What Happens at a Meeting with a Truck Accident Attorney
When you first meet with a truck accident attorney, it is important to know what to discuss so that you can get the best possible compensation. All lawyers listed should have personally represented at least five other semi-truck accidents with successful settlements (all settlement or verdict) to this date. Each lawyer must be accredited and in good standing with the state for at least ten years. The specific amount of compensation that is received depends on several factors such as the gravity of the accident, the extent of injuries suffered, the degree of fault on the part of the driver, etc. All other aspects of the case are also taken into consideration, including the age, gender, and experience of the injured party, the number of medical bills incurred, the financial impact on the injured party’s life, the emotional stress caused by the accident, and the pain and suffering endured, as well as the property damage that resulted from the accident.
Truck Accident Statistics
About every 15 minutes, a person is killed or seriously injured in an accident caused by tractor-trailers, also called 18-wheelers or big rigs or semi-trucks. As a matter of speaking, around 500,000 trucking accidents occur each year in the United States, with about 5,000 per year resulting in death. In 2008,
- 123,918 large trucks and 13,263 buses were involved in non-fatal crashes
- 49,084 large trucks and 7,123 buses were involved in injury crashes
- 2,609 large trucks and 11 buses were involved in hazmat (HM) placard crashes
Sixty-eight percent of all fatal truck accidents happened not in cities, but in rural regions. More than half of all fatal truck accidents occurred during the day, and almost 80% occurred on weekends. Surprisingly, the majority of large truck crashes occur when the weather is clear and the roads dry (71%).
Large trucks are much more likely to be involved in a fatal multi-vehicle crash than are passenger vehicles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that in crashes involving large trucks and other vehicles, 98% of the fatalities occur to the people in passenger vehicles.
Over 25 percent of all fatal tractor-trailer accidents are caused by truck drivers who have had at least one prior speeding conviction prior to the fatal accident. Fatal crashes involving large trucks continue to increase and are often due to driver fatigue, unsafe or careless operation of the commercial vehicle, improper loading that causes the rig to be unstable, or simply poor vehicle maintenance or defective brakes or other equipment.
Examples of truck defects are:
- Problems with tires or wheels
- Brake-related crashes
- Engine/transmission problems
- Defective steering wheels
Nearly 700 truck drivers and their passengers are killed each year. Also, nearly 3,700 passengers in cars and other motor vehicles are killed annually in collisions with heavy trucks.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued warnings to groups who use 15-seat passenger vans regarding the dangers of putting an inexperienced driver behind the wheel and at the same time fully loading these vans with cargo and passengers. The NHTSA also defines 15-passenger vans as large trucks, and it is recommended that only people with experience driving large trucks should be behind the wheel. The Federal Motor Carrier Standards Act classifies a large truck as a truck that has a gross vehicle weight rating that exceeds 10,000 pounds.
What Are Some Common Causes of Truck Accidents?
Truckers spend long hours behind the wheel, so fatigue is often the reason for truck accidents. Other driver-related causes may include distracted driving—such as texting while on the road—and alcohol and drugs.
The truck operator may have received insufficient training—drivers are required to take a certain number of hours of courses—for driving the vehicle. Irresponsible driving habits like speeding or improper passing can also result in accidents. If the truck’s cargo isn’t secured properly, the materials could fall out and create a hazard for motorists behind the commercial vehicle.
Due to their size and the relatively long time it takes to slow or stop a semi, it is easy to see how the driver of a small passenger car would likely suffer injuries in a semi crash. Semi truck crashes can happen for all of the same reasons as other vehicle collisions. However, there are a few types of truck accidents that are among the most common. In the experience of our attorneys, the following list comprises some of the most common causes of semi truck accidents:
Driver error on the part of a trucker accounts for a significant percentage of all truck accidents. This category includes crashes caused by a speeding driver, a driver who fails to check a blind spot before switching lanes, and driver confusion.
Truck drivers work long hours and they have demanding schedules. The hours they drive are limited by the law. However, many drivers continue behind the wheel when they are exhausted or otherwise should be resting. Long-haul drivers may be in a cab for days or weeks at a time. There’s little to break up the monotony of the road. This can lead a driver to lose focus on the road and to ignore safe driving techniques, causing a crash.
Driving Under the Influence
It is illegal in every state to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A CDL holder in Indiana is held to a higher standard than the holder of a general operator’s license. CDL operators have increased BAC requirements, which results in the CDL holder with little alcohol in their system. This is the result of the size, weight, and force of a semi-truck. Left uncontrolled, these increases make them an inherent danger to others on the road. There’s a need for the utmost safety. Drivers who operate a semi under the influence pose an extreme danger to themselves and everyone else on the road.
Failing to Secure Loads
Trucks in the Indianapolis area are often hauling trailers that are full of products. Big or small, this product needs to be properly packed and secured so the weight is distributed across the truck. Failure to properly distribute the weight makes it more likely that a truck will cause an accident. This is especially true when turning or when trying to stop. When a product is not properly tied down or stored on a flatbed trailer, it can fly off the trailer and into the path of another vehicle, causing that other vehicle to crash.
Low Filled Liquid Loads
Many semi-truck trailers are designed to transport liquids, including gas and oil. These tanks can hold a certain amount of liquid before they are full. However, leaving the hold partially full can be more dangerous than you may realize. If a trailer has less than ¾ fill, the liquid can splash around inside the trailer and cause the truck to sway back and forth, especially with turns or changes in speed. A sudden movement can cause a shift in the liquid, causing the driver to lose control, and force a causing a truck rollover accident to occur.
One of the deadliest types of crashes in Chicago is a rear-end semi-truck crash. This can occur when a semi-truck driver fails to slow or stop their vehicle in time to prevent a crash with a car in front of them. The truck strikes the rear of the car, often with significant force. A car is not capable of taking this heavy of an impact and will likely crumble. All vehicle occupants are at risk for injuries in the event of a rear-end crash. However, backseat passengers, who are often children, have a particularly high risk of injury or death.
Whether turning right or left, large commercial trucks make wider turns than standard passenger vehicles. This is a result of:
- Limited turning radius
However, this wider turning radius does not give a truck a right to turn as wide as they please and cross other lanes of traffic. Trucks still have to remain in their lane of traffic while turning and to exercise due care for others in the area. Failure to do so may result in a crash.
It is no secret that while there are many truck drivers that focus on the road and nothing else while they drive, there are other drivers that do not take this approach. As there are improvements made in modern technology and advances continue to improve, there are more and more truck drivers that devices such as :
- Cell phones
All of these devices can be a source of distraction. Aside from technological distractions, activities such as eating behind the wheel, conversing with a passenger, or even blasting tunes on the radio can be a distraction. There are many trucking companies with rules governing driver behavior while at the helm of a company vehicle. With that in mind, it is incumbent on an individual driver to fully comply with company rules, regulations, and any local and federal laws.
Lack of Training
With the demand for truck drivers being so high, sometimes commercial truck companies do not do enough to train and check on their drivers’ skills. This can lead to dangerous and severe accidents, especially since trucks are so heavy and large
Lack of Maintenance
Trucking companies and owners are required by law to maintain their vehicles and keep them in a condition that ensures safety. However, there are costs and time involved in maintaining semi and commercial trucks. This cuts into profits and time that could be used to make deliveries. Thus, poorly maintained trucks are one of the biggest causes of truck accidents in Illinois.
What Are the Possible Injuries from a Truck Accident
Truck accidents can result in serious injuries, including traumatic brain damage, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and whiplash. In some cases, trucks carry flammable goods like fuel, in which case an accident may cause a fire and result in burns. A car driver may also experience internal injuries to organs like the kidneys, lungs, and spleen. These potential injuries may occur due to sudden impact, often from the airbag or steering wheel column coming into contact with the abdomen. Let’s discuss this more in-depth.
Back and Neck Injuries
Back and neck injuries are extremely common with truck accidents because of the rapid back and forth motion that occurs when a car is hit. These injuries can include spinal cord injuries, whiplash, and dislocated discs. Complications can arise because of these injuries as well, leading to paralysis and life-ling pain.
Broken Bones, Bruises, and Lacerations
Broken bones, cuts, scrapes, and bruises are all very common after these types of accidents. They may occur alongside a more serious injury, although they can create their own serious complications. Lacerations may require stitches and a broken bone may require surgery. These injuries can also lead to complications like infection, left untreated could result in an amputation!
Head injuries, like traumatic brain injuries, can occur during a truck accident. One may experience a concussion or a late onset of symptoms. You should always be checked by a doctor after a major accident, especially if you’re feeling any symptoms, like dizziness or confusion. Head injuries can result in complications such as brain death, vegetative state, coma, or death.
Because truck accidents can be so severe, they can cause death at the scene or during treatment of one’s injuries. If someone you love died because of a truck accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.
In Indiana, there are several laws that govern how to compensate people who suffer personal injury or property damage as a result of auto collisions. The most common law is the No-Fault Law, which requires that drivers must have reasonable cause to believe that they were notifying their driver of a defect that could have caused the accident. If the driver was not doing so, they cannot be held liable for damages. The driver of the other vehicle can be held liable if he failed to take reasonable precautions. In order for a settlement to be upheld in this instance, the defendant must prove that there was a problem that actually caused the accident. These cases are very common, as many people are involved in accidents that result in significant medical bills and property damage.
Semi-Truck Accidents are Extremely Common
Semi-truck accidents are among A car and truck crash the most common types of accidents, and they often result in catastrophic injuries and severe property damage. As a result, many people seek the advice of experienced semi-truck accident attorneys. They will examine the details of the case and determine whether or not a case can be easily won. Attorneys will carefully analyze all details of the case and make sure that the settlement will benefit all parties involved.
Who is Liable for a Truck Accident
Determining liability is a little bit different in a truck accident case compared to a passenger vehicle car accident case. Because there are many different parties that can be liable (driver, trucking company, manufacturer, loaders), it can be much harder to determine who was actually negligent in causing your accident. In some cases, there can be multiple liable parties, also known as third-party liability.
How is a Truck Driver Liable
If the truck driver was acting with negligence, they could be liable for your case. That can look like texting while driving, speeding, driving under the influence, driving while fatigued or exhausted, or driving recklessly.
How are Trucking Companies Liable
If the trucking company is liable it could be because they didn’t properly train the driver, they instructed the driver to ignore trucking regulations, or overscheduled the driver. They could have passed on safety evaluations or even mistakenly or intentionally skipped scheduled maintenance. Finally, a trucking company will often be liable under a theory of agency, as the driver was its employee.
The manufacturer of the truck, trailer, or certain parts could be held liable if the accident was caused by a defect. This is something that should have been caught in safety testing by the manufacturer. On the flip side, if the part was recalled and the trucking company continued to use it, that would be considered the fault of the trucking company.
Trucks have to be loaded a specific way in order to spread the weight out properly. If the weight isn’t distributed properly, this could cause an accident. Certain measures are also required to ensure loads are properly secured to the trailer, which if done improperly, can cause an accident. In these cases, it would be the fault of the loading company and anyone who was in charge of checking the load to make sure it was safe before the driver started their trip.
How is Compensation Determined
Economic damages will help to cover your medical bills, including any surgery costs, ambulance rides, hospital visits, therapy, or other medical treatment you may have needed. You can also recover damages for any wages you lost while you were out of work or any wages you may lose in the future because of your injury. You can also claim damages for necessary in-home care, like childcare.
Non-economic damages refer to compensation that you receive for pain and suffering, permanent disability or disfigurement, loss of consortium, loss of earning capacity, and more. These damages are calculated based on the amount that your life has changed and what you’ve had to go through because of your accident. These damages change from person to person, but your attorney can help you figure out what you should expect. If you are left with a permanent disability or disfigurement from your accident, you may be able to receive additional compensation. If you’re unable to perform your job because of your injury, you could receive additional compensation for lost earning capacity as well.
If you are a driver, you may be able to recover damages from the driver of the other car if they are found at fault. However, in order for your insurance company to provide you with any financial assistance after a crash, you will need to contact an experienced truck accident attorney. Your accident lawyer will contact the auto insurance company lawyers and determine whether or not the claim is valid. In order to obtain the most competitive compensation possible, you will want to have a lawyer who is well versed in the process. Not only will the attorney help you obtain the most compensation possible, but he or she will also be on your side in the courtroom. Your lawyer will fight for your rights and make sure that the accident gets resolved as quickly as possible.
People involved in accidents involving large trucks will find that contacting an experienced truck crash attorney is essential. It is important to remember that when you are filing a personal injury claim or a lawsuit against the driver of another vehicle, you do not have to settle with the first lawyer you meet with. If you are injured in a crash, you should not accept any settlement without talking with multiple experienced attorneys. It is important that you keep in mind that you never have to take any less than the amount you can get as a settlement because your truck accident attorney will fight for your compensation.