Commercial vehicle accidents are a serious problem in Indiana. According to a 2017 study published by the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, almost 17,000 traffic collisions reported in the state that year involved commercial vehicles. Over 12% of these collisions resulted in injury, and almost 87% resulted in property damage.
Semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles are much bigger and heavier than passenger cars, so the potential for serious injuries and fatalities is much higher.
In addition, it takes them a longer time to stop, they are more difficult to maneuver, and have large blind spots that can make them more prone to accidents. Our Fishers commercial vehicle accident lawyers can help if you have been injured in an accident with one of these vehicles.
What Is a Commercial Vehicle?
Our Fishers personal injury lawyers are often asked “what exactly is a commercial vehicle?“. A commercial vehicle can be considered to be any type of motorized vehicle used for business purposes. This includes semi-trucks, buses, delivery trucks and vans, tow trucks, utility vehicles, tankers, and other large vehicles.
However, determining whether a vehicle is classed as a commercial vehicle in the eyes of the law also depends on other factors:
- The weight or weight rating of the vehicle
- The weight or weight rating of any vehicles being towed
- Whether the vehicle is intended to transport passengers
- Whether the vehicle is used for transporting hazardous materials
While it may seem obvious to identify a commercial vehicle, the laws surrounding these types of accidents can be complex. It’s critical to determine whether the at-fault vehicle was a commercial vehicle, as this can have an effect on any compensation you may be entitled to.
The liability of commercial vehicles and their drivers is usually much higher than for passenger cars. In Indiana, the liability insurance limit for non-commercial vehicles is $50,000 per accident. However, the minimum liability limits for commercial vehicles are much higher, at $750,000 per occurrence and up to $5 million per occurrence, depending on the type of vehicle.
A Fishers commercial vehicle accident attorney can help you ascertain whether the at-fault vehicle was a commercial vehicle and ensure that your rights are protected so that you receive fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
When Is a Truck Considered a Commercial Vehicle?
A truck may be considered a commercial vehicle in the state of Indiana if:
- It is used for business purposes, such as to transport goods or passengers.
- It has a gross vehicle weight rating that exceeds 10,000 pounds.
- It has a gross combination weight rating that exceeds 26,000 pounds.
- It is transporting hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding.
- It is designed to transport 8 or more people, including the driver.
Pickup trucks may also be considered commercial vehicles if they meet any of these criteria.
Commercial Vehicle and Truck Accident Statistics in Indiana
Statistics show that large trucks are a major factor in traffic fatalities and serious injuries.
According to data published by the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, there were 175,821 traffic collisions reported in the state of Indiana in 2020, and 8% of these involved commercial vehicles, 90% of which were large trucks.
Of the collisions reported in 2020, 134 resulted in fatalities, accounting for 17% of all traffic fatalities in the state that year.
In the event of a collision between a large truck and a non-commercial vehicle, it’s much more likely that the driver and passengers of the non-commercial vehicle will sustain serious injuries or fatalities. Of the people killed in large truck collisions in Indiana in 2020, 74% were occupants of the other vehicle.
Most truck crashes in the USA are caused by human error and negligence, with the most common contributing factors being traffic violations (such as unsafe lane changes and insufficient distance to the vehicle ahead), driver fatigue, and distracted driving. Over 36% of multi-vehicle accidents recorded in Indiana in 2020 were attributed to truck drivers distracted by their cell phones or other electronic devices.
This data demonstrates just how dangerous a collision with a commercial vehicle can be and highlights the importance of seeking legal advice if you’re involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle or semi-truck in Fishers or elsewhere in the state.
Common Causes of Company Vehicle Accidents
Company-owned vehicles can be involved in a wide range of accidents. Oftentimes, the causes of accidents are the same as in any collision involving private vehicles. However, when people are driving for work, there may be several other factors that can contribute to an accident. For example, truck drivers are on the road for many hours at a time and so are more likely to be tired than a typical driver out on a short trip.
Some common causes of accidents involving commercial vehicles include:
- Driver fatigue or impairment due to drugs or alcohol
- Speeding drivers who fail to adjust speed for weather and road conditions
- Mechanical failure or negligence in maintaining the vehicle
- Blind spots on large vehicles, which can make it difficult to detect other drivers or objects on the road
- Reversing accidents, in which the driver fails to recognize an obstruction or other vehicle in the reverse path of travel
If you were in an accident involving a company-owned vehicle, it’s important to retain the services of an experienced commercial vehicle accident lawyer who can assess your situation and advise you on how best to proceed.
Examples of Commercial and Company Vehicles
If you’ve been involved in an accident and you think one of the vehicles involved was a commercial or company vehicle, it’s important to identify the type of vehicle involved.
Commercial vehicles may include:
- Delivery trucks and vans
- Courier vans
- Taxi cabs or ride-share vehicles
- Commercial buses, coaches, and shuttles
- Construction vehicles like dump trucks, cement mixers, and earthmovers
- Fleet vehicles
- Mail delivery vehicles
- School buses run by the Fishers Bus Service and other local transportation providers
- Garbage trucks and street cleaners
- Company cars
- Repair vans and service vehicles
- Semi-trucks and other large trucks
- Oil tankers and other hazardous material-carrying vehicles
- Logging trucks
- Moving trucks and vans
A qualified company vehicle accident attorney will be able to advise you if the vehicle in question falls into one of these categories. If this is the case, you may be able to claim a higher level of compensation, so it’s vital to determine the type of vehicle involved as soon as possible after the accident.
Who Is Liable in a Commercial Vehicle Accident?
When a commercial vehicle is involved in an accident, the company that owns or leases the vehicle may be liable for any injuries or losses sustained.
However, it’s not always easy to determine who is liable, especially when multiple parties are involved. A truck driver may be employed by a company but be leased to another company, or the driver may also be an independent contractor. In these cases, it can be more complex to establish liability.
In some cases, parties other than the driver and/or owner of the vehicle could be held liable for an accident caused by a commercial truck. This could include tire manufacturers, cargo companies, trucking companies, and maintenance or repair personnel.
Factors that may affect the liability of a commercial vehicle accident include:
- Whether the driver was an employee, owner-operator, or contractor
- The business or company that owned or leased the vehicle
- The maintenance and repair records of the vehicle
- Whether the driver was properly licensed and trained
- Whether the driver was driving within the scope of their employment
- Whether any safety regulations were violated
- If a broker or third party was involved in the shipment of goods
- If the shipper contributed to the accident in any way (such as by incorrectly loading the vehicle)
- Whether there was a breach in safety regulations, such as with weight limits or hours of service rules
- If there was an equipment failure or defect
- Whether or not other drivers were at fault
Under Indiana law, the driver of a vehicle may be held liable for an accident if their negligence contributed to the crash. In order to receive compensation for any injuries or losses sustained in a commercial vehicle accident in Hamilton County, it’s important to determine who is legally responsible and seek legal advice from a commercial vehicle lawyer.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me if I’ve Been in a Commercial or Company Vehicle Accident?
A company vehicle accident lawyer can help by conducting a thorough investigation into the cause of the accident and determining who is liable for any damages incurred. An experienced attorney will be able to provide comprehensive legal advice on how best to proceed with your case.
The damages that may be recovered in a commercial vehicle accident may include:
- Medical costs, including emergency transportation, hospital bills, doctor’s visits, medication, any required assistive devices or home adaptation, and ongoing care.
- Lost wages or income due to time taken off work for medical treatment or recovery. A good lawyer will also help you identify any future losses, such as reduced earning capacity caused by mental anguish or disability.
- Pain and suffering. Even if you don’t have physical injuries, emotional trauma from an accident can be a valid source of damages. PTSD and anxiety are common types of psychological trauma that a lawyer can help you to be compensated for.
- Property damage. This could include the costs of repairing or replacing your vehicle and any belongings that were damaged in the accident.
- Funeral expenses and compensation for wrongful death in the event of a fatality caused by a commercial vehicle accident.
Your lawyer will also be able to advise on how best to protect your rights and interests, as well as ensure that you understand the legal process involved in filing a claim. If necessary, they can also represent you in negotiations or court proceedings.
Commercial Vehicle Law Firm in Fishers, Indiana
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, it’s important to get legal representation from an experienced commercial vehicle accident attorney in Fishers.
At SLG Accident Attorneys, we have a proven record of success in obtaining fair and just compensation for people who’ve been injured in commercial vehicle accidents.
We are dedicated to ensuring that our clients get the justice they deserve, and we fight hard to hold negligent parties accountable for their actions.
With our commercial vehicle law firm, you can be sure that your case is in good hands. Our goal is to make the process of filing a claim as easy and stress-free as possible, and our attorneys will provide the legal advice and support you need to ensure that you get the best possible outcome for your situation. Contact our team today for a free case evaluation and to find out how we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.