Driving behind or alongside a semi-truck is standard on Indianapolis, Indiana, highways. Accidents involving these commercial vehicles can occur anytime, perhaps because the truck was overloaded, the driver was fatigued, or a tire blew out. Crashes involving these big, heavy vehicles often lead to severe injuries and in some cases, death.
Truck crashes in Indianapolis are not limited to semi-trucks alone — they could also involve crashes with delivery vehicles, cement trucks, construction vehicles, and more.
An experienced Indianapolis truck accident lawyer understands that these types of accidents differ greatly from car accidents and cases related to them require a high level of expertise. If you have been injured in a truck wreck SLG Accident Attorneys offers free consultations and is dedicated to guiding you through every step of your claim.
What Makes Truck Accident Claims So Complicated?
Truck accidents can be complex due to a variety of factors:
- Extensive damage done by trucks. 18 wheelers are heavier and longer. Any accident involving trucks will lead to severe injuries. The damages will be more deadly than accidents involving a typical vehicle.
- Multiple parties involved in the accident. Truck accidents don’t just affect the truck driver. Other involved parties are the maintenance company, the shipper, and the manufacturer of the parts are involved. It can be difficult to determine who is liable when many parties are involved, which is why having legal representation on your side can be a huge benefit.
- Process of dealing with insurance. We all know that dealing with insurance companies is a lengthy process and can be a huge headache. The trucking companies insurance company will absolutely do anything they can to deny liability and reduce the extent of the damages. You might even have to go to trial if the insurance company doesn’t offer full payment.
- Rules involved. There are many federal laws and regulations which apply to truck companies, their drivers, and truck parts. Knowing and understanding all these rules can take a lot of time and resources.
- The process of collecting evidence. An 18 wheeler accident involves thoroughly collecting and investigating every piece of evidence. This can be in the form of going through driver logs, witness statements, maintenance records, and maintenance data.
Truck accident cases can be extremely intricate in the long run. You need a specialized attorney who understands the severity of the case.
How Do I Know If I Have a Case?
To know if you have a case there are a number of factors to consider, some of which include:
You May Have Someone To Blame
You may have a case if you can prove to the court that the driver is to blame for the accident. You can give reasons like the driver speeding, being under the influence, or poor truck maintenance. Remember, you can’t file a complaint without evidence.
You May Have Incurred Damages
You might be dealing with a case if you have incurred any damages or injuries during the accident. These damages can include medical bills, bodily damages, or lost property. If the accident was the fault of the truck driver or trucking company, there is no reason you should have to pay for these damages yourself.
You Are Within the Time Limits of the State
If you file your case as soon as possible, your lawsuit won’t face time-based limitations. The Indiana personal injury statute of limitations indicates that the time limit for filing truck accident claims in Indianapolis is two years.
Insurance May Not Have Compensated You
If the other party’s insurance company isn’t cooperating or providing you with proper compensation for your damages, you can file a case. By filing a claim, you have the best chance of ensuring that you get the compensation that you deserve.
Why Hiring an Indianapolis Truck Accident Attorney is Essential
Some people wonder if they can handle their own case. Going that route can be difficult and costly when you will be up against huge trucking companies with extremely aggressive attorneys. Having an experienced legal representative in your corner can make a huge difference. Some reasons to hire an Indianapolis truck accident attorney include:
A truck accident lawyer in Indianapolis can successfully handle the challenges and nuances of these cases. They will have studied intensively the local, federal, and state laws that are associated with trucking companies. They also are aware of what evidence will help your case the most and be familiar with which related parties are potentially to blame.
They’ll Conduct a Thorough Investigation
An attorney will extensively investigate the accident leaving no stone unturned. They will get in touch with witnesses and collect all necessary evidence including the “black box” or event data recorder device. They will also work hand in hand with accident reconstruction specialists to revive the accidents and find out who is liable.
They Help You Receive Compensation for Your Damages
If you work alone, you will most likely not receive total payment for your damages. Insurance companies will trick you into signing forms that stop you from filing claims. An Indianapolis truck accident lawyer will know how to negotiate with the other parties and obtain for you the compensation you deserve.
They’ll Address Your Doubts and Worries
You will worry less if legal professionals fully handle your case. You will not have to worry about being manipulated by the other parties and all the stress associated with the court case. Your attorney can deal with that.
They’ll Determine Who Is Liable
An Indianapolis truck accident attorney will not only be aware of the parties involved, but will be familiar with their responsibilities and the role in which their negligence may have contributed to the accident.
Who Do You Sue In a Semi-Truck Claim?
You can sue or hold liable the following individuals or entities for a truck accident case:
- The driver. The driver could be negligent or reckless in his driving. He could be speeding, overly fatigued, driving under the influence, or disobeying traffic rules.
- The trucking company. The liability could be on the trucking company for not properly maintaining the semi-truck, not hiring well-qualified drivers, or not following federal laws.
- The manufacturer of truck parts. If the cause of the accident was due to defective truck parts, then the manufacturers may be legally responsible.
- Cargo loaders. The source of the accident could be the improper loading of cargo in the truck. Hence, the cargo loaders will be held reliable.
Determining who exactly to sue can be complicated. Hire a truck accident attorney in Indianapolis so that they can do that for you. They will sit with you and advise you on whom to put the legal responsibility. Once you know who to blame, and you have the evidence to prove it, the chances of winning the case will be high.
Indiana Trucking Laws: Understanding the Basics
Here are the basics of the Indiana trucking laws and their implications in your truck accident compensation case.
Laws Licensing Commercial Vehicle Drivers
This law is in place to prevent unqualified and inexperienced drivers from driving large and probably dangerous vehicles. The requirements for obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL) can vary depending on the specific state regulations and the type of commercial vehicle.
To obtain a CDL, one must pass the following:
- Driving and written tests.
- Specific age requirements.
- Medical test.
- Training programs put in place by the state.
Inexperienced truck drivers can be a cause of major accidents as they aren’t put through the proper training. They aren’t aware of road regulations, which may cause them to falter. By giving importance to CDLs, only qualified people will drive commercial vehicles. The law has given significance to CDLs by issuing fines and criminal charges to those without one.
Hours of Service Rules
The Hours of Service (HOS) rules ensure drivers don’t drive for long hours and get enough rest before continuing their journey. This regulation requires drivers not to go for more than 60/20 hours in 7/8 days (60/70 limit). The driver must also have eight consecutive days off-duty after driving for 15 hours in a day (15-hour limit).
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) updated the HOS rules to 4 provisions to provide flexibility to drivers while ensuring safety:
- A 30-minute break is needed after driving for eight consecutive hours.
- Drivers are required to split their 10-hour shift into two (either 7/3 hours or 8/2 hours)
- Drivers can be on duty for 12-14 hours, and the distance is limited to 100 to 150 miles.
- Drivers can only drive for 2 hours in adverse driving conditions.
These rules prevent drivers from driving when they are tired. Fatigued drivers are a vital cause of accidents as tiredness leads to faulty judgment, slowed reaction, and decreased ability to make decisions quickly.
Settlements In Truck Crashes: What To Expect
Insurance companies will absolutely try to trick you into accepting an extremely small settlement, hoping that you don’t file a case. They will approach you immediately after the accident and give you a lowball offer far less than you deserve. If you take the offer, you can’t file a lawsuit as you have already been compensated.
The victim can sometimes willingly agree to a settlement, as court cases can take time if the defendant appeals to them. Court cases can be time consuming and inconvenient, so the victim may feel it’s best to avoid them altogether. The victim may also want to avoid the publicity that comes with the trial. Some people like to avoid the public eye and value their privacy.
The settlement process may involve the following:
- Investigation of the accident.
- Gathering evidence.
- Negotiation between two attorneys to reach a certain amount acceptable by both.
The amount of a settlement may range from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars due to various factors:
- How severe the injuries are.
- Amount of property damaged.
- Strength of evidence.
Indianapolis, Indiana, is centrally located, with more than 110 million people within a day of driving away. It has several truck establishments, ranking 10th in the number of them. The trucks haul 5.7 billion tons of cargo per year. The highway is the most significant part of freight transportation, including 14 interstate highways, giving 1,100 miles of expressways across the state.
The high number of semi-trucks passing through Marion County increases the number of accidents. In 2020 there were 4,965 fatalities and an estimated 146,930 people injured in crashes involving large trucks.
The state didn’t just sit back while all this was happening. They took matters into their hands by improving transportation infrastructure. They implemented the following practices:
- Funded Intelligence Transport Systems (ITS) to ensure highway safety and efficiency.
- Implemented programs that teach drivers to share the road with truck drivers safely while educating truck drivers on how to implement proper driving practices.
- Put into place requirements for regular safety inspections for trucks.
Indiana Lawyers Holding Trucking Companies Responsible
Hasan Shah at SLG Accident Attorneys specializes in dealing with cases involving truck accidents, auto accidents, wrongful death, and motorcycle crashes. If you or your loved one were involved in an accident and need legal assistance and guidance, contact us for a free consultation today.