Indianapolis Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help
Auto accidents involving commercial trucks, such as tractor-trailers or 18-wheelers, often result in catastrophic injuries and death. At Doehrman Buba, our nationally board certified civil trial lawyers represent people from across the nation who have been injured in truck accidents in Indiana, helping them obtain compensation for the financial burden caused by their injuries.
According to the NHTSA, 19 fatalities caused by truck accidents occurred in Indiana in 2012. In fact, 95% of truck-related accidents in the U.S. result in at least one fatality. This is hardly surprising, since most semi-trucks are about 65 feet long, 14 feet tall, and weigh around 80,000 pounds. Besides this, there are over two million semi-trucks regularly on the road in the United States.
When not fatal, truck accidents can still result in serious injury and property damage. In Indiana, truck accident claims are classed under the accident and personal injury practice. If you are involved in a truck accident, you must file a personal injury and/or personal property damage claim within two years from the date of the accident in order to receive financial compensation for injuries, property damage, or the death of a loved one.
• More than 50,000 truck accidents occur in the U.S. each year.
• 275,000 large truck accidents occurred in the U.S. in 2011.
• 104,000 people were injured in truck accidents in 2012.
• 205,000 collisions occurred in Indiana in 2014. Around 8% of these involved trucks or other commercial vehicles.
• The number of collisions with large trucks increased by around 5% each year from 2010 to 2014.
• 78% of truck accidents occur during the weekend.
An accident between a vehicle and a commercial or semi-truck operates on a different legal basis than a regular car accident. Part of this is simply because more parties are involved in a truck accident. These include the truck driver, the trucking company, the truck manufacturer, the company responsible for loading the truck, and the company responsible for maintaining the truck. This makes a truck accident more complicated than the average car accident, and it means, among other things, that it may be harder to gain compensation for injuries and damages.
However, truck drivers and their employers are bound by a specific set of rules geared towards roadway safety. These include making sure trucks are loaded safely and truck drivers do not succumb to fatigue. If a truck driver or company violates these rules, then they may be found guilty of negligence. In this case, the injured party may be able to receive money for things like medical expenses resulting from injuries, property damage sustained in the accident, lost wages, pain and suffering, and .
Statute of limitations:
Under Indiana code title 34 (civil law and procedure §34-11-2-4), you have two years to file a claim for injury or property damage, starting on the date of the accident. This means if you or someone else sustains injury in a truck accident, or if your vehicle or house is damaged because of a truck accident, you have two years in which to bring your case before a court. If a truck accident resulted in fatality, then the two years begin on the date of the deceased person’s death.
What to do in an accident:
If you are involved in a truck accident, there are several things you should do immediately. If you or someone else is injured, call 9-1-1 right away. Then make sure you and the other people involved in the accident are safely off the road, if possible.
Write down the contact information for everyone involved in the accident, including other drivers and witnesses. Besides names, phone numbers, and emails, obtain insurance information, license plate numbers, and vehicle descriptions. Additionally, for commercial vehicles, you should obtain the UDOT number or Indiana ID number, and the name and contact information of the driver’s employer.
Additionally, if anyone is injured, of if there is $1,000 worth of property damage, you should call the police to get a report. Write down the reporting police officer’s name and badge number.
When you get home, you should call your insurance company to file a Certificate of Compliance. Then, depending on the extent of the injuries and damages, you may wish to call a personal injury lawyer for a consultation.
The other driver’s insurance company may try to contact you, but if this happens, you should politely refer them to your lawyer and refuse to speak further with the insurance company yourself. You should also avoid signing or agreeing to anything before consulting with a lawyer. This includes any settlement from the other driver’s lawyer or insurance company.
If your family member was killed in a truck accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim. In this case, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible for a consultation.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Drivers of smaller vehicles should be aware that trucks have certain speed, turning, visibility, and braking limitations. Many truck accidents occur because of these limitations. Other causes of trucking accidents include:
- A truck driver's lack of training
- Dangerous or reckless truck driving
- Overloaded or oversized trucks
- Poor driving conditions (fog, snow or rain)
- Truck defects (defective tires, safety systems, lights, etc.)
- Speeding or aggressive driving
- Driver fatigue
- Inadequate lighting
- Failure to install underride protection
- Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
Victims of trucking accidents often suffer severe injuries including spinal cord injury, loss of limbs, broken bones, and traumatic brain injury (TBI). These types of injuries come with hefty medical expenses, pain and suffering, and mental and emotional anguish. These injuries can also result in a lifetime of disability and special needs for the injured person.
Who Is Liable in a Truck Accident?
To help ensure that our clients receive maximum compensation for their injuries, we will identify as many potential defendants as possible in a truck crash case. Possible parties who may be held liable for your injuries include:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- Insurance companies
- Manufacturers of the truck and/or its component parts
If a truck driver is employed by a trucking or shipping company, that company may be held responsible for the driver's negligence. Establishing the liability of third parties can be difficult if, as is often the case, the driver is an independent contractor of a larger company. In that situation, it is important to have an experienced truck accident attorney on your side who understands the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) and other laws that deal with truck driving and the trucking industry.
Truck Companies Are Required to Carry Liability Insurance
Commercial trucks are required to have at least $750,000 in liability insurance coverage. Many trucking companies have insurance policies that provide more than the minimum coverage requirements of $750,000. It is important to have an experienced attorney representing your interests if you have sustained substantial damages as the result of a truck crash caused by the truck driver and/or the company the driver was working for at the time of the crash.
In addition to finding all sources of liability insurance coverage available to compensate you for your damages, our truck accident lawyer also can help with liens that insurance companies often put on any claim that an injured person is making against a truck driver or trucking company. And, our attorneys will assist you in seeing that your medical bills are paid for so that you do not get sued by hospitals and medical groups who have not been paid for the treatment they have rendered to you or a loved one.
Trucking Companies' Obligation to Only Use Qualified and Competent Drivers
There are essential guidelines for trucking companies regarding qualifying drivers for over-the-road duty. To be qualified and competent, a driver must:
- Be physically qualified to drive: This includes adequate vision and hearing as well as freedom from high blood pressure, epilepsy, insulin-dependent diabetes, and alcoholism.
- Pass a driving test: This test is much more intensive than the test administered to non-professional drivers.
- Pass an intensive application and background test process: A trucking company is required to obtain detailed information about a prospective driver's prior employers, addresses for the past 10 years, and driving record from every state in which the driver was licensed for the previous three years.
CSA 2010: Compliance ∙ Safety ∙ Accountability
The body of regulations, called CSA, is an intensive program rolled out in December 2010 with the goal of measuring, evaluating, and intervening more effectively with trucking companies to ensure that safety measures—including the requirement to only use qualified and trained drivers—are followed to the letter. Motor carriers are required to make sure drivers are qualified on a daily basis. As soon as a driver has a violation or other cause to be considered an unfit driver, that driver should be taken off the road immediately.
Our law firm has handled many truck accidents. In almost every case, there is almost always a violation of some kind. Typically, the driver is not fully competent or qualified, or there is some physical problem with the vehicle itself like a broken headlight, inadequate brakes, or an improperly prepared logbook. There is almost always a federal violation, and we can find it.
Truck Accidents Litigation
Commercial motor vehicle civil litigation is a unique and specialized area of personal injury law. Too frequently, lawyers consider a crash involving a commercial motor vehicle as any other car crash. There are certainly similarities, in that you need to obtain witness statements, photos, and videotape; conduct inspections of the vehicles and site; and preserve evidence—but at that point, similarities end.
There is black box data, satellite communication, electronic receipts, and driver records, all of which must be obtained as soon as possible, or may be lost or legally destroyed. All of the information may be physical evidence as critical as a fetal monitoring strip for a claim of anoxic brain injury in childbirth.
A driver of a commercial motor vehicle, has been trained, tested, and received a commercial driver's license, empowering the driver to operate a vehicle approaching 80,000 pounds at highway speed, under the direction of an entity that must qualify and supervise the driver at all times. The driver and his trucking company are considered professionals in the operation and transport of cargo and people in intrastate and interstate commerce.
Drivers and carriers are held to a higher standard of care, and they should be. These are the folks that are licensed to transport people, hazardous cargo, operate in adverse weather conditions, all with pressures of on time delivery, high diesel prices, foreign competition, and the like.
Serious Personal Injuries
In the vast majority of cases, the size and speed of the trucks cause severe and catastrophic injuries that can include:
Victims of truck accidents who have suffered any of these injuries often experience lingering effects and medical needs for many years after the accident, sometimes even for life. We work hard to make sure our clients get compensation for the immediate medical expenses and damages, as well as compensation for the long-term injuries that they suffer. We have been corporate sponsors of the Brain Injury Association of Indiana for more than 30 years. Our AV-rated* attorneys are qualified and experienced with handling brain injury litigation, and we have written many legal articles on this complicated area of law.
You can also view our TBI Resource Guide for advice on dealing with the pain of living with a brain injury.
Contact Our Indianapolis Truck Accident Lawyers Today
Our law firm has obtained substantial verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients. Our lawyers work closely with truck accident investigators and other experts to help ensure that truck accident victims obtain justice and compensation for their injuries. We have the experience and resources to hold negligent, reckless, or careless truck drivers, trucking companies, and truck manufacturers liable for your injuries.
If you or someone close to you has suffered a serious injury in truck crash, we are here to help. Contact our attorneys today online or by telephone at (888) 494-3765 for a free consultation.
*CV, BV and AV are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards, and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell ratings fall into two categories: legal ability and general ethical standards.