There are currently about 11 million large trucks on the road in the U.S including tractor-trailers and single unit trucks. There are about 415,000 crashes involving large trucks each year and 20 percent of them involve injuries or fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Indiana has a particularly large volume of truck traffic. This is likely due to the fact that Indiana’s geographic location makes it a crossroads for freight movement and commercial vehicle registration is less expensive in Indiana than in many other states. A number of major trucking companies have fleet transportation hubs in Indiana to take advantage of the lower cost.
Large trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds or more when loaded. When commercial trucks are involved in wrecks, they can cause a lot of chaos and harm. Because of their size and weight, large trucks are disproportionately involved in serious and fatal accidents. Drivers of cars, pickups and motorcycles typically sustain the brunt of the injuries in crashes with large trucks.
When a commercial truck driver is involved in a crash, the Indiana trucking company will act quickly to protect itself and try to avoid liability for the accident. Trucking companies – especially the big national ones – are very good at avoiding accountability. They have far more resources than the average driver and have lawyers guiding them. If you’re involved in a serious accident with a tractor-trailer or other big truck in Indiana, you should have an experienced truck accident lawyer fighting for you.
What Trucking Companies and Their Insurance Companies Do After an Accident
For most newer truck fleets, if a truck driver is involved in a collision, the dispatch office may find out automatically, due to onboard data being uploaded in real time. In most accidents involving a commercial truck and a car, the truck driver is unlikely to be seriously injured.
The truck driver will call the dispatcher immediately to report the crash. Many times, the trucking company will send investigators to the scene to begin interviewing witnesses and investigating the scene, even before police and emergency medical crews arrive. The trucking company may:
- Take measurements
- Take photographs or videos
- Interview other motorists
- Collect crash data from the truck
- Have someone call you for a recorded statement
- Try to get you (or others, including passengers or family members) to sign medical releases or settlement forms
- Tell you that you don’t need a lawyer or that they will only agree to pay if you don’t hire a lawyer (this should be a red flag)
- Have their attorneys call you or threaten to sue you, claiming you were at fault
- Falsify documents and repair orders
- Coach their drivers on how to answer police questions
How Do Truck Accident Claims Work?
Unlike a typical car accident, in a trucking case, the trucking company has the money and resources, and they will work hard to deny any fault or wrongdoing. You will need to have a determined truck accident lawyer investigate the accident and preserve evidence of negligence, before it is lost.
Many times, crucial evidence may only be available for a short period of time. For instance, skid marks may wash away the first time it rains following an accident. The distance and length of skid marks can help police investigators make sense of what happened and who is at fault.
How Fast Action Can Affect You After an Accident
Many trucking operations will have the truck repaired within days of a wreck. They may claim the vehicle did not actually make as much impact as it really did.
By the time an injured person finally calls a lawyer or files a claim in the cases, the accident scene may be cleaned up, witnesses may be hard to track down, truck maintenance records may no longer be available, and there may be little hard evidence left. The trucking company then denies any wrongdoing and refuses to pay.
The sooner you start your investigation and get a truck accident lawyer on your side, the faster you can start protecting your rights.
What You Should Do
The first thing you should do is get emergency medical care. If you do not require emergency treatment, you should go to the doctor and have a medical evaluation. Some injuries may be serious, even if they are not immediately apparent.
As soon as you are able, you should contact an experienced Indiana trucking accident lawyer and get an understanding of whether you have a right to demand compensation from the trucking company for your injuries. If you cannot do it yourself, ask a loved one to call for you.
Why Do You Need a Lawyer?
A lot of people ask, “Do I need a lawyer after a truck accident?” The short answer is that you should always have a lawyer review the accident and explain your legal options. There are a lot of good reasons to hire a lawyer to assist with your case.
Here are some of the benefits of having a lawyer involved right from the start:
- You will no longer run the risk of saying the wrong thing to the insurance company, because now the insurance company has to talk to your lawyer instead.
- You will have someone to answer questions as things come up. When you are hurt in a car or truck crash, there will be countless questions, uncertainties, and challenges. You want someone who can help you make sense of it all.
- The trucking companies in Indiana will have lawyers defending its interests, so having a lawyer representing your interests levels the playing field.
- An experienced attorney can help you make sure you don’t unwittingly end up seeing a “defense doctor” by mistake. Most people don’t know it, but there are doctors out there who specialize in handling insurance claims for big companies. They are in the habit of trying to diminish and minimize the severity of the injuries they treat.
- A truck accident lawyer can communicate with any health providers to delay debt collection efforts if you have unpaid medical bills.
Should I Sue The Trucking Company or The Driver?
In many cases, your attorney may have to file a lawsuit in order to move the case forward. Most people would prefer to settle without going through a trial, but if the trucking company or insurance company is unwilling to accept liability and pay for their driver’s negligence, a lawsuit may be necessary.
Our attorneys are skilled negotiators and are successful in resolving most truck accident lawsuits against trucking companies or drivers without going to trial, we will know which party is liable and should be sued.
What to Expect When You Settle a Truck Accident Claim
If you and your attorney reach a settlement with the trucking company or their insurance company,
you will then need to sign a formal release agreement, which settles your claim against the insurance company, the truck driver, and the trucking company. This is a legal contract that is binding. Your attorney will go over this with you before you sign it.
Once signed and delivered to the insurance carrier, they will send your attorney the settlement check. People are often surprised to discover that it can take several months to wrap up a case and get paid, even after the case has settled.
The next step is making sure that any related medical bills or liens are known and resolved. This can take time. Your trucking accident lawyer can negotiate a settlement of any medical liens and pay them out of the settlement.
Working with a Truck Accident Lawyer in Indianapolis
At Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC, our attorneys are well versed in federal motor carrier regulations, and we understand the complex rules that apply to trucking companies and commercial drivers. When the stakes are high, you should call upon an Indianapolis law firm with the experience to make a difference in the outcome of your truck accident case. Contact us to get started with a free consultation at either of our Indiana offices, which are conveniently located in Indianapolis or Batesville.