Semi trucks, flatbeds and tractor trailers transporting goods and freight travel more than 9 billion miles in Indiana each year. Indiana car accidents involving large trucks have increased by nearly 5 percent a year in Indiana in recent years. When a commercial truck driver makes an error or causes a crash, the consequences can be devastating to other motorists involved. It is important to understand what is involved in filing a semi-truck accident insurance claim in Indiana. Truck accident claims are often more complicated to resolve than automobile accident claims.
Don’t Hesitate to Call Craig, Kelley, & Faultless LLC for Your Indiana Car Accident
Attorney David W. Craig and the legal team at Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC have helped many hundreds of people in Indiana recover from serious injuries in truck accidents. Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC received a 2015 Litigator Award, a national honor recognizing extraordinary achievement in the field of truck accident injury, personal injury and wrongful death litigation. The families we assist are often overwhelmed and experiencing financial stress because a loved one has been seriously injured and is unable to work. Meanwhile, medical bills continue to pile up. If that describes your situation, you should take the simple step of contacting a knowledgeable truck injury lawyer for a free consultation about your accident. It is important to understand your legal options. Our compassionate attorneys may be able to relieve some of your stress by providing dependable legal guidance and handling the accident claim so you can focus on your recovery.
How Much Compensation Can You Expect from A Semi Truck Claim?
Commercial trucks are required to carry higher amounts of liability insurance coverage than owners of passenger vehicles because of the greater harm large trucks can cause. Consequently, more insurance compensation may be available after a truck crash for a person seriously injured by the negligence of a semi truck driver.
Our semi-truck accident attorneys understand that no amount of compensation justifies the trauma of sustaining serious injuries and going through the pain and stress of recovery. Our clients typically would prefer to avoid legal action, but find themselves in circumstances beyond their control. They pursue compensation to cover their losses, so they won’t be saddled with medical debt or other unanticipated expenses for the rest of their lives. They are trying to rebuild their lives after the disruption of a serious accident.
Your Car Accident: Determining Factors of Compensation
Among the factors in the truck accident that determine the value of your claim are:
- Who was at fault in the accident?
- What is the extent of your injuries?
- Did the semi crash cause a death?
- What are the limits of insurance policies?
Who Was At Fault in the Car Accident? Were You Partially Responsible?
Many semi-truck accidents in Indiana have multiple contributing factors. Several drivers or other parties may share the fault for a truck accident and be partly liable. Your own actions as an automobile driver may have contributed to the accident that led to your injuries. The liability of those involved determines in part an injury victim’s right to seek compensation.
Indiana uses a legal standard known as modified comparative fault to apportion fault in an accident. Under Indiana’s standard, you are eligible to collect damages for your injuries if you are 50 percent or less at fault in the accident. You can still collect compensation even if you are partially responsible for causing the crash. But if the court finds that you are, for example, 25 percent at fault for the accident, then the amount of damages that you are entitled to receive would be reduced by the same percentage— 25 percent.
If the truck accident involved a vehicle owned by a state or local government, a harsher legal standard applies. If you were found to be even 1 percent at fault for the accident, you are not entitled to collect compensation for your injuries.
Trucking companies often try to claim that another driver did something to cause the accident to reduce or relieve their own liability. Their insurers will try to shift the blame to reduce the amount they have to pay out. Our commitment at Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC is to fight for every dollar you are entitled to receive. Our truck claim attorneys work aggressively to show that the truck driver or trucking company was 100 percent liable for the accident.
Talk to a knowledgeable Indiana truck accident lawyer to understand more about your eligibility to seek compensation under Indiana’s modified comparative fault standard.
What is the Extent of Your Injuries from the Car Accident?
The severity of your injuries and the cost of the medical treatment you receive will be significant factors in your claim for compensation. When semi trucks are involved in an accident, the injuries are often more extensive. Many clients that we have represented have sustained traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries, injuries causing disfigurement or other severe injuries leading to permanent disabilities in a truck accident.
Seeking medical treatment after a truck accident should be a top priority. A doctor’s independent documentation of your injuries will provide evidence to support a claim. It is crucial to receive prompt treatment and to have a medical record linking your injuries to the truck accident.
You should follow your doctor’s orders carefully and keep all follow-up appointments. If your doctor refers you to a physical therapist for follow-up treatment, you should receive physical therapy and do as directed by the therapist.
It is important that you have a medical examination after a truck accident, even if you only feel shaken up. In some cases, the rush of adrenaline after a collision may mask injuries for a period of time. You may wake up a day or two after the crash and feel pain and soreness that you did not expect. If you delay seeking treatment, an insurance company may claim you would have sought treatment immediately if the truck accident caused your injuries. An insurer may deny that your injury was related to the recent truck accident.
You should never sign a release giving an adjuster for an insurance company permission to review your medical file. The insurance company may rifle through your medical records looking for pre-existing injuries or conditions to use to deny your claim. When Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC represents you, our injury attorneys will make sure that insurance companies do not have carte blanche to go through your medical file. We will provide the medical records necessary to support your claim for compensation.
Did the Semi Truck Accident Cause a Death| Indiana Wrongful Death?
Each year, a number of people in Indiana are killed in preventable accidents involving 18 wheelers and other commercial vehicles. Most of those killed are occupants of smaller vehicles because of the disparity in the size and weight of large trucks and passenger vehicles. The immediate family of those killed in semi accidents involving others’ negligence may be entitled to bring a wrongful death lawsuit to help deal with unpaid medical bills, funeral costs and other expenses. Motor vehicles accidents are the most common source of wrongful death claims.
Indiana law prescribes the types of damages that can be sought in a wrongful death lawsuit and who is entitled to recover compensation. The damages may include:
- Medical and hospital expenses;
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Lost earnings or expected future income;
- Loss of love and companionship.
If the loved one who died in a truck accident was a child, compensation also may be sought for:
- Hospitalization required by the wrongful act that led to the child’s death;
- Uninsured debts of the child for which a parent is obligated;
- Reasonable expenses for psychological counseling for surviving parent or sibling of the child coping with the death of the child.
Under Indiana law, a child is defined as someone under the age of 20 or a young person between 20 and 23 who is a student in an accredited school or university.
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit may help a family deal with financial stress caused by an unexpected loss as well as the intangible losses your family has suffered in losing your loved one. Our compassionate and experienced attorneys have more than 26 years of experience as wrongful death attorneys in Indiana. We can guide through the legal process and give you the space and time you need to grieve your loss.
What Are the Limits of the Trucking Company’s Insurance Policy?
Trucking companies and insurance companies have experienced negotiators representing their interests. You will want an experienced lawsuit advocating for your interests if you have been injured in a truck accident.
An experienced truck accident lawyer at Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC will analyze the accident in detail. Our knowledgeable attorneys invest the time necessary to identify all the potentially liable parties and all the insurance policies available to provide compensation.
In truck accidents, the tractor and trailer may have different owners and separate insurers. In addition, the truck driver, if an independent driver, may have separate insurance. The cargo shipper also may be liable and have separate insurance.
Under federal law and Indiana law, large trucks that transport non-hazardous cargo are required to carry a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance, according to the Commercial Motor Vehicle Guidebook published by the Indiana Department of Revenue.
Trucks that carry hazardous materials are required to have $1 million to $5 million of liability insurance coverage, depending on the materials transported.
When our legal team is successful in identifying more than one applicable insurance policy after an 18 wheeler crash, it means more money is potentially available to provide compensation. Those individuals who sustain severe injuries due to a truckers’ negligence are more likely to receive adequate compensation to help them rebuild their lives.
What Should You Expect After a Car or Truck Accident?
If you have been involved in a collision with a car or semi-truck, you can expect to be contacted by the trucking company or a representative of the commercial carrier’s insurer within a few weeks. You may be offered a quick settlement in exchange for signing a release, giving up your legal right to sue the trucking company. Quick settlement offers are usually an attempt by a trucking company or insurance company to limit liability.
Before you sign anything presented by the trucking company, you should discuss the value of your claim with a knowledgeable truck accident attorney. In most cases, quick settlement offers are substantially below the fair value of your claim. Trucking company insurers or their lawyers often take advantage of injury victims’ unfamiliarity with the semi-truck accident claims process to take advantage of them. Our Indiana truck accident attorneys will review the specific facts of your accident and offer our perspective on the value of your claim.
We handle truck accident cases on a contingency fee basis. We only get paid when we win your case. In other words, if we do not obtain money for you, we do not get paid. It is important to consult with an attorney right away after a serious truck accident.
Contact Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC by telephone or through our online contact form for a courtesy consultation about your truck accident. If your injuries prevent you from coming to our law office, we will come to meet with you.
Indianapolis Car Accidents & Truck Accident Differences
Any crash may cause serious injuries. But an accident may have a very different outcome depending on whether you are sitting in the passenger compartment of an automobile or behind the wheel of a large truck. Both car accidents and truck crashes can lead to severe injuries, and life-changing, disabling injuries. Every type of vehicle has its own risks. The occupants of a car or pickup truck are certainly vulnerable to serious injuries in any crash involving a large truck, whether it is a semi or a straight truck.
At Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC, we understand how any serious car crash or semi truck accident can disrupt your life, cause tremendous financial stress and leave your family overwhelmed and facing an uncertain future. If you have sustained serious injuries or lost a loved one in a crash caused by another driver in Indiana, you do not have to shoulder the burden alone. Let our dedicated injury lawyers review the details of the accident and explain your legal options. We can discuss whether you have a valid claim against an at-fault driver during a free consultation. If we represent you, our attorneys can deal with the insurance companies and paperwork while you focus on your recovery. We represent only accident victims and their families. David Craig and the legal team at Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC care about our clients and will advocate aggressively for you to receive full compensation for your injuries. Having a clear understanding of your legal options will allow you to make a better-informed decision for your family’s future.
Injuries in Indianapolis Car Accidents and Indiana Truck Accidents
Many more people are injured and killed in car crashes each year than in tractor-trailer crashes in Indiana and throughout the United States. There are far more cars, SUVs and pickup trucks on the road than tractor trailers. In 2015, there were 240 million passenger vehicles and 11 million large trucks and buses registered in the U.S, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
On the other hand, large trucks have a higher rate of fatal crashes than cars.
|Killed||% Change||Injured||% Change|
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
While fatal crashes involving cars and trucks have been trending downward in recent decades, crashes involving large trucks are more likely to involve fatal injuries than accidents involving only cars. Those who sustain fatal injuries are usually the occupants of smaller vehicles involved in the truck collision.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, large trucks had 1.4 deaths per 100 million miles traveled in 2014 while passenger vehicles had 1.1 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled.
Truck Accident Statistics
The majority of fatal crashes (58%) overall involve only one vehicle. But when large trucks are involved in fatal crashes, 68 percent involved two vehicles.
In 2015, there were 4,067 traffic deaths in crashes involving tractor-trailers and vehicles. Of the fatalities:
A loaded semi truck may weigh 20 to 30 times as much as a passenger vehicle. In a collision involving a large truck and a car, the laws of physics dictate that the lighter weight vehicle absorbs the brunt of the damage.
Long distance truck drivers have irregular schedules, but more commercial trucks are moving freight during the work week Monday through Friday. You are more likely to be involved in a crash involving a large truck on a weekday.
Only 17 percent of fatal crashes involving large trucks occur on Saturdays and Sundays. By comparison, 37 percent of fatal accidents involving cars, motorcycles and other passenger vehicles occur on the weekend.
Fifty percent of fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2015 occurred between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m., according to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analysis. By comparison, half of the crashes involving passenger vehicles occurred between 3 p.m. and midnight.
Types of Indiana Truck Accidents
Certain types of accidents are specific to large trucks, such as jackknife accidents and underride accidents.
Jackknifing accidents are unique to tractor trailers. But jackknife accidents have a high potential of being multi-vehicle accidents. A tractor-trailer may jackknife if a truck loses traction on a slick road or if the truck driver applies the brakes incorrectly, causing wheels to lock and the trailer to move at a different speed than the tractor. The trailer may swing wildly out to the side of the cab, striking other vehicles without warning. Jackknife accidents may end with the truck sliding off the highway and rolling over and blocking several lanes of traffic.
Underride accidents typically involve large trucks and smaller vehicles. Tractor trailers are taller and have more ground clearance than passenger vehicles. In a collision, a car may run under the side or rear of a tractor trailer, destroying the passenger compartment of the car.
Large trucks are equipped with underride guards to prevent underride accidents. But many underride guards fail in crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2015 issued a notice of plans to require stronger underride guard to stop passenger vehicles from sliding underneath the back of trailer and semi-trailers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety petitioned for stronger underride protection after finding that many existing underride guards on trucks failed in rear-end collisions.
Tractor trailers and tanker trucks are susceptible to rollover accidents because of their high center of gravity. Rollover accidents represent only a small portion of tractor trailer accidents, but they are more likely to cause fatal injuries. Driver errors such as taking a curve too fast, drifting off the road, and over-steering cause most rollover accidents. Speed is a significant contributor to rollover collisions. Unstable loads or unsecured loads also may cause a truck to overturn.
A rollover crash increases a truck driver’s likelihood of sustaining fatal injuries. Approximately 52% of the large truck occupants who died in a crash in 2015 were in tractor trailers that overturned.
Drunk Driving Accidents: Car Accident Lawyers
Drunk drivers are a danger to everyone on the road no matter what kind of vehicle the intoxicated driver is operating. In Indiana, approximately 20 percent of fatal accidents involve an alcohol-impaired driver.
Drunk driving is more prevalent among automobile drivers than commercial truck drivers.
Most commercial truck drivers understand that they will lose their commercial driver’s license and their livelihood if they are convicted of drinking and driving.
Nationwide, three percent of fatally injured truck drivers in 2015 had a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher. Thirty percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers were legally impaired.
Regulated Industry: Truck Accidents
Large commercial trucks are part of an industry that is subject to strict regulation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration as well as state agencies. When truck accidents occur, complex federal and state regulations may apply to the accident.
No driver should drive while nodding off at the wheel. Unlike passenger car drivers, commercial truck drivers have set limits on the number of hours that they can be behind the wheel each day and each week. Hours-of-service limits are intended to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue. Commercial drivers must keep logs of their on-the-job travels. Trucking companies also are required to keep certain types of vehicle maintenance records and information about employees.
After a crash involving a semi, it is important to have a knowledgeable truck accident attorney start investigating as soon as possible to preserve evidence that may be critical to proving negligence on the part of the truck driver, trucking company or other potentially liable parties. It is important to work with a lawyer who knows the types of documents to seek in a truck crash.
Costs Related to Truck Accidents
Crashes involving large trucks have the potential to cause catastrophic damages such as the spill of hazardous chemicals and generate more losses.
Because of their potential to cause great harm, truck drivers and trucking companies are required to carry higher amounts of liability insurance than drivers of passenger vehicles.
The State of Indiana requires that for-hire large trucks that transport non-hazardous materials have $750,000 in liability insurance coverage.Private and for-hire trucks that transport hazardous materials in Indiana are required to have $1 million to $5 million in liability insurance coverage, depending on the types of material they haul.
The higher insurance limits mean that victims of truck accidents may receive larger amounts of compensation if they prove negligence on the part of the truck driver or trucking company that caused their injuries.
Tractor trailer accidents are far more likely to have complex liability issues. In a typical two-car accident, just the insurance companies representing the two drivers may be involved.
After a big rig accident with another vehicle, multiple insurance companies may be involved. The employer of the truck driver may be liable for injuries caused by a driver, who is an employee. The truck driver and trucking company may each have separate insurers. The truck trailer being pulled may have a different owner than the trucking company and have separate insurance coverage. If an improperly secured load contributed to an accident, the owner of the cargo or company that loaded the cargo may have liability and involve yet another insurance company.
Discuss Your Injury with a Compassionate Indiana Truck Crash Attorney
Truck accident claims are often more complex to resolve than claims involving two passenger vehicles. The injuries are often more serious. Attorney David Craig and the attorneys at Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC have helped hundreds of people injured in truck accidents in Indiana rebuild their lives. Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC was honored with a 2015 Litigator Award, a national award recognizing extraordinary achievement in the field of truck accident injury, personal injury and wrongful death litigation. We understand that you would prefer to get your life back on track and avoid legal action. But it is important to have skilled legal representation to fight for full compensation for your injuries. Most of the cases we handle are resolved without a trial.
Contact Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC by phone or use our truck accident attorney contact form to arrange a courtesy consultation to discuss your truck accident. If your injuries make it difficult for you to come to our office, our attorneys will meet with you at a location convenient to you such as your home, hospital or rehabilitation center.