Our Indiana personal injury attorneys have represented many families in Indiana harmed by accidents involving large trucks. When we meet with people to discuss a possible injury claim, we hear many questions again and again. We have put together a list of some of the more frequently asked questions that may be helpful if you are seeking information after a collision involving a tractor-trailer or semi.
If you have specific questions about your accident and legal rights, please contact Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC for a courtesy consultation with no obligation.
Semi Truck Accident
After an Indiana car accident you should politely decline to speak with the adjuster for the trucking company’s insurance company and refer the caller to your attorney. You have no obligation to provide information to them. Anything you say or do, even in a casual conversation, may be used to limit the amount of compensation you receive. The adjuster may sound friendly when asking about your health and recovery. But the adjuster’s job is to minimize the amount of money the insurance company pays in claims. Insurance adjusters are trained negotiators who settle claims every day. You should have a lawyer representing your interests in dealings with the other side’s insurer.
A lawyer for the trucking company called soon after the accident and offered a settlement if I will agree to sign a release. Should I sign it?
Before signing anything, you should have a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer review the offer and discuss whether it represents a reasonable settlement based on the severity of your injuries. You should not have to pay any legal fee for an attorney to review the offer and explain your legal options. Typically, quick, initial settlement offers by trucking companies reflect only a fraction of the fair value of the claim and are simply an attempt to relieve the trucking company of further liability. You may be signing away your legal rights if you sign anything presented by the trucking company or their insurer. A truck accident lawyer who has handled numerous accident claims can provide helpful guidance on the offer and whether it represents a just settlement.
The trucking industry is regulated by both the state of Indiana and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This is important because a violation of a state or federal regulation when related to a truck accident may lead to higher compensation for an accident victim or the victim’s family. It is important to work with an experienced lawyer who has handled numerous truck accident claims and is knowledgeable about the regulations that apply to truckers and trucking companies.
Yes, the numbers have increased significantly in recent years. There are more registered trucks on the highway. About 8 percent of the 205,000 collisions in Indiana in 2014 involved large trucks and other commercial motor vehicles. From 2010 to 2014, collisions involving large trucks increased about 5 percent a year. The number of people suffering incapacitating injuries in crashes involving tractor trailers increased 15 percent from 2010 to 2014.
If a truck driver changed lanes and struck my car while it was in the truck’s blind spot, can I file a claim?
Tractor trailers have large blind spots on all sides. You may have a valid claim if the truck driver moved into your lane and caused an accident, regardless of whether your automobile happened to be in a blind spot. Each Indiana tractor trailer accident has specific contributing factors that make it unique so it is important to have an experienced truck accident lawyer review your accident and determine the best strategy to proceed. It’s important to recognize that 35 percent of fatal truck-related accidents involve a truck’s blind spots, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Association.
An experienced truck accident attorney will thoroughly investigate the truck driver, the trucking company and others involved in the accident to gather evidence. The attorney will request certain records that trucking companies are required to have, such as the driver qualification file, which provides detailed information about the driver’s history and medical tests. A truck accident attorney will review the driver’s logs, electronic on-board recorder, and truck maintenance records, interview witnesses, collect photos of the accident scene, review the police accident report and gather your medical records related to the accident. The evidence gathered will be used to build a persuasive case showing those who caused the accident were negligent and their negligence caused the injuries of the accident victims.
I was following behind a flatbed truck near Bloomington when some cargo fell off the trailer onto the highway and caused me to swerve and hit another vehicle. Do I have a claim against the trucking company?
Cargo must be properly secured on large trucks to prevent it from shifting or falling off and causing accidents. You may have a claim against several potentially responsible parties if they are found to have contributed to your accident. You may have a claim against the trucking company, the owner of the trailer if different than the trucking company and/or the loader of the cargo. Multiple parties may be jointly liable. A knowledgeable truck accident attorney will investigate the accident and identify all the potentially liable parties.
A semi-truck was driving in front of me near Indianapolis when one of its tires blew out. The tire tread flew up and struck my windshield and caused me to run off the road and sustain injuries. Is the truck at fault?
This is a good example of the complexity of truck accidents. A number of different parties may be liable after a tire de-treads or blows out and causing injures to others. A truck accident lawyer will investigate to determine whether the trucking company has current records showing routine maintenance of the vehicle, including replacement of worn tires. If the tire was on the truck trailer and the trailer had a different owner, the trailer owner may be responsible. If the tire is found to be defective, the manufacturer of the tire may be liable as well. It is important to identify all the potentially responsible parties involved in a truck accident.
The truck driver who caused the accident was weaving lanes just before the crash. The police said the truck driver may have fallen asleep. Can the driver be held accountable?
Yes, fatigue is a common issue among truck drivers. Most commercial truck drivers must abide by limits on the number of hours they can drive each day and each week, if they operate a commercial motor vehicle such as a tractor trailer or cargo tanker. These limits are known as hours of service rules. Drivers who are pushing to meet unreasonable delivery deadlines frequently violate the limits. In some instances, trucking companies encourage the behavior by paying incentives to drivers based on when the delivery is made. A knowledgeable truck accident attorney will move quickly to obtain and review a driver’s logs and on-board recorder to determine whether the driver has taken required rest breaks and whether the driver was likely driving dangerously fatigued. A driver who knowingly violated the hours-of-service limits and caused an accident may have reckless disregard for safety and be held accountable.
Are the owners of semi-trucks required to carry higher amounts of liability insurance than automobile drivers?
Yes. Large trucks have the potential to cause catastrophic damage in crashes. As a result, trucking companies are required to carry more liability insurance than an automobile owner. The state of Indiana requires that semi-trucks with a vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds or more that transport nonhazardous freight have a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance. Private and for hire transportation companies that transport hazardous materials are required to have $1 million to $5 million in liability insurance coverage, depending on the type of material transported. The higher amounts of insurance allow for greater compensation after serious truck accidents.
You should not wait. It’s important to speak with an experienced Indiana truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after an accident involving a semi-truck. You want to avoid saying or doing anything that could adversely affect your claim for compensation for your injuries. The insurance company lawyers are experienced in dealing with truck accidents. You need a knowledgeable truck accident attorney on your side to level the playing field.
I am recovering from injuries in an accident caused by a drunk truck driver. He has been charged with driving under the influence. Should I do anything else?
You should contact a personal injury lawyer to understand your legal options. A truck driver whose blood alcohol content exceeded the legal limit may face criminal charges for drunken driving. But a criminal conviction of the truck driver will not provide any compensation to cover your medical bills or other losses. You will need to file a separate civil lawsuit against the truck driver and the trucking company that employed the driver seeking compensation for your personal injuries and related losses. In alcohol-related fatal crashes in Indiana, drivers of large trucks represented approximately 4 percent of those who were legally impaired, according to Indiana Crash Facts. It’s important to have a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer review the specific facts of the accident.
I have been out of work since being seriously injured in a truck accident. How can I afford a truck accident lawyer?
We understand that you and your family are going through a difficult time as a result of your injuries and inability to work after your accident. You certainly do not need more bills right now. If your case is the type that we handle, our truck accident lawyers at Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC will handle your case on a contingency fee basis. A contingency fee arrangement allows an accident victim to have legal representation without having to pay any legal fees or out-of-pocket costs. Our truck accident attorneys only get paid if we are successful in obtaining an insurance settlement or jury verdict for you. We receive a portion of the settlement or verdict as the legal fee for our services.
When a person is killed as a result of a truck driver’s carelessness or negligence in a truck accident, the victim’s family may be entitled to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible parties. Indiana law specifies the types of damages that may be sought and who is entitled to recover compensation in wrongful death actions. The compensation can help a family cover the medical bills, fill the gap in the family’s income and pay for counseling to cope with the loss. A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer at Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC can evaluate the particulars of the accident, discuss your legal options and help you determine whether pursuing a wrongful death claim is the right thing to do.
We prepare each accident case thoroughly as if it is going to trial. But our experienced attorneys at Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC are skilled negotiators and settle most Indiana truck accident cases before trial. A just settlement allows the client to receive the money they need to pay medical bills and other expenses more quickly and avoids the uncertainty of a jury trial. We negotiate aggressively on behalf of our clients and communicate any settlement offers we receive. If the insurance company’s refuses to agree to a fair settlement, then our attorneys are battle-tested courtroom lawyers and are ready to fight for you in court.