Tractor-trailer accidents are often more serious than automobile crashes. Due to a truck’s awkward maneuvering, size, and weight, collisions can involve multiple vehicles, often causing severe injuries, mangled personal automobiles and fatalities.
Further, multiple parties are sometimes held liable if a truck crashes, making recovering damages more complex than for other types of motor vehicle accidents.
What Should You Do After a Tractor-Trailer Accident?
If you are a truck accident victim, there are several things to keep in mind. If you are badly injured or shaken, ask someone to do these things for you:
- Check yourself and other people in your vehicle for injuries and provide first aid if possible. If you are able, also assist other vehicles’ occupants.
- Call 911 and be ready to tell the emergency operator how many people may require medical assistance.
- Gather evidence, including photos, videos and voice recordings of injuries, vehicle damage and placement, witness accounts and your statement of the events that caused the crash.
- Allow medical personnel to examine and treat you. Emergency services will likely dispatch paramedics, but if not, go to your doctor or a medical facility when you leave the accident scene.
- Contact a tractor-trailer accident attorney.
As important as those things are, it’s also essential that you don’t do things that might damage your case. Don’t:
- Give unnecessary details to anyone, including insurance adjusters for other drivers
- Share details or photos of the accident through social media
- Lie to law enforcement officials, your attorney, or the courts
- Refuse or cease medical treatment
- Sign documents without your attorney’s input
- Accept or admit fault for the collision
What Are Common Truck Accidents?
Driver fatigue can cause slower reaction times and, therefore, truck accidents. Hours of Service regulations govern the length of time that drivers can drive without breaks and how long those breaks must be. However, not all drivers follow these rules.
Although human error, such as fatigue, distracted driving or speeding, causes some truck accidents, others result from the characteristics of the trucks themselves. Big trucks aren’t as maneuverable as cars for several reasons. Trucks can’t stop quickly because of their weight, which averages 80,000 pounds when loaded. Unevenly loaded or improperly restrained cargo throws the truck’s balance off, causing steering difficulties.
Common types of truck accidents, including some that personal vehicles can’t have, include:
A tractor-trailer has two separate parts: the cab and the trailer. If a driver brakes hard, the trailer’s weight can push it toward the cab at a 90-degree angle. The cab is trying to stop quickly, but the trailer’s forward momentum doesn’t allow slowing at the same rate. This often causes the driver to lose control.
Jackknifing and other things like tire blowouts, slick roads, shifting cargo and driver distraction can cause trucks to go out of control. Sometimes, out-of-control trucks slide and become overbalanced, rolling onto their sides. Surrounding vehicles may be hit or crushed by sliding or rolling trucks.
All vehicles can experience head-on collisions, but much larger semi-trucks usually cause significant damage to smaller automobiles and their occupants.
Rear-End and Under Ride Collisions
The underside of truck trailers is usually between 42 to 60 inches off the ground, while most passenger cars are only around five feet tall. Cars that rear-end tractor-trailer trucks don’t just hit a solid surface like they would if hitting another vehicle. They can drive under the back end of the trailer.
If a truck rear-ends a passenger vehicle, its weight and increased height can cause it to hit and ride up on top of the car.
Improperly loaded cargo includes uneven weight distribution and inadequately restrained loads. Both conditions can cause drivers to lose control of their trucks, and at times cargo can be thrown from the truck even if no other issues exist. Automobiles around trucks with cargo problems are sometimes hit or crushed by the truck or its spilled cargo.
No Man’s Land
“No man’s land” refers to the huge blind spots that trucks have. Truck drivers can cause accidents simply because they can’t see obstacles or other vehicles.
Who Is Liable in Tractor Trailer Accidents?
Unlike most personal vehicles, truck drivers aren’t the only ones who can be held liable for accidents they are involved in. Other potentially responsible parties are:
- The trucking company
- The company that loaded the cargo
- The truck or parts manufacturer
- Government agencies if the accident resulted from poorly maintained or designed roadways
Along with every party involved in the accident comes their insurance company. As you can imagine, none of them will want to be held liable, and fingers will be pointed in every direction. Although this process can be extremely complicated, your personal injury attorney from Hensley Legal Group knows how to navigate the situation and will work hard to obtain maximum compensation for you.
Why Does Liability Matter?
Indiana uses shared liability laws and the modified comparative fault rules in truck accident cases. More than one driver is sometimes responsible for a wreck, and a percentage of fault is assigned to each driver.
In Indiana, a driver who is over 50 percent at fault is not eligible to recover any damages. Drivers who are 50 percent or less than 50 percent at fault have their potential damages reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to them.
Because of these rules, your tractor trailer accident attorney will attempt to show that you were not at fault in the collision. They will perform an independent investigation to gather evidence to prove you’re not liable, such as:
- Surveillance videos that captured the accident as it happened
- Cell phone records of drivers involved
- Police reports
- Witness statements
- Social media posts made by other accident victims or drivers
- Insurance company investigation reports
Why Should You Hire a Semi-Truck Accident Attorney?
Insurance companies look after their own interests, not yours. They are likely to offer lowball settlement offers that won’t cover all your damages and expenses. Your attorney knows these tactics and won’t allow insurance companies to take advantage of you. They will aggressively negotiate a fair settlement or represent your interests in court if necessary.
There are different kinds of damages you may be compensated for, including:
- Medical expenses
- Certain out-of-pocket expenses
- Lost wages
- Damage to your vehicle or other property
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of the ability to enjoy life
In rare cases, you may also be eligible for punitive damages. Your attorney will also file any necessary paperwork for you and be the point of contact for your case so that you can focus on getting better.
How Can Hensley Legal Group Help?
Hensley Legal Group is a highly rated personal injury firm with several office locations throughout Indiana. With years of experience and many resources, your tractor-trailer accident attorney from Hensley Legal Group is well-prepared to fight to get the compensation you deserve.
Better yet, Hensley Legal Group operates on a contingency basis. That means you won’t pay attorney fees unless we obtain a settlement or award for you.
Your compassionate attorney will schedule a virtual meeting or visit you in your home or hospital room if that’s more comfortable and convenient for you. Your job is to recover; ours is to do everything we can to help make your recovery easier and obtain maximum compensation for you.
Contact us by calling (317) 210-4795 or through our website. We offer online live chat and a submission form for your free case review.