When coming up on a big truck on the I-65 or any other Indiana highway, it’s only natural to get a bit nervous. After all, these massive vehicles can weigh more than 10 times more than your average car – which sets trucking collisions among the most serious accidents.
Thankfully, most truck drivers take the necessary precautions to keep themselves and others safe on the road. But that isn’t the case for all.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, you have first-hand experience of the far-reaching effects. When someone else’s actions cause your injuries, you need justice and to recover compensation for your losses.
You deserve a caring law firm with the strength to make a difference in your case. At Hensley Legal Group, we are committed to our clients and see them as family, not dollar signs.
Contact one of our Indiana truck accident lawyers today at (317) 472-3333 to learn more about your legal options.
What Makes Truck Accidents Different From Car Accidents?
Every car accident is unique. Truck accidents tend to be especially different from collisions involving passenger cars in various ways.
Extent of damage
First, there is the question of injuries and damage. Of course, a semi-truck, delivery truck, or any other large vehicle can do a lot more damage than a passenger car.
In many trucking accidents, the car is so damaged that it is “written off” instead of being repaired. You may need to replace your vehicle entirely.
A truck accident can also cause a number of injuries, which would be included in your personal injury claim.
Some collision injuries may be relatively minor, not requiring extensive medical treatment. But truck accidents tend to result in more serious injuries for the vehicles involved.
A trucking accident can cause serious injury such as:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Fractures and broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Loss of limb
- Sprains and strains
Both a property damage claim and a personal injury claim can be filed after an accident. Your property damage claim would handle the damages to your vehicle or any other property involved in the accident.
Type of insurance
Another thing that makes a difference with truck accidents is that nearly every large truck is a commercial vehicle. Commercial vehicles and semi-trucks must follow specific regulations.
For example, the insurance limits are different for passenger vehicles and large trucks.
In Indiana, for-hire carriers with a gross vehicle weight of 10,001 lbs or more that transport non-hazardous property must carry a minimum of $750,000 insurance. This insurance minimum increases to $1,000,000 to $5,000,000 when transporting hazardous material.
The specific details surrounding regulations for commercial vehicles can complicate the claims process. This is especially confusing and overwhelming if you try to pursue compensation on your own.
When it comes to complex cases, like those involving commercial trucks, you need the help of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney backed by a strong law firm.
Our Indiana truck accident lawyers at Hensley Legal Group have experience with trucking accident cases. When our legal team takes on your case, your lawyer can investigate thoroughly to accurately determine fault, working quickly to gather information and documents including the police report which evaluates the truck accident scene.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation to learn how our truck accident attorneys can help after a commercial truck accident.
How is Fault Determined in a Truck Accident?
Before the question of recovering compensation can be considered, we must first determine who was at fault for the accident.
Indiana follows a “modified comparative fault” system. This essentially means two things: (1) you are only able to recover damages if you are less than 51 percent at fault for the accident, and (2) the compensation you can receive is reduced depending on your percentage of fault.
Let’s imagine you suffered $10,000 of damages from a truck accident where you were found to be 30 percent at fault. According to Indiana law, you would still be able to receive compensation, but your settlement would be reduced by 30 percent (your percentage of fault) – so you would recover $7000 of damages.
So who can be found at fault for a truck accident? The process may be complicated, but the right law firm with all the necessary resources can determine the answer.
When the truck driver is at fault
In 2019, unsafe driver actions were behind 65 percent of all collisions in Indiana. Although they are professional drivers, truck drivers may engage in a number of unsafe driving practices.
Unsafe driving practices can include:
- Distracted driving
- Failure to yield
- Driving under the influence
- Unsafe lane changes
Sometimes, it is not always obvious what caused the crash. Or, even if you saw the truck driver engaged in one of these practices, it can be difficult to prove their actions without sufficient evidence.
When you work with an experienced lawyer at Hensley Legal Group, your truck accident case is in good hands. You can be confident that your Indiana truck accident lawyer will investigate and examine all the evidence to build you a strong case.
When the trucking company is at fault
Trucking companies are required to follow a number of standards to ensure safety. Unfortunately, some trucking companies may be tempted to ignore certain safety regulations to increase their profits.
For example, vehicle maintenance, employee qualifications, and worker hours are regulated for semi-trucks.
Trucking companies may sometimes neglect to perform the necessary maintenance on their vehicles. Or unqualified drivers without the proper licenses and training may be hired.
Sometimes, trucking companies can even pressure their workers to work long hours without rest. Sleepy, overworked drivers are more likely to cause a dangerous crash.
When a government agency is at fault
Some types of large government trucks you can find on the road may include:
- Garbage trucks
- Fire trucks
- School or city busses
Drivers of these government trucks could engage in dangerous driving practices as well, but sometimes the government’s role in the accident is less direct.
Local or state governments are responsible for the safe maintenance of many public roads. When roads are poorly maintained or have insufficient signage, this can contribute to an accident as well.
So what can you do if a government agency bears responsibility for your accident? Suing a government agency is a much more complicated process with its own set of rules.
The modified comparative fault system in Indiana does not apply to truck accidents involving government vehicles. Instead, a pure contributory negligence rule applies.
This means that you are unable to receive damages even if you were merely 1 percent at fault for the crash.
Another difference is the amount of time you have to make a claim. The statute of limitations is only 180 days instead of 2 years, and there is additional paperwork that must be filed as well.
Especially in truck accidents involving a government agency, working with an experienced personal injury lawyer is vital.
A free case evaluation with one of our Indiana truck accident lawyers can provide the information you need to move forward with your claim.
When a truck accident occurs due to a faulty part
Sometimes it isn’t the truck driver, trucking company, or government agency who is at fault. Despite doing all the right things, an accident can still happen due to a faulty part.
Malfunctioning parts that could contribute to a truck accident include:
A defect in any of these parts makes a car or large truck less safe and more likely to cause an accident. Your lawyer can look into whether a mechanical or electrical failure played a role in your crash.
Indiana Trucking Laws
Indiana law has clearly set regulations in place for each trucking company to follow regarding semi-trucks and tractor-trailers, including:
- Weight limits: Maximum weight of 127,400 lbs. Maximum axle weight of 22,400 lbs (single) or 36,000 lbs (tandem).
- Maintenance requirements: Main components, such as the brakes, tires, horns, emergency equipment, and lights, must be spot-checked before each trip.
- Worker hours: Federal regulations state that drivers can only drive for up to 11 hours following at least 10 hours off duty. Also, 30-minute driving breaks are required after 8 consecutive driving hours. There is also a limit of 60/70 on-duty hours for every 7/8 consecutive days, respectively.
These regulations have been put in place for a reason. Various organizations have put forth considerable effort to reduce accidents on Indiana roads and keep Hoosiers safe.
When a driver, trucking company, or someone else fails to follow these laws, lives are put at risk. Such negligence is unacceptable, and the at-fault party should be held responsible.
Our lawyers have decades of experience with truck accident cases and know all relevant Indiana regulations inside and out. Our personal injury attorneys have been recognized time and again for their excellence, including being part of America’s Top 100 Attorneys.
Contact our office today for a free consultation about your potential claim.
What Types of Compensation are Available After an Indiana Truck Accident?
The law allows truck accident victims to receive compensation for their losses. But that doesn’t mean that the insurance company will offer a fair settlement from the start.
After all, as a business, the insurer is primarily interested in protecting its bottom line.
Often, the insurance company will pressure the accident victim to accept a settlement as soon as possible. Insurance companies may try to scare you into accepting a settlement that is lower than you are owed, before you may even know the full extent of your damages.
That is why: you must never accept a settlement before speaking to a truck accident attorney.
The compensation you are owed by law may be more than you think. Don’t let an insurer bully you into accepting less than you should receive.
Instead, book a free case evaluation with Hensley Legal Group.
After thoroughly examining your case, your personal injury lawyer will be able to estimate your case’s true value. From there, he or she will fight for you to recover the compensation you deserve.
At a minimum, your compensation should fully cover the cost of all medical treatment resulting from the accident.
These medical bills can include the costs of:
- Prescription medication
- Rehabilitation and therapy
- Home care
While some of the costs of treatment are noticeable right away after the accident, the majority are not.
For example, the full extent of your injuries is most likely not known in the days after the injury. Treatments may need to continue for weeks, months, or even years.
A truck accident claim can be stressful and draining. This leads some accident victims to accept a settlement too fast, reasoning that something is better than nothing.
In reality, though, fair compensation should cover much more than simply your medical bills. You should be able to recover all your damages suffered from a no-fault accident, financial or not – and experienced truck accident attorneys can make this possible.
Your serious injuries caused by your truck accident likely had an impact on your income as well.
For example, there may have been days or weeks of lost wages as you recovered. Or perhaps your injuries may even have prevented you from being able to continue doing the same work.
These are financial losses that are directly related to the accident and should be included in your settlement as well.
You can be sure that your truck accident attorney will take time to fully understand the impact your injuries have had on you and your family. He or she will fight for your settlement to reflect your true damages – including lost wages and even future earning capacity.
Of course, the damages you suffered can go beyond your pocketbook. A severe trucking accident, like a semi-truck accident, can be traumatic and leave deep emotional scars.
You could suffer from PTSD after a trucking accident, which takes its own serious emotional toll. Permanent disabilities, scarring, or disfigurement can change your quality of life as well.
The emotional toll a truck accident can have should not be ignored. Your lawyer can fight to ensure these damages are taken into account for your settlement.
Our Legal Team is Here to Help After Your Truck Accident
If you have been injured in a truck accident, you need a law firm you can count on. As one of Indiana’s highest-rated law firms, Hensley Legal Group is equipped to provide the legal representation you need.
When you work with us, you will have an honest, assertive, and dependable attorney at your side to defend your legal rights and fight the insurance companies.
Plus, since we only work on a contingency fee basis, you never need to worry about upfront costs. We only get paid when you do.
You can feel confident leaving your commercial truck accident case in the hands of our local law firm. Contact us today for more information and to schedule a free consultation about your potential case.