Accidents involving a semi-truck tend to be significantly deadlier than those involving cars. According to government officials, in 2019, 60,744 truck crashes resulted in injury and 4,805 resulted in at least one fatality in the U.S. Approximately 75 percent of fatalities were a result of a collision. If you find yourself in a truck accident, you may have questions regarding what your options are and what is involved in a truck accident case. While an attorney can answer any questions you may have, this primer will touch on some examples.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Truck Accident?
Since a court determines the total amount of a settlement based on many factors, the amount involved can vary greatly. Individuals can be awarded wildly different amounts depending on various factors. Ultimately, three primary factors determine the amount: Who was responsible, what the types of damages are, and what the extent of damages is. If you are not at fault for the accident, you are likely to receive more than if you are partially at fault. Personal injury damages tend to make up most of the settlement, and severe and extensive damage is worth more than minor damage. Regardless of the amount of compensation you seek, there are some general tips you can use that can help get you started when filing an insurance claim, such as not rushing into a settlement for the sake of convenience, as you will almost certainly be selling your claim short.
What Types of Injuries Tend to be Worth The Most?
The more severe the injury, the more the damages will be. Permanent and disabling injuries that result in a loss of bodily function, particularly those that hinder basic daily activities, are worth far more than injuries that are temporary and relatively minor. Back injuries are one type of injury that tend to be highly disabling. The greater the disability, the more the case is worth. Medical costs are not the only type of damage that goes into the total amount. Other damages that may factor into the final amount are property damages, damages for emotional distress, and loss of wages as a result of the crash.
Is Indiana a No-Fault State?
No, Indiana is not a no-fault state. Instead, it is a fault-based state. This means that the driver who is at fault pays the damages for the other driver through their insurance company. Compare this with states that are no-fault, which means the driver’s insurance company is always liable for his or her damages.
Is a Car Accident Different from a Truck Accident?
Legally, there is little to no difference as both are considered auto accidents, but truck accidents tend to be costlier and have larger compensation amounts than car accidents. This is because trucks, due to their size and weight, tend to cause more severe damage to both property and individuals when they are involved in a crash. An accident in which one vehicle is a 40,000-pound truck and another is a 4,000-pound sedan is going to result in more damage than an accident between two similarly-weighted sedans. There are also some particulars involved if the driver of the truck is an employee of the vehicle’s trucking company. Trucking companies are more likely to spend larger amounts of time and resources to defend a claim involving their employee, as the court may hold them responsible for their employee’s actions.
What If the Driver of the Truck Is an Employee of the Vehicle’s Trucking Company?
Truck accident claims tend to be more complicated than claims involving a car accident in large part because of who is typically responsible for the crash. In addition to the trucking company or driver, the court may hold other parties accountable such as the truck’s manufacturer or the company responsible for loading the truck. This leads to multiple insurance companies becoming involved, which in turn leads to each company attempting to deny responsibility and pin it on another party. The court may hold the employer of the driver responsible if they break a regulation. An example would be forcing the driver to work hours beyond the limit of 11 hours per day (this number can vary if, for instance, the driver worked extended hours the previous day or has not driven for a certain amount of time) or allowing the driver to operate the vehicle when they are impaired. There are size and weight restrictions for trucks and their loads, as well. For example, the maximum total weight a truck and its cargo can be is 80,000 pounds. They must not be wider than eight feet and six inches or taller than 13 feet and feet and six inches, and the length of the truck must not exceed 50 feet. There are exceptions to these rules, however. Size and weight requirements do not apply to vehicles carrying machinery or equipment related to highway construction or maintenance. The state can issue a permit if the trucking company wishes to exceed these legal limits.
Can the Trucking Company Conceal How Long the Truck Has Been In Use?
Because most trucks carry a “black box,” or event recorder, that records the length of time a vehicle has traveled, it is unlikely they will be able to argue that their employee drove outside of the time stated in the box’s record. In addition, attorneys are free to request access to the black box to see if the trucking company broke any regulations. The black box records other useful information in addition to the hours of driving. It might contain communications between the driver and his or her employer, which may contain evidence that the employer knew its driver was impaired or that there were mechanical issues with the vehicle. It might contain GPS information, the truck’s tire pressure, its number of hard stops, whether the airbag deployed, whether the driver was wearing a seatbelt, sudden acceleration or deceleration events, or if and when the driver applied the brakes.
What If I Want a Crash Report?
The police write up crash reports at the scene of an accident and these are often used as evidence in court. It includes details about the crash and statements by witnesses and those involved in the crash and a drawing depicting the accident. An officer may determine whether one driver was at fault when they investigate the scene. Crash reports written up by the Indiana police can be requested with an official inquiry. The insurance companies involved will almost certainly request a copy as soon as they are able.
Where Can I Get Legal Assistance?
While car accidents can be complicated, trucking accidents can quickly become even more complex. There is a wide variety of laws, regulations, and specifics to consider when seeking damages after a truck accident. The truck accident attorneys at Hensley Legal Group have the know-how to assist you in any claim you may be pursuing. Contact us for a free consultation.