If you or a person close to you was hurt in a truck accident, our Indianapolis truck accident lawyers can help you pursue the justice and compensation you need and deserve. The team at Rowe & Hamilton Attorneys at Law has decades of combined experience in truck accident cases. You can rely on us to uncover the negligence that caused your crash.
Thousands of semi-tractor trailers and large trucks pass through Indiana every year. Due to the sheer size of the truck and the weight difference from other vehicles on the road, truck accidents often result in severe and even fatal injuries.
At Rowe & Hamilton, we strive to hold the negligent parties responsible for the crash accountable for the injuries, damages, and wrongful death that might have occurred as a result of the accident. Our Indianapolis auto accident attorneys will fight to secure the highest possible compensation for you.
Call 317-482-7888 today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a truck accident lawyer in Indianapolis.
Truck Accident Statistics
Nationwide, Indiana is the 5th busiest state when it comes to commercial freight traffic. Each year, more than 724 million tons of freight travel via the Hoosier state. This means that it’s nearly inevitable that truck accidents will happen.
According to a publication from the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, 34.3% of the total commercial vehicle crashes occurred on interstates, and 23.1 happened on state roads.
According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) data released in May 2021:
- Approximately 538,000 large trucks were involved in traffic accidents in 2019 (police-reported data).
- During the same year, 5,005 people were killed in accidents involving large trucks across the country.
- In Indiana, about 5% of all motor vehicle accidents involve large trucks.
In 2019, 140 people lost their lives in truck accidents in Indiana. 20 of them were in a truck, 6 of them were not occupying vehicles (pedestrians, cyclists, and unknowns), and 114 of them were occupying another type of vehicle.
What Should You Do After a Truck Accident?
Being in a truck accident is frightening and overwhelming. Our Indianapolis truck accident lawyers recommend taking the following actions.
The first thing you should do is to call the police to the scene of the accident. This will help settle down the place and allow the police to collect accounts of the different parties involved.
Your safety and that of other people at the scene are a priority following a truck accident. Check yourself for injuries, and if you can, check on your passengers and other people involved in the accident.
Make sure that you note down important details such as the license plate numbers of the vehicles involved. Proceed to exchange information such as insurance information, contact details, and the driver’s license number.
Document the Scene
Once it’s safe to do so, collect as much evidence as possible while it’s still fresh. Take photos and videos of the crash scene, and make sure you capture the injuries sustained, damage to the vehicles, skid marks, road conditions, and any other relevant details.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you don’t think you were injured seriously, it’s still wise to visit your doctor following a truck accident. Some injuries, including serious internal injuries, won’t show their symptoms until a few hours or even days after the crash.
Call an Indianapolis Truck Accident Lawyer
In many cases, truck accidents will cause serious harm and damages, meaning that it’s in the best interest of the crash victims to talk to a knowledgeable Indianapolis truck accident lawyer.
Fortunately, we offer truck accident victims a free initial consultation at Rowe & Hamilton. An Indianapolis truck accident lawyer will assess your case with no financial obligations.
What Are the Laws Regarding Truck Accident Liability?
Indiana law has laws and regulations in place for the trucking industry. Here is an overview of some of these laws.
The main truck components, including the tires, brakes, lights, horns, emergency equipment, and others must be spot-checked before making a trip.
Federal regulations limit the number of hours a truck driver can drive to 11 hours, which should follow at least 10 hours off-duty time. 30-minute breaks are also required after 8 hours of continuous driving.
Indiana Is an At-Fault State
Indiana is an at-fault state, which affects how accident claims are handled. A person injured in a truck accident is responsible for seeking financial compensation from the defendant’s insurance company.
Working with a truck accident lawyer enhances your odds of receiving fair compensation for your damages. Keep in mind that you also have to prove that the other party was at fault for the accident, which is also an important reason to work with a truck accident lawyer.
How Can an Indianapolis Truck Accident Lawyer Help?
People occupying passenger vehicles often suffer serious injuries when they get into an accident with large commercial trucks. But when they start pursuing compensation, they often find that trucking companies and their insurers have teams of lawyers on standby, waiting to fight the claim and reduce the settlement amount they pay out or deny liability altogether.
Here are some of the ways an Indianapolis truck accident lawyer can help you get justice and fair compensation.
Your truck accident lawyer will investigate your accident in detail and identify all the parties that might be responsible for the crash. This may involve working with accident reconstructionists and other experts to show exactly how the accident occurred.
Once the full settlement amount is calculated, your truck accident lawyer will submit a claim to the right parties for compensation covering all your losses.
Filing the Claim
Your Indianapolis truck accident lawyer will also evaluate all the aspects of your case to establish who the defendants are. They will then prepare the necessary paperwork and make sure they file your claim in time before the statute of limitations elapses.
It’s quite common for the trucking company and their insurer to make settlement offers that limit your compensation amount. Working with an experienced Indianapolis truck accident lawyer will give you an informed perspective about the true value of your claim and will help you avoid accepting unreasonably low settlement offers.
In case the negotiations don’t work out, the Indianapolis truck accident lawyers at Rowe & Hamilton Law will not hesitate to take the case to trial. We will make sure that you meet all the necessary deadlines and convince the court why you deserve the full compensation amount.
What Types of Compensation Can I Receive?
The following are the different types of compensation you may be eligible for in a truck accident claim.
Economic damages encompass the different losses you incurred that have a fixed, calculable monetary value. You can calculate economic damages through medical bills, pay stubs, vehicle replacement or repair invoices, or other receipts.
Here are some examples of economic damages:
- Past, present, and future medical expenses
- Lost earnings or wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Property damage
Non-economic damages are meant to cover the intangible physical and psychological pain and suffering you suffered as a result of the accident. It’s almost impossible to assign a monetary value to these damages. Some examples include:
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Anxiety and depression
In some cases, the courts in Indiana may vote to award the injured victim punitive damages. This is done in cases where the defendant is found to have been extremely reckless or careless in their actions.
How Much Is My Truck Accident Claim Worth?
It’s not easy to calculate the exact amount your case is worth without knowing the full details of your case. There is also no standard formula for calculating settlement value. However, in general, the value of a truck accident claim will generally involve the following factors.
- Who is liable for the accident
- The nature and extent of injuries along with the required medical treatment
- The amount of insurance coverage available
- Whether or not you were the primary provider for your household
- Whether you suffered permanent or temporary disability
- Your number of dependents
Talking to an experienced truck accident lawyer in Indianapolis who has handled and successfully tried cases of this nature throughout Indiana is the best way to understand the true value of a truck accident case.
Is There a Deadline for Filing a Claim?
Indiana Code § 34-11-2-4(1) stipulates the statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Indiana. Under this law, you are allowed two years from the date of the accident to file a truck accident lawsuit. However, some limitations and exceptions apply, such as in cases involving government agencies or victims that are minors.
How Is Fault in a Truck Accident Determined?
For the defendant to be held liable for the truck accident, the plaintiff has to prove the four main elements of negligence as outlined below.
Duty of Care
The defendant, say a truck driver, must have owed the plaintiff (the victim) a duty of care. It’s presumed that all motorists have a duty of care towards other road users by following the traffic laws and taking reasonable care to avoid accidents.
Breach of Duty of Care
The defendant must have breached this duty of care, such as by breaking traffic laws, driving for more than the allowable hours, or engaging in actions that put other road users at risk of injury or harm.
This breach of duty of care must have been the direct cause of the accident. You can prove this by showing how the negligence on the truck driver or the trucking company’s part was the direct cause of the accident and your injuries.
You must have suffered damages and/or injuries that are compensable under Indiana laws.
It’s worth pointing out that Indiana is a modified comparative fault state. This means that the victim can only recover damages if they are less than 51% responsible for the accident. The settlement amount awarded is reduced based on your percentage of fault.
For instance, if you are awarded $100,000 in damages by the judge, but you are found to be 30% responsible for the accident, your settlement will be reduced by 30%, meaning you will only recover $70,000 from the settlement.
Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Prove the Truck Driver Was Negligent?
Yes. Your Indianapolis truck accident lawyer will use the available evidence to demonstrate how the truck driver was negligent in their actions, and how this ended up causing the accident. Our team knows the different strategies to acquire compelling evidence, including police records, witness statements, drug and alcohol tests, medical records, and surveillance footage.
Your truck accident lawyer also has the resources and access to experts such as accident reconstructionists who can help strengthen your case. They can also subpoena phone records to see if the truck driver was texting while driving.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
At Rowe & Hamilton, we strive to hold the negligent parties responsible for injuries and wrongful death caused by truck accidents.
Most trucking accidents will be a result of driver negligence. However, there are other factors beyond the control of the driver that could contribute to truck accidents. With this in mind, here are the entities that may be held liable for these kinds of accidents.
The Truck Driver
A truck driver will be held liable for the accident if the accident happened while he/she was off-duty or if they were using the truck for other purposes other than official job duties. The driver can also face liability if they were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident.
The Trucking Companies
The trucking company could bear responsibility for the accident if they failed to properly train and vet their drivers, or if the company hired a driver without conducting the proper background checks.
In case the accident is found to have been caused by a defective part, the manufacturer can be held liable for the resulting claims from victims. For such claims, the plaintiffs will have to prove that the defective part was the direct cause of the accident and the resulting damages.
The Truck Maintenance Provider
If it is established that poor maintenance of the truck caused the accident, the company responsible for maintaining the truck could be held liable. The technicians who performed the faulty maintenance could face liability for the resulting damages.
The Company That Loaded the Truck
The cargo handling company that was responsible for loading the truck could be held responsible for the accident in case they are found to have broken laws such as the weight limit requirements or failed to secure the load properly.
If the court establishes that poor road maintenance or construction caused the accident, government agencies responsible for the road could be held liable. However, taking such legal action will be a lot more difficult compared to other parties.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Many factors can lead to a truck accident. The following are the most common causes.
Federal and state laws and regulations limit the number of hours truck drivers are allowed to spend on the road. However, many truckers exceed these restrictions, often from pressure from their employers. This often leads to driver fatigue, which can easily cause an accident.
In recent years, distracted driving has been on the rise. It has even become a leading cause of accidents on our roads. Truck drivers who text while driving, talk on the phone, communicate with dispatch, check social media, or give in to other possible distractions can be held responsible for the accidents they cause.
Merging unexpectedly, speeding, braking too late, tailgating, and other reckless behavior can easily lead to a truck accident. When a truck driver makes an error, the results are often devastating.
Drunk driving is a major concern on Indiana roads, which is why there are strict laws around DUI/DWI, especially for truck drivers. Since truckers operate heavy and large vehicles, they have a greater responsibility not to drink and drive.
Oversized or Improperly Secured Freight
There are strict regulations on the amount of weight a truck can carry, but in some cases, the trucking companies may go overboard with the cargo for various reasons. Unsafely loaded trucks can become imbalanced, which may cause them to tip over and cause serious crashes.
Oversized freight also makes the truck much heavier, and if the cargo is improperly secured, it’s more likely to move inside the truck. Unfortunately, this can be quite dangerous for both the truck driver and other road users.
Inexperienced and Poorly Trained Drivers
Inexperience and poor training is a major cause of truck accidents that cannot be attributed to the driver, rather, the trucking company and their trainer is responsible for providing the proper training. An inexperienced driver or a poorly trained one may not even be aware of their lack of skills.
Lack of Maintenance
The law requires all trucks to be maintained properly. The trucking companies should also keep an active logbook of all repairs and maintenance work. However, with trucks in high demand, some companies often cut corners and neglect to maintain their trucks, which makes it easier for accidents to occur.
Poor Road Conditions
Poor road maintenance can also cause a truck to lose control and result in a serious crash. Large potholes, unmarked road construction, confusing traffic signals, and unexpected detours can particularly lead to truck accidents.
Talk to an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer in Indianapolis Today
If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident, the personal injury lawyers at Rowe & Hamilton Attorneys at Law can help you recover compensation for the damages and severe injuries you incurred. We are always available to discuss the prospects of your case and guide you on the best way forward.
We handle truck accident cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that we will only get paid once we successfully obtain a settlement on your behalf or win your case in court. You have nothing to lose by reaching out to us for help today.