Large trucks and other commercial vehicles pose a significant risk to all travelers on Indianapolis’s roads. Despite their obvious utility in moving cargo from one location to another, the massive size of these vehicles makes them slow to stop in an emergency and unable to see smaller vehicles in close proximity.
The resulting injuries that can result from a collision with a commercial vehicle have the potential to devastate every part of your life. Naturally, this may include physical injuries. Additionally, a crash can impact your ability to earn a living, enjoy time with loved ones, or even live a life free from pain.
If you were injured in a collision involving a big rig or tractor-trailer, an Indianapolis truck accident lawyer may be able to help you. A skilled personal injury attorney could explain the laws that govern safe truck operations and demonstrate how a trucker’s failure to follow those rules led to your injuries. It is also worth noting the rise in truck collisions and fatality rates rising in Indiana between 2019 and 2020 despite the reduced traffic on the roads due to COVID-19. Research shows the reason why the fatality rates rose was primarily caused by truck driver negligence.
Truck Drivers Have a Duty to Not Harm Other Travelers
All drivers on Indianapolis’s roads assume a duty to protect other people. This includes the universal duties of obeying speed limits, stopping at red lights, yielding when required, and refraining from texting while driving.
However, additional rules govern the safe operation of tractor-trailers and other large commercial trucks. One of the most common violations that can result in accidents is the restrictions on a truck driver’s drive times. According to regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truckers cannot be on the road for more than 11 hours after ten hours of rest.
Additionally, truckers cannot drive more than 60 hours in seven consecutive days. Violations of this law can lead to fatigue that reduces reaction times and makes accidents more likely. An Indianapolis truck accident attorney could investigate the cause of a collision to determine how a truck driver failed in their obligation to protect others.
Causes of a Truck Collision
There is no doubt that truck crashes have the potential to result in serious injuries. A simple lapse in judgment or moment of inattentiveness behind the wheel may lead to accidents that devastate the lives of others. Examples can include:
- Blind spot collisions
Each of these scenarios places other travelers at risk of severe harm. However, injured individuals are only able to collect compensation for their losses if they can prove that a trucker was responsible for the crash. One primary role that an Indianapolis truck accident attorney could play is in proving this concept.
It is important to begin the process of proving fault as soon as the accident occurs. If people are able, they should collect evidence from the scene of the crash. This may include pictures and video of the scene. They should also talk with any witnesses who observed the collision and obtain their contact information. Finally, calling the police will result in people receiving all necessary medical care as well as result in the creation of a report that offers a non-biased perspective on the incident.
However, this evidence may not be sufficient to prove that a trucker caused a collision. An Indianapolis truck accident lawyer could work with accident reconstruction specialists to demonstrate that a trucker was to blame for the accident. This information may combine with the observations of others to leave no doubt that a truck driver caused the incident that led to injuries.
Sharing Responsibility for a Crash
This is especially important when considering that the state uses the concept called modified comparative negligence to assign fault for accidents. According to Indiana Code § 34-51-2-6, courts must evaluate the actions of all parties involved in an accident and assign blame accordingly. Truckers may attempt to argue that it was an injured person’s violation of the rules of the road or inattentiveness that contributed to the accident.
If a court believes this argument, it must reduce an injured person’s compensation by their percentage of the blame. If this percentage rises to 51 percent, the court must dismiss the demand for compensation. A lawyer could take the lead in demonstrating that a truck driver’s poor choices were the sole cause of the collision.
A Trucking Company May Share Responsibility
One important but often overlooked aspect of a truck accident case is the proper identification of liable parties. A trucker who causes an accident is to blame for the incident. And their insurance company protects the driver from much personal liability.
However, in some situations, a trucking company may share the blame. This is because of the concept of law called respondeat superior. In short, this law states that employers are responsible for the negligent acts of their employees while those employees are performing work duties. As a result, if a trucker was on the clock when a collision occurred, it is likely that their employer is jointly liable. This may not always be true.
Many truckers are independent contractors who own their own vehicles. In these situations, that trucker and their insurance company are the sole potential defendants.
It is essential to be able to make this determination quickly. Indiana Code § 34-11-2-4 says that there is a strict two-year time limit on claims for compensation following truck accidents. A knowledgeable Indianapolis truck accident lawyer could help to identify all possible defendants and file insurance claims and lawsuits within the statute of limitations.
Potential Forms of Compensation Following a Truck Accident
The law says that an at-fault party must provide full compensation to all people who suffer harm because of their actions. The fact that an injury was the result of an accident is no exception to this rule because truck drivers have an obligation to keep all other people safe from harm while behind the wheel. This is because all truck drivers assume a duty to protect others while on the road.
As a result, a vital part of any truck accident case is evaluating how the incident has impacted a victim’s life. Unfortunately, these incidents tend to be more severe and require extensive physical rehabilitation, hospitalization, and even surgery. No matter the extent of a person’s physical injuries, the liable driver, company, and insurance provider must pay for the costs of all connected medical care.
However, an accident can impact a person’s life emotionally and financially as well. These events are traumatic and can damage a person’s emotional wellbeing as well as their physical health. These are experiences that damage a person’s quality of life and justify significant compensation. Additionally, many people involved in truck crashes experience flashbacks, nightmares, or other forms of PTSD. It is necessary to explain how the event has changed a person’s life. An Indianapolis truck collision attorney could take the lead in this process.
Finally, a comprehensive claim may demand payments for economic losses. These typically include property damage to one’s vehicle and lost income due to missing time at work. An attorney could assist parties to determine how their finances have suffered due to a truck driver’s negligence and to demand appropriate compensation for all their losses.
Contact an Indianapolis Truck Accident Attorney Today to Discuss Your Legal Options
Suffering injuries in a truck accident can place you in a difficult position. Of course, you need to make your best recovery and try to get your life back to normal. Sadly, the need to attend medical appointments lost quality of life, and an inability to get back to work may make this impossible. Thankfully, the law says that you have the right to demand compensation for all your losses from negligent truck drivers, their insurance companies, and their employers. However, collecting these payments can be a fight in and of itself.
Collecting appropriate payments after a truck accident requires you to show that a truck driver was at fault for the accident. This could necessitate gathering evidence from the scene of the crash, talking with witnesses, and even working with accident reconstruction experts. You will also need to demonstrate how the incident has impacted your life.
Let an Indianapolis truck accident lawyer take every necessary step to bring you the compensation that you deserve while you concentrate on setting your life back in order. Considering the severity of injuries resulting from commercial truck vehicles colliding into you or a loved one’s standard-sized vehicle, our trial lawyers would begin the investigation process immediately.
If you have a case, our attorneys would hire investigators to evaluate the truck’s condition and file a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent the truck company’s insurance representatives from trying to remove the black box of the truck. The black box tracks the driver’s log times and could determine whether the trucker was driving beyond his which tracks the trucker’s drive log time. Again, if the trucker was driving for more than 11 hours before this collision occurred, the trucker has violated the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration laws discussed above. As such, hiring an experienced attorney who handles truck accident cases is critical to the value of your case. We look forward to representing you against the commercial trucking company. Call today to receive a free case consultation.