An accident with a semi truck, box truck, or another commercial vehicle is an unfortunate common cause of injury and death on Indiana roadways. The most tragic part is how often these incidents were and are preventable.
Whether the driver of a commercial vehicle is negligent or deliberately behaving unsafely, the consequences are equally devastating for all involved and injured in a trucking accident. Sometimes the trucking company is the one being negligent or malicious, if trucks are not maintained or truck drivers don’t get the rest and breaks they need.
Read more about what you need to know as a victim of a truck accident in Indiana, and how our team of Indianapolis semi truck attorneys represents and succeeds for victims of semi accidents.
Semi Truck Attorneys: Indiana Commercial Vehicle Accident Statistics
Over 16,000 people had an accident with a commercial vehicle in Indiana in 2017. These truck and commercial vehicle collisions included 16% of all fatal traffic collisions in Indiana, claiming 152 lives. Most shockingly, there was a 21% increase in Indiana commercial vehicle collision fatalities from 2016 to 2017.
Why? Almost 94% of these accidents were related to the behavior of one or more drivers involved. Here are the most common behaviors by commercial drivers that led to commercial vehicle accidents:
- Unsafe lane movement: 2774 (19.5%)
- Following too closely:2302 (16%)
- Unsafe backing: 1542 (11%)
- Improper Turning: 1183 (8%)
But beyond these simple behaviors driving and following the rules of the road in Indiana, there are other factors that may cause a semi collision in Indiana. These are more specifically related to what happened before the accident and how the driver and carrier were monitoring for quality and safety.
Commercial Driver Inattention and Error
Distracted driving and driver inattention is growing rapidly on our roadways, and is the cause of more and more accidents each year. Other times, semi collisions on Indiana interstates are caused by a lapse in judgment or a bad decision. In a national survey of 141,000 truck accidents across 17 states, the Federal Motor Carrier Administration identified that 55% of the time, the large truck involved was the cause of the crash. They also identified four critical reasons that showed up when the truck driver was the cause of the accident:
- Decision (38%–30,000 trucks) : For example, the driver was driving too fast for conditions, misjudged the speed of other vehicles, or followed other vehicles too closely.
- Recognition (28%–20,000 trucks): The driver was inattentive, was distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle, or failed to observe the situation adequately for some other reason.
- Non-Performance (12%–9,000 trucks): The driver fell asleep, was disabled by a heart attack or seizure, or was physically impaired for another reason.
- Performance (9%–7,000 trucks): For example, the driver panicked, overcompensated, or exercised poor directional control.
While these mistakes by a truck driver may not always be caused by negligence or malice, there are lots of accidents where it is suspected the truck driver or their employer was not meeting their responsibilities. In those cases, it’s essential to contact an Indiana trucking accident attorney experienced in building a case to get a truck accident injury victim their fair treatment under the law.
Delivery Scheduling and Carrier Oversight
After an accident with a tractor-trailer, there are many parties involved that could be responsible for the causes of the accident. Entities like an Indiana trucking company or the broker that helped the shipper hire the trucking company might also have been negligent or knowingly failed in a duty. Even the shipper of the goods can be held liable if they knowingly hire a company that doesn’t follow truck driving laws and safety practices. This includes evaluating the driving record and past performance of the truck driver. Amazon Independent Contractors and other third-party drivers must also be evaluated to these standards. If companies knowingly hire negligent drivers, they can be considered negligent. They must also ensure drivers go through training as needed and continue to monitor their records.
One regulation among many in the trucking industry is that fact that truckers are restricted to only driving 11 hours a day within a 14-hour period. With this rule in place, some trucking companies find it easier to work with independent contractor truckers involved in an accident. This is because the carrier company doesn’t have to worry so much about the logistics like tracking how much the contractor drives. Instead, since the contractor is not an employee, the carrier may leave a lot of the oversight to the independent trucker themselves. The ability to not be held responsible for the oversight of contracted drivers is a huge advantage for a lot of companies. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be held liable in some circumstances, or that they don’t have a duty to take on some oversight for their drivers.
Failure to Maintain or Repair a Semi
You might be surprised to learn there isn’t one central licensing or accrediting organization for mechanics in Indiana. This includes diesel and commercial mechanics. But these professionals are still under an obligation to be honest about their abilities and perform their work with care. When semi mechanics don’t maintain or repair a vehicle to industry standards they are being negligent in their duties.
The National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) is a non-profit that oversees the standards of certification programs for mechanics, including diesel mechanics. Certified or not, diesel mechanics should be maintaining semi trucks and making repairs as needed.
Equipment failure causing a semi accident may also be caused by the part or equipment itself. If brake pads, hitches, tires, or other parts are not manufactured to the right standards, that may be a cause of responsibility for an injury or wrongful death in Indiana truck accident. Ultimately, if bad semi maintenance caused an accident or other manufacturing or mechanical failure is suspected, it’s a good idea to contact an attorney that is experienced at gathering evidence to work on your behalf.
Indiana Traffic Law Violations by a Semi
Commercially licensed drivers and truck drivers face penalties In Indiana including jail time for multiple offenses including:
- reckless driving
- following too closely
- failure to obey a traffic signal.
When commercial drivers break rules of the road, this should always be taken seriously by their employers or companies that hire them as a contractor.
Hazardous Materials Transportation Training & Regulations
In order to transport hazardous materials, companies and their drivers must be trained in accordance with requirements from several government entities. These are the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The necessary training for hazmat transport companies and drivers includes but is not limited to knowledge such as:
Properly accepting materials for ground transportation
Verifying adequate packaging and proper labeling/marking
How to load, unload, and secure materials
Driving and parking in compliance with requirements
Recognizing and responding to security threats
This training is in addition to required commercial driver training and must be repeated in full once every three years. Trucking companies or owner-operators are required to keep record of the training history.
In addition to training, permits from the FMCSA are required to transport highly hazardous materials within a state or between states. These include:
Materials poisonous by inhalation
Compressed or refrigerated liquefied methane or natural gas
When companies or drivers are negligent in transporting hazardous materials safely, the employees and other drivers on the road can suffer. Contact a semi accident attorney in Indiana if you have been injured by hazardous materials on our roadways.
Commercial Vehicle Accidents in Indiana
Outside large trucks and tractor-trailers we call “semis,” there are other commercial vehicles with a duty to care about the rules of the road in Indiana.
Bus Accidents in Indiana
There were 1,949 bus accidents in Indiana in 2017, resulting in 7 fatalities and 217 injuries. In a collision with a bus, an attorney would evaluate factors like the bus driver’s training and experience, the condition and layout of the roadway, and other elements and evidence to determine if negligence or malicious behavior played a role in the bus collision.
School Bus Accidents in Indiana
School bus accidents are a unique class of tragedy. In 2019 Indianapolis has already experienced two such incidents when school buses have collided with tow trucks and garbage trucks. With these just being in the state capital we know Indiana school bus collision victims may need legal representation any time, though we hope they never do.
Large Pickup Accidents in Indiana
Pickup trucks over 10,000 lb are also often classified as commercial vehicles. This includes vehicles like tow trucks or wreckers. These drivers should hold a commercial driver’s license and follow all Indiana roadway laws.
Hazmat Vehicle Accidents in Indiana
Around 400 Indiana commercial vehicles with hazmat placards were involved in collisions in 2017. Of that number, less than 50 vehicles released hazardous material during collision. Sometimes hazmat release may occur even from a commercial vehicle that is not marked. In all cases, those injured by a hazmat vehicle collision in Indiana deserve an advocate in their corner.
Contact our Team of Semi Accident Attorneys Today
This page may have answered many of your questions about trucking accidents in Indiana. For more information about our team of semi accident attorneys and our approach to personal injury representation, contact Christie Farrell Lee & Bell today.
Free Resource: The Beginner’s Guide to Trucking Accident Cases
Click the image above or the button below for a free download of our introductory guide to trucking accident cases. Find definitions for technical legal terms, an exploration of what happens leading up to a case, and what to expect should you speak with semi truck attorneys about your situation.