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.
To learn more about how our team of Indianapolis truck accident attorneys
can help, call Christie Farrell Lee & Bell at
(317) 245-3709 for a free case evaluation. With over 120 years of combined experience,
our lawyers can be trusted to handle your case.
Why Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?
How Are Commercial Truck Accidents Different From Car Accidents?
Any accident on the road can be a scary and life-changing experience. However,
accidents involving trucks are especially dangerous and difficult for
a variety of reasons. Trucking accidents are often much more violent,
are caused by different conditions, and are handled differently in court
due to federal regulations. Those operating the trucks can be negligent
in different ways than a passenger driver, and no one knows this better
than the Indianapolis truck accident lawyers at Christie Farrell Lee &
Bell. Let’s take a look at three big differences between a car accident
and a trucking accident in Indiana.
Trucking Accidents Cause Greater Damages
Obviously, every accident is unique. However, across the board, trucking
accidents have the ability to cause a much greater level of damage than
those involving regular-sized automobiles. In early 2020, a
truck driver on I-65 looked away to put down his coffee cup. He did not see the backed up traffic
in front of him and crashed into the stopped line of cars, killing three
people, and injuring 14. This driver’s negligence may have been
the same as in other accidents, but the impact was far more deadly and
damaging due to the size of the truck.
Trucks are much heavier than cars, and the impact of a 3,700 pound sedan
versus an 80,000 pound semi-truck barreling into another vehicle can be
far more severe. In 2018,
4,136 people died as the result of large truck crashes, a 31 percent increase from the lowest count of deaths in 2009. Even beyond
the damage to other vehicles, the injuries received from trucking accidents
can be much more severe.
Though any injury is possible during an accident, some common forms of
trucking accident injuries are:
Operating a semi or other large truck is different than driving a car.
Although many accidents are due to negligence on one party’s side,
the fact is that the reasons for trucking accidents are often unique.
Some of these may include:
Distracted or fatigued driver due to long hours on the road
Improper cargo loading
Difficulty breaking in close situations
Speeding in order to make a delivery on time
Improper training or certification of the operator
Though some smaller commercial trucks like a box truck or a heavy-duty
pickup can be driven by anyone with a valid driver’s license, trucks
carrying a gross weight of over 26,000 pounds need to be operated by someone
with a CDL license. If these trucks are being operated by someone without
the proper qualifications, an Indiana truck accident attorney can use
this to establish negligence in the event of an accident.
Indiana Trucking Accident Cases Have Different Regulations
Accidents involving commercial trucking are handled differently by trucking
accident attorneys because of the laws and regulations surrounding them.
Establishing liability in a trucking case starts with the
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Act (FMCSA), which sets specific rules for routine background checks, a strict
regulation for hours driven in a single day, company evaluations of existing
drivers, and drug and alcohol testing. If any of these are broken, an
attorney can use this to establish negligence. Additionally, these trucks
are covered by different types of insurance policies. The bottom line
is that handling trucking accidents are more complex than a fender bender
involving an individual driving their own car.
Trucking accidents are complex and unique, and in order to properly handle
these cases, contact experience and knowledge of an Indiana truck accident
attorney. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a trucking accident,
contact Christie Farrell Lee & Bell today at
How Common Are Truck Accidents in Indiana?
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: 2,774 (19.5%)
Following too closely: 2,302 (16%)
Unsafe backing: 1,542 (11%)
Improper turning: 1,183 (8%)
The Indianapolis truck accident lawyers at Christie Farrell Lee & Bell
are committed to helping victims regain peace of mind and move forward
in life. Call (317) 245-3709today to get started.
Errors That Contribute to Truck Accidents
Beyond these simple behaviors driving and following the rules of the road
in Indiana, there are other factors that may cause a collision. 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, 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.
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
a trucking company or the broker that helped the shipper hire the trucking
company might also have been negligent. 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.
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.
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
Other Types of Commercial Vehicle Accidents We Handle
Outside of the 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. Christie Farrell Lee & Bell represents clients
injured in the following types of accidents:
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
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
Pickup trucks over 10,000 pounds 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
Hazmat Vehicle Accidents
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 collisions. 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
Truck Accident FAQ
Get Answers From Our Indianapolis Truck Accident Attorneys
Q:What is the truck accident case process like?
A:It’s important to understand what goes into a civil case, especially a truck accident case, before getting too far along in the process. Flashy advertising doesn’t always give an accurate picture of the process of resolving these cases. Each case is unique and will be affected by elements like insurance limits or accident recreation. Your truck accident lawyer should explain these details and other strategies in terms it is easy to understand. Part of understanding the process should also include understanding what the attorney will do to earn their fee, and what that fee will be. Communication will be key to the success of the case, so make sure you feel comfortable asking all your questions as the process is explained, and that you get answers that make you feel respected.
Q:What might be covered by my truck accident claim?
A:The reasons for pursuing a lawsuit after an eighteen-wheeler accident are usually related to injury or wrongful death of someone in the accident. A life-altering injury, the loss of a career, or the absence of a family member will be carried with you the rest of your life. But damages for lost wages, medical bills, and funeral expenses are just some of the costs that can be recovered by a trucking accident lawsuit to help you move forward. While commercial vehicles are required to carry a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance, and many carry more, the actual value of a case will be determined by the unique combination of factors and circumstances.
Q:What evidence will be needed for my case?
A:Asking about the evidence that will be needed in your truck injury case is one way to understand not only your attorney’s experience, but also the strength of your claim. Evidence like logbooks, maintenance records, dash cam video, or police reports may take time to obtain and explore. The attorney will also discuss other evidence that needs to be collected like eyewitness statements, social media posts, or photographs of the scene and vehicles involved. Then the attorney may hire experts to explain what the evidence means, like an accident reconstructionist or human factors expert.
Q:What if I am partially at fault in an Indiana truck collision?
A:Indiana is a comparative fault state, meaning you can still seek damages even when partially responsible for an accident. Somewhat contributing to the cause of the collision doesn’t necessarily prevent you from seeking damages to cover resulting medical bills and other expenses. The legal standard in Indiana is if you are 50% at fault or less, you still get to recover in proportion to your own percentage of negligence. This is because the negligence of the other person was greater than yours.
Q:Why do I need a truck accident attorney?
A:Trucking accident injury lawyers have to know a lot more about the trucking industry and equipment involved than an attorney only handling Indiana car accident injuries. It’s important to feel confident your attorney knows what next steps and approaches will advance your best interest. You can develop this confidence by asking about their experience against trucking companies and other parties like shippers and brokers. Only attorneys that truly specialize in handling truck accident cases have the savvy and insight to stand up to the company’s legal teams. This experience will show in their answers and the outcomes of their cases.
Q:Will I need to go to court for my truck accident case?
A:It depends. The vast majority of personal injury cases, including those involving truck accidents, end up being resolved in the form of an out-of-court settlement before a lawsuit is ever filed. Generally speaking, your case will only need to go to court if the responsible party's insurance company fails to offer you an amount that fully compensates you for your injuries, or if there is a substantial dispute about who is liable for the crash. While a trial is not always necessary, our attorneys prepare every case as if it were going to trial to give our clients the best possible leverage during the settlement negotiation process.
Q:How long do I have to file a truck accident lawsuit in Indiana?
A:Under Indiana law, you have two years from the date of your trucking accident to file a civil lawsuit against the responsible party. In most cases, once this deadline expires, you no longer have a right to file a claim. This deadline may be extended in rare circumstances, such as if the injured plaintiff is a minor child, disabled, or if the plaintiff dies within the initial two-year period. Since it can easily take two years to investigate a trucking accident, identify at-fault parties, and collect evidence, it is critical you get an Indianapolis truck accident lawyer involved as soon as possible after a collision.