Fighting and Winning For People Involved in Trucking Accidents
“Truck accidents happen across Indiana. We’re here to win your case and get justice.”
How We’ve Fought Trucking Companies
- Member – AAJ Trucking Litigation Group
- Member – Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys
- Over 10 Years Experience in truck accident law
What To Expect From Your Trucking Case
- Many lawyers don’t know how a truck accident differs from a car accident. We’re versed in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations, so we’ve got you covered.
- We know who to go after for a settlement; it’s not just the driver. It’s the company that hired them too.
- There are a lot more ways to get the compensation you deserve. We know how to find bonds and peel back the layers of insurance.
- Trucking companies are protected. Third parties hide behind the law. But we know how to find them.
- We put our people on the scene right away, gathering all the evidence.
- The big insurance companies have a lot of money to fight your case. You need someone who knows exactly how to fight back.
Truck Accident Attorney
The consequences of a car accident with a commercial truck can be life-altering. In many cases, physical injuries leave victims in the crash incapacitated for long periods and requiring surgeries and other support to recover from the effects. Some injuries like paralysis, brain damage, and pain are permanent. And in the worst cases, drivers or their passengers lose their life in these collisions.
Amid all the emotions, stresses, and new challenges, it can be difficult to know where to turn for legal advice. Should you trust a number you get off a billboard, or the Google results for “commercial trucking accident attorneys near me?” At Broadwing Legal, we take a pass on the flashy advertising and empty promises to take a personal approach to each client. We believe truck accident victims deserve a specialized experience, working with a single point of contact to get all the answers needed and advance the case to have the best chances of winning the compensation you deserve. Whether you are concerned about medical bills, lost wages, emotional damages, or the future expenses of continuing to cope with the effects of a truck accident, we want to share all the information you need to make an informed decision during this time of uncertainty.
Indiana Trucking and Injury Statistics
Indiana is the fifth busiest state for commercial freight traffic in the United States. 724 million tons of freight travels through Indiana each year in large trucks, box trucks, and other commercial vehicles. That freight flow is expected to increase by 60% by 2040, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT).
Commercial freight hauling is an essential foundation of the Hoosier State’s economy, but the high volume of trucks on the roads and interstates is not without risks to drivers. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) there were 4,870 crashes involving commercial vehicles in Indiana in 2020. There were 1,664 injuries sustained in these crashes, and 144 fatalities. Overall, there were 813 fatal crashes in Indiana in 2020, meaning commercial vehicles were involved in over 17% of those collisions.
Though commercial drivers and passenger car drivers can both suffer injury and death in these collisions, data shows that passenger car occupants are far more likely to be injured or killed. In 2017, 126 Indiana passenger car occupants were killed in fatal accidents with trucks, while only 18 commercial drivers suffered fatal injury.
Here are some of the most common incapacitating injuries that occur during a truck accident:
- Broken bones
- Skull, head, or traumatic brain injury
- Spinal trauma and fractures
- Abdominal injuries
- Unconsciousness at or while leaving the scene
- Severe cuts and wounds
- Post traumatic stress disorder or fear of driving
Generally, any collision where the individual is still living but cannot leave the scene of the accident under their own power is considered incapacitating. In some cases, victims will recover from these injuries with time, but in other cases, they will not.
Who Can Be Sued in a Truck Accident Case?
When an accident involving a truck or other commercial vehicle occurs, many parties could share responsibility, even some who are not at the scene of the accident. These include:
- Drivers Involved in the Accident: The drivers involved are usually front-of-mind when it comes to holding parties responsible for injuries and damage after a truck accident. Many might assume that commercial drivers are responsible for a majority of accidents. In its Large Truck Causation Crash Study, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that large trucks were the primary cause of 55% of crashes they were involved in. But in single-vehicle collisions between the truck and one other vehicle, large trucks were only the cause of the accident in 44% of cases.
Especially if your collision involved a large truck and multiple passenger vehicles, assigning fault among the drivers is a complex process. This is one of the main reasons to get an experienced truck accident attorney on your side.
- Trucking Companies: The trucking fleet which employs the commercial driver can also be considered partially responsible for truck accidents. The fleet is responsible for properly vetting the driver, as well as ensuring they have appropriate ongoing training to maintain their skills and attention to the rules of the road. The fleet must also abide by safety laws such as limiting the number of hours a driver is on duty, maintaining the truck and trailer, and other regulations that may apply on a case-by-case basis. These laws are created and enforced by a number of Federal agencies, including the FMCSA and Department of Transportation (DoT) as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
- Freight Companies: The company or entity that hired the trucking fleet and/or loaded the freight can also be negligent in ways that cause accidents. Improperly loaded freight that shifts during transport frequently causes truck drivers to lose control of their vehicles even if they are following other rules of the road. Shippers can also be considered negligent if they knowingly hire a driver or fleet that does not follow safety regulations.
- Mechanics: The professionals responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of a large truck or other commercial vehicles can also contribute to accidents. Brake failure, steering systems failure, or other driving systems failure could all be causes of a truck accident.
- Local Government or Transit Authority: Lastly, the local or regional government may be liable and able to be sued after a truck accident. If roadways were not properly maintained during hazardous weather conditions, the parties who failed in that duty would share responsibility for the accident. Improperly-displayed signage, inadequate lighting, or poor roadway design are other reasons these parties could share responsibility.
At Broadwing Legal, we know how to find the parties responsible for a truck accident, even if they are not on the scene…and hold them accountable. Contact Broadwing Legal if you need support pursuing compensation you deserve from these or other parties involved in your injury.
How Is Fault in a Truck Accident Determined?
Are truck drivers liable for accidents? Sometimes—but not all the time.
With all the parties listed above potentially sharing responsibility, you might wonder how fault is determined after a truck accident. Here is some of what lawyers look for in a trucking accident to hold the appropriate party or parties responsible.
- Scene of the Accident: Evidence at the scene such as broken glass and metal, tire marks, and the layout of the surrounding area are essential to telling the story of the events of the accident. It’s always a great idea to take photos of the scene of the accident in real-time once you are safe and out of harm’s way. If you can’t take photos, we send out experts who know what to look for at the scene to preserve critical evidence before it is lost.
- The Truck’s Black Box: Semis and other commercial vehicles contain black boxes similar to airplanes. These devices store information like the speed of the truck, when the driver hit the brakes, whether the driver was wearing a seatbelt, how long they had been on the road without stopping, communications with the trucking company, and lots of other valuable data. Newer models of black boxes store this information for around 30 days, but older models may have less storage. That is why it’s important to connect with a semi accident attorney right away, so these records can be obtained to support your case.
- Maintenance Records: Outside the black box, there are other records and logs that can support the case, including maintenance records, timesheets, repair requests made by the driver, and the driver’s pre- and post-trip inspections.
- Each Driver’s Driving History: Each driver’s driving history is a relevant factor in determining negligence. If a driver involved in the collision has a history of unsafe driving, speeding, and accidents, this is an indicator that they have a habit of not being mindful of their duty to care. Speeding is one of the most common forms of failing in this duty. The National Safety Council reports that speeding was a contributing factor in 26% of fatal car accidents in the US in 2019. They add, “a crash is considered speeding-related if the driver was charged with a speeding-related offense or if racing, driving too fast for conditions, or exceeding the posted speed limit was indicated as a contributing factor in the crash.” If a driver has been cited for speeding in the past and then continues to speed, causing an accident, this can be considered negligence.
- Each Driver’s Medical History: Each driver’s medical records can also play a role when conditions like sleep apnea or epilepsy are present. Prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and substances like alcohol or marijuana can also contribute to the negligence of any of the drivers involved.
- Eyewitness Testimony: Testimony from the drivers involved, their passengers, and any bystanders who witnessed the accident can support the truth of what happened. Depending on the location of the collision and other factors, video footage may also provide a first-hand account of how the accident occurred.
- Accident Reconstruction: In complex cases or cases where other evidence is lacking, the police or an attorney may assign an accident reconstruction team to the case. These experts work in reverse, using the evidence at the scene, in police reports and medical records, other data, and their training to draw conclusions about the critical events that caused the accident. Sometimes they even create 3D models of the scene or play out different scenarios to narrow down the facts of the case.
- Expert Witnesses: Expert witnesses can speak to standards of reasonable care that should have been followed by the drivers, the trucking company, freight loaders, maintenance crew, and any other potentially negligent parties. The testimony of an expert witness explains what one or more of these parties should have done according to the best practices in their industry. If expert testimony illustrates that someone involved in the accident was not performing their duties in line with best practices, it becomes easier to prove their negligence.
What Does a Truck Accident Lawyer Do?
Truck accident lawyers carry out many duties on behalf of their clients, including collecting evidence, identifying the liable parties, negotiating with insurance companies, filing court documents and paperwork, finalizing a settlement, and even representing you in court.
When you are in a truck accident and suffer terrible injuries, a truck accident lawyer knows how to get you the compensation you need to pay your medical bills, get back your lost wages, and help with your pain and suffering. If you’ve lost a loved one in a fatal semi-truck accident case, an attorney helps you get money for funeral bills and medical bills, and also for your loss of love, care and affection.
Semi accident attorneys are valuable advocates for clients facing these dire circumstances. The support of an attorney lets you have some peace of mind that your case is in expert hands and that you have a seasoned, dedicated advocate on your side to fight for the justice you are entitled to.
What Questions Should I Ask a Lawyer About a Truck Accident?
Here are some of the basic questions you can ask an attorney about your truck accident:
What is the process and potential timeline of my truck accident case?
It’s important to understand that a truck accident injury case will not be settled overnight. Just like no two cases are alike, the process and timeline of resolving each case will be unique. Your lawyer should be able to give you estimates that allow for the uncertainties while also setting you up with realistic expectations of the timeline.
What is your legal experience against trucking companies?
Trucking companies, shippers, and brokers have expert legal teams on their side who know the ins and outs of trucking accident law. Personal injury attorneys and even general car accident attorneys who do not specialize in trucking cases may not have the know-how and insight to fully represent your case and fight back against the strategies of corporate lawyers. Broadwing Legal is a team of attorneys who are always seeking continuing education about accident cases and is involved in national organizations for truck accident attorneys that help us constantly grow our skills and strategies.
What evidence will be needed in my case?
Asking this question will give you a sense of the strength of your case, as well as what additional steps the attorney will be taking to earn their fee. This answer will also give you insight into any documentation you should be keeping throughout the process of the case, like photos of how injuries are healing, journals kept by yourself and loved ones, documents from insurance and medical professionals, and more.
What are the potential costs of my case?
While your attorney will not be able to fully predict the changes and new evidence that might emerge in your case, they should be able to give you an idea about the potential cost of expenses like accident reconstruction and expert witness testimony. If these types of evidence do become needed, the attorney should communicate with you again about the full scope of the costs and how they might affect a future settlement before proceeding. This includes the attorney’s contingency fee, which will be anywhere from 32-40% of any amount you win in the case. Until the case is won, the attorney will not receive any payment.
What kind of damages can I get in my case?
It’s also a good idea to ask about what damages, injuries, and expenses can be covered by your claim. In Indiana, these include the cost of medical bills and lost wages, as well as future medical care and compensation for pain, suffering, and emotional distress. Indiana also allows for pursuit of punitive damages in situations where the negligent party was acting maliciously or with gross incompetence. In cases of a wrongful death caused by a semi accident, funeral expenses and loss of companionship, love, and parental guidance can also be included among the expenses covered by the claim.
Indiana Trucking Accident Law
Before filing a lawsuit over a semi-truck accident in Indiana, you may wish to know some of the specifics about laws in the Hoosier state.
Commercial vehicles in Indiana are subject to all Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations regarding driver qualification, hours allowed to work, maintenance, recordkeeping, hazardous material transport, number of allowed passengers, and more. Drivers and/or vehicles that violate any of the standards are ordered out-of-service under state law.
Before every trip, a safety inspection of the commercial vehicle is required, including checks of the following:
- Tires, wheels, and rims
- Steering systems
- Radio connection
- Trailer brake connection
- Emergency systems
Operators or owners who fail to perform and document these inspections can be found negligent should an accident occur.
Indiana Truck Accident Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations to file a lawsuit against a company or individual who was involved in the truck accident is two years from the date of the event. However, in cases where the state or local government may share fault, the statute of limitations is significantly reduced. Injured parties only have 270 days to file a claim against the State of Indiana, and 180 days to file a claim against the city or county in question. These claims must be filed before a lawsuit.
Truck Accident Damage Caps in Indiana
Indiana does place caps on certain types of damages which can be recovered after a truck accident or accident with another commercial vehicle. Claims against the state, city, or county governments in your case will be capped at $700,000 per person involved in the case.
Additionally, there are caps on some damages in cases of Indiana adult wrongful death, when the adult is unmarried and does not have any dependents. In these cases, the most that can be awarded for the loss of the adult’s love and companionship is $300,000.
Average Cost of a Commercial Truck Accident
The average cost of a commercial truck accident was estimated at $91,125 in 2005, the last year the FMCSA conducted an in-depth analysis. However, these costs also varied widely depending on the severity of the accident.
- The average cost of property damage only crashes was $15,144.
- The average cost of each non-fatal injury in a truck accident was $195,258.
- The average cost of a fatal truck crash was $3,604,518.
These estimates did not include mental health care costs or earnings lost by family and friends caring for the injured parties, among other potentially significant expenses. Also, consider that inflation has occurred. Even assuming modest inflation at around 2% per year since these numbers were estimated, today these costs would be at least 30% higher based on inflation alone.
While these are the average costs associated with these collisions, you may also be wondering about the average semi-truck accident settlement. There is no average amount in these cases since the circumstances of every case are different. Settlements can range from a few thousand dollars into the millions.
Schedule a Free Consultation with an Indiana Trucking Accident Attorney
If you’re still wondering why you should hire a truck accident attorney, the answer is so that you can proceed with confidence that you have exhausted all the legal possibilities to win justice. Working with the experts at Broadwing Legal puts the power back in your hands to take the fight to the responsible parties. By seeking out available evidence, collaborating with other experts, and helping you tell your story, we explore every facet of your case. We have the patience, experience, diligence, and tenacity to follow through on your case, gaining compensation for what has been lost to create a foundation for moving forward.
If you or a loved one have suffered life-altering injury or wrongful death due to a trucking accident, we want to listen to your concerns and answer your questions. Reach out to us today to schedule a free consultation with a trusted Indiana semi accident attorney.