A commercial truck weighing 80,000 pounds and standing 14 feet tall parked next to a 3,000 pound Ford Focus...standing 5 feet tall.
It goes without saying that commercial truck and passenger car collisions are often catastrophic.
If you've been injured in a truck accident in Indiana, you might be facing a long road to recovery. Here at Enjuris, we hope to provide you with the information you need to make it a smooth road — starting with some important and shocking statistics.
Indiana is the 5th busiest state for commercial freight traffic. Every year, 724 million tons of freight travel through the Hoosier State. All of this traffic means truck accidents are inevitable.
The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) works with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to analyze crash data in Indiana. The ICJI found that roughly 5% of all motor vehicle accidents in Indiana involved large trucks. This means there were almost 11,000 accidents involving large trucks in 2018.
Nationally, large truck accident statistics are just as alarming. The number of people injured in truck crashes every year across the country has almost doubled since 2009, from 74,000 to 145,000 people.
The ICJI found that driver-related actions account for 94% of collisions involving commercial trucks. The primary factors include:
Drivers of commercial trucks were more likely to cause an accident by backing up unsafely, whereas drivers of passenger vehicles were more likely to cause an accident by passing improperly.
The FMCSA conducted a national investigation of the actions that lead to truck accidents and found that they could generally be broken down as follows:
Federal laws govern the commercial trucking industry throughout the United States. These laws establish certain standards that trucking companies and drivers must meet. The vast majority of federal regulations can be found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations and cover things like:
The Indiana Department of Transportation has its own set of trucking regulations that provide additional requirements concerning things like obtaining oversized load permits.
When it comes to truck accidents, there are a number of parties who may be at fault for the accident, including:
To prove fault, the plaintiff generally needs to establish that the defendant was negligent—in other words, that the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care, and this failure caused the accident.
In Indiana, the legal theory of "respondeat superior" can be used to hold a truck company responsible for an accident caused by its employee. Under this theory, the truck company is liable for the actions of its employee so long as the actions were:
In some cases, the plaintiff and the defendant are partially responsible for a truck accident.
What happens then?
Indiana has adopted the modified comparative fault rule. This rule means that the plaintiff's damages are reduced by their percentage of fault. What's more, if the plaintiff is considered more than 50% at fault for the accident, the plaintiff is barred from recovering ANY damages.
Let's look at an example:
Ben is driving an 18-wheeler south on I-70 in Reelsville, Indiana. He blows a tire and pulls to the side of the road. He gets out to repair the tire but fails to put up the warning cones required by law.
Tyler is also driving south on I-70 in Reelsville. He's driving in the right lane and texting his friend. Because he's looking down at his phone, he doesn't see the truck pulled to the side of the road. His car clips the side of the truck causing him to crash.
Tyler sustains injuries in the accident and sues Ben for $100,000, claiming that Ben's failure to put up warning cones was the cause of the accident. The court finds that Ben was 30% at fault, but that Tyler was 70% at fault for texting while driving.
Because Tyler is more than 50% at fault, he's prohibited from recovering ANY damages. If, on the other hand, Tyler was found 30% at fault, his damages would simply be reduced to 70% and he would recover $70,000.
However, if you plan to sue the government (for example, if an Indiana Public Works Department truck caused the accident), you must provide a tort claim notice to the appropriate government agency within 180 days.
If you're involved in a truck accident in Indiana, there are 4 important steps to take:
Following an accident, Indiana drivers are required by law to:
Once you're safe, gather as much evidence as you can. Here are some things to gather:
Even if you don't think you're seriously hurt, it's important to visit your doctor after a truck accident. Some injuries, including serious internal injuries, don't show symptoms until hours or even days after an accident.
More often than not, truck accidents involve serious injuries or death, which means it's typically in the best interest of truck accident victims to talk to a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer.
Fortunately, most initial consultations are free. During an initial consultation, an attorney can evaluate your case and provide you with options.
If you're involved in a truck accident, there's a good chance the claims adjuster (the person tasked with investigating insurance claims) for the truck driver's insurance company will contact you after the accident. The first thing you should know is that you are NOT legally required to talk to the claims adjuster for the other driver's insurance company.
In fact, it's usually a bad idea to talk to the other driver's claims adjuster if you plan on making a claim for physical injuries. With that warning in mind, there are a few things to remember if you do decide to talk to the claims adjuster for whatever reason:
A personal injury lawyer helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages and provide compensation for injuries suffered. Sometimes a case that seems simple at first may become more complicated. In these cases, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Read more