Injury Law Firm Helping Trucking Accident Victims In Indiana
Being involved in any form of motor accident is a scary concept and one which is heightened when we add trucks into the equation. The larger size of these vehicles means that an accident can have catastrophic consequences for everyone involved, and the injuries sustained may change your entire life.
Accessing the right advice as soon as possible is essential in these types of cases; an experienced attorney will have the skills and knowledge you need to proceed and be able to inform you of the rights you have and the steps you may be able to take.
What Counts As A Truck?
According to Indiana law, a large truck is defined as any vehicle which is:
- Single 2 axle, 6 tires
- Single 3 or more axles
- Truck/trailer – not a semi
- Tractor – cab only, no trailer
- Tractor/ one semi-trailer
- Tractor/ double trailer
- Tractor/triple trailer
This covers a wide range of vehicles, but the core message is the same: these vessels are large, heavy, and have the potential to cause significant damage if they are not operated correctly and with due care.
How Do Trucking Accidents Occur?
There are a number of reasons you may find yourself caught up in a trucking accident. Some of the most commonly reported causes include:
- Defective parts in the truck: If any aspect of the truck is faulty or defective, it can cause the vehicle to fail, and this can cause an accident.
- Improper maintenance of the truck: As with all vehicles, trucks need to be properly maintained and regularly checked according to industry standards and requirements. Any truck which has failed to complete the mandatory checks could potentially be a danger on the road and is more likely to be involved in an accident.
- External factors: In some cases, extreme weather such as high winds or heavy rain can impact the ability of the driver to operate the vehicle safely, thereby causing an accident.
- Driver negligence: Drivers who are distracted, too tired, speeding, using a cellphone or under the influence of alcohol or drugs are a danger to other road users. This is only exacerbated when we take into account the huge mass and weight involved in a truck.
- Failure to adhere to regulations: There are systems and minimum standards put in place by the government to reduce the possibility of a trucking accident, but these are always in danger of abuse from an unscrupulous trucking company. Most trucks will have strict weight and capacity limits, and it is important that these are adhered to in an effort to ensure safe operation of the truck and limit the chances of an incident. In Indiana, the following restrictions apply:
- Maximum possible gross weight: 80,000 pounds
- Maximum single axle weight: 20,000 pounds
- Maximum tandem axle weight: 34,000 pounds
- Maximum tri-axle weight: 50,000 pounds
- Maximum wheel weight: 800 pounds per inch of tire width
If a truck is overloaded, or the items have not been stored or secured correctly, accidents can occur. A truck that is too heavy will also have issues with braking and accelerating, and this can cause problems with the reaction time of the driver and negate their safe stopping distance.
What Are The Consequences Of A Trucking Accident?
Being involved in a trucking accident has the potential to be fatal due to the larger size of the vehicle involved. Severe, life-changing injuries can be sustained by victims, including:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Bone and facial fractures
- Partial or complete paralysis
- Facial disfigurement
What Can I Do If I Am Involved In A Trucking Accident?
If you find yourself the victim of an accident involving a truck, the first step is to make sure all those involved are safe and swap information with any other drivers involved such as driver’s license and insurance details – this is a legal requirement in Indiana. In the event that the accident results in property damage worth over $1000, or injury or death to any party involved, you are legally obligated to report the incident to the police within 10 days.
Your next step should be to contact a qualified personal injury attorney in Highland who has previously worked in this area. They will be able to advise you on how to proceed moving forward.
What Is The 51% Rule?
Most accidents involving trucks fall under the law of negligence, as this is the most common cause of accidents. In short, negligence occurs when a motorist breaches his legal duty to drive with reasonable care. If they are negligent and an accident arises, they are deemed to be “at fault,” defined as being “an act or omission that is negligent, willful, wanton, reckless, or intentional toward the person or property of others.”
Indiana generally operates under a 51% rule; if the person bringing the claim is found to be 51% or more at fault for the accident, they are barred from recovering any financial compensation from the other parties at fault in the accident. In the event that the party is found to be 50% at fault or less, financial losses can be recovered, but the damages awarded are reduced according to the percentage they are deemed legally “at fault.”
Stricter laws apply when a claim is brought against a governmental entity or school. If a person who brings a claim against such entity caused or contributed to his own injuries at all, then he will be barred from recovering any damages.
How Do I Prove Fault?
In some cases, proving fault is straightforward; there may be eyewitness statements, police reports, medical records, and photographic or video evidence. Fault can also be presumed by a judge if the situation seems clear.
In some cases, however, proving fault can be tricky. If left unchallenged this can impede your ability to claim damages and compensation you would otherwise be entitled to. Here at Hilbrich Law Firm, we have worked on a multitude of claims involving trucking accidents, and our team has the knowledge you need to proceed. Get in touch today at 219-444-4330 and let us help you take the first steps toward securing justice.