Semi-Truck Accidents

Truck Accident Frequently Asked Questions

Why are truck accidents more likely to cause serious injury or death than automobile crashes?

Semi-trucks weigh up to 80,000 pounds loaded and because they carry chemicals or flammable liquids, they may also cause burns or explosions. When a truck driver, required to be a professional driver, is inattentive or loses control, the damage is typically even more catastrophic than a car collision.

What are some of the most common causes of truck accidents?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s study lists the top 5 causes of semi-truck accidents as:

  1. Prescription drugs or illicit drugs affecting the truck driver’s reaction time;
  2. Speeding;
  3. Not being familiar with the roads
  4. Over-the-counter medications
  5. Failing to check all sides of the vehicle before making a turn.

Surprisingly, driver fatigue is not in the top 5.

What should I do after I have been involved in a trucking accident?

You should call the police or 911 to report the accident right away and get help for anyone injured. After that, exchange information with the truck driver — and get names and phone numbers of any witnesses. Do not admit to any fault on your part, keeping statements truthful but minimal. Also, you should notify your insurance company, make notes about what happened so you don’t forget details, and contact an Indiana truck accident attorney for a consultation about your rights.

How do I recover compensation for damages in a trucking accident case?

The first step is to get the advice of an Indiana truck accident lawyer. It’s best to do this before filling out any forms for an insurance company. Insurance companies are going to protect their interests first. A lawyer will review the facts of your case and help you determine whether a legitimate claim exists, and if it does exist, file it in court.

How long do I have before I need to file litigation for my truck accident in Indiana?

In Indiana, in most cases, there is a 2-year period for filing a suit for personal injury or wrongful death due to the negligence of another.

The 2-year limitation starts with the date of the accident.

It is important, though, to initiate the claim quickly so that your attorney can begin collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses while the evidence and memories of the witnesses are fresh.

What are the differences between a commercial tractor trailer accident and a car accident?

Large trucks, semi-tractor trailers, and tankers – because of their sheer size and weight – can cause much more serious injuries than car accidents. A commercial tractor trailer, fully loaded, can weigh in excess of 80,000 pounds. Some large trucks and tankers carry hazardous materials which can leak or spill, also causing serious injury. Commercial drivers and companies are required to follow federal trucking laws and safety regulations which are more stringent than the rules a regular car driver must follow.

Are there any special requirements in order to qualify to operate a commercial truck?

A driver a must be either a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident with a valid United States Social Security card, pass a physical, and pass the test to have a current state commercial driver’s license (CDL). In addition, there are requirements limiting drive time and driving on certain roads.

Trucks carrying hazardous materials have even more stringent requirements than typical freight-hauling trucks.

Are commercial trucks required to carry insurance?

According to Federal law, interstate trucks are required to have at least $750,000 in insurance.

However, most trucking companies have multiple layers of insurance that can add up to many millions.

In the event of hazardous cargo, Federal law demands that commercial trucks have a minimum of $5,000,000 in liability insurance.

Are there any federal regulations governing truck drivers and trucking companies?

Trucking companies are required to follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations concerning equipment and hours of service.

Truck drivers are also required to maintain a driver’s log.

Federal regulations require commercial trucks to carry certain levels of insurance coverage, depending on the nature of materials hauled.

These regulations protect victims of large truck crashes from truck owners who may not have the financial resources to pay for damages they caused.

Are truck accidents treated differently under the law than automobile accidents?

While the principles of negligence are the same, there are some specific federal and state laws that apply to truck accident lawsuits that do not apply to car accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations govern all trucks engaged in interstate traffic. These regulations have special requirements for trucking companies and truck drivers that do not apply to people who drive ordinary passenger cars.

What special laws apply to truck accidents?

There are special laws and regulations to protect motorists from negligent truck drivers. Federal and state regulations require truckers to have adequate rest to prevent driver fatigue. There are also rules on proper loading, speeding and passing other vehicles.

Are there limits on the amount of time that a commercial truck driver can spend on the road?

Commercial motor vehicle drivers are limited to 11 cumulative hours of driving in a 14-hour period, following a rest period of no less than 10 consecutive hours. Drivers employed by carriers in “daily operation” may not work more than 70 hours within any period of 8 consecutive days.

Are DUI laws different for commercial truck drivers?

All states have DUI laws.

Drivers can be charged with DUI as long as their blood-alcohol concentration is over the legal limit, usually .08 percent.

However, states typically have lower Blood Alcohol requirements that apply to commercial drivers, usually about .04 percent.

Why is it important to investigate trucking accident cases as soon as possible?

The trucker’s insurance company will quickly conduct their own investigation and use it against you if you are not prepared. Also, trucking companies are required to keep records that ordinary drivers do not. However, after a short period of time, these important records can be legally destroyed.

Who can pursue a trucking accident claim in the event of serious injury or death?

A claim can be brought by anyone who is injured or had a loved one killed.

This includes adults and children and even truck drivers if another person was at fault for the accident.

Who can be held liable in trucking accident cases?

A truck driver who causes a serious crash when driving isn’t the only liable party in a trucking accident lawsuit.

Many of these cases don’t focus on the truck driver at all.

Our investigations have revealed circumstances where company action may force the truck driver to break important safety rules, skip maintenance, knowingly put defective trucks on the road, or have drivers speed in order to make time deadlines.

Can a trucking accident claim be pursued in Federal Court?

Because Federal laws often apply to trucks that conduct business across state lines – which most all trucking companies do – a claim can usually be filed in Federal Court. But there are different procedural rules in Federal Court that are typically more stringent and complicated; In some cases we believe we can obtain a more favorable result for injured parties in Federal Court.

Do trucking accident cases require the involvement of specialized experts?

Yes. Trucking accidents often require experts in accident reconstruction, truck maintenance, operator training, weather conditions, and a host of other fields. We know and work with only the best experts.

If I am partially at fault for the accident, can I still recover compensation?

In real life, one party is rarely completely at fault. Accidents are sometimes caused by a complex set of circumstances and more than one person. You may still receive compensation from an accident if you were partially at fault. It all depends on what percentage of fault is assigned to you. In Indiana, if you are 50% or more at fault, then you are not entitled to compensation. The question of fault is ultimately up to a jury to decide.

What should I do if a representative of the trucking company contacts me?

Do not talk to them about any factors of the accident except to get their contact information including name, email and phone number.

Insurance companies are very skilled at twisting your answers to even simple questions.

You should rely on your lawyer to handle all contact.

How long does it take to complete a trucking accident claim?

Because trucking accident cases are so complicated and the stakes are so high, these cases can often take years to complete. However, other cases can be resolved quickly, sometimes in a matter of months.

The truth is, it depends on the facts and circumstances of each case.

How much does it cost to hire an attorney to investigate a potential trucking accident claim?

Reputable lawyers do not charge a fee up front or make you pay for case expenses out of your pocket.

Indiana attorneys are allowed to advance all your case expenses and charge a percentage of whatever money you are awarded, usually about 33 1/3 -40%. If you do not receive any compensation, neither does the attorney – you will owe nothing.