Indianapolis Truck Accident Attorneys
Large Commercial Vehicle Accidents in Indiana
If you have been involved in a car accident involving a large truck or commercial vehicle, you may have sustained severe, even life-altering injuries. After you have seen a medical specialist, you will want to seek a lawyer’s help as soon as possible. Truck accidents are complex cases that involve federal regulations imposed on truck drivers. It will be beneficial to you and your case to retain a personal injury lawyer who has experience with federal regulations.
At Hovde Dassow + Deets, our Indianapolis truck accident attorneys have extensive experience representing clients in complex motor vehicle accident cases, including claims involving semi-trucks, big rigs, 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, and other large commercial vehicles. We are familiar with the federal rules and regulations that commercial drivers must follow, as well as state laws that may apply. We have used our knowledge to our clients’ advantage for more than five decades and have successfully recovered over $300 million in compensation on their behalf. Rely on us to fight for the full and fair compensation you are owed after a truck accident.
Call us at (317) 576-3241 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We are available 24/7 to assist you.
Federal Regulations for Commercial Drivers
Truck drivers and trucks are regulated by a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and they have special rules and regulations they must follow.
Some of these federal regulations include:
- Limitations on the number of hours drivers are allowed to drive in one driving period
- Weight limitations for trucks and other commercial vehicles
- Driver’s license regulations for commercial vehicle operators
- Rules regarding the proper security precautions and processes for certain types of cargo
- Regular alcohol and/or drug screenings for commercial vehicle drivers
Truck drivers and other commercial vehicle operators who violate these and other regulations could be held liable if such conduct results in another person being injured or killed. In some cases, trucking companies themselves could be liable, as well as other individuals, agencies, and entities.
Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?
The question of liability tends to be far less straightforward in truck accident claims than standard motor vehicle accident cases. However, like other accident claims, liability can be determined by first identifying the cause of the crash.
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include:
- Truck Driver Error/Negligence: Truck drivers may cause serious accidents when they are distracted, careless, reckless, or otherwise negligent. Traffic law violations, such as speeding or running red lights, are a common cause of these accidents, as are reckless and aggressive driving behaviors like drunk driving, speeding, tailgating, and passing unlawfully.
- Hours-of-Service Violations: Federal regulations, known as “hours-of-service” laws, limit the number of hours a commercial driver may drive during a single driving period. When truck drivers violate these regulations, they run the risk of driving fatigued. Fatigued driving has been shown to be as dangerous as drunk driving and can lead to devastating accidents.
- Issues with Cargo/Truck Weight: Large trucks transport literal tons of materials, including hazardous items and substances. When cargo is loaded improperly, it can shift during transport, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. Overloaded cargo can pose a similar problem and may even be in violation of state and/or federal regulations.
- Poor or Incomplete Truck Maintenance: Truck drivers and other entities are responsible for regularly inspecting and maintaining commercial vehicles. When they fail to do so, or fail to report issues, serious truck failures can occur. Similarly, improper or missing truck repairs may lead to a disastrous or even deadly accident.
- Negligent Trucking Company Practices: In some cases, trucking companies may engage in negligent practices, such as encouraging drivers to meet unrealistic quotas or deadlines, turning a blind eye to hours-of-service violations, or failing to conduct background checks or regular drug and alcohol screenings on drivers. This can indirectly lead to serious collisions.
- Defective Trucks and Roadways: Truck defects—such as faulty engine components, defective braking systems, or poorly manufactured tires—can cause serious accidents. The same is true of defective or poorly maintained roadways, which may present significant hazards or dangerous conditions, leading to a crash.
Poor weather conditions, such as rain or snow, are another common factor in truck accidents. While no one can be blamed for the weather, truck drivers do have a responsibility to adjust accordingly to less-than-ideal conditions. This may mean driving slower than the speed limit or even staying off the road until conditions have cleared.
After determining the cause of the crash, our Indianapolis truck accident attorneys can identify the liable party. Even if the truck driver was directly responsible, the trucking company may be legally liable for your damages. This is because most employers are generally liable for the conduct of their employees while those employees are “on the clock.” However, if the truck driver was classified as an independent contractor, or if another party was at fault, you could have a claim against the truck driver or another third party.
What to Do After a Truck Accident
The first thing you should do after a truck accident is to seek medical attention. If you are severely injured, call 911 and wait for paramedics to arrive. If you were minorly injured, you should still see a doctor or physician as soon as possible. The shock of the accident could mask the severity of your injuries, and you may even have underlying trauma that can only be diagnosed by a medical professional.
You should also call the police and have an officer come out to the scene of the accident. Indiana law requires that you report any motor vehicle accident resulting in injury, death, or property damage of more than $1,000 to the police. If a law enforcement officer comes to the scene of the crash, they will file this report on your behalf.
If possible, you should also try to get the name, contact information, employer information, and driver’s license number of the truck driver. Note the name of the company that owns or leases the truck (if you can) and write down everything you can remember about the accident right away. Take pictures of the crash site, your injuries, and any damage to your vehicle. If any witnesses saw what happened, get their names, contact information, and a brief statement if possible.
When you wish to seek compensation after a motor vehicle accident, especially one involving a large truck or commercial vehicle, it is important that you discuss your case with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. An attorney will be able to investigate the truck driver, the trucking company, and other details of the accident that led to your injury.
You may receive phone calls from the truck company’s insurance adjuster; we advise that you decline to speak with them without your attorney. Anything that you say to the adjuster will be used to determine the compensation they offer you—remember, their job is to have you settle for less than what you are entitled to. If you are offered a settlement in exchange for signing a release, you will want to have a lawyer review the legalities of the release. Never sign anything or give any statement to the insurance adjuster without first talking to your attorney.
We Offer Free Consultations
If you or someone you love was involved in a truck accident, we encourage you to reach out to Hovde Dassow + Deets right away. Our Indianapolis truck accident attorneys have more than 100 years of combined legal experience and have successfully helped many clients navigate the legal process. We are committed to maximizing your recovery, allowing you to secure the financial resources you need to manage unexpected medical bills, future care costs, lost wages, and other physical, emotional, and financial challenges.
Because we offer our legal services on a contingency fee basis, you do not owe anything upfront or out-of-pocket when you work with our firm. Instead, we only collect attorney fees if/when we recover a settlement or verdict for you.
We wanted to say thanks to Nick and the staff of Hovde Dassow + Deets for the excellent work you did as our attorney.- Dennis F.
They care deeply about their clients and work hard for the best results.- Taylor F.
I can’t thank Nick Deets and his staff enough for assisting me with my personal injury case.- Beth R.