Car accidents and commercial truck accidents in Indiana have some important differences from the standpoint of pursuing an injury claim. In the article below, the attorneys of the Truitt Law Offices will discuss a few of the significant distinctions and review what you should do if you’ve been involved in an accident.
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Do Cars or Trucks Get into More Accidents?
There are more registered cars on the road and far more car accidents than truck accidents each year in the United States. But truck crashes tend to cause disproportionately more fatal injuries due to the size difference between tractor-trailers and automobiles.
Large commercial trucks weigh up to 80,000 pounds when they are fully loaded. Most cars weigh less than 5,000 pounds. When a large truck is traveling at highway speeds, the force of impact in a collision is more likely to cause catastrophic or fatal injuries.
What Are The Main Differences Between a Car and Truck Accident Case?
Accidents involving large trucks typically are more complicated to resolve than car accidents for a number of reasons. Commercial drivers and trucking companies are required to have higher amounts of liability insurance because truck accidents typically produce more serious injuries and property damage.
- Truck accidents tend to have more liable parties – Many businesses and individuals are involved in the operation and maintenance of a large truck. They include the truck’s driver, the trucking company, truck maintenance garage, loading crews, and their vehicle’s manufacturer. Any party that contributes to a truck accident may be financially responsible to those injured.
- Trucks have more complicated insurance policies – Commercial truck drivers and companies are required by law to carry larger amounts of insurance than automobile drivers. More insurance companies may be involved in settling a truck accident claim and the financial stakes may be substantially higher.
- Truck drivers are bound by federal guidelines – Truck drivers and trucking companies must comply with federal laws and regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). For instance, truck drivers must follow the FMCSA’s hours of service regulations that limit the number of hours a commercial truck driver can be behind the wheel. The rules are designed to address the serious safety issue of truck drivers driving with too little rest. A truck driver may be liable if the driver disregards the rules and causes a drowsy driving accident.
- Truck accident cases require extensive investigation – A personal injury attorney will look for different evidence in a truck accident case relative to a car accident case. This evidence typically sought includes the truck’s black box or event data recorder, the trucker’s electronic logbooks (since they are only permitted to drive a certain number of hours), their employment record, and any drug or alcohol tests they were administered. A truck accident attorney may hire a specialized truck mechanic to examine the truck after the accident and look for mechanical issues.
- Compensation is generally higher in a truck accident – Because truck accidents tend to result in more severe injuries, commercial truck drivers and operators are required to carry larger insurance policies. As a result, settlements tend to be higher in value.
Who Can Be Sued In a Truck Accident Case?
Multiple parties may be liable in a truck accident, depending on the circumstances of the case. These parties may include:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- The truck’s owner
- Third-party maintenance companies
- Cargo loaders
- Defective parts manufacturers
Because truck accidents may involve multiple negligent parties, determining liability requires a comprehensive investigation.
Please be aware, the state of Indiana has a Statute of Limitations law for how long you have to file a personal injury lawsuit for your accident. The time limit, as defined by that statute, is two years. Should you allow that two years to pass and fail to bring a lawsuit, you have forfeited your opportunity. While two years may appear to be a long time, given the amount of investigation that will be necessary to develop a sound case for your accident, it is actually NOT that long. Time is of the essence. Do not delay if you wish to file a personal injury lawsuit.
What Should You Do if You Are in a Motor Vehicle Accident?
If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident, there are several things you should do to protect your rights:
- Call 911 – You should report the accident and request an ambulance if anyone needs emergency medical care. Law enforcement officers will create an accident report with information about your injuries, damage to the vehicles, driver contact info, witness contact info, an initial determination of fault, and more. Medical responders will treat any serious injuries at the scene and provide transportation to a trauma center if necessary.
- Document the scene – If you are able, take photos at the scene of the accident. Make sure to document your injuries, the damage to your vehicle, and the accident scene as a whole from as many angles as possible. Photos can provide valuable evidence of another party’s liability. You should speak with any witnesses who may have seen the accident. Witnesses can offer an objective perspective of how the accident occurred.
- Seek medical attention – You should be evaluated by a physician as soon as possible after the accident. You may have sustained an injury such as a concussion that is not obvious. A doctor can detect those injuries before complications arise. Insurance companies tend to require that you be evaluated within the first 72 hours after an accident in order to file a claim. If you fail to get an evaluation and develop symptoms of an injury, the insurance company may try to argue that your injury was not the result of the accident.
- Keep all documentation – You should keep a copy of every document related to the treatment of your injuries. This includes your hospital bills, physical therapy bills, other medical expenses, medical records, the police report, evidence you collected at the scene, and proof of lost wages.
- Don’t post on social media – You should refrain from posting comments about the accident on social media. An insurance company may use any comments you make to question the seriousness of your injuries. Insurance companies will use any excuse to reduce or deny your claim.
How Can Indiana Personal Injury Attorneys Help Me?
At Truitt Law Offices, our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help you fight for full compensation after a serious accident. We understand how stressful it can be to go through the insurance claims process while you are trying to recover from your injuries. Our attorneys are ready to handle every aspect of your case while you focus on rebuilding your life.
Don’t wait to explore your legal options. Contact us today for a free consultation.