Indiana Tractor Trailer Accident

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Indiana Tractor Trailer Accident

Indiana sits in the middle of the country. As a result, tractor-trailers, also known as semi-trucks, big rigs, or 18-wheelers, routinely pass through Indiana with their big loads. Unfortunately, given the large number of tractor-trailers that drive on Indiana roadways, accidents often occur. And accidents with tractor-trailers can cause severe injuries to other drivers because of their size and weight.

Does This Sound Like Your Accident?

A fully loaded tractor-trailer was traveling south on Rt. 65 after leaving Valparaiso. Traffic was pretty heavy but moving at the speed limit. A passenger car decided to pass the tractor-trailer on the right. The tractor-trailer driver saw the car in his side-view mirror. However, as the vehicle passed the tractor-trailer, the driver swerved into the tractor-trailer’s lane, forcing the driver to slam on his brakes and turn sharply to the left.

The tractor-trailer avoided colliding with the car that cut him off. However, the weight of the load and the sharp turn caused the tow hitch to fail. As a result, the trailer became detached from the cab and continued down the road. The safety chains remained intact for a time. Still, the trailer swayed back and forth—several passenger cars collided with the careening trailer, resulting in personal injuries and property damages.

What Types of Tractor-Trailer Accidents Occur in Indiana?

Given many tractor-trailers on Indiana roadways, there are many types of tractor-trailer accidents that happen in Indiana.
Rollovers can occur with devastating consequences. For example, if a driver is speeding on a curved ramp, a rollover can occur. In addition, if the shipping company put too much cargo in the trailer or did not properly secure the load, a rollover can be the result.

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that tractor-trailer crashes happen in about 29% of all crashes. This is more than any other type of vehicle accident.

There are several reasons tractor-trailer truck accidents occur:

Mechanical failure

Frequently, mechanical failure causes a tractor-trailer truck accident. Brake failure or problems with the steering on large trucks can lead to tractor-trailer truck accidents.

Truck driver fatigue

In many instances, accident investigators cite truck driver fatigue as a reason for a tractor-trailer truck accident. Notably, federal trucking regulations require large truck drivers to take regular breaks. They are supposed to drive only a set number of hours in a day. Moreover, federal regulations require them to keep a driver’s log showing how many hours they drove. Additionally, the log must show when they took their rest breaks. Unfortunately, not all drivers follow those rules.

Hazardous road conditions

Wet or icy roads can be hazardous. So can roads cluttered with debris and potholes. Such conditions lead to tractor-trailer collisions. Additionally, poorly designed roads and those with narrow or non-existent shoulders can cause tractor-trailer truck accidents.

Speeding

Speeding is another common cause of a tractor-trailer truck accident. As a practical matter, large trucks speeding take a relatively long time to a stop if other vehicles cut them off. Additionally, if a car stops short in front of the truck, the truck may not have the time to stop.

Other causes of a rear-end truck accident include tire blow outs, insecure loads, and brake failures. Furthermore, drunk/impaired driving and bad weather conditions.  In short, there are many reasons why rear-end truck accidents occur. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports 13.5 fatal tractor trailer truck accidents per million people in the United States in 2018, a 27 percent increase from 10.6 in 2010. Furthermore, in 2018, on average, there were 1.12 fatalities in fatal crashes involving large trucks. In 90 percent of those crashes, there was only one fatality. The majority, 82 percent, of deaths, were not occupants of the large truck.

If you suffer an injury from a tractor-trailer accident, contact a knowledgeable Indiana tractor-trailer accident attorney to assist you.

We Will Hold The Parties Responsible For Your Indiana Tractor-Trailer Accident

If you are injured in an Indiana tractor-trailer truck accident, there are multiple parties who may be liable to you:

Truck driver

If the truck driver was speeding or otherwise driving recklessly, anyone injured in a tractor-trailer truck accident can hold the truck driver liable. Likewise, a fatigued or intoxicated driver should not be behind the wheel. In that instance, injured parties can hold him accountable.

Owner of the Truck

Injured persons can hold the truck owner liable for the negligent actions of his employee truck driver. Additionally, if improper maintenance of the truck caused the tractor-trailer truck accident, the owner can be held liable.

Manufacturer of the Defective Vehicle, Tires, or Other Parts

If defectively manufactured parts on the truck caused the tractor-trailer accident, injured persons can hold the manufacturer of those parts liable. In fact, defectively made brakes and tires can cause a tractor-trailer truck accident.

And Do Not Forget Other motorists

Motorists may drive negligently and cause your vehicle to stop suddenly. Consequently, you can hold them liable if their negligence resulted in you being tractor-trailered by a truck.

You may need an experienced Indiana tractor-trailer truck accident lawyer to immediately investigate the accident. Of course, if the truck driver tractor-trailered you while you were stopped at a red light, it will not be too difficult to prove the truck driver’s negligence. However, if mechanical failure caused the accident, experts will have to be hired to inspect the truck. Moreover, if driver fatigue caused the accident, the driver’s log will have to be reviewed.

Consequently, An Experienced Indiana tractor-trailer Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help

If there were witnesses to the accident, an investigator may have to locate and interview those witnesses. Furthermore, if another driver caused you to stop short, resulting in the tractor-trailer collision, your attorney will examine the actions of the other driver.

Lastly, most commercial trucks have “black boxes” similar to an airplane. Therefore, if you are in a tractor-trailer accident with a commercial truck, your attorney can get the data on the black box downloaded. In fact, the data will show what the speed of the truck was before the accident. Indeed, it will also show whether and when the driver applied the brakes. Finally, it can also reveal if the truck was on cruise control at the time of the accident, among other information.

The accident you get in may require a great deal of work to develop evidence and testimony.  Generally, the more evidence and testimony we develop, the more favorable settlement offer we can get from the insurance company. Ultimately, if the truck driver’s insurance company is being unreasonable, we can convince a jury to make a favorable damage award.

In reality, every tractor-trailer truck accident is unique

Accordingly, an experienced Indiana tractor-trailer truck accident attorney will know how to investigate the accident, preserve evidence and determine who is at fault.

What Kind of Injuries do People Get in Indiana Tractor-Trailer Accident?

Soft tissue/whiplash

Repeatedly, we see soft tissue injuries occuring in a tractor-trailer truck accident. As a matter of fact, such injuries can range from being a nagging injury to one that leaves you bedridden

Bone fracture

Frequently, a tractor-trailer truck accident can mean broken bones to the occupants of the car tractor-trailered. Generally, truck accidents injure car passengers because of the size and weight of the truck

Concussions

In many instances, a tractor-trailer truck accident can also result in concussions to the car’s occupants. Again, the size and weight of the truck can cause car passengers to be severely jostled. At the same time, their head may strike the interior of the car

Wrongful death

Unfortunately, tractor-trailer truck accidents can result in the death of car occupants. Again, given the size and weight of large trucks, wrongful death claims are not unusual

Other common injuries in a tractor-trailer truck accident:

  • Shoulder, back and neck sprains/strains
  • Burns
  • Internal organs
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Amputations
  • Spinal cord/paralysis

Big trucks are heavy!

Remember, trucks are much heavier than passenger cars. As a matter of fact, heavy trucks, such as dump trucks or fuel tankers, can weigh between 25,000 and 35,000 pounds. Likewise, an 18-wheeler, with an empty trailer, weighs about 35,000 pounds; what’s more, fully loaded, it can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.

Converesly, typical passenger cars weigh between 2,000 to 3,500 pounds. For this reason, tractor-trailer collisions involving trucks can lead to major injuries for the car occupants, up to and including death. Additionally, serious injuries in a tractor-trailer truck crash can mean hospitalization and multiple follow-up visits to a doctor. Indeed, treatment for some injuries above will also require physical therapy or chiropractic treatment.

Since a fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, accidents involving tractor-trailers can lead to significant injuries, leading up to death. Severe injuries in a tractor-trailer accident can mean hospitalization and multiple follow-up visits to a doctor. Treatment for some injuries above will also require a course of physical therapy or chiropractic treatment.

What Are Your Damages if You Are In An Indiana Tractor-trailer Accident?

First thing to remember is that in Indiana, there are several types of damage claims parties negligently injured in a tractor-trailer truck collision can make:

Medical expenses

Of course, you may recover all of your medical expenses (even those insurance may have covered)

Damages to your car

Lost wages

Additionally, if you miss work because of your injuries, you may recover those lost wages

Pain and suffering

Equally important, Indiana personal injury law widely recognizes this type of damage. Consequently, you can tell the jury how badly your neck hurt from your whiplash injury. Likewise, you can explain how you had to go through physical therapy for weeks. Lastly, you can tell the jury how your neck hurt for months. In other words, that is pain and suffering

Disability

If symptoms from your injury are still lingering (and they often do) you can tell the jury. For example, perhaps you cannot concentrate at work as a result of the concussion you got in the accident. As another example, maybe you get headaches reading. The jury will hear that and compensate you

Future medical needs

Undoubtedly, if you suffered a traumatic brain injury or partial paralysis, you will need medical and physical therapy treatment for the foreseeable future. Therefore, the jury may compensate you for that

Loss of consortium

If a tractor-trailer truck accident killed or severely injured your spouse, the jury can compensate you for the loss of consortium. In other words, the loss of the affection, advice and companionship spouses show each other

Punitive damages

Punitive damages are a distinct type of damage. They are not always available in negligence cases. In short, they punish the defendant for bad conduct. Usually, cases in which negligence causes a tractor-trailer truck accident do not involve punitive damages. However, they might be available against a drunk truck driver who had several prior drunk driving convictions.

Likewise, if the company destroyed evidence that showed they failed to properly maintain the truck involved in the accident, a jury might award punitive damages..

How Do tractor-trailer Truck Accidents Occur?

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that tractor-trailer crashes happen in about 29% of all crashes. This is more than any other type of vehicle accident.

There are several reasons tractor-trailer truck accidents occur:

Mechanical failure

Frequently, mechanical failure causes a tractor-trailer truck accident. Brake failure or problems with the steering on large trucks can lead to tractor-trailer truck accidents.

Truck driver fatigue

In many instances, accident investigators cite truck driver fatigue as a reason for a tractor-trailer truck accident. Notably, federal trucking regulations require large truck drivers to take regular breaks. They are supposed to drive only a set number of hours in a day. Moreover, federal regulations require them to keep a driver’s log showing how many hours they drove. Additionally, the log must show when they took their rest breaks. Unfortunately, not all drivers follow those rules.

Hazardous road conditions

Wet or icy roads can be hazardous. So can roads cluttered with debris and potholes. Such conditions lead to tractor-trailer collisions. Additionally, poorly designed roads and those with narrow or non-existent shoulders can cause tractor-trailer truck accidents.

Speeding

Speeding is another common cause of a tractor-trailer truck accident. As a practical matter, large trucks speeding take a relatively long time to a stop if other vehicles cut them off. Additionally, if a car stops short in front of the truck, the truck may not have the time to stop.

Other causes of a tractor-trailer truck accident include:

  • Tire blow outs
  • Unsecured loads
  • Brake failure
  • Drunk/impaired driving
  • Bad weather

In brief, there would have to be serious misconduct by the defendant to justify an award for punitive damages. However, if you deserve to get punitive damages because of the defendant’s misconduct, we will make every effort to get an award of punitive damages for you.

Experienced and Knowledgeable Indiana Tractor-Trailer Accident Lawyer

Call today if you, a close friend, or a loved one have injuries due to a tractor-trailer accident in Indiana. Recall the complexity of building your case. Remember, you need an experienced Indiana tractor-trailer accident attorney. As you can see from the above, an accident involving a tractor-trailer hauling a huge cargo load is probably more complicated than an accident involving passenger cars. Nevertheless, we will investigate the accident, determine who caused the accident, and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us at our Hammond office at 219-200-2000 or online at alexmendozalaw.com for a free consultation.

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