Guy S. DiMartino is here to help victims of semi-truck accidents. Statistics tell us that there are more than three truck accidents in the United States every minute in which somebody is hurt or killed. Thousands of people in this country are killed or injured by semi-truck or big rig accidents on our roadways. Northwest Indiana is the crossroads across America. Many of these accidents happen on our most frequent highways (I-80/94) the Borman, (I-90) the Toll Road or (I-65). Overworked drivers that are paid by the mile, poor driving, over-sized loads, mechanical failure and other unsafe practices in the truck industry increase the risk of these devastating accidents. But most of these truck accidents happen because of driver error or driver distraction. These big rigs simply do not have the same margin of error that passenger cars do when on our highways.
Truck accidents are much more complex than car accidents because there are a number of different parties that can be responsible for the injuries including the driver, the owner of the tractor or trailer, the leasing company, the loading company or the manufacturer of a defective product on the rig. If you or a loved one has been injured because of a semi-truck accident in Michigan City or LaPorte, Lake, Porter, Jasper, Newton, St. Joseph, Starke, Marshall or Elkhart counties, you should speak with one of our Michigan City Truck Accident Lawyers as soon as possible.
Causes of Northwest Indiana Truck Accident Cases
Generally, there are three main causes of truck accidents that are not present with passenger vehicles. First, because trucks are big, heavy and long they have a more difficult time stopping, which leads to rear-end accidents. Second, truck drivers have a difficult time changing lanes on highways, crossing over center lines on rural roads and making turns in urban areas. The third main cause of truck accidents is driver fatigue. Most truck drivers are paid by the mile. The longer a driver drivers the more miles are covered and the greater income earned. The federal government has performed a number of studies on driver fatigue and determined that the average truck driver gets about one-half of the sleep of the average person. In order to combat the problems with fatigue, the government has instituted stringent hours of service rules that places limits on the hours one can drive. However, there are those truck drivers that cut corners and put people on our roads at risk because they are tired.
Handling Truck Accident Cases
Many lawyers handle truck accident cases the same way they would handle any other car accident case. It may be appropriate to handle a car, pick-up or SUV case as a routine automobile accident case but commercial truck accident cases are different. One of the main differences are the stringent rules and regulations that govern the truck industry. Your truck accident lawyer has to be intimately familiar with these rules and regulations because the truck driver or trucking company may have violated one or more of the safety rules relating to weight of the freight, mechanical inspections or hours of service.
Because the stakes are potential higher in truck accident cases the Northwest Indiana truck accident lawyer has to investigate the cause of the crash immediately and work to preserve critical evidence. This critical evidence may include skid marks, photos of the scene, inspection of the semi-truck, preserving the driver's log books, maintenance schedule and the electronic data recorder (“Black Box”) that may contain vital information regarding the speed of the rig before the crash, braking and deceleration.
A Michigan City truck accident lawyer at our firm is available to provide answers to the difficult questions following a truck accident at (219) 690-8897 or fill out the internet consultation box on the right.
Indiana Truck Accidents Frequently Asked Questions
How do lawyers in Northwest Indiana handle truck accidents versus car accident cases in Northwest Indiana?
Generally, the rules for determining fault are the same for cars and trucks in Northwest Indiana, there are a number of special laws that apply to truck drivers and trucking companies. An attorney handling a Northwest Indiana truck accident case has to be well versed in the FMCSR because sometimes the difference between being able to prove an injured person's case is based on the federal regulations. Additionally, an attorney that handles Northwest Indiana truck accident cases has to know the differences between an auto crash and a truck crash.
Can I sue the driver's trucking company for my injuries in a Northwest Indiana truck accident case?
It depends on the nature of the relationship between the truck driver and the trucking company. If the truck driver was an employee and or agent of the trucking company, the company can be responsible for the damages under the legal theory of Respondeat Superior. This theory of liability is based solely on the relationship between the employer and employee. We can also have direct theories of negligence against the company if the trucking company failed to properly maintain the semi-truck, or if the company failed to properly screen or train the truck driver, it may be liable under negligent supervision or negligent entrustment theories.
I am partially at fault for an accident that I had with a semi-truck in Northwest Indiana; can I still prevail in a claim against the truck driver?
Yes. If it is determined that you are 50% or less at fault, you can receive compensation for your injuries. The compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. If it is determined that you are greater than 50% at fault, you will not be able to receive compensation.
I was in an accident with a big-rig. At the accident scene the driver was all apologetic and said he was sorry, now he is saying I was at fault. How does Indiana law decide who is at fault?
The fault determination is based on the facts of the accident and the physical evidence. This is one of the main reasons that it is important to retain an experienced Northwest Indiana truck attorney as soon as practical after the crash. It will be important to obtain the necessary documentation, examine the scene of the accident and preserve the physical evidence.
Are trucking companies regulated by law in Indiana?
Federal law governs the trucking industry. Trucking law is a complicated statutory scheme called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMSCR). Indiana also has laws that regulate trucking for trucks that stay in state.
How much insurance must a truck driver carry in Northwest Indiana?
There is a federal law that requires trucking companies to carry insurance based on the freight that they are carrying. The minimum liability insurance a company must carry is as follows:
- $750,000 for vehicles under 10,000 pounds carrying non-hazardous material
- $1 million for trucks hauling hazardous material and oil; and
- $5 million for trucks operating portable tanks with a capacity over 3,500 gallons
I was injured in a Northwest Indiana truck accident when the semi-truck jack-knifed; does that mean the truck driver was negligent?
As a general rule, yes. Most of the time a semi-truck will jack-knife because the truck driver locks up his/her brakes. The trucking company's insurance lawyers will argue that the truck did not jack-knife because of negligence but because the roadway was slippery because of unforeseen moisture, ice, or the truck driver was acting heroically trying to avoid another collision. This is one of the main reasons that a person injured in a Northwest Indiana truck accident has to retain an attorney ASAP because it is important to document the scene of the crash and obtain the physical evidence before it is destroyed.
If you have any additional questions about an Indiana truck accident case, call one of our Northwest Indiana truck accident lawyers at (219) 690-8897 or fill out the internet consultation box on the right.