Truck Accident Case
We took more than 60 depositions in five different states. Because of Stephenson’s tireless advocacy, shortly before the trial was to commence, the defendants settled the case for $48.5 million.
Indianapolis Truck Accident Lawyer
Did the trucker, trucking company, or the big rig have a history of negligence, maintenance issues, close calls or accidents? Contact our Indianapolis truck accident lawyers to find out how we can help.
Tractor trailers can be dangerous machinery leaving more than just exhaust in their wake. Often a trucker, trucking company, or the rig itself has a history of negligence, maintenance issues, close calls or accidents. As part of Stephenson Rife’s evidence gathering, we’ll find out the true history of any big rig involved in an accident with our client. We will not rest until we know the facts and secure financial compensation for truck accident victims.
If you’ve been injured in a big truck collision, talk to Indianapolis truck accident attorney Mike Stephenson at 317-680-2501 or use our contact form for a free initial consultation. You will benefit from Mike’s 30 years of experience, significant investigative and financial resources, and high standards of client care.
Why Hire A Truck Accident Lawyer?
We don’t prepare our cases for settlement. We prepare for trial.
An experienced lawyer who has won many commercial truck accident cases has data at his fingertips that can help prove your case. He knows how to track down legal records, police reports, internal memos, maintenance logs and other documents required. This expertise is essential to winning. A truck accident lawyer has been trained to aggressively take on big trucking companies and their insurers without flinching.
Don’t go it alone. Courtrooms and the legal process can be intimidating, especially if you’re still injured from an accident and not feeling very well. While you go to doctors’ appointments and physical therapy, we’ll handle the legal end of things on your behalf.
Should You File a Claim After a Truck Accident?
You might wonder whether it is in your best interest to contact an Indianapolis truck accident lawyer. We can tell you that when clients come to Stephenson Rife, they are almost always doing so because they are facing overwhelming costs from a vehicle accident and serious injury. They aren’t looking for free money; they are simply ready to demand the payment they are entitled to.
Why do people file these claims? They usually have a long list of expenses that they have encountered because another driver was negligent. These claims allow them the chance to hold those drivers accountable. A successful truck accident case prevents our clients from financial ruin.
When you file a claim, you are seeking payment for damages, which can include…
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Property damage
- Emotional and physical pain and suffering.
If you are dealing with a painful, costly injury that wasn’t your fault, you should consider contacting an Indianapolis truck accident attorney at Stephenson Rife. You shouldn’t be made to pay for medical expenses caused by someone else’s negligence. We help people get the payment and care they deserve. Call us today at 317-680-2501 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free case assessment.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Truck Accident Attorney?
Our initial consultation is free. During that conversation, we will determine whether you have a case that is winnable. Our semi-truck accident attorney likes the hard cases and will never shy away from claims that are difficult to prove. That’s why our team is here.
Once we take on a case, we work on a contingency fee. That means that we are paid only if you win your compensation. This is an ideal arrangement for many clients because they will not incur a financial loss if their case is unsuccessful.
Contact an Indianapolis Truck Accident Attorney Now
If you’ve suffered a serious injury in a big truck collision, talk to Indianapolis truck accident attorney Mike Stephenson at 317-680-2501 for a free initial consultation. Set aside worry and confusion about legal matters and concentrate on healing and getting better. Mike has 30 years of legal experience, significant investigative and financial resources and high standards of client care. He will confront the trucking companies and insurers and stand up for your rights.
Frequently Asked Questions In Truck Accidents
In 2011, large trucks accounted for 4 percent of the vehicles in Indiana collisions, but when you look at collisions in which a person died, large trucks were involved in 13 percent of the accidents. In that year, there were 143 such fatal accidents in Indiana and 1,931 large truck accidents which caused injuries. Large trucks are defined as those with a gross vehicle weight exceeding 10,000 pounds, including single unit trucks and truck tractors.
Statistics from the National Transportation Safety Board show that, in general, driver error is the leading cause of large truck accidents, accounting for 31 percent of fatal truck accidents. Indiana State Police figures indicate the following specific causes of 2011 serious injury collisions involving large trucks:
- Failure to yield the right of way – 20.33%
- Following too closely – 12.15%
- Truck veered to left of center – 11.02%
- Truck ran off the road to the right – 7.34%
- Disregarded a signal – 7.06%
- Was traveling at an unsafe speed – 6.78%
- Was driving too fast for weather conditions – 4.80%
- Driver was asleep or fatigued – 2.54%
Because of their weight, trucks can inflict much more damage than cars can, both to property and to life and limb. An average passenger vehicle weighs around 3,000 pounds, but tractor-trailers can weigh up to 80,000. Normally, in a car accident the driver is the only responsible party; but in truck accidents, victims may look to others – such as the trucking company or the owner of the tractor-trailer – for compensation.
Large trucks have large blind spots, sometimes called “no zones,” in the front, rear and sides. If another vehicle happens to be in one of the blind spots when the truck driver executes a turn or changes lanes, it’s at risk of being hit. This could explain the fact that in Indiana in 2011, nearly 5 percent of large trucks were changing lanes prior to a collision, compared to 2 percent for other vehicle types.
Being on the road for long stretches can cause fatigue and boredom. Some truckers do use illegal substances to try to stay alert. The Insurance Institute for Traffic Safety found in a study that 15 percent of tractor-trailer drivers had marijuana in their system; 12 percent had used stimulants; 2 percent had cocaine in their system; but less than 1 percent were under the influence of alcohol.
The Code of Federal Regulations prohibits truck drivers from engaging in certain risky or dangerous behaviors. They are not to use any drug – legal or illegal – that could interfere with their ability to operate a truck safely.
The problem of drowsy (and dangerous) truck drivers prompted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to revise the hours-of-service (HOS) safety requirements for commercial truck drivers. The new HOS rules require a driver to take at least a 30-minute break every 8 consecutive hours. Drivers are allowed to drive 11 hours within a period of 14 consecutive hours, but after 11 hours of driving, the driver must be off duty for 10 consecutive hours before again taking the wheel. On a weekly basis, a truck driver’s total on-duty time is limited to 60 hours in each 7-day period or 70 hours in 8 days, with the new “week” beginning after the driver has 34 consecutive off-duty hours. This is known as the 34-hour restart.
Importantly, the restart period must include at least two off-duty periods between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
Because of their size and weight, trucks can inflict devastating injuries. The Indianapolis truck wreck lawyers of Mike Stephenson’s firm have represented clients who suffered serious injuries in large truck accidents, including the following:
- Broken arms and legs
- Internal injuries
- Fractured vertebrae
- Crushed limbs requiring amputation
- Traumatic brain injury.
You can read some of their stories here.
Actually, nationally, 61 percent of fatalities occurred on major roads other than interstate highways. State routes, urban arteries and rural roads also see a fair share of truck accidents.
If you or your family member was injured in the accident, you will have many issues to deal with and a number of responsibilities competing for your time and attention. It is likely that the trucking company will have a team of experienced lawyers and insurance adjusters to represent their interests. You deserve equally focused representation. It might not even be clear in the beginning who all the potential responsible parties are. A truck accident lawyer will know how to scrutinize the details of the accident and investigate the circumstances to clarify liability. And insurance companies are notorious for trying to make quick settlements. In the pain and confusion following a large truck accident, your judgment may be clouded. Let an attorney advise you and work toward a full and fair compensation for your family’s catastrophic accident.
Although our offices are in Shelbyville, near Indianapolis, our personal injury attorneys serve clients located in towns and cities all across the state of Indiana. In fact, Mike Stephenson has handled litigation in 18 states and is often called upon by attorneys in other states to assist with their Indiana cases.
Mike Stephenson believes justice matters. Phone him at 317-680-2501 or use the firm’s convenient online contact form. You’ll find comfort in the way Mike listens to your story and takes a “client first” approach.
$48.5 Million Truck Accident Settlement for Survivors
“M.A.,” a 30-year-old man, was driving to work in New Mexico.
Suddenly a commercial truck veered across the center line and struck his vehicle head on. M.A. died at the scene. The Stephenson Rife firm was hired shortly after the crash to represent the family of the deceased. Stephenson immediately began an aggressive investigation and preparation for trial.
The discovery phase of the litigation included successfully petitioning the court to have important documents turned over by the defense. We took more than 60 depositions in five different states. Experts from across the country were hired and prepared for trial. Because of Stephenson’s tireless advocacy, shortly before the trial was to commence, the defendants settled the case for $48.5 million.
Why You Need an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
Truck accident attorneys know that cases involving commercial vehicles aren’t simply big car accident cases. They require a specific skillset and knowledge of the many state and federal laws governing commercial vehicles and commercial vehicle operators. The complexity of the laws, combined with the fact that these crashes usually involve catastrophic injuries, sets them apart from legal claims involving two passenger vehicles.
Commercial vehicles must adhere to state and federal laws concerning the size and weight of the vehicle. There are also limits on how long truckers can drive in a given period. Drivers and vehicles that are used for commercial purposes are held to a higher standard, and an experienced truck accident attorney knows that a trucking company’s adherence to these laws plays a significant role in any truck accident cases stemming from a crash.
Truck accident cases are also unique for other reasons. Trucking companies know that there is always a possibility that their drivers are going to be involved in a crash, and they are prepared to spring into action when they can be held liable for someone’s injuries. In some cases, these companies employ extreme measures to mitigate liability. Trucking companies might even deploy a representative to the scene of the crash to solicit signatures on forms that take the legal burden off their driver.
If an attorney is inexperienced, they will face a steep learning curve, which could affect the amount of money their client receives in a claim. Don’t take legal advice from an attorney who doesn’t know these cases. When you hire a law firm who truly knows truck accident injury cases, you can rest assured that your lawyer knows how to deal with trucking and insurance companies. They will maximize the amount of money their client is offered.
At Stephenson Rife, our truck accident lawyers know what it takes to win. Let us meet with you and your loved ones to discuss the details of your case and offer you a free case evaluation. Contact Stephenson Rife today by calling 317-680-2501 or filling out our online contact form.
What Does Truck Driver Negligence Look Like?
Most crashes happen because someone makes a mistake. When a truck driver is at fault for a crash, the results can be catastrophic for the occupants of another vehicle. A few common examples of careless driving in these cases include…
Fatigue – Fatigue is a major concern in the commercial trucking industry. Truckers drive for long periods without breaks, making it more likely that they will be drowsy behind the wheel.
Distraction – Like any other driver, commercial vehicle operators face distractions. From in-cabin controls to mobile devices, truckers have a responsibility to remain focused on the job.
Impairment – Though impairment among truck drivers is less of a problem than it was in years past, impaired driving is still a potential cause of truck accidents.
Speeding – Many commercial vehicles are equipped with governors that limit how fast they can travel. However, that doesn’t stop truck drivers from traveling too fast in zones with lower speed limits or driving too fast in hazardous weather conditions.
Aggressive driving – Any professional driver could feel pressured to meet shipping deadlines, which could lead to overly aggressive driving practices, such as running red lights, merging without signaling or following a passenger vehicle too closely.
As the victim of a semi-truck driver’s negligence, you don’t need to worry about knowing the exact cause of your crash. When you work with an Indianapolis truck accident lawyer at Stephenson Rife, we will investigate the circumstances surrounding the crash to find out why it happened.
What to Expect From the Injury Claim Process
When you hire a truck accident attorney, you will be handing over the task of filing a claim to your lawyer.
This frees you up to focus on your own health and recovery. Meanwhile, your attorney will investigate the causes of the crash, determine how much you are owed in damages, file all necessary paperwork and demand payment from the at-fault party and their insurance company.
If the other side is willing to negotiate a settlement, then your attorney and a representative of the other side will attempt to reach an agreement regarding the amount of money you receive. If both sides come to an agreement, then a settlement is reached. You will receive payment in accordance with the terms of that settlement.
If no settlement is possible, then the dispute can be taken to trial, where both sides will make their case to a jury. The jury will decide whether the person you name in the claim is at fault. If the jury finds the defendant is responsible, they will then determine how much you are owed in damages. To learn more, please visit our settlement FAQ page.
At Stephenson Rife, we prepare every case to go to trial. This ensures we are prepared for whatever path your case will take. It has the added benefit of making a satisfactory settlement offer possible for our clients.
Big Truck Crash Statistics In The U.S.
Big trucks have unique dangers that create oversized damage.
As you might expect, when semi-tractor trailer rigs collide with passenger vehicles, occupants of the smaller car sustain most of the injuries and deaths. In 2016, the majority of these crash fatalities (83%) were riding in the passenger vehicle, not in the large truck, according to FMCSA data. Consider these other statistics from FMCSA:
- In 2016, 4,440 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes, a 2% increase from 2015.
- There was a 28% increase in the number of fatal large truck and bus accidents between 2009 and 2016.
- Since 2009, the number of injury crashes involving large trucks or buses increased 62% to 97,000 in 2015. In 2016, there were an estimated 119,000 injury crashes, based on new CRSS data collected by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- Fatal crashes involving large trucks tend to occur in rural areas and on Interstate highways. Approximately 61% of all fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred in rural areas, 27% occurred on Interstate highways, and 15% fell into both categories by occurring on rural Interstate highways.
- 37% of all fatal crashes, 23% of all injury crashes, and 20% of all property-damage-only crashes involving large trucks occurred at night (6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.).
- The vast majority of fatal crashes (84%) and nonfatal crashes (88%) involving large trucks occurred on weekdays (Monday through Friday).
- In 2016, 27% of work zone fatal crashes and 8% of work zone injury crashes involved at least one large truck.
- There were 12.0 fatal large truck crashes per million people in the United States in 2016, a 13% increase from 10.6 in 2010.
These statistics show why U.S. roadways can be so dangerous. If you or a family member has been injured in a crash with a big rig, talk to truck accident lawyer Mike Stephenson atfor a free initial consultation. You will benefit from Mike’s 30 years of experience and his exceptional client care.
Why Do Large Truck Accidents Happen?
Consider these factors that aggravate the risk posed to drivers by big rigs:
David v. Goliath: A fully loaded truck can weigh more than 80,000 pounds, while an average automobile weighs less than 5,000 pounds. In these instances, David almost never defeats Goliath.
Payload: As average Joes we haul our families, friends and pets. A commercial truck may be hauling multiple trailers, large freight, liquids and hazardous or flammable materials that can ignite into flames upon impact.
Driver Fatigue: Several factors can contribute to the instability of truck drivers, their reaction time and decision-making ability. Lack of sleep, drug and alcohol abuse, or improper on-the-job training can all lead to dangerous collisions.
Your Indianapolis Truck Accident Lawyer: Trusted Advisor, Proven Advocate
At Stephenson Rife, our job as personal injury attorneys is to advise and guide our clients throughout the legal process and protect them from opponents’ tactics. Here are some suggestions we want to share with you:
“Don’t Sign Anything!” You hear lawyers on television relentlessly yell this phrase. While annoying – it’s true. Trucking companies and their insurance carriers are experienced in mitigating their exposure to loss in these matters. Insurers often try to reach a quick settlement in an effort to limit their financial responsibility to you.
Surprised? The truck driver may not be the only party legally responsible for the accident. Trucking accident cases require extensive investigation to identify all aggravating circumstances that contributed to the wreck. Trucking companies, trailer owners, contractors, employers, insurance companies, and shippers may also be held liable and obligated to provide financial compensation.
Your Experts Matter. Knowing the truth and being able to prove the truth are two different things. Our Indianapolis truck accident lawyers are committed to bringing together the most qualified experts available (regardless of cost) to uncover what happened. Your experts will come from around the world if necessary and help prove your case.
You are Responsible for the Investigation. The accident investigation conducted by law enforcement is primarily concerned with determining criminality – not investigating liability. One of the first calls truckers make after an accident is to their company, which instantly dispatches an investigative unit to begin the process of mitigating their financial loss. You need an investigative team on your side working just as hard to secure the evidence needed to prove your claim. That’s why you need to contact a truck accident attorney at Stephenson Rife promptly. Please call us at 317-680-2501 for a free initial consultation.
Commercial Vehicle (Cv) Definitions in Indiana
People sometimes think “commercial vehicle” and “large truck” mean the same thing, but not in Indiana. Traffic officials define large trucks as just one type of commercial vehicle. When you see “CV” it can mean:
- large trucks
- combination vehicles
- pickup trucks over 10,000 pounds
- buses with 15+ passengers with driver
- school buses
- any vehicle with a hazardous materials (hazmat) placard.
In 2016, commercial vehicles were involved in:
- 16,873 total collisions
- 2,222 injury collisions
- 114 fatal collisions.
Large Truck Types
- single 2-axle, 6 tires
- single 3 or more axles
- truck/trailer–not semi
- tractor–cab only, no trailer
- tractor/one semi-trailer
- tractor/double trailer
- tractor/triple trailer
In Indiana in 2016, large trucks were involved in:
- 87% of all commercial vehicle collisions (14,709 total)
- 89% of all commercial vehicle injury collisions (1,972)
- 97% of all commercial vehicle fatal collisions (110)
Transportation Accident Statistics In Indiana
The Indiana State Police and the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) collect data annually to track transportation crash statistics:
- In 2016, 223,905 collisions occurred in Indiana, 776 of which were fatal.
- The mean number of collisions per county was 2,432, and the mean number of fatal collisions per county was 8.
- Marion County ranked highest in the total number of collisions (37,447), and Pike County ranked highest in the percentage of all collisions that were fatal.
- In 2016, 46% of all vehicle occupants killed in Indiana collisions were not wearing seatbelts.
- There were 5,487 work-zone collisions in Indiana in 2016.
- In 2016, 46,384 young drivers (ages 15 to 20) were involved in collisions (13.4% of all drivers involved).
- Forty-seven young drivers were killed in 2016 collisions.
- In 2016, there were 16,873 traffic collisions involving one or more commercial vehicles; of these, 88% (14,709) involved large trucks.
- Commercial vehicle collisions in Indiana increased from 2012 to 2016 by about 6% per year.
From 2015 to 2016, there were increases in collisions involving large trucks (4%) and buses (6%).
- Of the 114 fatal collisions that included a commercial vehicle in 2016, 96% (110) involved large trucks.
- 131 commercial vehicles were linked to fatal collisions in Indiana in 2016, and almost all were large trucks.
Feeling Alone and Confused After a Large Truck Crash?
When you’ve been injured in a vehicle collision, everything can feel overwhelming. Hospitals, doctors, X-rays, lab tests, phone calls from insurance companies, certified letters in the mail. An experienced Indiana truck accident attorney can bring order to this confusion and create a much-needed, quiet refuge for you while you recover. By taking charge of the situation on your behalf, a personal injury lawyer can reduce your stress, sleeplessness and frustration. We can bring calm to a tumultuous situation.
When and Where Do Large Truck Accidents Occur in Indiana?
January is the most dangerous month of the year in Indiana for truck accidents. This is likely because it is one of the worst months for cold and icy weather, when visibility is low.
According to the ICJI, a total of 7,842 total commercial vehicle collisions occurred in Indiana in the month of January between 2012 and 2016, or an average of 1,568 each year.
The least dangerous month during that period was April (5,435 total collisions, or 1,087 each year).
The most dangerous day of the week in Indiana for truck accidents is Tuesday.
A total of 13,997 total commercial vehicle collisions occurred on that day between 2012 and 2016 (2,800 per year on average).
The least dangerous day: Sunday (3,856 total collisions, or 771 per year during that period).
Source: Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI)
Contact Our Truck Accident Lawyers
Talk to Our Truck Accident Lawyers To Find Out If You Have A Case
Truck accident cases can be complex legal claims that require thorough investigation and demand aggressive litigation to secure the best possible outcome for the plaintiff. Attorney Mike Stephenson has more than three decades of experience and substantial financial resources to commit to your case. We build a legal team specifically for you.
”I would highly recommend Stephenson Rife as a great team of experienced professionals. In addition to their focus on specific details of your case, they advocate for you and explain what to expect as your case proceeds. I found Brady and Mike to be available and always willing to listen and explain the details of the case.” – Brian Kemple (Google Review)
Call to learn more about our investigative and litigation strategies:.
Table Of Contents
- Why Hire A Truck Accident Lawyer?
- Should You File a Claim After a Truck Accident?
- How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Truck Accident Attorney?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Truck Accident Settlement for Survivors
- Why You Need an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
- What Does Truck Driver Negligence Look Like?
- What to Expect From the Injury Claim Process
- Big Truck Crash Statistics In The U.S.
- Why Do Large Truck Accidents Happen?
- Commercial Vehicle (Cv) Definitions in Indiana
- Transportation Accident Statistics In Indiana
- Feeling Alone and Confused After a Large Truck Crash?