Indianapolis 18-Wheeler Accidents Lawyer
Indianapolis is growing. According to STATS Indiana, the state’s official digital data center, Marion County is expected to be home to more than a million people within two decades. With interstate trucking on the rise as well, and with I-65 and I-70 running directly through the middle of Indianapolis, Marion County’s largest city, the prospect for collisions involving passenger vehicles and tractor trailers has never been greater.
Collisions between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles can result in horrific injuries. When vehicles collide, the size and weight of each vehicle affects the likelihood of serious physical injury to the people inside. The implication for trucking accidents is obvious. Seatbelts and airbags simply cannot protect against the impact of an 80,000-pound tractor trailer. Furthermore, these collisions usually occur at highway speeds, significantly compounding the risk of harm to the driver and passengers of the smaller vehicle.
The truck accident lawyers at Stephenson Rife excel at building negligence cases against large trucking companies. Accident claims in which the victim suffered severe injuries or death require an experienced law firm. Our attorneys have more than 45 years of combined experience practicing law in Indiana. We have worked as defense counsel in the past, and we know the tactics the insurance company will employ to try to deny or minimize your claim. When you hire our firm, the insurance company has no choice but to play fair.
Truck Accidents in Indianapolis and Across Indiana
When truck drivers are careless, innocent people can be seriously injured or killed. In 2014, there were 16,330 accidents involving large trucks in Indiana, according to Indiana Crash Facts 2014, up 5.2% over a five-year span; 2,136 people were injured in these accidents and 157 lost their lives. Narrowing the focus to county statistics, we find that crash rates in Marion County were the highest in the state. This is reflected in the frequency with which local news outlets report serious truck wrecks. Within only a few weeks in 2016, Indianapolis highways were the site of numerous accidents in which people were injured or killed by large commercial vehicles:
- October 19 – I-74 at Acton Road; semi crashed and caught fire, killing the driver
- October 13 – 37; bicyclist struck and killed by semi which left road
- September 6 – I-65; dump truck rear-ended semi-truck, killing one and critically injuring another
- August 10 – I-70 near Sam Jones Expressway; multi-vehicle pile-up including three trucks and injuring several people.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
Statistics from the National Transportation Safety Board show that generally driver error is the leading cause of large truck accidents, accounting for 31 percent of fatal truck crashes. Indiana State Police figures are more specific, showing that in 2011 the following mistakes by truck drivers were to blame:
- Failure to yield 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%
- Traveling at an unsafe speed – 6.78%
- Driving too fast for weather conditions – 4.80%
- Driver was asleep or fatigued – 2.54%
In February 2016, Indiana State Police Sgt. Rich Kelly estimated that half of the semis involved in Indiana fatal crashes are driven by distracted drivers.
But What if it Wasn’t All the Truck Driver’s Fault?
First of all, never assume you were at fault just because the other side or their insurance adjuster says so. Even if you believe you may have done something wrong based on your recollection of the accident, it is imperative that you make no statements to that effect. Why? The reason is simple – you may not have all of the facts. Until our firm performs a full investigation, there is no way to know for sure whether you share any blame for the accident.
In accidents where commercial trucks are involved, there may be many potentially liable parties — trucking companies, maintenance companies, manufacturers, even other drivers on the road. This is one reason it is crucial that you consult Stephenson Rife very quickly after an accident; the situation may be much more complicated than you realize, especially in the turmoil following a crash.
Trucking accidents in Indianapolis are governed by a legal rule called “comparative fault,” so even if it turns out you were partially at fault, you can still collect from the other responsible parties. The rule allows you to recover as long as you were not 51 percent or more at fault in causing the accident. Consider the following example:
- You were badly hurt in a traffic accident with a tractor trailer and one other passenger vehicle. Your total loss is determined to be $1 million.
- All three parties (the truck driver/company, the other driver, and you) were partially at fault.
- Each party will be assigned a percentage of fault based on their individual degree of negligence, for a total of 100 percent.
- Here, it is determined that the truck driver/company was 45 percent at fault. The driver of the other vehicle was 35 percent at fault. You are found to be 20 percent at fault.
- Because you are not 51 percent or more at fault in causing the accident, you can bring a claim against the other parties.
- Your damages of $1 million will be reduced by 20 percent to account for your own negligence, resulting in a potential award of $800,000.
The percentage of fault assigned to you is obviously a key determination. If your case goes to trial, the jury will determine the percentage. If your case settles before trial, as most cases do, the percentage is sure to be a highly-contested point of negotiation. Our attorneys can present your case in a manner that accurately represents the minimal way in which your conduct contributed to the accident.
Turn to Stephenson Rife
If you are dealing with severe injuries from a trucking accident, the last thing you need is an insurance adjuster pushing you to settle your case prematurely. Let us deal with the claims adjuster so you can focus on recovering from your injuries.
Remember this: The insurance company does not have your best interests in mind. But we do. Their goal is to close the case while paying out as little as possible. The adjuster will try to get you to sign away your rights before the full extent of your injuries is known. And once you sign a release of liability, you can never seek additional damages for your accident. By contrast, we want to see you fully compensated for your medical bills, time off work, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Contact us for a no-obligation, no-charge consultation to learn how we can negotiate a favorable settlement on your behalf if you have been involved in an accident with a tractor trailer or other large truck in or near Indianapolis. Call the Stephenson Rife office in Indianapolis at 317-680-2501 or use our convenient online inquiry form.