Merrillville Truck Accident Lawyer

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Truck accidents are uniquely devastating due to the substantial weight and size of commercial vehicles. When a massive 18-wheeler or a tractor-trailer causes an accident, it often results in severe injuries and fatalities. Even if the accident isn’t fatal, an accident can result in severe injuries with long-term impacts on a victim’s life.

Although the law allows victims of truck accidents to obtain compensation from the at-fault party, you may encounter many obstacles and hurdles along the way. For instance, the at-fault party’s insurer may shift the blame to avoid paying for injury-related losses or challenge the severity of your injuries.

You should contact a trusted truck accident attorney in Merrillville if you sustained an injury due to someone else’s negligence. Our experienced legal team at Blackburn Romey is standing by to help.

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How Much You Can Get After a Merrillville Truck Accident?

Many truck accidents leave victims with severe injuries, mounting medical bills, and disruptions in their daily lives. Understanding potential settlement values can help victims make financial plans during recovery.

However, estimating the average settlement value for a truck accident is difficult since each case is unique. The outcome depends on the facts and circumstances of each case.

The following factors determine the value of a truck accident settlement:

Severity of the Injury

Understandably, the value of a truck accident depends on the severity of your injury. A truck accident victim who sustained a severe back injury is likely to receive a higher settlement value compared to someone with minor bruises.

The higher settlement value coincides with a lengthy treatment plan and the long-term impact associated with severe injuries.

Degree of Fault

Since Indiana is an at-fault state, establishing negligence is a crucial factor in pursuing compensation. The at-fault party insurer is responsible for paying damages and injuries sustained by the injured victim.

In addition, Indiana uses modified comparative fault, meaning if the injured victim’s contribution of fault is more than 50%, they may not obtain compensation. If their contribution to fault is 50% or less, the expected compensation becomes lower by a similar percentage.

Therefore, the value of a truck accident settlement largely depends on your contribution to the accident.

Measures to Mitigate Damages

You should follow doctors’ orders during the treatment plan as part of your mitigation measures. Failure to follow doctor’s orders may justify a deduction on your settlement claim.

Mitigating measures include several actions to prevent further injury or loss. A truck accident attorney may ask you to follow up with a doctor or physician and follow through with treatment recommendations.

Impact on Daily Life

The impact on your daily life determines how much you’ll receive in a truck accident case.

Suppose you sustained an amputated arm in a truck accident that makes it impossible to resume your driving job. In that case, your settlement value will compensate for permanent disability and loss of earning capacity.

Types of Truck Accidents Our Lawyers Represent in Merrillville

Based on these safety issues, semi-trucks are more prone to the following types of collisions:

  • Rollover accidents: with a high weight distribution, semi-trucks are susceptible to rolling on their side when navigating ramps and curves
  • Rear-end collisions: commercial trucks have less control when moving downhill, making it more difficult for them to slow down, so they potentially rear-end lead vehicles.
  • Jackknifing: an accident where the truck’s cab and trailer fold in on themselves, having the vehicle form a “V.” This type of accident can happen if the truck driver stops too quickly or is going too fast around a curve.
  • Tire blowout: since commercial trucks are carrying heavy loads in their trailers for a long period of time, tires can easily blow out if a truck tries to stop at a moment’s notice. This can cause the driver to lose control and collide with other vehicles.
  • T-Bone Accidents: a truck driver may fail to yield the right-of-way to another driver, resulting in the truck striking another vehicle’s side.
  • Head-on collisions: With limited maneuverability, trucks can inadvertently enter opposing lanes, especially under conditions of driver fatigue or distraction, leading to direct frontal impacts with oncoming vehicles.
  • Side swipe accidents: These happen when the side of a truck brushes against another vehicle, typically caused by drifting or improper lane changes.
  • Wide-turn accidents: This often occurs if the driver miscalculates the needed clearance or overlooks vehicles in the turn path, particularly in urban settings where space is constrained.

Large Truck Concerns

Passenger car drivers may be unaware that the mass of a truck increases the risk of severe injuries and fatalities in a crash.

The average passenger vehicle weighs about 4,100 pounds, making commercial trucks with a laden weight of 80,000 pounds almost 20 times heavier. This causes problems when a “big rig” has to come to a stop at a moment’s notice, taking approximately 525 feet to completely stop.

A large truck has a higher center of gravity. Since a tall vehicle is more likely to roll over, Indiana requires all trucks that are taller than 13 feet 6 inches in height to get an oversize and/or overweight (OSOW) permit.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Distracted Driving

According to NHTSA, distracted driving caused 3,308 traffic fatalities in 2022. Distracted driving includes any activity that takes away attention from driving. Typical forms of distracted driving include texting and driving, grooming, talking on the phone, or adjusting the vehicle stereo.

Drivers must pay full attention to the task to minimize the chances of road accidents. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction that increases the risk of road accidents.

Speeding

In a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study examining large truck fatalities in a single year, 7% of commercial truck drivers were speeding.

When dealing with less-than-ideal road conditions, including inclement weather, road construction, or rush hour traffic, truck drivers may feel pressured to stay on schedule.

The extreme weight of a tractor-trailer combined with a speeding driver increases the likelihood of a collision.

In addition to exceeding speed limits, peeding involves driving beyond a speed deemed safe and reasonable according to prevailing traffic conditions. When a speeding truck crashes with a passenger vehicle or truck, it results in substantial property damage, injuries, and fatalities.

Here are a few reasons why speeding trucks are dangerous:

  • Excessive speed reduces the time a driver has to react in a dangerous situation to avoid a crash
  • Speeding increases the risk of losing control
  • Speeding increases the severity of injuries and physical damage in case of a crash
  • Speeding reduces the effectiveness of the vehicle-restraint mechanism
  • Speeding reduces the effectiveness of road safety features such as guardrails to protect vehicle occupants in a collision.

Truck Driver Fatigue

Truck drivers have to keep to demanding schedules on little sleep. Although the HOS regulations aim to ease the burden of truck drivers, many surveys indicate that truck drivers violate their permitted hours.

Studies show that 30 to 40 percent of truck accidents involve a fatigued driver. Similar to an intoxicated driver, a fatigued driver will lack acuity while operating their vehicle.

Exhaustion cannot be solely attributed to the truck operator themselves. A trucking company may share liability if the company is keeping drivers to unrealistic time constraints.

Poor Cargo Loading

The weight and size of cargo directly impact a driver’s earnings. However, heavy loads make it difficult for the driver to operate the vehicle and respond to road hazards. Poor cargo loading may sometimes fall during transit or increase the risk of roll-over crashes.

Inexperienced drivers might be unaware of weight changes during a trip, making it challenging to handle sudden acceleration and shifting.

Alcohol or Drug Use

Alcohol and drug impairment is high in commercial drivers, with 67% of fatally injured drivers testing positive for drugs and another 33% testing positive for psychoactive drugs or alcohol.

Substance abuse is a serious issue for truckers. Some drivers may use cocaine or amphetamines to stay awake, while others may consume alcohol to relax. Whatever the reason, truck drivers are putting innocent road users in grave danger.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the road. Given the risks of driving a large truck, distracted driving increases the risk of fatalities in the event of a crash.

A major culprit of distracted driving is the use of a cell phone. The FMCSA places restrictions on mobile device use for commercial drivers. A driver can only use a hands-free phone located within the proximity of the cab.

Any use of a hand-held device can result in a fine of $2,750 to the driver and $11,000 for any employers who require their drivers to use a mobile device.

Distracted driving comes in three forms:

  • Visual: Taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual: Taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive: Taking your mind off driving

Common acts of distracted driving are:

  • Texting
  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking on your cell phone
  • Daydreaming
  • Speaking on a dispatch device

Poor Truck Maintenance

Trucks require regular maintenance, such as checking the following:

  • brakes;
  • fluid levels;
  • tire pressure; and
  • the fuel lines.

Regular maintenance is a must and cannot be skipped. For example, a defective coupling (the connection between the tractor and the trailer) can cause the trailer to detach from the truck, resulting in catastrophic injuries.

Why Choose Us

We know you have many options when selecting a personal injury attorney, but many people rely on our firm to represent their rights.

Experience

Our team has combined decades of experience handling all types of injury cases, both with insurance companies and in civil court. We bring all that we know about injury law to the table in each and every case.

Results

We have many satisfied clients who were able to move forward with their lives in a better financial position following a serious accident and injuries. We can discuss our past results with you during your free consultation.

Service

We are dedicated to our clients and communities in Indiana. Our goal is to provide comprehensive and compassionate legal services to injured and grieving individuals. We work hard to obtain the money you need so you can focus on recovery instead of worrying about medical bills, insurance claims, or lawsuits.

What Increases the Likelihood of a Truck Accident?

Massive trucks’ size and weight are the primary causes of severe truck accidents. The force generated by massive trucks often causes severe damage to smaller vehicles and sometimes leads to life-threatening injuries.

In addition, trucks require a longer stopping distance because of their size and weight. The extended stopping distance is critical when a truck driver needs to brake suddenly or encounters an obstacle.

The need for a longer stopping distance may result in rear-end collisions, where a truck crashes with the front vehicle.

Lastly, large trucks have limited maneuverability. They require larger turning spaces and additional distance to change lanes. This limited maneuverability can hinder the truck driver’s ability to avoid accidents in case of hazards that require sudden action.

Available Compensation for Injuries in Truck Accidents

Truck accidents often result in severe injuries with long-term impact on accident victims. As an injured victim, you deserve compensation for your losses. If you did cause the accident, you have the right to obtain compensation from the at-fault party.

Depending on the nature of your losses, you can obtain three compensation classes: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. On rare occasions, a judge or jury can award punitive damages to punish the defendant in an accident involving egregious conduct.

Here’s a list of typical economic and non-economic damages:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Emotional anguish
  • Permanent disfigurement

Statute of Limitations for Truck Accidents

The statute of limitations governs the time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit against another party. In Indiana, the statute of limitations for filing a truck accident claim is two years from the accident date. If you let the clock run out, you may extinguish your opportunity to obtain compensation from the at-fault party.

Although rare, there are instances where the statute of limitations may extend or pause, including:

  • Cases involving minors
  • Discovery rule
  • Legal disability
  • The defendant moves to another state

Liability After A Truck Accident

In an at-fault state like Indiana, the insurer of the at-fault party should cover injury-related losses. Determining liability after a truck accident is crucial in your pursuit of compensation.

Different parties may be liable for a truck accident, including:

  • A truck driver
  • The truck manufacturer
  • The trucking company
  • The driver of the passenger vehicle
  • A local government or highway authority

What Should You Do After An Indiana Truck Accident?

After a truck accident, what you do can enhance your safety and protect your right to compensation.

Here are the steps to take after a truck accident:

  • Move yourself and the vehicle to the side of the road if it is safe
  • Call 911 or an ambulance if someone has sustained an injury
  • Call the local police department to provide them with a notice of the accident
  • Gather information related to the accident
  • Seek medical attention if hurt
  • Inform your insurer about the accident
  • Hire an experienced car accident attorney

How a Merrillville Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You

You should immediately hire a truck accident lawyer if injured in a crash. An attorney can provide legal assistance to file a personal injury lawsuit. With the aid of an attorney, you can fight for a fair settlement value that covers your injury-related losses.

You might have to pay some of your damages out-of-pocket without legal aid and expertise.

Here are the expected benefits of hiring a truck accident attorney:

  • Evaluating and accepting a settlement proposal at the right time
  • Demonstrating the extent of your injuries
  • Providing legal guidance throughout the claim or lawsuit
  • Gathering evidence to demonstrate fault
  • Calculate the value of your losses
  • Maximize the value of your compensation
  • Give you peace of mind by handling the trial process
  • Litigate your case in court or before a jury
  • Negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf

Federal Regulations

Unlike passenger vehicle drivers, commercial truck drivers must abide by federal regulations. These hours of service (HOS) regulations are put into place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The HOS regulations serve to protect other motorists so that the road can be shared safely.

On-Duty and Off-Duty

The HOS regulations dictate how many hours a truck driver can be behind the wheel. Commercial truck drivers are required to track their driving time and breaks in a logbook. “On-duty” time means that the driver is completing additional tasks but not necessarily operating their vehicle, which would instead be indicated by “on-duty driving time.”

Drivers transporting cargo can travel for 11 hours after being off-duty for 10 hours. Drivers carrying passengers are only permitted to drive for 10 hours after being off-duty for 8 hours.

Property-carrying drivers must adhere to a “14-hour rule”, in which drivers cannot drive past the 14th hour of being on duty. This is following 10 consecutive hours off-duty. Passenger-carrying drivers have a “15-hour rule” and are not allowed to drive past the 15th hour of being on duty. This would be following 8 consecutive hours off-duty.

Sleeper Berth

Whether a driver is carrying property or passengers, there is a requirement to use the sleeper berth. As the name suggests, drivers must sleep during some portion of their “off-duty” time. For truck drivers, rest time must be a minimum of two hours.

For property-carrying drivers, the sleeper berth requirement is 7 consecutive hours, adding up to 10 hours total. In contrast, passenger-carrying drivers must take a minimum of 8 hours in the sleeper berth. A passenger-carrying driver can split the sleeper berth time into two periods, provided that neither is less than two hours long.

Exceptions

Drivers are permitted to extend their driving window by up to two hours in adverse weather conditions.

Drivers who operate their vehicle within a 150-mile radius are exempt from HOS regulations, known as the short-haul exception, as long as they report and return to their work location within 14 consecutive hours.

Most notably, drivers are restricted from driving more than 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days.

Even with these parameters in place, truck drivers can exhibit negligent behavior. Since truck drivers are operating on tight schedules, they may do whatever it takes to stay on schedule.

Standing up for the rights of injury victims in Indiana for decades.

-Chad Romey

Contact Our Merrillville Truck Accident Attorneys for Free Today

If you have been in a truck accident, let our dedicated legal team work on your behalf. We know the pitfalls of truck operators and other liable parties, and we will investigate to find out the cause of your accident.

Blackburn Romey is an experienced injury firm with a proven track record of representing injured victims. Contact us online or at (833) 264.0904 for a free, confidential consultation.

 

Other Locations our Truck Accidents Lawyers Serve in Indiana

South Bend Truck Accident Lawyer

Fort Wayne Truck Accident Lawyer

Indianapolis Truck Accident Lawyer

Lafayette Truck Accident Lawyer

Merrillville Truck Accident Lawyer

Terre Haute Truck Accident Lawyer

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Tom Blackburn

Blackburn Romey founding partner Tom Blackburn graduated with honors receiving a degree from Indiana University at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Initiating his legal career in 1977, he has been active in practicing law and currently serves as a member of the Indiana State Bar Association on the Ethics and Advertising Committees, the American Bar Association, the American Association for Justice, as a board member at the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, and as an appointed member of the Executive Committee for the State of Indiana for the National Trial Lawyers Association.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Tom Blackburn, who has more than 47 years of legal experience, including over 39 years specializing as a personal injury attorney.