Accidents involving semi trucks can involve legal issues which are quite different from traffic accidents which involve small vehicles and private individuals.
Indianapolis in particular, nicknamed the “Crossroads of America”, is a major hub for cross-country freeway traffic, with trucks heading north, south, east, west and all points of the compass on Interstates 65, 69, 70 and 74. In 2006 there were well over 1,600 injuries caused by truck crashes in Indiana, including 140 fatalities.
Injuries and the subsequent recovery periods from truck accidents involving small vehicles can also be far more serious than small vehicle accidents for a number of reasons, primarily from the fact that a loaded semi can weigh up to 40 tons. Also, such accidents often occur at a high rate of speed, trucks and semi tractor-trailers are harder to control in bad weather and they have large blind spots. Any and all of these factors can lead to serious accidents.
An accident between a large truck and a passenger car is more likely to inflict serious damage such as brain and spinal cord injuries. Such injuries can be extremely costly to the victim and involve extensive recovery and rehabilitation. Currently federal insurance regulations require a far higher level of coverage for an interstate commercial vehicle than state regulations require for passenger cars.
One of the underlying reasons for the number of crashes involving trucks can be traced to the fact that truckers often drive while they are drowsy. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, truck drivers are 4.5 times more likely than the average driver to get into a drowsiness-related accident. Drivers are required to limit their time on the road according to federal regulations, but the records they keep are simply handwritten logs which can be easily fudged. When truck drivers are paid by the mile it creates a financial incentive for them to drive as far as they can as fast as they can.
An Indianapolis attorney with experience in dealing specifically with large truck accidents is aware of the issues and regulations involved and knows what facts to look for in order to determine whether the driver and the carrier complied with the law. If it is discovered that there was a failure to comply or a willful disregard of regulations, recoverable damages could be considerably more. Section 390.11 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) stipulates that a duty or prohibition imposed upon a driver must likewise be observed by the carrier. The carrier is liable for negligence on the part of a truck driver if the truck is under lease to the carrier. Commercial transportation insurance policies usually have far higher policy limits than individual policies, generally a $1 million minimum.