Semi-trucks are an essential element of commerce in the U.S., but they are also often a safety concern on our roads. In 2018, the latest data available, there were almost 500,000 trucking accidents in the U.S. Rural areas, including those surrounding Fort Wayne, accounted for 57% of truck crashes in terms of location. In Indiana, truck accidents accounted for 10% of all traffic fatalities.
Truck accidents are usually frightening and traumatic. Just given the sheer size and weight of semi-trucks, significant injuries or even fatalities are often a result. If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, you are likely feeling overwhelmed while dealing with recovery, loss of work, and mounting medical bills.
If you’re the victim of a semi-truck crash, an experienced truck accident attorney at Wilson Kehoe Winingham can help you get full and fair compensation to help you get your life back on track.
If you or a loved one in Fort Wayne have been injured in a truck accident, it’s important to know your rights and to receive full and fair insurance compensation. Generally speaking, commercial trucks are owned by large “motor carrier” corporations, and they employ lawyers who will work to push through a fast—and low—settlement amount. The experienced WKW truck accident lawyers will be there to guide you through each step of the process, taking the time needed to conduct a full investigation of the accident scene and potential causes and to properly assess your medical condition now and in the future.
While driver error often plays into the cause of a trucking crash, there are other potential contributors. Perhaps a mechanic didn’t repair a component correctly or the trucking company didn’t provide adequate training or looked the other way when drivers hit their legal drive time limits. Because semi-truck cases are complex, there may be liable parties that you’ve never even heard of or who were not present at the scene. An experienced big rig lawyer will know to look at all aspects of the case.
Trucking accidents are much more complex than car crashes, which means that there may be multiple parties at fault. Liable parties who may be sued range from the trucking company itself to a manufacturer of potentially faulty parts, to workers who may have improperly loaded cargo.
Each accident—and the resulting damage—is unique, so there is no standard formula to determining the worth of your case. But given the severity of truck accidents, settlements tend to be more significant than they are in car accident cases.
The main types of compensation granted following a truck accident are economic damages and non-economic damages. In rare cases, punitive damages may be awarded, but only in cases where an act of “gross negligence” can be proven.
Economic damages are quantifiable damages you have incurred or lost due to the accident. Examples include medical expenses, loss of wages and loss of earning capacity, or property damage.
Non-economic damages are injuries that impact your quality of life. These may include pain and suffering, loss of companionship, or trauma.
Accidents are scary, and being involved in a semi-truck accident can be terrifying. Following an accident, if you’re able, do the following:
As mentioned above, it is vital to seek medical attention if you’ve been involved in a Fort Wayne trucking accident. Given the potential severity of truck accident injuries, this may seem obvious. But even if you are fortunate enough to walk away from the crash and think you feel OK, it is still strongly recommended that you get a medical evaluation. Often times following a stressful situation, your body may be flooded with adrenaline, which can work to mask pain. But in the following days or weeks, injuries may crop up or worsen. Getting a medical check-up after an accident will provide a baseline for any injuries and to show if your condition has continued to worsen over time.
Given the size of 18 wheelers, truck accidents can be devastating. It’s almost always the car driver and any auto passengers who fare the worst with either injuries or property damage. Gathering evidence after an accident is crucial in showing liability to gain compensation. There are a number of items an experienced truck accident attorney will pursue. These can include:
Having an experienced lawyer on your team should be a priority. Following an accident, you’re likely overwhelmed just trying to heal and get your life back to normal. A lawyer with experience handling semi-truck accidents knows what steps to take when and how to handle insurance adjusters. They’ll have the knowledge to fight for the best settlement amount possible.
From a legal standpoint, any individual may file a claim on their own in Indiana. But we definitely don’t recommend it—especially with a truck accident, as they are much more complex than a typical auto accident. On your own, you are almost guaranteed to recover a much lower amount of damages than if you’d worked with the Fort Wayne truck accident lawyers at Wilson Kehoe Winingham.
Trucking regulations are monitored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) at the national level as well as by each state’s Department of Transportation.
Indiana Statute 34-11-2-4 states a two-year statute of limitations on truck accident cases, meaning you have two years to file a claim. This time period starts on the day of the accident. We recommend you begin working with a lawyer from WKW as soon as possible following the crash so you can more fully focus on your recovery.
The majority of semi-truck accidents are related, at least in part, to an action taken by the semi-driver. But many factors can play a role in any crash, especially given the complexity of trucks and the trucking industry. Common causes of 18 wheeler accidents include:
Given the sheer size of an 18 wheeler, accidents involving semi-trucks tend to be quite serious. Injuries resulting from big rig accidents may include:
Each accident—and the resulting damage—is unique, so there is no standard answer to this question. An experienced lawyer will need to further explore the details of the accident to get a better idea of a potential settlement amount. Given the size and typical severity of damages and injuries from semi-truck accidents, settlements can be significant. And while most cases do end in a settlement, truck accidents are more likely than auto accidents to end up going to trial. The truck accident lawyers at WKW have decades of litigation experience, which is essential if your case does head to trial.
The Wilson Kehoe Winingham law firm was built on a foundation of “restoring lives.” We are serious about this mission and will invest the time it takes to help you recover after a life-altering event. Our lawyers have decades of experience and have helped countless victims in Fort Wayne and across Indiana to get a full and fair settlement, allowing them to get their lives back on track. Partner with a law firm that has your best interests at heart.
At Wilson Kehoe Winingham, we’re here to help so you can focus on healing. After a semi-truck accident, the last thing you need is more on your plate. As medical bills pile up and anxiety builds about not being able to work, let us guide you step by step through the process of gaining the compensation you deserve. We will take the lead on negotiating with adjusters at the appropriate time on a schedule that’s most beneficial to you, not the trucking company attorneys who will want to wrap things up as soon as possible.
The Fort Wayne truck accident lawyers at Wilson Kehoe Winingham are here for you. While you focus on your recovery, we’ll have your interests at the forefront as we negotiate for the best settlement possible. Our free, no-obligation consultation provides an opportunity to see how we can help. Call our office today to learn more at (317) 689-0654.
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How are truck accidents different from car accidents?
They are more complex on many levels. Given the sheer size of an 18 wheeler, truck accidents typically lead to much more serious injuries than a regular fender bender. It can take months or even years for a victim to fully recover. These accidents can also create life-altering situations where long-term consequences must be factored into any proposed insurance settlement. There may also be multiple parties liable for the crash. While driver error often plays a role, there may have been faulty brakes involved, or perhaps cargo was improperly loaded, making the truck difficult to keep under control.
What happens if my vehicle is totaled?
If you’ve been in an accident that’s resulted in your car is totaled, you are likely dealing with medical issues in addition to learning what’s next with replacing your vehicle. That can be stressful.
If your car is totaled, the insurance company will provide a number to you. So, how do you know if what they’re offering is fair? Generally speaking, the value of your vehicle is determined by what’s known as fair market value, or actual cash value. This means that the car is worth what other identical vehicles would sell for in today’s market, regardless of what you paid or what you may owe on the car.
We suggest researching your local market to see if the insurance offer is adequate. This includes shopping around on various websites where used cars are sold to find comparables on your exact model. You may also wish to contact dealers to see what they think the value is. That way you are armed with information to present to the insurance company if they propose a number that is too low to be considered fair. An experienced car/truck accident lawyer can also help negotiate with the insurance company.
What if the accident was nobody’s fault?
Never assume that nobody is at fault in an accident. Most accidents are caused by human error to at least some degree. It may take a police officer, lawyer, or accident investigator to get to the bottom of who caused the crash.
Indiana is what’s known as an at-fault state. This means you can seek damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance as opposed to filing on your own policy. In some accidents, both parties may be found partially at fault, which would affect the settlement. For example, if you are found to be 20% responsible, then you are only eligible to receive 80% of the settlement. Any driver that’s determined to be 51% or more at fault is not eligible to receive compensation for the accident.
Let WKW put our experience to work for you. Contact us for your free case evaluation.