Were you the victim of a truck accident in Indiana? It’s not surprising, considering that the number of accidents throughout the state has been rising throughout the past few years. There were no less than 16,731 wrecks in 2017 alone. Most of them were in Marion County. Many of their victims ended up turning to an Indianapolis truck accident lawyer to help them with their claim.
Since trucks weigh tons and are often driven at high speed, they cause severe damages and injuries. Their victims often need months or years to fully recover from the accident. Since they have a limited period to seek compensation for their injuries, they need to act fast.
Letting Indianapolis personal injury attorneys experienced in truck accidents take over the compensation claim is the best thing to do in such situations. It allows the victims to focus on their recovery while their lawyer obtains their due compensation.
At Stewart|Phelps|Wood Injury Lawyers, we have handled many truck accident cases. We know how devastating their consequences are, and we have made it our mission to help their victims. We can help you too! From assessing how much your case is worth to getting you the due compensation, you can count on us. Call Stewart|Phelps|Wood Injury Lawyers at (317)593-3014 today to schedule your free case evaluation.
Table of Contents
How Much Is My Truck Accident Case Worth?
The first thing most of our clients want to know when we review their case is how much money they can obtain. Providing an answer is not easy, as there are many variables involved. In order to establish claim value, we take several factors into account.
Factors Influencing Truck Accident Claim Value
- Property damages
- Total medical expenses
- Lost earnings
- Injuries severity
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering
- Truck accident fault
- Available insurance coverage
The good news is that commercial truck insurance minimums are much higher than auto insurance minimums. For an experienced truck accident attorney, this means the possibility to claim higher compensation from the truck insurance company.
What Are The Minimum Truck Insurance Requirements In Indiana?
Indianapolis, Indiana, law forces trucking companies and their drivers to maintain minimum liability insurance. The amounts depend on truck specifics and routes. For trucks that never leave the state and exceed 10,000 GVW, the minimum coverage requirements are:
- $750,000 for general freight
- $1,000,000 for oil transport
- $5,000,000 for hazmat
- 300,000 for household goods
For trucks driven out of state, the limits are established by the FMCSA. They usually revolve around the amount of $1,000,000. Besides liability coverage, cargo, bobtail, and physical damage insurance may also be required.
One of the first steps experienced truck accident lawyers take in determining claim value is to verify the available coverage. We do it too, by demanding insurers to send us the certified declarations (DEC) sheet outlining coverage for the party at fault.
In case of insufficient liability insurance coverage, it may be possible to access the victims’ own insurance policies as well, like that for Underinsured Motorists Coverage. There are many solutions available. The important thing is to take the time to identify them all and choose the best ones in each case.
At Stewart|Phelps|Wood Injury Lawyers, we advise our clients not to rush things. While we understand that they need money fast, it is important to claim the right amount from the beginning. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to settle claims fast, for less than those claims are worth.
We prefer to take our time in determining claim value and support the claims we file with solid evidence. This way, insurers have no option but to pay the due amounts. In our experience, rush settlements are not a good idea, for several reasons.
Why Rush Settlements Are Not a Good Idea
Sometimes insurance companies will offer a settlement shortly after an accident. We recommend you not take this without speaking with an attorney for the following reasons:
- Some injuries only display symptoms later and it is important to cover all of them in the compensation claim.
- As accident victims receive treatment, their requirements and evolution may change. Each person is different and responds differently to treatments, and sometimes injuries aggravate or develop complications.
- The compensation claim should cover the strain on the victim’s personal life as well, not just their financial losses. It may take months for a truck accident victim’s spouse to file for divorce.
- Emotional pain and suffering takes more time to reach the surface. When their recovery lasts long or is unsuccessful, many accident victims develop depression. Quite a few are unable to get behind the wheel again, experiencing severe panic attacks.
- It takes time for truck accident victims to assess the total impact of the accident on their health, finances, and personal and professional life.
Once truck accident victims accept a settlement offer, they give up all rights to further compensations. It is not uncommon for someone to be blinded by a seemingly big amount only to further realize that their losses exceeded that amount by far.
And claiming the same amount another truck accident victim claimed is not a viable strategy either. Each case and each client is different. People respond to treatment differently and deal with pain and suffering in different ways.
At Stewart|Phelps|Wood injury lawyers, we prefer to review cases independently and study them in-depth before making recommendations. This way, we can make sure our clients receive the best representation and their interests are well defended. Our methods have paid out so far, as we have yet to hear a client say that our legal services were not worth paying for.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Semi-Truck Accident Attorney?
Many victims in Indiana avoid contacting an Indianapolis truck accident lawyer because they fear the fees. Some worry that they will pay attorney fees even if they lose. That is certainly not the case with Stewart|Phelps|Wood Injury Lawyers.
We prefer contingency agreements. These stipulate that we only get paid when we win. Our fee is usually a percentage of the compensation we obtain for our clients. The percentage will vary according to the specifics of each case and the amount of work it will involve.
The good news for this type of arrangement is that paying high attorney fees means receiving high compensation. Also, you do not have to worry about motivation. The higher the compensation we obtain for you is the more money we get. It is therefore in our best interest to work hard and get you the maximum compensation.
Also, keep in mind that truck accident cases often require technical expertise and in-depth investigations. If you take matters into your own hands, you will have to pay for these out of your own pocket, long before receiving compensation. When you work with us, we take care of everything and only get paid at the end, upon winning.
Are Truck Accident Cases Different from Car Accident Cases?
While an Indianapolis truck accident lawyer may be able to handle a car accident case, you should not trust a car accident lawyer without experience in truck accidents with your case. There are significant differences between the two types of accidents.
It is one thing to be hit by a car and a completely different thing to be hit by a truck. The impact is much more severe in the latter case due to the much larger size and weight of the truck. Cars weigh around 3,700 pounds, while trucks weigh around 80,000 pounds plus cargo.
But there is also good news: the insurance coverage available in truck accident cases is higher. Of course, this does not mean easy access to compensation. Insurance companies will always fight hard to avoid paying or at least diminish the amounts.
To make them pay, you will need a lawyer with extensive experience in truck accident cases. They should be familiar with the state and federal safety standards and regulations. To get you the compensation you deserve, they will need to prove liability.
Whether the fault belongs to the truck driver, the trucking company, or a third party, uncovering and proving it will not be easy. They will need to check compliance with The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Act, especially regarding:
- Driver background checks and periodic evaluations
- Driving schedules
- Drug and alcohol test results
- Cargo loading and security requirements, etc.
Just like car accidents, truck accidents can have driver negligence and malfunctions as the main cause. From these to the actual accident, however, several important differences appear. Trucks accidents have different causes, the most common of them being reviewed below.
What Are Some Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Indiana?
With the large number of trucks on Indiana roadways, accidents are a fairly common occurrence. A multitude of factors must be considered when attempting to determine why an accident happened and who was at fault. Some of the most common causes are:
Truck drivers have to cover long distances and meet delivery schedules. They rarely afford to enjoy rest time. Many of them fall asleep at the wheel. Those who do not have a low attention span and reaction speed, which make accidents difficult to avoid.
Drivers who see the same landscape for hours in a row enter a trance-like state. They can no longer focus on the road and they have a hard time noticing dangers and reacting to them.
Trucks height, length, and weight make them unstable and difficult to handle or when taking a turn. A sudden turn or a few extra miles-per-hour are enough to cause a rollover and crush cars and people in the immediate vicinity.
Truck tires see a lot of wear and tear. They are rarely replaced in due time, so they often blow out. When it happens, many drivers lose control of their truck and crash into nearby obstacles or vehicles.
Speed, improper braking, slippery roads, dangerous turns, and equipment failures can cause trucks to fold at the connection between the cab and the trailer. Many drivers lose control of the truck, which ends up swiping everything in its path.
Rear-end and Underride Collisions
Sometimes, when truck drivers hit the brakes suddenly, the small vehicles behind them are unable to stop in due time. If the truck does not have a safety guard, some end up sliding underneath the trailer of the truck.
Lost Load Crashes
These accidents occur due to truck overloading and improperly secured cargo. Parts of the cargo detaches and falls on the carriageway, turning into obstacles for the other vehicles.
They usually occur at intersections, due to failure to yield right of way. When trucks are involved, the smaller vehicles may be pushed into the nearby lane or thrown off the road.
This term refers to the rear area of 18-wheelers that is not covered by mirrors and, therefore, is invisible to truck drivers. A sudden brake or change of direction can be enough to cause an accident with a vehicle in that area.
Why Should I Hire A Truck Accident Lawyer?
As explained above, the insurance coverage available in truck accident cases is considerable, revolving around $1,000,000. However, no insurance company will pay such amounts voluntarily. As a claimant, you have to make them pay, and it will not be easy.
You will be dealing with some of the best lawyers and insurance adjusters in Indiana, and you will have to beat them at their own game. By yourself, you have few chances to succeed. When you work with an experienced Indianapolis truck accident lawyer, things change.
Here are just some of the benefits that come with legal representation:
Case Review and Preparation
Do you know how much your case is worth and how to seek compensation for your loss? Experienced Indiana truck accident lawyers do. They will analyze all case details, assess available coverage, determine your claim’s worth, and follow all the necessary procedures.
With one of them on your side, you can be sure you will recover all your past, present, and future losses. Also, you will not have to worry about paperwork, deadlines, or bureaucracy, as they will take over all the hassles.
Assistance with Preparing and Giving Statements
As an accident victim, you can expect the insurance adjuster to ask for your statement. They will ask you questions that seem common-sense, but draw answers that they can use against you. Most people only realize the difference between what they meant to say and what came out when it is already too late.
We can help you make sure that does not happen to you. We may succeed to avoid a recorded statement, by contesting its necessity. If we cannot, they will prepare you and assist you during it, to make sure you avoid mistakes.
Help Gathering Evidence
Just knowing how your accident happened and who was at fault for it is not enough. You need to prove it. That may require photos, videos, technical expertise of the truck, and testimonies from experts and witnesses. Background investigations on the trucking company’s activity and the driver’s records could help as well.
You will also need to prove all your losses. And if you think documenting medical expenses and lost wages is easy, try proving pain and suffering, loss of income capacity, or justifying the need for punitive damages! Our experienced truck accident attorneys have extensive investigative skills and access to resources that will ease the evidence-gathering process.
Settlement Offers Evaluation and Negotiation
As mentioned above, insurance companies want to settle. They hate long Indianapolis court trials and bad publicity. However, they will do everything they can to trick you into accepting a low compensation and convince you that it is fair.
It takes an experienced lawyer to assess if a settlement is worth accepting and justify refusals. Most settlement offers end up in negotiations between the parties. On your own, you will be cornered by professionals whose only goal is to hold on to your money.
When you work with a lawyer, you have not only someone to represent you but also an ally. After all, the more money they get for you, the more money they get themselves. You have the same goal but only experienced lawyers have the skills and resources to succeed.
Insurance companies often deny claims or make derisory settlement offers. You cannot and should not let them have their way. Of course, appealing their decision is not easy. There are specific steps and procedures involved, better left to an experienced truck wreck lawyer.
At Stewart|Phelps|Wood Injury Lawyers, we have handled hundreds of truck accident cases. We can help you with all the above and more. Besides truck accident cases, we handle other types of personal injury cases as well. This gives us access to tools and resources other truck accident lawyers lack.
Additional Indianapolis Personal Injury Cases We Handle
Our law firm has over 40 years of combined experience. Throughout these years, we have helped thousands of victims obtain compensation for their losses. The cases we usually handle refer to:
From insurance claims to court trials, we stop at nothing when it comes to helping car accident victims recover their losses. Our Indianapolis car accident lawyers will stop at nothing to get you the compensation you deserve for your damages.
We believe all traffic participants deserve consideration, and we consider motorcyclists among the most vulnerable. When they ask for the help of an Indianapolis motorcycle accident lawyer, we do everything necessary to obtain the compensation they deserve.
Ridesharing services can be a good thing in Indiana, as long as they are provided by professionals and do not endanger passenger safety. When faults appear, our Uber accident lawyers in Indianapolis love teaching ridesharing companies and their drivers a lesson.
Although we love dogs, we believe in owner responsibility. When owners leave their dogs unattended and allow others to get hurt, an Indianapolis dog bit lawyer can step in and make them pay.
If you want a dedicated, knowledgeable, and experienced lawyer on your side, you will find them at Stewart|Phelps|Wood Injury Lawyers.
Contact an Indianapolis Truck Accident Attorney Today for a Free Case Review!
Are you still not convinced that you need a truck accident lawyer or perhaps you are not sure you have a case? Let us help you find out! At Steward|Wood Injury Lawyers, you can benefit from a free case review.
All you have to do is call our office or use the contact form to make an appointment. At the agreed date and time, our Indiana truck accident lawyer will answer your questions and provide the answers and advice you need. Call Stewart|Phelps|Wood at (317)593-3014 to get in touch now!