Severe or life-changing injuries are likely in an accident involving a large commercial vehicle like a semi-truck. And in addition to being more serious, truck crash cases may be more complicated than standard vehicle accidents. Multiple parties are often involved, making proving fault in a truck accident less straightforward.
Determining fault in a truck accident is essential to ensuring you receive the compensation you are entitled to. An experienced Indiana personal injury attorney can help you understand your legal rights and how to determine fault in a truck accident.
Trucking in Indiana
There were 14,221 collisions statewide in 2020 involving commercial vehicles. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise, given the large number of trucks on the road.
Because of its geographical positioning on the eastern edge of the midwest, Indiana serves as a major thoroughfare for transportation to metropolitan areas like Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, and other commerce hubs through the mid-Atlantic and urban Northeast. There are approximately 15,800 trucking companies across the state, and over 80% of Indiana communities depend exclusively on trucking to move their goods.
Nationally in 2021, there were 5,700 large trucks involved in fatal crashes. This amounts to an 18% increase from 2020 and a 49% increase over the last ten years. Though trucking accidents can be serious, commercial truck transportation is vital to local, interstate, and international commerce.
Determining Fault in a Truck Accident
Liability is a big question in a lot of trucking accidents. Understanding who caused the accident is essential to your vehicle accident claim because Indiana is an “at-fault” state. This means that the person or party at-fault for the accident is responsible for paying for the damage caused.
It is important to know that if you are partially responsible for the accident, you can still bring a claim. Indiana law allows juries to assess partial damage based on each party’s percentage of fault. For example, if you were awarded $100,000 but deemed 20% at fault, you would receive a total award of $80,000. Of course, each party will likely argue that the other side was more negligent to reduce their financial burden.
When it comes to commercial trucks, many companies have in-house legal counsel or a law firm already on retainer. The same goes for the insurance companies they use. You do not want to take on these legal professionals by yourself and should consider reaching out to an experienced attorney who knows how to determine fault in a truck accident.
Who May Be Liable in a Trucking Accident?
Every accident is unique. It is important that you take a close look at the events that occurred to determine fault in a truck accident. Proving fault in a truck accident may require an independent investigation into your case, which an experienced attorney can provide in many circumstances. Here are some of the parties who are most likely to be found at fault.
The Driver of the Truck
Commercial truck drivers have to obey specific laws regarding the length of drive time per day, vehicle checks, and rest breaks. Failing to abide by these laws can result in unsafe driving behaviors that lead to accidents. And while the primary cause of a crash might be the driving errors of an at-fault truck driver, an accident might also include the shared fault of other parties, depending on the situation.
The Trucking Company
In many cases, businesses can be held liable for the actions of their employees as long as they were acting within the scope of their employment duties at the time of the accident. Businesses typically have better insurance coverage and deeper pockets than an individual, which could impact your compensation.
Other Third Parties
If an unbalanced load contributed to the accident, a third-party cargo loader could be liable. Poor vehicle maintenance or part failure may be the responsibility of a mechanic or the manufacturer. And in some situations, the roadways that are maintained by a federal, state, or local government may have contributed to the accident because of improperly functioning traffic signals or poorly maintained roads. These parties could be held liable if their actions contributed to the accident.
Contact Gerling Law
Founded on “client first” principles, we are here to guide you through difficult times, help you determine truck accident fault, and make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve. The team at Gerling Law has been serving personal injury victims in Indiana for decades, and we understand the complexities of truck accident law. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable legal staff.