Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Personal Injury Laws in Indiana
Below are the answers to common initial questions many clients have when they first contact Keller and Keller. We hope that the information below address many initial concerns you may have, but if you don't find the answers here, please contact us with questions specific to your case. The consultation is free and confidential.
- Page 7
What are some specific examples of the variables found in a semi-truck accident?
A crash with a commercial tractor-trailer in Indiana can become a very complicated claim for damages. This is because truck cases involved many more variables than a more straightforward car accident case. While a car accident claim is usually just between two drivers and their insurance companies, a truck claim involves the driver, the trucking company, maintenance records for the vehicle, those who loaded cargo, state and federal regulations, and more.
Examples of Variables Found in a Tractor-Trailer Accident
An experienced truck accident attorney will be aware of the many variables that can come into play with a commercial truck crash. Some of the most common factors a truck crash attorney must account for include the following:
- There are usually at least two insurance policies covering the accident.
- An accident with one tractor-trailer could bring in multiple defendants and therefore multiple liability insurance policies.
- A truck driver has a higher standard of care than most.
- Truck drivers must adhere to federal hours-of-service rules.
- There is automatic liability for some accidents under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
- Negligent hiring may impose punitive damages on an employer.
- Employers must continually review their drivers’ health records and records of traffic violations as well as conduct random drug testing.
- The deliberate use of unsafe equipment may substantially increase your award.
- A trucking company may not blame someone else for the accident if it operates under a “public franchise.”
- There are specific rules on how to load a truck so its contents will not fall off.
- A truck has only 10 minutes to set out emergency signals after it becomes disabled.
Keller & Keller Will Investigate All the Variables
In order to launch a successful claim, you need a truck accident attorney who will follow up on all of these variables in order to identify all possible sources of compensation. Our truck crash attorneys have experience with Indiana truck crashes and make sure no stone is left unturned.
What is the danger associated with driving in a truck's "No-Zone" area?
You are probably well aware of the blind spots surrounding your sedan or minivan. You know that if you don’t turn around and look over your shoulder before changing lanes, you may hit a car that was cruising in your blind spot. Now imagine just how big the blind spots are surrounding a semi-truck. These areas are known as “No-Zones”.
Where Is a Semi-Truck’s No-Zone?
The "No-Zone" refers to the areas behind and beside a commercial truck, where the truck driver has limited or zero visibility:
- The left rear quarter
- The right rear quarter
- Directly behind the truck at a short distance.
When a driver is operating a vehicle in any of these areas, they are highly susceptible to an accident. Truckers can't see vehicles in the side no-zone and may cut them off when making a lane change. When you drive directly behind and too close to a semi-truck, you are not only hidden from the driver, but your ability to see the traffic in front of the truck is reduced or eliminated.
When you are driving near semi-trucks, always be aware of these no-zones. Remember, too, that if you can't see a trucker's mirrors, the trucker most likely can't see you!
Keller & Keller Is an Experienced Truck Accident Law Firm
At Keller & Keller, we have seen far too many tragic consequences of crashes with semi-trucks. We encourage you to drive safely around these big rigs and to contact us if you are the victim of truck driver negligence.
What should I look for when hiring an attorney in a trucking case?
Experience, knowledge, and understanding are important to every case. Since 1936, the law offices of Keller & Keller have successfully defended its clients and their claims. Because trucking accidents can present unique variables and instances of complicated liability, it is highly suggested that you seek legal counsel that will be able to properly guide you through the legal process.
Keller & Keller Has Truck Accident Experience
Our attorneys have experience handling semi-truck accident claims that will be critical to your case. This includes our knowledge of the special laws regulating semi-trucks and their drivers, as well as our ability to locate the potential of "multiple policies." We know Indiana and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration laws regarding commercial truck operation and we know how to obtain the necessary evidence to prove truck driver or trucking company negligence.
We Will Put Our Top-Rated Firm to Work for You
As an AV rated firm, Keller & Keller possesses the experience and skill to help determine the best strategy in pursuing your claim. If you were hurt in an accident involving a semi-truck, don’t hesitate to call.
How quickly should I contact an attorney after my semi-truck accident?
When you have been involved in a semi-truck accident, an experienced and knowledgeable attorney should be contacted as soon as possible. Victims who choose not to contact an attorney often find that evidence proving negligence is often lost or destroyed. The longer you wait to retain an attorney, the harder it is for an attorney and their investigators to piece together the facts. The law offices of Keller and Keller are available to you and your loved ones at any time for a free consultation and legal advice.
Are you still entitled to a settlement if the police report places you partially at fault?
First of all, remember that a police report is not always the final word. There are instances where officers make honest mistakes or new evidence and witnesses are located after the initial report is completed. Even if the police report places you entirely at fault, it is a good idea to contact an attorney to have them examine the facts and circumstances of your case.
If the report places you partially at fault, you may still be entitled to a settlement. Every state has different laws regarding theories of negligence. Indiana is a comparative negligence state, which means that you may have the right to a paid settlement in the event it’s proven that you are not more than 50% at fault for the accident. This said, the value of your claim is reduced by the degree at which you are found to be at fault.
Example: If you were involved in a car accident that resulted in serious injury and received a settlement in the amount of $50,000 but were 10% at fault, your compensation would decrease by $5,000, leaving you with a total settlement of $45,000.
Your Ability to Recover Compensation Will Depend on Specific State Laws
Every state has different laws. Some states, like Indiana, have adopted a comparative negligence approach. Other states use a contributory negligence approach, meaning that the plaintiff is barred from recovering if he or she acted negligently and contributed to the accident in any way. It is important to ask your lawyer what law applies in your state so that you know your rights.
Remember: The sooner an attorney can get involved, the more likely it is that they will be able to appropriately assess your liability, if any, in the accident. And the earlier you contact an attorney, the more quickly they can gather evidence before it is altered, destroyed, or misremembered. At Keller & Keller, our on staff investigator will immediately go to the scene to gather information, interview key witnesses, and will thoroughly examine the crash details.
Are semi accidents viewed differently than other auto accidents?
Absolutely. The biggest and most obvious difference between semi accidents and car accident is that the impact can be much more severe because of the size and weight of a semi-truck (3,700 pounds of car vs. 80,000+ pounds of truck). The weight of the truck means that it takes a semi-truck longer to stop. The length of stop time combined with the high speed of highway travel can lead to deadly disasters.
Another important difference is that semi-trucks are required to carry greater amounts of insurance coverage, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. For that reason, semi-truck insurance companies will defend their claims aggressively to protect the large amount of money on the line.
Unique Regulations Governing Commercial Trucking Require Unique Legal Experience
Trucking companies also have to abide by safety standards and federal regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Act requires driver background checks, periodic evaluation of existing employees, regulation of hours driven in a day, drug and alcohol testing, and other strict standards. Violations of these regulations can provide the basis for establishing liability on the part of the company and its driver.
Types of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents can be caused by driver negligence, truck malfunction, negligent maintenance of the truck, or a combination of these issues. Again, because of their sheer size, there are many different types of accidents that can result, including:
- Rear-end collisions
- T-Bone/side impact collisions
- Head-on collisions
- Rollover accidents
- No-Zone accidents
For more information about what to do after a truck accident, download our free book, Free Truck Accident Guide Book.
The Bottom Line: Truck Accidents Are Complex
The bottom line is that truck accidents are complicated and far more complex than other auto accidents. The likelihood of severe injury combined with large insurance policies and federal regulations often results in intense legal battles that require experienced attorneys. Keller & Keller is recognized as one of the state’s top rated personal injury firms and our attorneys have represented hundreds of semi-truck accident victims. Contact us today for a free analysis of your semi-truck accident claim.
Why is the insurance company for the semi driver so aggressive?
Trucking companies are required to carry greater amounts of insurance coverage, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. For that reason, trucking insurance companies will defend their claims aggressively to protect the large amount of money on the line. Because of the size of the trucking company and its financial resources, it is easy for the trucking company to quickly get the upper hand. These companies have access to an experienced team who is familiar with the rules and regulations governing truck drivers and it is their job to negotiate settlements every day. They have years of experience investigating trucking accidents and know how to compare the value of your case to actual jury verdicts and past settlements. This is why it is so important for you, the injured party, to have an experienced team of lawyers on your side.
Don’t Take Their First Offer
Don’t let the insurance company’s aggressive tactics force you to take the first offer. The insurance company will likely play nice at first and tell you that you don’t need an attorney. They will say that they will work with you to resolve your case fairly. The offer from the trucking company may sound appealing at first, but keep in mind, it is not the trucking company’s nor its insurance carrier’s job to pay you what your case is worth. It is their job to pay you the smallest amount possible.
It is always important to consider not only how you are feeling today, but how you will feel tomorrow, next week, next month, and maybe even for years to come. If you settle your case too early or sign anything from the trucking company, you may be signing away your right to full compensation. Don’t sign anything before consulting with an experienced semi-accident attorney.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
Keller & Keller’s team of experienced truck accident attorneys isn’t afraid to stand up to the insurance companies. Don’t let an aggressive trucking company trample your legal rights, contact Keller & Keller today to request a free, no-obligation consultation. From our firm headquarters in Indianapolis, we’re proud to serve the entire state of Indiana and beyond.
When should I hire an attorney?
Some people like to try to handle the claim on their own before consulting an attorney. However, the best practice is to consult with an attorney before making any decision on how to proceed in a motorcycle accident case. Early investigation is critical and should be completed as soon as possible to secure scene evidence and witness statements. The insurance company will be nice at first and will encourage you to settle your case directly with them. Remember, they do not have your best interest in mind and are simply trying to get your case settled as quickly as possible so that they can wash their hands of you. Contacting an attorney immediately will ensure that you are fully and fairly compensated for your injuries.
Calling Keller & Keller to discuss your case is always free. We work on a contingency fee basis meaning that we don’t ask you to pay us anything up front and don’t charge hourly rates while we work on your case. We won’t get paid until you get paid.
Contact our Albuquerque, New Mexico office today for a free case evaluation of your potential motorcycle accident claim.
What if the other driver was uninsured?
Unfortunately, we see this problem far too often. Our client is severely injured in a motorcycle accident that is not their fault, but the person that hit them doesn’t have car insurance. In these situations, we must look to our client’s own insurance policy to see if it has uninsured motorist coverage. If uninsured coverage is available, we must look to our client’s own insurance company to be responsible for their medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.
Many people are apprehensive about filing a claim against their own insurance company. However, we explain to them that it is important to understand that you pay your insurance premiums for a reason and have this coverage for a reason. That reason is for instances exactly like this when you need protection from the at fault driver who was uninsured.
Even when filing a claim with your own insurance company, it is critically important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure that you are fully and fairly compensated for your injuries.
Are there special motorcycle laws in New Mexico?
In order to operate a motorcycle in the state of New Mexico, one must obtain a motorcycle license. According to the New Mexico DMV website, a Class M motorcycle license comes with three levels depending on age and how powerful your motorcycle is. A W endorsement is for 100cc and larger motorcycles. Y endorsements are for motorcycles between 50cc and 100cc. Finally, a Z endorsement limits riders to motorcycles with a displacement of less than 50cc. To obtain a Class M license, a driving and written test is required specific to which endorsement you will need and will go over basic motorcycle fundamentals.
Some states have moved toward requiring drivers of motorcycles to go through Motorcycle Safety Foundation training. New Mexico has not yet made that a requirement. However, the state is aware that many of the motorcycle accidents occurring each year in New Mexico are related to driver inexperience. Therefore, taking a motorcycle training class is highly recommended by New Mexico’s Motor Vehicle Division for everyone, but is required for motorcyclists under the age of 18.
New Mexico motorcyclists under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet. If you are over 18, the decision is up to you, but is highly recommended.
What if my damaged bike was customized?
It is not uncommon for our clients to ask us about recovering for custom features on their motorcycle. Property damage recovery for motorcycles can be more difficult than recovery for cars due to the customization on the bike – it isn’t as simply as going to the store and picking out a new bike. The best way to make sure that you are fully and fairly compensated for you bike is to do the following:
- Keep and present receipts for customization to the insurance adjuster. If you have records of the expense of a custom paint job, exhaust, or other feature to your bike, receipts will often be sufficient proof for the adjuster to compensate you for these details.
- Take photographs of the damage and of specific damage to customized features.
We will always be happy to offer advice regarding your properly damage. However, we typically advise our clients that it is in their best interest to handle this portion of the claim on their own. The reason for this is because if we were to represent you with regard to your property damage, we would legally have to charge a fee, leaving you with less money than your bike is worth or less money than what you need to repair it.
What should I do after a motorcycle accident?
You’ve just been in a motorcycle accident. If you are able, the first thing that you should do is call 911. This is important for many reasons, but specifically so that you and anyone else involved can get medical treatment as quickly as possible. Secondly, calling 911 will ensure that the police respond to the scene and document what happened.
Collect the Insurance Information of the Other Driver
Unless you are taken away in an ambulance, it is important to exchange information with the other driver or drivers involved. Obtain their name, license plate number, and insurance information.
Document the Scene of the Accident With Photos
Take photos of the accident scene and of the damage to all vehicles involved. If possible, it is important to document the accident before the vehicles are moved. Take photos of where the vehicles are positioned in the roadway, of skid marks, and of surrounding features including signs, light posts, and traffic signals.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Lasting, contact the insurance companies. Contact your own insurance company immediately to report the accident. If you have the information for the other driver’s insurance company, contact them as well. This will insure that the ball gets rolling on your property damage and personal injury claims. The insurance company will likely ask you questions about the accident, since the full extent of your injuries are likely unknown at this early stage, we encourage clients to state that they are unsure of the extent of their injuries at this time and that information will be provided at a later date.
Request Free Consultation
"At every juncture of the process... everyone involved, were more than thorough. I never had any questions. It was just matter of fact, straight to the point, and taken care of."by Jill S.