Semi-Truck Accidents
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If a semi-truck is carrying a hazardous liquid, and the victim of the accident is now suffering from respiratory problems, can the driver as well as the shipper of the chemicals be held liable?

We see large tankers carrying hazardous materials on Indiana roads every day. We may not know what’s in the containers, but we know we don’t want to come in contact with whatever it is. When one of these hazmat trucks crash and victims suffer respiratory or other injuries caused by the hazardous substance on top of injuries caused by the crash itself, there may be more than one party liable for compensation.

Who Can Be Held Responsible?

In certain instances, the shipper of such hazardous materials can be held legally responsible if injuries resulted from the type of cargo on the truck. This is Hazmat Semi-Truck With Hazmat Workersespecially true if the shipper failed to advise the driver or the trucking company of the hazardous nature of material contained in the freight. In order to determine liability, an investigation into the trucker’s actions, maintenance and repair records on the truck, and actions on the part of the shipper of the hazardous materials must be conducted. If the trucker’s actions caused the crash, but the hazardous materials he was hauling caused most of the harm, there may be a shared responsibility.

You Need an Experienced Indiana Truck Crash Attorney

Truck crash cases are complicated enough. When the crash is further complicated by the presence of hazardous materials, you need an Indiana truck crash law firm that has the experience to handle all aspects of the case. Call the law offices of Keller & Keller to schedule a consultation at one of our convenient offices throughout Indiana now.

 

Jim Keller
Partner at Keller & Keller

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If a semi-truck is carrying a hazardous liquid, and the victim of the accident is now suffering from respiratory problems, can the driver as well as the shipper of the chemicals be held liable?

Before we discuss the value related to a semi-truck claim, it's important to realize that an accident with a semi-truck is entirely different than one involving a passenger-style vehicle, e.g., a car, pickup truck, motorcycle, etc.

Because you were hit by a semi-truck, it's possible that one or more "commercial policies" exist for the defendant and the trucking company. Insurance policies that insure semi-trucks are mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and they don't follow the same rules as policies required for passenger vehicles.

It's not uncommon for our attorneys to uncover an insurance policy on a semi-truck in the amount of $1 Million dollars. The reason for this is the FMCSA requires semi-trucks to carry much larger minimum policies.

What determines the value of your semi-truck accident claim?

There are several factors we take into consideration when coming up with a total value for your semi-truck case, including some of the following:

  • Total amount of your medical bills
  • Any lost wages
  • The severity of your injuries
  • Loss of companionship
  • Pain and suffering
  • And while your accident may include more or less factors than those listed here, it's important to realize that no one can give you an actual dollar amount until we've fully investigated your claim.

Why is it best not to settle a semi-truck accident claim quickly?

Insurance companies are notorious for wanting to settle accident claims as quickly as possible, and there's no truer example of this than when a semi-truck is involved. Why? Because they risk losing a lot more money on these claims!

We never advise anyone to hurry a settlement after being hit by a semi, and the reasons are many, however, we often find that circumstances drastically change for victims in the months following these types of accidents. For instance, we've seen the following scenarios play out time and time again:

  • The accident victim wasn't fully aware of their total injuries.
  • The length and type of treatment changed as injuries began to heal or worsen.
  • The victim didn't anticipate the strain it would place on their personal life.
  • The victim didn't account for the psychological toll it exacted from them while riding in, or driving, a car again.
  • Our experience has taught us that no one is able to fully account for the entirety of their injuries or personal loss immediately following an accident with a semi-truck.

Ultimately, having experienced legal representation oversee your claim while you undergo treatment is a way to ensure you are compensated for your total losses.

No Two Semi-Accident Claims Have the Same Value

If a friend or family member tells you what they think your case is worth based on a personal experience they had with a semi-accident, they're likely trying to help, but we'd strongly encourage you to not take their advice.

Our attorneys work on these case types every day, and it's evident that no matter how similar two semi-truck accident claims appear to be, their values are always going to be different. Let's look at an example:

  • The driver of car A is a young pregnant female with no pre-existing medical conditions. She has been involved in a rear-end style collision with a semi. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital for examination of severe shoulder pain. The doctors diagnose her with a torn rotator cuff and prescribe her a course of treatment that is consistent with the needs of her pregnancy. She completes treatment and is released soon after.
  • The driver of car B is a middle-aged male with prior back surgery. He has also been involved in a rear-end style collision with a semi and is experiencing severe shoulder pain. He was not able to visit a doctor until two weeks after the crash due to fear of missing work and losing his job. When he is able to visit the doctor, he is diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff and is prescribed a course of physical therapy and is released soon after.

After investigating the cases, we also learn that Driver A and Driver B's rear-end accidents occurred at the same spot on the same stretch of interstate on the same day.

Additionally, the adverse semi-truck drivers who struck A & B were traveling at the same speed at the time of impact. Weather conditions were also the same for both accidents, and both semi-truck drivers have the same insurance companies.

How do these facts affect the value of the victims' claims?

Despite everything we know about drivers A & B, their claims will have different values!

Even with all these similarities, it is highly unlikely that driver A & B will undergo the same type of medical treatment for their injuries, respond to treatment in the same manner, or experience the same types of aggravation and frustration in the days and months after their accident.

Always have an experienced semi-truck accident lawyer evaluate your specific claim to help determine what your losses may be worth.

Someone told me I should ask for three times my medical bills. Is this a good idea?

We've received a number of calls from semi-accident victims who have been told that three times their medical bills is a fair or good settlement.

While it's true you might receive three times your medical bills, it's also possible that you'll receive more or less, and the amount will ultimately depend on your attorney's ability to effectively build your case based on your total injuries, wage loss, medical bills, and pain and suffering.

Ultimately, a semi-accident victim should never base the value of their claim on any type of formula.

What Can I recover For In My Semi-Accident Claim?

The semi-accident injury attorney assigned to your case will typically look at the following three factors when attempting to make a recovery for your claim:

  1. Past and future medical expenses
  2. Past and future lost wages or loss of earning capacity
  3. Past and future pain, suffering, disfigurement, and disability

What is a "semi-truck policy limits demand" accident?

Accidents that are extremely severe may leave a client with broken bones, the need for surgery, permanent hardware, an extended hospital stay, or cause death. In these instances our attorney may demand the entire amount of the insurance policy carried by the trucking company.

To help ensure we know the total amount of coverage available, we will immediately notify the insurance company for the semi-truck of our representation. Next, we'll demand that they send our firm a certified declarations (DEC) sheet that outlines the specific coverage for their insured.

Once we receive a copy of the DEC sheet we will be able to tell you how much money is available, but it will still be difficult to determine the total amount of your recovery, as other factors will undoubtedly be present.

For instance, we may be able to reduce certain medical bills so that you are not required to pay back the full amounts, thus increasing your settlement. We may also be able to secure Underinsured Motorists Coverage (UIM) from your policy in the event that the trucking company's policy limits are inadequate.

With regard to insurance policies, we strongly suggest you always have an experienced accident attorney research, obtain, and review all the applicable policies for the company that owns the semi-truck.

Why are semi-trucks so dangerous?

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Liability Factors Can Affect The Value of Your Case

Don't let the insurance company blame you!

Blue Semi-Truck 80% Fault
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In some states, if the semi-truck driver is 80% at fault and you are 20% at fault, your settlement amount would be reduced by 20%. (Always consult with an attorney about your state's negligence laws).
Red Semi-Truck 100% Fault
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Our goal is to place 100% fault on the truck driver to ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation for your case.