Semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles make up a large percentage of traffic throughout Indiana, including the often congested I-465 that circles Indianapolis and serves as an artery to major roadways such as I-65, I-70, I-74, and I-69. In fact, our city serves as a major transportation hub for several large trucking companies, so it's no surprise when we receive word of an accident involving a big rig.
The unfortunate truth about semi-truck accidents is that our clients often sustain traumatic or fatal injuries as a result of the truck driver's and/or the company's negligence.
Common Causes of Semi-Truck Crashes on Indiana’s Local Roads
In 2015, 433,000 police-reported crashes involving semi-trucks occurred. Whether the crash was caused by the truck driver or by the driver of another vehicle, it is the 80,000-pound truck that does the most damage. Semi-trucks typically crash in one of the following ways:
- Rollover. Due to the height and instability of a semi-truck, rollover crashes are the most common type of crash. A rollover can be caused by taking a turn or curve in the road at too high a speed or by overcorrecting for a drifting trailer. When a semi-truck rolls over, nearby cars and people are in danger of being crushed under the weight.
- Tire blowouts. A semi-truck's tires are subject to a lot of wear and tear. High mileage and heavy loads mean that truck tires have a short lifespan. However, trucking companies often fail to replace tires as often as they should. These worn tires are more likely to blow out, which can cause the driver to lose control and crash the truck.
- Jackknife. In a jackknife accident, the truck folds at the connection between the cab and the trailer, much like a folding pocket knife. The driver loses control and the skidding truck can collide with multiple lanes of traffic. Jackknife accidents can be caused by equipment failure, improper braking, poor road conditions, or adverse weather. Jackknifed trucks are also prone to rolling over, making this a doubly dangerous accident.
- Underride collisions. When a semi-truck brakes suddenly, smaller vehicles behind it may be unable to stop in time and can slide underneath the truck’s trailer. These crashes can be gruesome and are often fatal. As the car slides under the trailer, the roof of the car is sheared off and its occupants may suffer decapitation or other catastrophic injuries. Trucks are required to have a rear underride guard to prevent such an accident, but they are often insufficient to stop a high-speed collision. Side underride guards are not required, putting drivers at risk of sliding under the side of a truck’s trailer.
- Lost load crash. When a truck is improperly loaded or overloaded, it can lose its cargo at highway speeds, creating dangerous obstacles for other vehicles. Trucks can also lose their loads in a collision, adding to the hazards faced by other motorists. Unbalanced loads can also cause a truck driver to lose control and crash.
- Rear-end collision. A common type of crash for all drivers, these crashes are potentially fatal when caused by a semi-truck. When a truck driver is distracted by his cell phone or logbook, he may fail to see that traffic has stopped in front of him and run into the back of a much smaller vehicle. What would be a fender-bender between two cars becomes a much more serious crash when caused by a semi-truck.
- T-bone crash. These crashes usually happen at intersections when one vehicle fails to yield and runs into the side of another vehicle. When a semi-truck t-bones the side of a passenger car, the result can be fatal to the occupant of the car.
All of these crashes can be caused by truck driver errors. Whether the trucker is speeding or distracted or failed to inspect his vehicle and his load before starting his trip, he should be held accountable for the crash.
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.
Indianapolis Truck Accident Attorneys that Are on YOUR Side
Experienced and Award Winning
Keller & Keller is recognized as one of the state's top-rated personal injury law firms and our Indianapolis semi-truck accident lawyers have successfully represented hundreds of victims who once experienced your current pain and frustration.
When you hire us to represent you for your semi-truck accident claim, you receive the full attention of our award-winning firm. This means our attorneys and paralegals will be there for you throughout your entire case to answer your questions and provide you with any assistance you might require.
In addition to our former clients’ experiences, our Indianapolis truck accident attorneys have been named in Best Lawyers in America, have been recognized as Super Lawyers, and earned Martindale-Hubbell's AV-rating, meaning we have been recognized by our peers as having demonstrated the highest professional and ethical standards.
How We Can Help
In addition to your receiving executive treatment from Keller & Keller, our experience handling semi-truck accident claims 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."
Our Indianapolis semi-truck accident lawyers are able to properly survey a truck accident scene, secure proper holds on the vehicles involved, and re-create the collision by working closely with reconstruction specialists. Download our free book 10 Critical Questions You Need Answered Before You Sign Anything After a Truck Accident to learn more about the unique complexities of truck accidents and how we can help.
Semi-Truck Accidents Are Different
Make no mistake about it, a collision with a semi-truck is unlike any other type of accident claim or personal injury case. Because the insurance policies for semi-trucks are often written for hundreds of thousands of dollars, the insurance company will aggressively defend these cases and do whatever they can to limit their liability.
“It is neither the trucking company’s nor the insurance carrier’s job to pay you what your case is worth. Rather, it is their job to pay you the smallest amount possible.”
In addition to the adjusters that handle semi-truck accident claims receiving special training, it is not uncommon for a team to be dispatched to the scene of an accident to quickly gather evidence and begin building a case against you. These facts can have dramatic consequences for a person who doesn't understand semi-truck insurance policies and the laws written specifically for truck drivers.
- You might not know about the "comic book."
- You might believe your unpaid medical bills will be paid because the police report places the trucker at fault.
- You might not know the minimum limits a trucking company must carry under a commercial policy.
- You might believe the insurance company for the 18-wheeler will treat you fair because they are "nice" to you over the phone.
Statistics and Mistakes
One out of every 8 fatal accidents on our highways involve a semi-truck. This statistic alone confirms that there is a problem and the trucking companies should be held accountable for the negligence of their drivers. (Indiana's numbers in 2009 were particularly grim, documenting 3,600 large truck accidents with approximately 100 resulting in fatalities and 1,000+ in serious injury.)
Statistics About Big Truck Accidents
- In 2013 (the most recent year data is available), there were over 327,000 accidents involving commercial trucks.
- Over 10% (3,906) of these accidents were fatal.
- 63% of fatal accidents involved two or more vehicles.
- 25% of these deadly crashes occurred on interstate highways.
- 66% of all fatal accidents took place during the daytime.
Semi-truck drivers are under constant pressure to meet time deadlines, and in a business where time is money, a driver's lack of adequate rest may lead to sleep deprivation. A drowsy trucker that doesn't take mandated scheduled breaks can be the fatal cause of any serious semi-truck accident. (Drowsiness-related crashes are 4.5 times more likely to involve a large truck than a passenger car. Drowsy driving is a growing epidemic among the trucking community, and it's yet another reason for other drivers to be on constant alert while in the presence of semi-trucks.)
Common Semi-Truck Driver Mistakes
- Excessive speed.
- Driving in unsafe weather conditions.
- Mechanical failure.
- Driving with loads improperly secured.
- Spilled loads.
- Aggressive driving to meet deadlines.
- The driver leaves inadequate space between themselves and your vehicle.
- Driver's difficulty to locate you in their blind spot.
Semi-Truck Accident Evidence
- How many hours the trucker was supposed to drive before they were required to pull over for rest.
- Whether or not their truck exceeded weight restrictions while on the roadway.
- Verifying the types of records the trucker was required to keep during their travel.
- Determining who was allowed to drive the semi-truck.
- Ensuring appropriate licenses were issued to operate the semi-truck.
Contact our Attorneys for a Free Analysis of Your Semi Accident Claim
Since 1936, Keller & Keller’s Indianapolis semi-truck accident attorneys have represented victims and their families throught the entire state of Indiana, including the cities of Fort Wayne, Evansville, Anderson, Bloomington, Lafayette, Elkhart, among many others.
Fill out our confidential, free contact form or call us at 1-800-253-5537 for a live consultation with one of our Indianapolis semi-truck accident lawyers.