Common Questions and Concerns After an Indiana Semi Truck Accident – Answers from a Trucking Accident Attorney
Indiana is the fifth-busiest state for commercial freight traffic, with over 720 million tons of freight passing through our state each year. Thanks to planned improvements in infrastructure and roadways, as well as increasing presence from global distributors like FedEx and Amazon, the freight volume passing through Indiana is expected to increase 60% by the year 2040.
But there is a risky element to this commercial success, involving the sheer number of tractor trailers and other commercial vehicles on Indiana’s interstates, state roads, and highways. As of 2017 at least 8% of the vehicle collisions that occurred in Indiana involved commercial vehicles, a number that has historically increased by as much as 5% each year.
For a passenger vehicle driver or occupant who is injured in an accident with a semi truck, these numbers go beyond statistics to represent a life-altering traumatic experience. From the resulting injuries and long-term effects to lingering questions about the possible role of negligence, semi truck accidents leave the injured with lots of questions, and sometimes a lack of answers. We offer this blog to bring some peace of mind and help you decide what the next best steps are for you.
Indiana Semi Truck Laws
Truck drivers and other commercial vehicle operators passing through Indiana are governed by the regulations and guidelines of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These two bodies pass legislation governing everything from the manufacturing of commercial vehicles to their maintenance. There are also laws and guidelines that apply to the qualification and continual training of commercial drivers. All these laws are in addition to the traffic laws and driving safety best practices that every driver must follow.
Here are a few of the extra rules of the road for commercial vehicles that must be followed:
- Drivers must be routinely tested for alcohol and controlled substances.
- Drivers must meet all requirements to maintain their Commercial Drivers License (CDL) including medical exams for conditions like sleep apnea.
- The vehicle must have all parts and accessories deemed essential for safe operation, including a functional Electronic Logging Device.
- A log of inspections, repairs, and maintenance performed on the vehicle must be maintained by the trucking fleet and/or the owner-operator.
- Drivers must limit their driving time and take required stops and breaks, even during adverse weather conditions that cause delays.
- In addition to codifying these requirements in state law, Indiana has also established a speed limit of 65mph for all commercial vehicles, as well as maximum weight capacities that trucks are allowed to carry.
In many personal injury cases where a trucking accident and the resulting injuries or wrongful deaths are caused by negligence, it is because some of these rules like speed limit, DOT hours of service, or required maintenance were ignored by the fleet or the driver. If you suspect negligence, it may be time to contact a trucking accident attorney.
Common Indiana Trucking Accident Injuries
Here are some of the most common injuries that drivers and other occupants of passenger vehicles suffer after a collision with a semi truck.
- Back and Neck Injuries: Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries are common after any vehicle accident, but especially collisions with a tractor-trailer, due to the much greater size and momentum of the commercial vehicle. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments can tear not just due to the force of the collision, but flying glass and metal or dislodged cargo.
- Cuts and Bruises: Semi truck accidents involve blunt force trauma as well as the potential for jagged metal and glass. This means someone involved could suffer bleeding from both major cuts and internal bleeding from bruises. These might take a long time to heal, or in the case of scar tissue, never fully do.
- Broken Bones: Any bone can break during a truck crash, but the ribs, sternum, pelvis, legs, and arms are especially at-risk. You might notice—this is basically your entire body! Depending on the severity of the break, surgery and lengthy physical therapy might be needed. Or if your other injuries like lacerations are more severe, a small broken bone could go undiagnosed and get worse before it gets better.
- Seatbelt Syndrome: This is a specific name for injuries caused by a seatbelt locking down during an accident. While these devices are intended to and often do save lives, they can also cause broken bones, internal bleeding, whiplash, and more.
- Head Injuries: A blow to the head from a collision can lead to a concussion, more severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), or even premature death. These injuries can result in serious need for long-term care, a permanent change in someone’s personality or cognitive abilities, or even premature death.
- Wrongful Death: Wrongful death is a severe and tragic outcome of a semi truck accident that goes beyond physical injuries. There was a 21% increase in Indiana trucking accident fatalities from 2016 to 2017, with most of those fatalities suffered by drivers and passengers of cars.
No two accidents are alike, meaning negligence may not play a role in every case. However, when injuries like these or others are caused by a trucking fleet or driver’s failure in their duty, those left to suffer deserve someone who will explore the full story of the case and advocate for the victims under the law. An expert trucking accident attorney can help find answers.
Contact Top Lafayette Indiana Trucking Accident Attorney
Whether you know negligence contributed to your injuries in a truck accident, or just have questions and need answers, the attorneys of Bennett, Boehning, and Clary have the experience and compassion to support you through this time. We believe that every personal injury case is unique and can be decided on the smallest details. Reach out to us at 765-742-9066 if you need an advocate and someone to fight for you.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation.