Articles Posted in Tractor-Trailer Accidents

When someone imagines a car accident, they typically picture an incident involving two people or parties. However, there are often Indiana car crashes involving more than just two parties, vehicles, or people responsible. In light of often complicated circumstances surrounding the events leading up to the accident, it may be difficult to assign fault or figure out who is responsible. Regardless, parties who cause these incidents should be held accountable, and the complexity of having multiple defendants should not deter an accident victim from pursuing a claim following a car crash.

According to a recent news report, a major car accident involving multiple vehicles left four people dead and seven injured after a series of chain-reaction crashes. Evidently, the first crash occurred when two semi-trucks collided at around 4:00 am. An hour later, another truck crashed into the first crash scene, which left a local highway worker seriously injured and two state troopers with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. All three were transported to a local hospital to be treated. At 6:45 am, another accident occurred when a semi-tractor traveling at highway speeds caused crashed into at least seven vehicles. This collision involved two semi-tractor trailers, a dump truck and four passenger vehicles, and resulted in multiple fatalities and injuries. This final accident resulted in the death of the initial semi-tractor driver and three others.

After the second crash, electronic highway signs were set up to alert drivers that crashes had occurred ahead and that they needed to exercise additional caution. However, the subsequent accidents still occurred because of distracted driving by motorists and a lack of awareness of their surroundings. According to local authorities, had nearby bystanders failed to immediately provide assistance to those who were injured, there could have been even more fatalities.

Although, commercial trucks are essential to interstate travel and critical to the economy, they present a significant risk to motorists. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were 2743 fatal truck and bus crashes in the United States in 2019. These accidents resulted in the deaths of over 3,000 people. Trucks and buses include vehicles such as 18-wheelers, coal trucks, semi-trucks, and cement trucks. The size of these vehicles, particularly when carrying a heavy load, makes them challenging to control, especially in inclement weather or navigating poorly maintained roadways. Additionally, these vehicles can often cause or contribute to chain-reaction accidents because they take almost twice as long to stop as other passenger vehicles.

Many truck accidents occur in Indiana because the state has long stretches of highways that serve as a significant pass-throughs for long-haul truckers. A majority of fatal Indiana truck accidents occur in Putnam County, Tipton County, and Wayne County, Indiana. Most Indiana truck and bus accidents involve more than one underlying cause; however, they typically involve similar factors. Some common causes of Indiana trucking accidents are the result of defective truck parts, speeding, driver inexperience, driver impairment, fatigue, and distracted driving. Further, many accidents are the result of drivers failing to abide by state traffic laws designed to prevent accidents, such as Indiana’s Move Over Laws.

For example, recently, a Porter County truck accident claimed the life of a 38-year-old man. According to a local news report, the man parked his Dodge Ram on the shoulder of a highway where construction workers were performing maintenance. As he stepped out of his car, a tractor-trailer, hauling 37,000 pounds of pork, drove onto the shoulder and slammed into the man’s car. The collision caused the truck to go down a ditch and slam into trees. The tractor-trailer continued to travel east, crossing through lanes, ultimately slamming into a median wall and bursting into flames. State police, in conjunction with several other agencies, are continuing to investigate the cause of the accident.

Individuals who suffer injuries in Indiana trucking accidents often face challenges determining the liable parties. Many people do not know that in addition to the negligent truck driver, there may be other individuals or entities who contributed to the accident and the victim’s injuries. Indiana trucking accident victims should seek damages from all potentially liable parties to ensure that they receive the maximum amount of compensation they deserve.

In commercial trucking accident lawsuits, defendants may include the truck driver, the trucking company, a business that commissioned the delivery, and anyone responsible for the truck’s parts or trailers. Truck drivers may be liable for their negligence in instances where they were speeding, distracted, fatigued, or otherwise operating their vehicle in an unsafe manner. Holding the trucking company and other related entities liable requires a thorough understanding of Indiana vicarious liability laws.

Vicarious liability is a type of secondary liability that imposes responsibility on the truck driver’s employer. The employer, frequently referred to as the principal, is liable for the negligence or actions of their employee, the agent. Trucking employers may be responsible if the employee was working under the employer’s direction, the employer possessed the authority to control the employee’s actions, and the employee’s behaviors occurred during the course and scope of employment.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), researches car and trucking accidents, compiles statistics, publishes findings, and provides the public with traffic safety resources. According to these agencies, the country has seen a steady increase in trucking accidents. These accidents can have severe and longstanding injuries for Indiana motorists, passengers, and pedestrians. Those that have suffered injuries in an Indiana trucking accident should understand the common causes of trucking accidents and who may be liable for their damages.

According to the FMCSA and NHTSA, most serious truck accidents include similar negligent behavior; however, many accidents have more than one contributing factor. The five most common reasons for truck accidents are driver fatigue, drug and alcohol use, driver error, speeding, and distraction.

Fatigue is the most common cause of Indiana trucking accidents because many truckers drive for many hours with limited rest. Truck drivers often suffer from fatigue because of their employer’s demand for, often unreasonable, fast delivery turnarounds in combination with trending consumer expectations. Many drivers turn to stimulants and other substances to meet these expectations and manage stress. However, the consequences of alcohol and drug use can be disastrous to other motorists. Further, many Indiana trucking companies fail to adequately train their drivers and teach them how to inspect and maintain their trucks. Untrained and inexperienced truck drivers operating large vehicles pose serious dangers to the public. Finally, distracted driving is a common cause of Indiana trucking accidents. These drivers often spend many long hours on the road, and they will often engage in risky behavior to take their mind off of driving and quell their boredom. Some drivers will look at their phones to visit social media or text their friends and family. Even some innocuous behaviors, such as reaching for something, can cause serious accidents.

A trucker severely injured when his trailer contents fell on him as he opened  the trailer door won a partial legal victory when the Indiana Court of Appeals recently overturned a summary judgment against the trucking company whose employee loaded the trailer.

Munster personal injury attorneys will note that while this was a work-related injury, which presumably would entitle the truck driver to workers’ compensation from his own employer, such third-party lawsuits to cover the full cost of losses is not uncommon in Indiana.

The trial court in this case held that both the engine parts manufacturer whose cargo was stowed in the truck, and the trucking company contracted to facilitate transport, did not owe a duty of care to the over-the-road-truck driver, whose employer was contracted by the trucking company to deliver the materials over longer distances. The state appellate court last month reversed this decision, at least as it pertained to the trucking company that contracted with the driver’s employer.

An Indiana truck insurer will not be liable for a crash caused by the insured’s unforeseeable actions of knowingly driving an overloaded semi-truck without properly functioning brakes. A split Indiana Supreme Court voted 3-2 to allow the Indiana Court of Appeals’ ruling in ONB Insurance Group Inc. et al v. Amy Jones et al to stand.

The truck accident in question killed three people – a husband-and-wife and their granddaughter. Representatives of the estates of each pursued insurance coverage for negligence of the driver/owner of the truck. There were two insurance companies in question: One the company providing coverage and the other an independent insurance broker who seeks insurance quotes from multiple brokers and insurers. The broker was not an original party to the lawsuit.

The insurer filed a third-party claim against the broker, alleging the broker conspired with the trucking company owner to induce its firm to issue a commercial vehicle liability policy. That claim failed as a matter of law when the trial court awarded summary judgment. Claims subsequently filed by plaintiffs against the broker were given permission to proceed by the trial judge. But the appellate court later reversed, concluding the driver’s unlawful acts weren’t foreseeable by the broker (in light of the 2016 Indiana Supreme Court decision in Goodwin et al v. Yeakle’s Sports Bar and Grill, which created a separate test for “duty of care” by defendants compared to “proximate cause” of the injury). That is the decision the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed.

If you are injured on property owned or occupied by someone else, you may have the right to sue that person or company for coverage of your injuries under a portion of law known as premises liability.

Premises liability refers to the duty owed by the property owner to the visitor. If that duty was breached and injuries resulted, the person hurt can pursue an Indiana premises liability claim against the property owner. The question of “duty” relies heavily on the determination of the visitor’s status. For example, a business invitee, someone invited to a business property for the benefit of the business, is owed the highest duty of care. Property owners must not only warn business invitees of potential dangers and address them quickly, but also they must regularly check for them. By contrast, if you are a trespasser, a property owner need only not intentionally harm you or set traps (although there may be exceptions for child trespassers).

Recently, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a premises liability plaintiff who alleged she was seriously injured when she tripped and fell on a missed step at an aviation company during an open house with her young grandson.

Liability will be a hotly disputed issue in a recently filed Indiana truck accident lawsuit.

According to NWI.com, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of a 35-year-old man with autism who suffered significant brain damage and multiple fractures when the medical transportation van in which he was riding was broadsided by a semitrailer. His 72-year-old father is seeking damages for help with medical bills and other expenses that will be associated with his now-constant care. Although his son was not fully independent before the accident, he had much higher function than he now does. He had been on his way to a trade workshop at the time of the crash.

The father said his son would soon be transported home from the hospital, and the elderly man is the only one available who can render his care.

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a $2.13 million judgment favoring a woman who suffered a permanent injury in a trucking accident that killed her fiance. 

The case stems from a 2008 trucking crash in which a tractor-trailer driver stopped his truck on the interstate after hitting a deer, but he failed to immediately activate the truck’s emergency flashers or deflective triangles behind the truck or near the remains of the deer. He got out to examine the damage and then got back in his truck and at this time activated the emergency flashers. It was at this same time that the plaintiff, a passenger in a vehicle driven by her fiance, approached and, while attempting to avoid the dead deer, lost control of the vehicle and slammed into the parked truck.

The plaintiff suffered serious injuries, while her fiance died at the scene. She sued the trucking company and driver for her injuries. At 22 years old, she suffered severe traumatic brain injury, ruptured spleen, multiple skull fractures, permanent facial nerve palsy, scarring on her forehead, deafness in one ear, and memory loss. She continues to have trouble learning new things, suffers migraines and balance problems, and is at increased risk of early-onset dementia.

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A 2008 National Highway Safety Traffic Safety Survey provided a number of conclusions concerning pre crash factors, including, but not limited to destructed driving, crash ability, road construction and environmental considerations.United States Department of Transportation Causation Survey.pdfAn assessment of the roadway design, environmental conditions, and participant interviews. Among such cases, roads slick with ice and other debris were the most frequent roadway-related critical causes of accidents.

The incredibly bad weather in Northwest and Central Indiana clearly reflects how the current icy and snowy weather and resulting slippery road surfaces have resulted in accident after accident. Perhaps the worst of which took place, January 23 2014, on Interstate 94, and US 421.The collision involved over 40 vehicles, including 15 tractor trailers and at least three fatalities. Whiteout conditions probably played a role making it difficult for truck and automobile drivers to see the road in from of them.

Just days ago, another multiple vehicle crash involving semi-trucks and other vehicles took place on Interstate 65, just outside Lafayette, Indiana. As a result, northbound and southbound. Lanes were closed for hours. Slick roads,winds, snow and fog limited visibility.
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