Legal Guide

Home > Legal Guide

Do You Know What to do if You are in an Accident With a Semi Truck?

Despite the frequency and severity of these crashes, many people do not know what do do in these cases. And that’s usually okay, as long as they know enough to get the best professional help in a semi-truck accident.

The main reason these vehicles are involved in so many accidents is their sheer size. A fully-loaded large truck weighs over 40 tons. Furthermore, lobbying groups routinely push regulators to raise this limit. Even as it stands, many regulators routinely grant waivers which allow much bigger vehicles on the road.

Even experienced drivers have a hard time controlling these vehicles in an emergency. Serious accidents are especially common at free-way interchanges and other high-speed intersections. Unfortunately for victims, there are a lot of these locations in a transportation hub like Indianapolis.

Gathering Evidence

Victim/plaintiffs often suffer catastrophic injuries in large truck-passenger vehicle collisions. These injuries often include:

  • Crushed bones,
  • Serious burns,
  • Head injuries, and
  • Massive blood loss.

To obtain compensation, victim/plaintiffs must establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). The evidence in these cases comes from both familiar and not-so-familiar sources.

Almost all vehicle collision cases begin with the police report. First responders usually base these reports on the evidence that is readily available at the time. They do not track down reluctant witnesses or review video footage from several blocks away. Moreover, the police report often only reflects one side of the story. In most large truck collisions, the victim is too injured to give a statement. All too often, the victim does not survive at all.

To get additional evidence, an attorney often partners with a private investigator to undertake activities like:

  • Canvassing the area for additional witnesses,
  • Going over the physical evidence with a fine-tooth comb, and
  • Reviewing videotape evidence.

Other evidence includes the Event Data Recorder. Most large trucks have an EDR that captures and records evidence like vehicle speed, steering angle, and engine RPM. Semi-truck EDRs are usually very complicated devices that require specialized hardware to inspect, and an attorney has the appropriate resources.

Most trucks also have Electronic Logging Devices. These gadgets accurately reflect the driver’s Hours of Service (HOS) while behind the wheel. Most states, and the federal government, have strict requirements regarding duty hours and rest periods. Moreover, even if the driver had technically complied with the law, drowsy driving could still be a factor. Most people are naturally fatigued at certain times of the day or night.

An attorney must take prompt action to preserve electronic evidence in a large truck crash case, or the insurance company will “accidentally” destroy such evidence.

Filing a Claim Against the Correct Defendant

Typically, the proper defendants in a large truck negligence lawsuit are both the tortfeasor (negligent driver) and the tortfeasor’s employer. Said employer is usually a large, out-of-state shipping company that is difficult to properly identify and legally serve with papers.

An attorney is very well familiar with the respondeat superior rules in a given jurisdiction. Naming the proper defendants the first time makes the case move faster and hastens a settlement.

Team up with a good lawyer straightaway to give your case the best chances of success.

comments powered by Disqus