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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

When Do Semi Trucks Have to Report an Accident? | Indiana Truck Accident Law

The potential damage, injuries, and loss of life that a huge semi-truck accident can cause means that trucking companies and truck drivers have a duty of care to other road users. As such, they are often subject to more stringent laws.


However, even with all these measures in place, serious truck accidents are still common in Indiana. Due to several reasons, such as driver fatigue or negligence by trucking companies, many road users continue to suffer serious injuries and fatalities.


In the event of a car accident involving a semi-truck, victims in Indiana have the right to sue the trucking company, truck driver, insurance company, or other at-fault parties for the injuries and other losses they have suffered.


However, Indiana truck accident laws can be very complicated. Questions such as "When do semi-trucks have to report an accident?" often require an experienced attorney to answer.


In that regard, Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is ready to assist victims of semi-truck accidents in the state. Top-rated semi truck accident attorneys in Indianapolis can be consulted at the law firm's Indianapolis offices.


Indiana Semi-truck Accident Laws

Indiana Semi-truck Accident Laws


In Indiana, a semi-truck accident has to be reported to the relevant authorities as soon as possible. The potential for loss of life means that not reporting commercial truck accidents is a serious offense.


It is important that the truck accident be legally documented in the form of a police report. This will help the insurance company and the truck accident attorney uncover what happened when they investigate the cause of the accident.


Both the trucking company and the insurance provider also need to be notified as soon as possible. In many cases, insurance companies can refuse to compensate victims of a truck accident that was not reported in time.


However, when talking to the insurance company of the at-fault semi-truck driver, it is important that victims only focus on reporting the accident. They should not be tricked into admitting guilt or providing any written or recorded statement before consulting with their attorney.


How a Semi-truck Accident Claim Works


After being involved in an accident with a semi-truck, victims often have to face the reality of paying huge medical bills while dealing with lost wages and property damage. In some cases, representatives from the trucking company or insurance provider will contact the victims to discuss a settlement. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has insight on the average semi truck accident settlement in Indiana.


However, if no contact is made, or if the settlement offer is inadequate to cover the victim's damages, the only recourse is to file a semi-truck accident claim. A personal injury lawyer will fight for the rights of the victim and ensure that they receive a fair settlement for their medical bills and other damages.


Usually, if the truck accident lawyer can present irrefutable evidence of the trucking companies' negligence, the at-fault party will offer a good settlement to avoid having to go through the court system. However, if this is not the case, the settlement will have to be decided by a judge or jury in an Indiana court of law.


Indiana Department of Transportation Semi-truck Laws


In a bid to reduce the number of casualties that suffer serious injuries and fatalities on America's highways each year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truck drivers and their companies to adherer to certain laws, such as:


Licensing

A driver's license is not enough to allow someone to operate a commercial truck in Indiana. According to the FMCSA, a truck driver needs to meet the following requirements:


  • Commercial learner’s permit/ commercial driver's license

  • Pass a road test, a vehicle inspection test, and a basic controls test

  • A completed course by an FMCSA-approved school


The FMCSA will also look closely at the driver's driving record as well as ask the trucking company's recruiters to conduct a background check on the driver.


Semi-truck Weight and Size

The size and weight of a truck are some of the most important factors when it comes to the severity of the damage and injuries to occupants in passenger vehicles involved in an accident with a semi-truck. As such, in Indiana, the following laws apply regarding the dimensions:


  • Length of 50 feet

  • Height of 13 feet and six inches

  • Width of eight feet and six inches


In terms of weight, trucking laws require semi-trucks not to exceed the following:


  • 20,000 pounds - Single axle weight

  • 34,000 pounds - Tandem axle weight

  • 50,000 pounds - Tri-axle weight

  • 800 pounds per inch of tire’s width - Wheel weight

  • 80,000 pounds - Truck weight


Passenger and Bridge Laws

Semi-trucks driving over bridges also have to meet certain regulations set by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). A specific formula is used to calculate the maximum height and weight of a semi-truck in such situations.


The formula is W = 500 ((LN/(N-1)) + 12N + 36), where:


  • N is the number of axles in a group

  • L is the feet between the outer axles in a group of consecutive axles

  • W is the gross weight of two or more consecutive axles to the closest 500 pounds


In terms of carrying passengers, truck drivers are forbidden from doing this without the express written permission of the trucking company.


Who Is At-fault in Semi-Truck Accidents?


The reason why it is important to report a semi-truck collision as soon as possible is because of how important it is when trying to determine who the at-fault parties are. In most cases, a truck accident attorney will consider the following potentially liable parties when investigating a truck accident:


Truck Driver

The truck driver is usually the main suspect when a commercial truck crashes into passenger vehicles. A truck driver's lack of training, speeding, distracted driving, fatigue, or intoxication may be to blame in this case.


Trucking Company

In other cases, the owner of the commercial trucks may be liable for the accident if it is found that the driver was fatigued due to being overworked without adequate periods of rest. The company is also responsible for the regular maintenance of the commercial motor vehicle. It will be held responsible if the accident is found to have been caused by a poorly maintained semi-truck.


Equipment Manufacturer

A truck accident can be caused by a malfunctioning piece of equipment that was made and supplied by a third party. In this case, the liability will be on the manufacturer's shoulders. Such cases can be very difficult to prove, especially if the equipment on the commercial vehicles was purchased a long time ago.


Other Potentially Liable Parties

There are also other potentially liable parties that may be sued by the truck accident victim, such as:


  • The insurance companies

  • Other drivers sharing the roadway

  • Pedestrians

  • Owners of animals that wander onto the road

  • Those responsible for road signs along the highway

  • Construction companies working on the roads


Steps to Take after a Semi-truck Accident


The chances of suffering fatal injuries are very high when a passenger vehicle collides with a semi-truck. Also, winning damages in a semi-truck case is not always an easy thing to do.


As such, victims of commercial truck driving accidents need to take the right steps to safeguard their health and ensure they have the best chance of winning the case. The following are some of the important steps they need to take:


  • Seek medical treatment

  • Obtain a doctor's report detailing medical bills and type of treatment

  • Document all truck accident-related injuries

  • Take pictures of the accident scene

  • Report to the owners of the commercial trucks

  • Inform the insurance company

  • Talk to potential witnesses to the accident

  • Hire a competent legal team to handle the case


How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help?

How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help?


Fatal accidents involving semi-trucks can result in huge settlements being offered to the victims and their surviving family members. How much compensation is awarded in truck accident claims depends on various factors, one of which is the type of attorney representing the victim. They can also help advise on questions like do truck drivers get fired for accidents?


A good personal injury lawyer will have the required experience to look at a collision involving a truck and determine the cause of the accident and the at-fault party. This is the basis of the legal process that will result in the victims being awarded damages.


Also, victims require an attorney to fight for their rights should the case go to court. Modified comparative law is used in Indianapolis, meaning a victim can be found partially at fault for the accident, which will affect how much compensation they receive.


Such situations require an experienced attorney to avoid cases where the victim is found to be more than 50% to blame, making them ineligible to seek compensation in an Indiana court.


Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is Ready for War


It takes years of fighting for the rights of truck crash victims to fully understand how Indianapolis trucking laws are structured. Without such knowledge and experience, winning cases on semi-accidents can be very difficult.


Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is ready to defend the rights of victims injured in a trucking accident in Indiana. Experienced attorneys can be reached for a free case review.

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