In 2016 there were nearly 17,000 semi-truck collisions in Indiana alone. For anyone who’s been the victim of one of these accidents, it may seem confusing what the next step is in pursuing a legal case. A collision with a semi-truck is an entirely different set of circumstances than an average fender bender. If you’re concerned about how to move forward, here’s a reference on what to expect if you are claiming negligence played a role in your accident.
At the Scene of a Semi-Truck Accident
In a traditional car accident, both involved parties will exchange information, contact authorities, and then reach out to one or both insurance companies to begin a claim. However, when a semi-truck is involved it’s usual for the trucking fleet to send out an attorney or corporate representative to the scene ASAP. The job of this person is to protect the company and the driver from any liability. They’ll look at time sheets and record logs, GPS systems, camera footage, and ECMs (black boxes). This will help to see what evidence might help or hurt their defense. For this reason, it’s critical that you collect as much information as possible to demonstrate your experience, too. Any photos or videos you can take with your phone, both of the damage to your vehicle as well as the general scene of the accident will be helpful. Additionally, you should get the contact information of anyone who could possibly provide a witness statement or shows up at the scene. Ultimately, it’s best to immediately contact an attorney who can come and help to facilitate the flow of information and act on your behalf.
Semi Accident Insurance Claim Process
There are many nuances within the trucking industry as it pertains to liability. Some drivers are employees, while others are on contract to do work, sometimes called an owner-operator. This is why some drivers carry personal insurance while others are covered by the fleet. In fact, there may be multiple insurance policies at play in a single accident. Trailers themselves might even be insured separate from the cab or driver.
The basic question that is posed is who has responsibility for the tractor versus the trailer. The materials gathered at the scene of the accident are certainly of great importance, but a competent lawyer will assemble a clearer picture. This picture will include who the driver is and also the companies involved, their responsibilities, and how each connects. After sending a letter of representation, an attorney will make formal requests for any investigation materials. This might include things like black box records, log books, photos, or records like training, fitness, and maintenance. Attorneys will also request communications like texts, emails, and other messages.
The investigation will also focus on public information about the carrier company and driver like reported prior accidents, levels of insurance coverage, past violations of Federal or state regulations, and more. This will help to establish whether the individual driver was entirely to blame, or if the carrier company had any unlawful or unsafe practices in place.
While the process of mounting a case against a trucking company is complex, a great legal team knows how to navigate this process. At Cline Farrell Christie & Lee, we go through specialized training on these cases and belong to organizations that focus on keeping cases like these fair to the injured. In these specific circumstances we want to be good advocates for the injured. From listening to your story to fighting for you in court, we’re your advocates. If you or a loved one have been the victim of an accident with a semi and believe you have a case, contact us today for a free consultation.