We Won $48.5 Million in a Truck Accident Case
In this case, we took more than 60 depositions in five different states. Because of Stephenson’s tireless advocacy, shortly before the trial was to commence, the defendants settled the case for $48.5 million.
Our Indiana Commercial Vehicle Accident Law Firm Knows How to Fight for Optimum Compensation.
Getting compensation after a big rig accident requires knowledge and skill – our commercial vehicle accident law firm can help you succeed.
When big rig trucks are involved in accidents, their massive size and weight can lead to devastating and life changing injuries that can include head, back, neck, brain and spinal cord damage, paralysis, amputations, broken bones, and even death. Survivors of commercial vehicle accidents often face long, painful recoveries that require expensive rehabilitation and continuing care, and medical bills mount up at a time they are unable to work.
Indiana laws are complicated, and insurance companies are out for their own benefit and will try to get you to settle for as little as possible. There are a large number of parties potentially liable for the accident and may include major corporations and multiple insurance companies well-experienced in defending claims and lawsuits brought against them. Making mistakes can cost you, and it’s difficult to know what to do or where to turn.
Fortunately, there is help available from the commercial truck accident law firm of Stephenson Rife, LLP. At this difficult time, when you are trying to recover from your traumatic accident, our big rig truck accident attorneys can take the burdens off you by dealing with the complex laws and multiple parties and insurers these cases involve. We understand the difficulties you and your family face, and we are deeply committed and fully prepared to handle all legal hurdles involved with proving liability and winning your case, so you can concentrate on rebuilding your life.
We provide a free consultation to discuss the details of your accident and determine the best way to move forward. You pay nothing unless and until we win, so call us today at (317) 680-2350 for your free, no obligation case evaluation.
Our Big Rig Truck Accident Lawyers Win Big
Our commercial vehicle accident lawyers have won major settlements over the years. Here are some examples:
We Won $48.5 Million in a Truck Accident Case. In this case, we took more than 60 depositions in five different states. Because of Stephenson’s tireless advocacy, shortly before the trial was to commence, the defendants settled the case for $48.5 million.
Overloaded Truck Settlement. B.Z. was seriously injured in a trucking accident when the semi that he was driving ran into the back of a semi that had pulled from the side of the interstate. Stephenson was able to establish that the truck that B.Z. ran into was overloaded by nearly 50% of the maximum capacity of the vehicle and the truck driver was in violation of numerous motor carrier regulations concerning the safe operation of the truck. B.Z. received a confidential settlement to compensate him for his injuries and significant missed time from work, as well as his on-going pain and discomfort.
How Our Indiana Commercial Truck Accident Lawyers Work for You
Our commercial trucking lawyers know when to bring a lawsuit and how to win it.
Big rig truck accidents are especially complicated because they involve knowledge of the complex trucking rules and regulations from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). In addition, there are often multiple defendants who may be held liable for your injuries, and doing so involves identifying them and proving how they were at fault. For example, drivers often work on contract basis for a trucking company, so the driver and also the company they are driving for may be liable for the accident. In addition, there may be other liable parties, such as the manufacturer of the truck or its parts, if there was an equipment failure, or the company that loaded the cargo, if this was not done correctly. All these parties may have insurance, and they should all be named in a lawsuit.
Our Indiana big rig accident lawyers can help by:
- Meeting with you, listening to your version of what happened, and determining if you have a lawsuit, what the case should be worth, and the best way to deal with it.
- Thoroughly investigating your case to determine how it happened and who the at fault parties might be. This involves examining the crash scene, interviewing eyewitness and first responders, examining driver cell phone records, truck maintenance and employer hiring and training records, and truck black box data on their event data recorder which can show how the truck was being operated at the time of the crash.
- Gathering evidence to build your case such as photos and videos from traffic cameras; pictures of damage to vehicles and skid and tire marks; police, ambulance, doctor, phone, and hospital records; the truck’s black box information; past driver citations for violations such as speeding, safety violations.
- Hiring experts to reconstruct the commercial vehicle accident and testify on your behalf as to who was at fault. Additional experts may be used to testify as to the extent of your injuries, the costs and modifications to a home or vehicle that may be needed to accommodate your disability, the effects on your earnings, the type of continuing care you may need in the future, and the physical and emotional effects on you and your family.
- Locating all insurance companies for each defendant, and negotiating with them for a fair settlement. While trucking companies are required to carry substantial insurance, insurance companies are out for their own profit and will attempt to get you admit fault or settle your case quickly for less than it is worth. Once you do, you will not be able to receive additional benefits should your injuries worsen. Our commercial vehicle accident lawyers are familiar with these tactics and know how to deal with them. Also, insurance companies are more likely to take your case seriously if they know you have an attorney on your side willing to take your case to court.
- Building your case and preparing it for trial if necessary. If a fair settlement cannot be negotiated, we are fully prepared to take your case to trial. We will be there at every stage of the legal process, from filing pretrial motions, to discovery, to presenting evidence and making closing arguments, to filing an appeal.
It’s important to contact our Indiana commercial vehicle accident attorneys as soon as possible while evidence is fresh and witnesses can be found.
Big Rig Truck Accident Lawyers in Indiana Must Prove Negligence
To win your case, our Indiana commercial vehicle accident lawyers would have to prove that another person or entity had a duty not to cause harm, but were negligent and caused a crash that resulted in the damages you received.
The trucking industry is governed by state and federal safety regulations, and failure to meet them creates liability. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (Title 49, Parts 350-399) govern all vehicles engaged in interstate traffic, and the FMCSA has rules for driver’s license standards, safety and fitness procedures, financial responsibility for motor carriers, maximum hours truckers can drive, and what inspection, repair and maintenance of vehicles is required. When these regulations are not adhered to, the responsible parties can be found negligent and liable for damages.
In trucking accident cases, multiple parties may be held responsible. For example, truckers may work directly for the company they are delivering for, or they may be independent contractors, simply hauling the goods for the company that owns the cargo. Drivers may have driven while fatigued; cargo may have been loaded incorrectly; parts of the truck may have failed; or problems with road maintenance may have contributed to the accident.
As a result, depending on the circumstances, liable parties may include:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- The owner of the cargo
- The company that leased the truck
- Third-party contractors
- Other negligent drivers
- The manufacturer of the truck or its equipment or parts
- The mechanic responsible for maintaining the vehicle
- The government entity responsible for maintaining the road
- A road repair company
Any or all of these parties may be at fault for contributing to the accident, and they all may have insurance and assets that can go towards a settlement award.
To prove fault legally, our attorneys must show the existence of the following elements:
Duty – The defendant owed you a duty of care not to cause harm
Breach – The defendant breached that duty by acting or failing to act
Cause – This action or failure to act caused a crash and your injuries
Damages – You suffered damages as a result
We would do this by thoroughly investigating the case and collecting evidence, finding all liable parties, and hiring experts to provide testimony as to fault. It’s important to contact our commercial vehicle attorneys quickly, vital records such as the driver’s and dispatcher’s logs, inspection and maintenance records, the truck’s “black box” and other evidence can be preserved and utilized to prove negligence.
Damage Awards Our Commercial Truck Accident Lawyer in Indiana May Win for You
The average settlement in an Indiana truck accident includes an award for your compensatory damages.
Whether your injuries were caused by negligence from a delivery truck accident, dump truck accident, or any other big rig vehicle accident, Indiana allows victims to recover an award for compensatory damages.
Compensatory damages are to cover losses and costs for both your economic damages for specific monetary losses and your non-economic damages for losses that may not have a specific dollar value but negatively impact your life. These may include:
- Medical and rehabilitative and equipment costs
- Loss wages and future earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Permanent disability
- Disfigurement and permanent scarring
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Punitive damages may also be awarded in certain circumstances to punish negligent parties for willful negligence or especially egregious behavior, and to act as a deterrent for similar misconduct in the future.
Amounts of Damage Awards We May Recover for You
There is a wide range of damage award amounts you may receive in a successful commercial vehicle accident case, depending on the circumstances.
Factors which may affect a settlement amount include:
- Extent and permanence of your injuries
- Whether you will need continuing care
- Lost earnings and whether you will be able to work in the future
- Your age, earning potential, and family situation
- Costs of your losses
- The insurance coverage available
- Whether the accident resulted in death
- The availability of evidence and witnesses to help prove your case
- The individual jurisdiction, judge, and jury if there is a trial
- The skill and negotiating power of your attorney
Commercial vehicle accidents often result in severe injuries which bring higher settlement amounts. In general, if your injuries involve permanent damage and require long-term care, or if a death is involved, it may result in a higher settlement. If there are multiple parties at fault and they all have insurance and/or assets, the settlement may be higher.
Our Stephenson Rife big rig accident lawyers know from experience how much compensation you should receive based on the individual factors involved. When you contact us, we can evaluate your case, give you an idea what to expect, answer your questions, and be there for you throughout the entire case process.
Call our commercial vehicle accident law firm today at (317) 680-2350 and receive a free consultation. There are no fees unless we win your case.
Big Rig Truck Accident Attorneys Provide Answers to Questions
Because accidents with big rig trucks are so complicated, it’s natural to have questions and concerns. The following are some answers to questions our attorneys are frequently asked:
Insurance adjusters are not on your side, so the less you say to them, the better. While trucking companies are required by law to carry substantial insurance, insurance companies are interested in their bottom line and want to pay as little as possible. They may contact you and try to get you say something that shows you were at fault or make a lowball offer to settle your claim quickly. Admitting to fault makes it very difficult to prove other parties’ negligence, and if you accept their offer, it may keep you from being able to receive the full settlement you are entitled to or getting anything more should your injuries worsen.
Tell the insurance companies to speak to your attorney, and let us handle questions and negotiations. Once they know that there is an attorney at your side who is willing to go to trial, insurance company adjusters and lawyers are likely take your case more seriously and come up with a legitimate offer for compensation.
There are many causes of truck accidents, and they almost all involve negligence of a person or corporate or municipal entity. The cause of the accident needs to be identified in order to be able to prove who was at fault.
Common causes that can contribute to a big rig accident include:
- Drivers who are fatigued, impaired, distracted, inexperienced, or poorly trained
- Overloaded or improperly loaded trucks
- Poorly maintained trucks
- Defective truck equipment or parts that fail
- Defective roadways
- Speeding or other violations of rules of the road
- Bad weather conditions
When a commercial vehicle accident results in a death, our attorneys may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This is similar to a personal injury case where the personal representative of the deceased person seeks compensation since the deceased can no longer do so. It is a civil lawsuit asking for financial restitution, separate from a criminal case, in which charges are filed by the federal, state, or local prosecutor to punish a wrongdoer.
The Indiana Adult Wrongful Death Act (AWDA), Indiana Code 34-23-1-2 provides that when a death is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another, the deceased person’s personal representative may maintain an action against the negligent party. Claims must be filed within two (2) years of the death, and the damages include reasonable medical, hospital, funeral and burial expenses, and lost earnings of such deceased person.
After making payments for the decedent’s medical and burial costs, the remainder of the financial damages awarded are given to the widow or widower and to the dependent children or dependent next of kin. The money is distributed in the same manner as any personal property that is laid out in the decedent’s will.
Big rig truck drivers may also be the victims of other’s negligence. Truck drivers have to deal with road hazards, other distracted drivers, and drivers who speed and violate the rules of the road, as well as pressures from their employers to work longer hours, mechanical problems due to improper maintenance or defective parts, and shifting from improperly loaded cargo.
If you are a truck driver injured in an accident that was not your fault, our Stephenson Rife commercial vehicle accident attorneys in Indiana can investigate the causes of your accident, identify the negligent parties, and fight for the compensation you deserve.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)’s hours of service regulations, truckers are only permitted to work up to 14 hours in a single day. Only 11 of these hours can be spent actually driving, and the remaining time must be used on meal or rest breaks. Truckers must rest for at least 10 consecutive hours before beginning a new workday.
Truck drivers are also required to take days off work completely, depending on the hours the trucking company a driver works for is open.
In most cases, large commercial trucking companies and their insurance companies have a team of powerful injury lawyers, investigators, and insurance adjusters working to minimize your settlement. This is very difficult for an individual to go up against without the help of an attorney familiar with the laws and complications that a big rig truck lawsuit involves.
Our Stephenson Rife big rig accident attorneys work with investigators and experts in accident reconstruction to determine how your trucking accident occurred and who may have been at fault. We know the courts, the system, and how insurers operate and are fully prepared to find all potentially liable parties and hold them responsible for the optimum settlement you deserve. We will aggressively negotiate with insurers and take your case to trial if necessary.
If you are involved in a crash with a commercial vehicle, we advise the following:
- Call for medical help and the police
- Get information about the other drivers — their names, phone numbers and insurance — their vehicles, eyewitnesses to the accident.
- If able, take photos of the scene, conditions such as weather or road debris which may have contribute to the accident, and damages to vehicles.
- Do not admit fault or sign anything except the police report
- Call your insurance company to report your accident, but do not admit fault or accept any settlement offers.
- Document all your symptoms, mental and physical, your medical treatment. Save bills and receipts
- Record all of your lost time from work, lost wages, commissions, and any other expenses related to your truck accident injuries
- Follow all medical treatment instructions and keep scheduled appointments.
- Get legal assistance as soon as possible
Call Our Commercial Truck Accident Attorneys in Indiana to Get Justice For Your Claim
Big rig truck accidents require extensive investigation and experience, and the longer you wait the more chances there are of evidence becoming stale, so contact our commercial trucking accident lawyers as soon as possible. In addition, there is a statute of limitation – a time limit for filing. According to Indiana Code (IC) 34-11-2-4(3) you must file a claim for personal injury or wrongful death within two years or the courts will not hear your case.
At Stephenson Rife, we have the experience to pursue positive results, no matter what legal challenge your case involves. We provide caring, confident and cost-effective service you can count on, which is why we are the law firm that other law firms consult.
Find out what our commercial vehicle accident law firm can do for you by calling us today at (317) 680-2350 for your free consultation. We work on a contingency basis, so there are no fees to you unless and until we win your case.
Attorney Mike Stephenson
Attorney Mike Stephenson has 40 years of experience and is a trusted advisor to many individuals and companies. His current practice is dominated by civil litigation in state and federal courts. He focuses much of his time on handling catastrophic injuries caused by all types of accidents, including motor vehicle, trucking, workplace injuries, product liability, just to name a few. Mike is a proven advocate and trial attorney. He has served as lead trial counsel in more than 100 civil jury trials, and has handled litigation in 18 states. [ Attorney Bio ]
Table Of Contents
- Our Big Rig Truck Accident Lawyers Win Big
- How Our Indiana Commercial Truck Accident Lawyers Work for You
- Big Rig Truck Accident Lawyers in Indiana Must Prove Negligence
- Damage Awards Our Commercial Truck Accident Lawyer in Indiana May Win for You
- Big Rig Truck Accident Attorneys Provide Answers to Questions