18-wheelers are massive vehicles that carry heavy loads. They are a staple of American highways, and you are sure to encounter them on the road. They are a vital part of our infrastructure and economy, but they are also incredibly dangerous. Negligent drivers or defective equipment may cause life-altering injuries or even cause the death of a beloved family member. Accidents involving 18-wheelers hurt and kill thousands of people yearly, but those people and their families may be entitled to financial compensation for what they have been through.
When an accident happens, it can be a terrifying experience. Watching a large semi-truck in a head-on collision, rear-end accident, or other traffic accident can be traumatizing, in addition to the physical harm it causes. Accidents can happen in countless ways, but when negligence is involved, you may have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit to protect your rights to compensation.
Why Choose Us?
Our 18-wheeler accident attorneys know that these cases can present unique challenges. It is crucial that you have experienced legal counsel by your side for these cases. We know it takes a great deal of experience and preparation to win a major personal injury case. Even when an accident is clearly caused by another party’s negligence, truck drivers and their employers may fight to refuse payment or reduce what they have to pay. They will often take advantage of unrepresented victims to limit what they owe or deny you coverage altogether.
Our truck accident attorneys at Stephenson Rife, LLP can help you by:
- Thoroughly investigating your case, including photographs, medical records, police reports, and much more
- Gathering evidence through witness interviews, depositions, and investigations
- Meeting with you about the accident to learn what happened through your first-hand account
- Gathering evidence about violations of the law or negligent acts by other parties
- Locating and including insurance companies as part of a settlement or a potential 18-wheeler accident lawsuit
- Hiring experts to prove who was at fault and prove the case in court if necessary
- Building your case against the truck company, driver, and insurance companies if they refuse to settle your case.
Stephenson Rife, LLP Gets Results
Our attorneys have won many large settlements for our clients following an 18-wheeler accident. Some of these include:
- $48.5 million for a case that required over 60 depositions in 5 separate states
- $6.5 million for a victim in a garbage truck accident that suffered brain injuries
- $3.97 million in a wrongful death case for the family of a man killed by a semi-truck
- $2 million for the death of a car passenger killed by a delivery truck
- $250,000 where a woman sustained severe injuries when an 18-wheeler pulled in front of her vehicle.
Our client testimonials demonstrate that we have won millions of dollars for our clients. Let us put that dedication and experience to work in your 18-wheeler accident. We know what it takes to fight back against big truck companies and insurance providers who attempt to deny paying for your claim. We are prepared and driven to pursue financial compensation to help you get back on your feet.
What is an 18-Wheeler?
The term 18-wheeler is actually a generic term for many forms of tractor-trailers. Also called semi-trucks, these large and powerful vehicles often do have 18 wheels. Many have less and some have even more. The number of wheels typically depends on the size of the cab, the trailer, and the weight capacities and towing capabilities of each.
18-wheelers are commonly capable of towing over 40,000 pounds to as much as 80,000 pounds total on American highways. Most tractor-trailers stand about 13.5 feet high and are about 70 feet long. Most have five axles, but they may have more depending on their size.
18-Wheeler Engines and Their Power
18-wheelers aren’t just massive — they are powerful as well. Most trucks use diesel engines that can handle heavy loads and can handle extreme weather conditions. These engines can have massive horsepower and high torque to carry heavy loads. The power of these semi-trucks will vary, but generally they can have as much as:
- 12 to 15 liters of displacement
- Horsepower of 400 to 500
- 1,200 and 2,050 pound-feet of torque.
Cars are much less powerful by comparison. A typical car engine has a displacement of 3 to 5 liters, between 150 and 250 horsepower, and 200 to 300 pound-feet of torque. These power differences can mean a great deal more damage occurs in an 18-wheeler accident. Injured people often need help when dealing with these types of accidents.
What Causes 18-Wheeler Accidents?
There are many reasons for and causes of major 18-wheeler accidents in Indiana. Knowing the cause is crucial to proving your claim, and a qualified Indiana 18-wheeler accident lawyer knows how to investigate and prove the cause of an accident. Common causes of 18-wheeler accidents include:
- Speeding and reckless driving
- Problems with truck brakes or following too closely
- Drivers who are unfamiliar with their route
- Using drugs or alcohol while driving a truck
- Defects in the truck or truck parts that cause the accident
- Road debris or potholes
- Poor weather conditions and failure to account for them
- Unbalanced cargo or improper loading
- Overloading a truck or trailer beyond the capacity of federal limits
- Jackknife truck accidents
- Driver fatigue and exceeding limits
- Distracted driving (texting, watching videos, talking on the phone, etc.)
- Poor vehicle maintenance by the trucking company.
These and many other reasons could be why you were hurt in an Indiana 18-wheeler accident. When the cause is someone else’s negligence, you could be owed substantial compensation for your injuries.
Common Injuries in 18-Wheeler Accidents
There is no doubt that massive semi-trucks and tractor-trailers can cause injuries. In fact, they can cause more serious injuries than in most other motor vehicle accidents because of their sheer size and weight. They are difficult to stop and can crush smaller vehicles with little effort. This often translates into catastrophic injuries for those involved in the accident.
Common injuries from 18-wheeler accidents include:
- Back injuries
- Broken and fractured bones
- Puncture wounds and lacerations to the skin
- Paralysis, partial or total
- Severe burns
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Organ damage or loss
- Internal bleeding
- Neck and spinal cord injuries
- Wrongful death.
Stephenson Rife, LLP has a long history of success in severe accident cases like these. If you need an 18-wheeler accident attorney, our highly dedicated legal team knows how to build your case and present it appropriately. Let us seek compensation in your case.
Compensation in Indiana 18-wheeler Accident Cases
If you were injured in an 18-wheeler accident in Indiana, you could be owed significant compensation. These could include economic damages, which compensate you for actual financial losses you incurred. They could also include non-economic damages, which cover non-pecuniary costs with no set dollar value.
Compensation for your accident may include:
- Past and future medical damages
- Disability compensation
- Costs of rehabilitation
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress and trauma
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Loss of companionship and support
- Damages for the wrongful death of a loved one.
In certain cases of extremely wrongful conduct, you could be entitled to punitive damages. These damages punish the wrongful party for particularly egregious actions or intentional acts. All of these forms of compensation could be substantial and help you recover from your 18-wheeler accident.
Proving Negligence in an 18-Wheeler Accident Lawsuit
An Indiana 18-wheeler accident lawyer knows how important it is to prove negligence in your case. You may be wondering, what is negligence? At its most basic, negligence consists of four primary elements. Your attorney must prove each of these four elements to win an 18-wheeler accident lawsuit.
- Duty: The defendant must owe a legal duty of care to the victim. Drivers generally have a duty to drive safely, follow laws, and avoid injuring other people through their actions.
- Breach: The breach violates the driver’s or other party’s duty to avoid harm.
- Causation: To prove negligence, you must prove that the breach of duty caused the accident. This requires sufficient proof that connects the wrongful act to the accident that caused your injuries.
- Damages: Once you have proven the other elements, you must also prove that you were harmed by the defendant’s actions. You must prove that you suffered damages and to what extent you suffered them.
This is not something you have to prove alone. In fact, it is not advisable to represent yourself. Even in “obvious” cases of fault, there are complicated legal procedures, evidentiary requirements, and so much more to contend with. Self-represented parties commonly find they fail to win their case even when it is apparent the defendant was at fault. An Indiana 18-wheeler accident attorney is ready to help you prove your case.
Time Limits for Filing 18-Wheeler Accidents in Indiana
There are specific time limits you have to file your 18-wheeler accident lawsuit. This time limit is called the statute of limitations and is found at Indiana Code §34-11-2-4. Under state law, you have two years after the date of your 18-wheeler accident to file your personal injury lawsuit. If you fail to file before the deadline passes, your case will likely be dismissed — even if you would have been successful if you had filed on time.
An 18-wheeler accident attorney understands these time limits and how they apply to your case. Reach out to us as quickly after the accident as possible to avoid any risk that you will file late.
18-Wheeler Accident FAQs
There is a lot to know about 18-wheeler accidents. When you are in a major 18-wheeler accident, you may wonder about some answers to these common questions.
A fully loaded 18-wheeler can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. The cab itself can weigh between 15,000 to 17,000 pounds, meaning that even a detached truck can do massive damage in an accident.
There are many possible defendants in an 18-wheeler accident. These could include the truck driver, their employer, a trucking company, a part manufacturer, and much more.
Indiana commercial driver’s license (CDL) requirements are very strict. Driver training must occur at an approved training school, and the driver must meet the minimum requirements to receive their CDL. Even when drivers achieve their driver’s license, this does not mean they are always good drivers. Their negligence may be the reason you were hurt.
When you file a personal injury claim for an 18-wheeler accident, you seek financial compensation for your injuries. This can happen in one of two primary ways: a settlement or a trial verdict. Settlements are legal agreements between the parties as to the amount the victim will be compensated. A verdict occurs when the case goes to trial and is decided by a judge or jury.Both a verdict and settlement can appropriately compensate an injured plaintiff. A skilled 18-wheeler accident attorney can help you seek the best possible results and guide you through the legal process.
The average settlement for a case is hard to determine, as each case is so fact-specific. Our 18-wheeler truck accident lawyer knows how to analyze your unique case and predict what damages may be available in your case. We have won millions for our clients and want to help you win the compensation you are owed.
Consult an 18-Wheeler Accident Attorney in Indiana Today
Our Indianapolis 18-wheeler accident attorneys know what you are going through. We have worked with countless clients injured by negligent truck drivers and companies. We know how to help you move past your injuries and seek the compensation you deserve. Our results speak for themselves, with millions earned for our clients.
At Stephenson Rife, LLP we truly care about our clients. We will put our considerable experience and knowledge to work in your unique case. Contact us today or call (317) 680-2350 for a free consultation of 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 ]