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.
Big rig trucks tend to be the largest vehicles on the road. Trains are even larger. Because of their size and weight, trucks and trains can cause horrific injuries when they are involved in accidents. Victims of truck or train accidents can suffer injuries to the head, neck, and spine that may require lengthy rehab and ongoing care. These accidents can also lead to loss of one or more limbs, disfigurement, paralysis, or death. When a single accident involves both a truck and a train, the injuries are often severe, and the legal issues are complex.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries because of an accident involving a truck and a train, asserting your rights under Indiana law might seem too overwhelming. You do not have to go through this alone, though. Insurance companies will try to get you to settle for a small amount so your claim will go away quietly. They will try to get you to give up any further legal claims, possibly before you even know the full extent of your rights.
The truck and train accident attorneys at Stephenson Rife, LLP are here to help you. We can take this burden off of your shoulders so that you can focus on your own recovery, or on caring for a loved one. Our accident injury lawyers have extensive experience dealing with insurance companies for trucking and rail companies. We know the complicated web of state and federal laws that govern these industries and that may affect your claim for injuries.
You can schedule a confidential and free consultation by contacting us today at (317) 680-2350. We represent clients on a contingency basis, meaning that you do not have to pay us anything unless we recover money for you. Our initial case evaluation comes with no obligation to retain us as your attorneys.
An Unstoppable Force Meets an Immovable Object
A semi-tractor with an empty trailer can weigh up to 35,000 pounds. Loading the trailer can add thousands more. The average car or SUV weighs about one-eighth to one-tenth as much. From the perspective of that vehicle, a large commercial truck is an immovable object.
A single train car might weigh anywhere between thirty and eighty tons. The low end of that scale is nearly twice as heavy as a semi-trailer. A full train can weigh thousands of tons. To a car, a train is truly an unstoppable force.
Trains are not actually unstoppable, of course. Neither are trucks immovable. Both can have accidents that can cause catastrophic damage. A train accident with a truck — such as a truck hit on a railroad crossing — can be even more destructive.
How an Indiana Train Accident Lawyer Can Help You
Accidents involving both trucks and trains present complicated legal questions. Indiana law generally applies to injury claims, but the rail and trucking industries are subject to laws and regulations at the federal level. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) oversees passenger and freight trains that travel between states. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates long-haul truckers in interstate commerce.
When you meet with our train and truck accident attorneys, we can:
- Assess whether you have a lawsuit and, if so, evaluate how much it could be worth.
- Conduct an investigation to determine how the accident occurred and who might be legally responsible, including truck drivers, trucking companies, train conductors, rail companies, or other businesses.
- Collect evidence about the accident and your injuries, along with evidence that points to the liable party or parties.
- Retain experts to recreate the scene of the truck and train accident, prepare reports about the accident and how it caused your injuries, and testify in court if necessary.
- Identify the insurance companies for all of the potentially liable parties.
- Negotiate a settlement with the insurance companies.
- Should negotiation not lead to a settlement, prepare your case for litigation and trial.
Causes of Accidents Between Trucks and Trains
Accidents involving a truck and a train could result from a wide range of causes, such as:
- A distracted or fatigued truck driver misses the warning signals and drives into a crossing, resulting in a truck hit by a train or hitting a train.
- A malfunctioning signal or gate fails to alert a truck driver that a train is approaching.
- A train conductor fails to sound the train’s horn as it approaches a crossing.
- A truck carrying too much cargo is unable to stop in time for a train’s crossing.
- A truck’s improperly-maintained engine causes it to stop in a railroad crossing.
- A train with excessive or unevenly-distributed cargo derails and collides with a truck.
- A truck’s brakes fail, leading to a collision with a train.
Injuries can affect a truck driver, a train conductor or other rail worker, or passengers in either the truck or the train.
Determining Who Is Liable for Your Injuries
Accidents involving trucks and trains often involve multiple parties that could be partially or entirely liable for causing your injuries. An accident injury attorney must carefully review the evidence to determine who could be liable under state and federal law:
- The trucking company
- The rail company
- The truck driver, if they are an independent contractor not employed by the trucking company
- The owner of the cargo on the truck or the train, or both
- The truck or train manufacturer
- The manufacturer of a faulty component on the truck or train
- The company or government entity responsible for maintaining the road or the tracks
- The mechanic who made faulty repairs to either vehicle.
Understanding the Rules Affecting the Trucking and Rail Industries
The FRA and FMCSA have established safety regulations affecting semi-trailers and railroads that operate in interstate commerce. Failure to abide by these regulations can be an important factor in a claim for damages. Evidence that a truck driver did not get enough rest according to FMCSA rules, for example, could support a claim for damages against the driver or the driver’s employer.
Federal regulations can be not only lengthy but also not particularly easy for most people to read or understand. Truck and train accident lawyers know how to identify the regulations that are important in a particular case and determine how they can help someone’s claim.
Proving Negligence in Truck and Train Accidents
The legal theory of negligence is at the center of any injury claim involving an accident between a truck and a train. As accident injury attorneys, we must be able to prove in court that one or more parties meet a four-part legal test for negligence:
Duty of Care
A defendant, such as a trucking company or truck driver, must owe a duty of care to you or the general public. Anyone operating a motor vehicle on a public road, for example, owes a duty of care to everyone else on the road to drive safely.
Breach of Duty
The defendant breached their duty of care by either an act or omission. A breach might involve a truck driver who continues to drive despite knowing that they are too fatigued to drive safely, or a conductor who allows themselves to be distracted by a cellphone or other device.
Cause of the Accident
The defendant’s breach must have caused the accident. For example, a truck collided with a train because the fatigued driver nodded off and did not see the crossing signals.
You suffered actual measurable damage because of the accident. Injuries that require medical care and result in lost income due to missed work count as damages for this purpose.
Recovering Damages in Truck and Train Accident Claims
We can recover damages for you in at least three ways:
- Settling with one or more insurance companies before filing a lawsuit
- Settling with opposing counsel after filing a lawsuit
- Prevailing at trial and receiving a judgment from a judge or jury
Damages that you may be able to recover include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are based on specific losses, such as:
- Medical expenses incurred because of the accident
- Costs of rehabilitation and other care
- Damage to property
- Lost wages
- Likely future medical costs and lost wages.
Non-economic damages, as the name suggests, are less precise. They represent losses you have suffered that can only have an approximate monetary value, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium, which is a claim that the spouse of an injured person may make for the loss of their spouse’s care, support, affection, and intimacy.
The amount you can recover in damages will depend on factors like the actual cost of your medical care, the extent and severity of your injuries, the likelihood of permanent impairment or total disability, and your age and future earning potential.
Contact Our Indiana Truck and Train Accident Attorneys Today
The truck and train accident attorneys at Stephenson Rife, LLP are experienced at assessing injury claims and creating strategies for obtaining settlements. We need to begin working for you as soon as possible, though, to ensure that witnesses and evidence remain available. Indiana law requires you to bring a lawsuit for personal injuries or wrongful death no later than two years after the date of the accident.
Effectively negotiating a settlement with an insurance company often involves using the threat of a lawsuit as leverage — if the insurance company settles now, it can avoid the greater expense of defending a lawsuit. The negotiation process should begin well before the end of the two-year time limit. If you try to file suit after those two years are up, the courts will not let you, and insurance companies will have little to no incentive to negotiate a fair settlement.
We have the knowledge and experience to get results for you. Contact us today at (317) 680-2350 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our contingency fee structure means you do not owe us a fee unless we recover money for you.
Table Of Contents
- An Unstoppable Force Meets an Immovable Object
- How an Indiana Train Accident Lawyer Can Help You
- Causes of Accidents Between Trucks and Trains
- Determining Who Is Liable for Your Injuries
- Understanding the Rules Affecting the Trucking and Rail Industries
- Proving Negligence in Truck and Train Accidents
- Recovering Damages in Truck and Train Accident Claims
- Contact Our Indiana Truck and Train Accident Attorneys Today