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The Dangers of Highway Driving in Indiana

Offered by Boughter Sinak, LLC

Indiana is known as the “Crossroads of America,” and it only takes a quick look at a map to find out why. Four major interstate highways converge in Indianapolis: I-65, I-69, I-70 and I-74, plus the I-465 beltway and the I-865 connector. Those highways carry millions of vehicles every day.

Unfortunately, where there are many vehicles, there are also many accidents. According to the Indiana State Police, there are about 800 road fatalities in the state per year, and while they occur on all types of roads, the risk of fatal injury is higher at highway speeds.

That’s why it’s so important for motorists and especially truck drivers to be attentive – and why they need to be held accountable when they are not.

Risk factors on Indiana highways

Accidents happen every day, but the vast majority are preventable. Certain characteristics of Indiana’s highways make crashes particularly likely when motorists fail to operate their vehicles with care.

  • Curvy and hilly roadways: Many of Indiana’s highways curve through uneven terrain. Curves can increase the risk of a rollover, and both curves and hills can limit visibility until it’s too late for a driver to see a slow or stopped vehicle.
  • “Highway hypnosis:” On long stretches of interstate, such as I-65 between Indianapolis and Lafayette, motorists may “zone out” when all they can see is identical-looking surroundings and white lines at the edge of the lane. This “highway hypnosis” can take motorists’ brains off the road even if their eyes are physically focused on the road.
  • Distracted driving: Long drives can also leave drivers tempted to reach for their phones or engage in other distracting behavior behind the wheel. At highway speeds, it only takes a moment of inattention to put a motorist at severe risk of causing a deadly accident.
  • Frequent intersections: On some non-interstate highways, Indiana motorists encounter numerous traffic lights and intersections. High-volume intersections see numerous collisions as there is often confusion regarding who has the right of way.

These factors can apply on any roadway, but they are particularly dangerous on Indiana’s major highways because of the high volume of truck traffic.

What causes semi-truck accidents in Indiana?

Because of its location, thousands of heavy trucks cross Indiana every day. I-65, for instance, is the main north-south highway connecting the Great Lakes with the Gulf of Mexico, and thousands of southbound trucks from the Chicago area pass through Indianapolis every day. Likewise, east-west truck traffic passes through Indiana on I-70 and I-74.

Truckers are held to higher legal standards because of the size and weight of their vehicles. However, under pressure from the trucking companies, too many truck drivers cut corners on safety. For instance, federal Hours of Service (HOS) limit the number of hours truckers can drive in a day and in a week, but some truckers bend the rules and become tired while driving – making them especially vulnerable to “highway hypnosis” and falling asleep at the wheel.

Aggressive driving maneuvers are a critical factor in truck accidents in Indiana. According to one study by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI), the primary factors in commercial vehicle accidents are unsafe lane movement, improper passing and turning, following too closely, unsafe backing and failure to yield. Another key factor is driving too fast in inclement weather conditions.

Poor maintenance, and particularly poorly maintained brakes, also plays a role in many truck accidents. Moreover, in the “Crossroads of America,” part of the problem is the number of out-of-state truckers who may not be familiar with the area. Nearly a quarter of truck accidents involve a driver unfamiliar with the roadways where the accident happens.

Legal options after a car or truck accident in Indiana

Like most states, Indiana uses an “at-fault” or “tort” system for motor vehicle accidents. That means the person responsible for an accident is also responsible for paying the damages (financial compensation) for the accident. Those damages may include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Assistive devices or home and vehicle modifications to accommodate a permanent disability
  • Lost wages and lost future income
  • Loss of quality and enjoyment of life
  • Pain and suffering, emotional distress and mental anguish
  • Property damage (including vehicle damage)

Some highway accidents involve partial fault on the part of multiple drivers. Indiana is a “modified comparative fault” state with a 50% bar on recovery. That means a driver who is partially at fault (but less than 50%) can recover compensation for their losses, but that compensation will be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, someone who is 30% at fault for an accident and has $100,000 in damages would have that recovery reduced by 30%, for a final recovery of $70,000. A driver who is over 50% at fault cannot recover at all.

How an experienced car accident attorney can help

When car accidents happen on the highway, serious injuries are common. A vehicle traveling 70 mph or more can cause severe damage, and the larger the vehicle, the greater the risk. More serious injuries, in turn, lead to potentially larger insurance claims that the insurance companies have a financial incentive to dispute. They have teams of adjusters and defense attorneys working to reduce their liability, which means less money for the injured person.

That’s where an experienced attorney can make a significant difference. A lawyer who knows Indiana law and has experience handling car accident claims knows how to review the available evidence and find the details that can affect the value of your claim. An attorney can also represent your interests in negotiations and, if necessary, litigation while you focus on healing.

It’s important to act quickly. The statute of limitations (legal deadline) for most injury claims in Indiana is two years, but that can vary depending on the circumstances. Most car accident lawyers offer free consultations, so there is no downside to talking to an attorney about your rights and options. If you’ve been hurt in a car crash in Indianapolis or anywhere in Indiana, schedule a free consultation today.

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The Fort Wayne personal injury attorneys at Boughter Sinak, LLC provide aggressive representation for injured Hoosiers. We know what to do after you’ve been hurt in a car accident...