Archive for September, 2019


What Happens If I Get into an Accident in a Rental Car?

September 24, 2019

Most of us know what to do when our vehicle is involved in a car accident. However, the steps to follow may not be quite so clear if we get into an accident driving a rental car.

For the most part, many of the same things apply in a rental car as they do for your personal vehicle. For example, you will want to make sure that anyone injured is being taken care of, or that an ambulance is on the way to assist.

You will also want to make sure to move your rental car out of the way of traffic, take pictures of the damage, exchange information with the other driver, call the police, request an accident report and, if feasible, take down names and contact information of any witnesses present.

The At-Fault Party

As with any car accident, the at-fault party will be held responsible. Therefore, the at-fault driver’s insurance is required to cover the cost of the rental car’s repairs. The same holds true for any injuries resulting from the car accident. Whether or not you feel injured at the time of the accident, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible so that a doctor can confirm that you are okay.

It’s important to note that frequently the costs associated with car accident injuries exceed auto insurance caps. If this is the case, it is important to speak with a personal injury attorney right away. You may be eligible for compensation for any medical bills, lost wages and damages incurred in an auto accident. Even if you were injured while driving a rental car, if the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries, it may be in your best interest to initiate a personal injury claim.

Sometimes, the at-fault party is uninsured. That’s why it is important for every driver to carry uninsured/underinsured insurance. While Indiana requires a minimum of $50,000 for uninsured/underinsured insurance, car accident injury costs can easily exceed that amount. Talk to your insurance provider to see if it is a good idea to add more coverage.

Substitute Vehicle Coverage

Before renting a vehicle, it is important to confirm with your regular car insurance provider that you have substitute vehicle coverage. This will ensure that any rental vehicle you book has the same coverage as your personal vehicle.

Using the Rental Company’s Insurance

Even if personal insurance offers substitute vehicle coverage, it may be worth considering adding the rental company’s insurance options. This could protect you from having to pay large deductibles to your own insurance company in the event of an accident. Additionally, rental car insurance can keep your regular insurance premiums from spiking as a result of an accident.

Adding a Collision Damage/Loss Waiver

Occasionally, rental car companies are not able to rent out vehicles involved in accidents because they have to be repaired. To cover these costs, rental car and insurance companies offer damage and loss waivers to drivers. Without the waiver, the rental car company may try to hold drivers responsible for loss of revenue while the car is being fixed (this is known as “loss of use”). This may include charging a daily fee for the vehicle while it remains under repair. Fees can be as high as the normal rental rate.

Many people who have substitute vehicle coverage with their own insurance providers opt to take the collision damage waiver (CDW) or collision loss waiver (CLW) for the reasons described above. However, many recommend that drivers avoid taking the additional coverage of CDW/CLW. It is best to consult with your own insurance company before accepting or declining CDW/CLW coverage.

For more information about how an Indiana car accident attorney can help you with your case, contact Stewart & Stewart Attorneys at 800-333-3529 or visit our website.


Truck Accidents 101: Laws in Indiana

September 17, 2019

On average, 3,000 to 5,000 people die each year in vehicle accidents involving trucks. Over three-fourths of those injured in a truck accident are not truck drivers. In spite of stringent federal and Indiana state regulations, commercial vehicles remain the most deadly cause of fatal accidents in the country.

Indiana State Regulations

In the state of Indiana, the Motor Carrier Services Division (MCS) of the Department of Revenue (DOR) monitor and enforce commercial trucking laws and regulations.

The size and weight of the average truck pose a serious threat to the safety of non-commercial drivers. As such, all truck drivers must have an adequate amount of rest and steer clear of any substances that may impair their state of mind. These substances include alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription drugs.

Additionally, those in charge of loading commercial trucks must adequately distribute the weight in a way that does not prohibit the driver from being able to maneuver the vehicle.

Lastly, not all roads allow commercial trucks. They must adhere to state traffic regulations, which restrict them to roads that give them adequate space.

Federal Regulations

Many federal regulations are similar to those in the state of Indiana. However, when injuries occur in a truck accident, the most strict laws will bear greater authority in a personal injury lawsuit.

Federal regulations address how often a truck driver must inspect all the equipment in their vehicle. Brakes, tires, hitches, and more must meet federal requirements. Those who manufacture the equipment parts must also maintain minimum quality standards to make sure they are not endangering the truck driver and other drivers on the road.

All federal regulations pertaining to commercial vehicles are moderated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA) within the US Department of Transportation.

Liable Parties in Commercial Trucking

If you or someone you love is injured in a truck accident, you should speak with a personal injury attorney right away. You are entitled to compensation for your injuries, but liable parties may try to coerce you into accepting responsibility for the truck accident.

In a traditional vehicle accident, only the drivers involved are potentially liable for injuries and property damage. In a truck accident, however, several organizations and individuals may share the blame for injuries and property damage. The truck driver may be liable. Both state and federal regulations place a greater burden of care upon them, and they are required to take adequate breaks and maintain their vehicle equipment.

The company that hired the driver may also be liable. They are ultimately responsible for the negligence of their drivers. The loaders may also be liable. Whether it’s a loading company or a few individuals, they are expected to follow state and federal regulations when it comes to weight distribution. Lastly, the vehicle parts manufacturers may be liable for defective parts.

There could be as many as four different individuals or organizations that share liability for your injuries. Because each of these groups knows the gravity of the situation, companies will be eager to put the issue to rest before having to present their negligence to a courtroom.

Seeking Compensation After a Truck Accident

Speaking with an Indiana truck accident attorney will help you take on personnel representing the truck driver. Also, your attorney can help you seek compensation for hospital bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

For more information about how an Indiana truck accident attorney can help you with your case, contact Stewart & Stewart Attorneys at 800-333-3529, or visit our website.


Highway Safety Tips for Motorcycle Riders

September 10, 2019

In a year, nearly 15% of those killed in motor vehicle accidents are motorcyclists. Notably, a motorcycle is not as protected as other vehicles on the road, leaving riders exposed in the event of a crash. Nearly all accidents that involve a motorcyclist result in major injuries to the motorcyclist.

If you or someone you love is injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, you may be eligible for compensation if the other driver was negligent in any way. Having said that, those who ride motorcycles should exercise the following safety tips to avoid accidents or serious injury.

Always Wear a Helmet

According to Indiana State law, all motorcycle riders age 18 and under must wear a helmet. However, smart motorcycle riders of all ages wear strong helmets. Even a “fender bender” at a traffic stop can send a rider flying through the air and result in a concussion or even death. 

When shopping for a helmet, never buy used. It is best to look for helmets displaying a DOT (Department of Transportation) sticker. This means that they are best suited to withstand strong impact and protect your head from injuries in an accident.

Motorcycle riders that wear helmets are 70% less likely to suffer head injuries and nearly 50% less likely to be killed in a motorcycle accident. In contrast, riders that neglect to wear helmets can suffer brain damage as a result of a minor accident.

Never Stop Improving Your Ability to Maneuver

While motorcyclists are not structurally protected in the same way as those who drive cars, they do have one major advantage over other vehicles: they can maneuver through tight spaces and take sharper turns.

This advantage, of course, should never be used to chase danger or drive aggressively. On the contrary, becoming acquainted with the maneuverability of a motor bike can help you avoid or dodge potentially dangerous traffic situations. Make sure to select a bike that is appropriate to your skill level, and then work to improve your skills with driving courses and time on smaller roads.

Understand that Many Drivers Don’t See You and Aren’t Vigilant

Even though most laws in Indiana are there to protect motorcyclists from car driver negligence, many vehicle operators simply do not pay attention because they drive distracted. Motorcycles can fit perfectly in other cars’ blind spots. A lot of motorcyclists get hurt when they attempt an illegal pass and a car abruptly changes lanes and runs them off the road.

Avoid dangerous moves like lane splitting. Numerous motorcycle injuries have been caused by car doors opening and colliding with motorcyclists trying to cut their way through traffic.

Smart motorcycle riders drive defensively, anticipating unexpected moves from other drivers. 

Never Drink and Drive

In spite of obvious dangers when drinking and driving, nearly 30% of motorcycle deaths occur because the rider consumed alcohol. Instead of taking your motorcycle to and from parties where you suspect there will be alcohol served, take a taxi or use a ride-sharing service like Uber instead. Even better, save some money by hitching a ride with a non-drinker.

Alcohol isn’t the only substance that impairs drivers. The same goes for other drugs and medications. As mentioned above, your advantage with a motorcycle is maneuverability and other drivers are often not paying attention. Any delay to your reactivity or motor skills can mean the difference between life and death.

Ride with Safety-Conscious Motorcyclists

Another common reason motorcyclists are injured or killed in an accident is they ride with other aggressive riders. If you choose to ride in a group, make sure the other members are responsible riders. Peer pressure has shown to have a major impact on one’s approach to driving on open roads, highways, and interstates.

Smart motorcyclists know that trying to keep up with reckless motorcyclists is a recipe for disaster.

For more information about how an Indiana motorcycle accident attorney can help you with your case, contact Stewart & Stewart Attorneys at 800-333-3529 or visit our website.