Truck Accident Lawyer Representing Injury Victims in Ames, Iowa

You are in the right place if you want legal help after a tractor-trailer collision in Ames, Iowa. RSH Legal attorneys have represented victims of Ames truck accidents for over 30 years. Our lawyers have recovered millions of dollars for those whom trucking companies may have otherwise taken advantage of.

Living in Ames means sharing the road with large trucks. Unfortunately, semi-trucks can pose a danger to other motorists if they are not driven safely.

As the largest city in Story County, Ames has a significant amount of tractor-trailer traffic. Manufacturers like Danfoss, Hach Company, and Amcor Rigid Packaging all attract a steady stream of semi-trucks. U.S. Highways 30 and 69 and Interstate 35 all run through or near Ames and all have a lot of 18-wheeler traffic.

Many truckers driving through Ames use local truck stops like Love’s Truck Stop, Flying J Truck Stop, and Pilot Travel Center. In addition, Ames, Iowa is home to national trucking companies like Central Iowa Custom Hauling and Auto Transport, Landus Cooperative, and Transportation Express, Inc.

The result is that there are a lot of trucks on the road in Story County, Iowa, and there are too many truck wrecks in Ames in particular.

If you need an expert in Ames truck crash cases, you should call RSH Legal at 1-800-433-0283.

Attorney Tim Semelroth is the first and only Iowa truck accident lawyer who is board-certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in Trucking Accident Law.

Do You Really Need an Attorney for Your Ames Truck Crash Claim?

You’re likely wondering whether you need to talk to an attorney about your claim. Not every Iowa tractor-trailer collision requires an attorney. Only certain cases benefit from legal representation. Those cases often fall into key categories:

Did the Ames truck accident happen while you were on the job?

If you were on the job when you got hit by a careless truck driver, you probably have a workers’ compensation claim as well as a personal injury claim.

This is important to know because a trucking company typically will not immediately start paying for your crash-related medical bills and lost earnings as part of a personal injury claim.  Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance, however, may start paying certain benefits within days or weeks of your injury.

The problem is that a workers’ compensation claim comes with its own set of deadlines and responsibilities.

For example, an Iowa semi crash claim typically doesn’t have to be settled or filed for two years from the date of the crash.  An Iowa workers’ compensation claim, however, is lost if an injured worker fails to provide notice to his or her employer within 90 days of a work-related injury.

There are many other examples of how actions taken in a personal injury case can negatively impact a workers’ compensation claim. That’s why you should talk with an experienced truck accident lawyer if your crash happened while you were on the job.

Failing to understand the ins and outs of both tractor-trailer claims and workers’ compensation claims can ultimately cost you money.  If you want everything you are entitled to after a serious semi wreck, you may only have as little as 90 days from the date of the wreck to get the legal guidance you need.

Did a truck driver from out of state cause your Ames semi crash?

As was discussed earlier, an Iowa truck wreck victim typically has two years from the date of the wreck to settle or file his or her case.

That’s not necessarily the case if the commercial motor vehicle that hit you was driven by someone who does not live in Iowa. In Iowa, special procedures and deadlines shrink the amount of time that you have to pursue a lawsuit against an out-of-state driver. You may have less than two years to act.

If your truck crash was caused by an out-of-state truck driver or if you don’t know where the negligent truck driver lives, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.  A qualified truck accident attorney can investigate the driver’s legal place of residence and tell you how much time you have to file your case.  If the truck driver does not live in Iowa, a truck accident lawyer can take the necessary steps to start a lawsuit and preserve your right to fair compensation for your crash-related harms and losses.

Did a government employee cause your Ames wreck?

Many large commercial motor vehicles are driven by governmental employees. Crashes can be caused by buses, passenger vans, snow plows, and dump trucks, as well as by tractor-trailers.

Making a personal injury claim against a government employee is very different than making a claim against a private trucking company.  In Iowa, there are special laws and procedures that you must follow if you want compensation for a truck accident caused by a government employee.  Those laws and procedures can be different depending upon what type of government entity employed the truck driver.

In other words, it matters if the truck driver was employed by the federal government, the state government, or a local county or town.  If you don’t follow those special laws and procedures exactly, your truck accident claim can be dismissed and you can lose your right to get compensation.

That’s why you should consult with an experienced truck accident attorney if your crash was caused by a government employee.  The attorney can figure out which government entity employed the other driver and can then identify the laws and procedures that you must follow to successfully bring your claim.  Finally, a truck accident lawyer can guide you through this process and give you the best chance to get the compensation you deserve.

Attorney Tim Semelroth is a graduate of the Legacy Corporation Trucking Course for Legal Professionals, which teaches a hands-on approach to trucking crash cases.

Figuring Out Who Was Responsible for Your Ames Truck Accident

Unfortunately, many semi crashes result in catastrophic injury or death.  Federal law only requires most interstate motor carriers to carry $750,000 in insurance coverage.  Congress hasn’t changed that number since 1981.

If a trucking company only works within the state of Iowa, Iowa law allows them to operate with even less insurance coverage.  As a result, many of the tractor-trailers you see traveling down the road are underinsured.

If it becomes apparent that the trucking company responsible for your wreck does not have enough coverage to compensate all your harms and losses, it is important to explore whether anyone else played a role in your truck accident.  This can involve investigating:

  • co-drivers
  • the owner of the semi tractor
  • the trailer owner
  • the broker
  • the shipper
  • the receiver company
  • the truck manufacturer
  • the cargo loader

Typically, this investigation requires requesting and reviewing documents like bills of lading and the master transportation agreement.

Many trucking companies, particularly larger operations, have complicated excess insurance coverage structures.  To evaluate the truck owner’s coverage before settlement, looking at policy declaration pages is not enough.  It is necessary to ask about the insurance structure and claim funding mechanism of the company.

An experienced truck accident attorney knows to request and review the certificate of insurance, the complete insurance policy, and any coverage letters or opinions.  Lawyers who represent truck accident victims should know not to settle with a party until they understand the relationships between the parties and how each party’s insurance coverage works.

If you need help figuring out who you should sue, call RSH Legal at 1-800-433-0283. Our skilled truck accident lawyers can give you a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Wrecks in Ames

Tractor-trailer collisions can result from many different factors. Studies show, however, that most large truck accidents can be traced back to several, all-too-common, causes. This is important because responsible trucking companies should be aware of these common crash factors and should have procedures in place to prevent them.

Collisions due to mechanical failure

Any collision caused by mechanical failure that reasonably could have been detected by the truck driver but went unheeded is preventable. It is a professional truck driver’s responsibility to inspect the tractor and trailer for possible mechanical failure and obtain repairs before starting a trip.

Sometimes mechanical difficulties occur unexpectedly during a trip.  Upon discovery, it is the truck driver’s responsibility to check with the trucking company for emergency driving instructions.  Failure to do so makes a collision preventable. A collision caused by mechanical failure that resulted from aggressive driving should also be considered preventable.

Collisions due to cargo

Incidents caused by projecting loads, loose objects falling from the tractor-trailer, loose tarps or chains, or doors swinging open are often preventable. It is a professional truck driver’s responsibility, for example, to secure loose objects on their rigs. A truck driver must take all reasonable precautions to make their tractor-trailer safe before entering the roadway.

Collisions while parking

Most collisions that occur while parking are preventable. These are some factors that indicate preventability: unconventional parking locations; illegal parking, such as double parking; and failure to put out warning devices. Collisions that result from a roll-away parked position are also considered preventable. When parking, a truck driver should properly block wheels or turn wheels toward the curb to prevent movement.

Common Truck Wreck Injuries

Given that a fully-loaded tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, being hit by one will likely result in injury.  Here are some of the most common injuries we see in truck accident victims.

Head Injury

When a passenger car gets hit by a semi, the car passengers can get thrown in such a way that they hit their head.  A truck accident victim can strike their head on their steering wheel, a window, a console, or even an airbag.  This impact can leave bruises, bumps, or even skull fractures. Whenever anyone hits their head in a wreck, they should always be evaluated for a possible traumatic brain injury.

Facial Damage

Depending upon the angle of the impact and what a crash victim strikes in their own vehicle, they may suffer an injury to their face. Even in a vehicle with airbags, it is possible to end up with a broken nose, lost or broken teeth, a fractured jaw, damage to the eyes, or scrapes or lacerations that lead to facial scarring. Facial injuries can be significant as they can be extremely painful and may result in long-term scarring, disfigurement, or functional limitations.

Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can occur even if a crash victim does not remember striking their head on anything in their vehicle. TBI occurs when an impact causes the brain to rattle around inside the skull. Even minor TBI can cause concussion and unpleasant symptoms, while more severe or repeated TBI can cause unconsciousness, neurological damage, and long-term or permanent harm including possible coma or death.

Back and Spine Injury

A collision with a tractor-trailer can often cause injury to the back or spine. Damage to the neck or spine can lead to chronic pain, herniated discs, damaged facet joints, or long-term nerve damage such as paralysis. Severe trauma to the neck or spine can also lead to coma or death.

Organ Damage

A truck crash can result in all manner of internal injuries. A severe collision can rupture the spleen, cause a bowel contusion, impact the chest or lungs, perforate the veins, or cause a traumatic hernia. These injuries can be especially insidious because they might not be immediately apparent after a truck accident. It’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible after a wreck to avoid worsening the damage caused by a hidden injury.

Broken Knees, Wrists, and Other Fractures

Motorists hit by a semi often jam their arms or legs into the interior of their own vehicle. It’s common to experience bone fractures in the wrists, fingers, elbows, knees, or other extremities. Sprains, strains, and dislocations are also common. These injuries can range from minor to severe, and in extreme cases may even result in limb amputation.

Attorney Tim Semelroth regularly shares his truck crash case knowledge with other attorneys at seminars and conventions.

RSH Legal, located in Cedar Rapids, handles truck accident claims throughout Iowa, including Ames.

<span>Tim</span> Semelroth
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Tim Semelroth

Board-Certified Trial Attorney

<span>Pressley</span> Henningsen
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Pressley Henningsen

AV-Rated Trial Attorney