If you have been injured in a truck accident, you may be able to receive compensation for your losses under Illinois personal injury law.
Should I Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?
Truck accidents can be complex cases because the question of who the liable party is can take time to answer. An investigation may show negligence on the part of the truck driver, the trucking company, the crew who loaded the cargo, or the manufacturer of the truck. You can be sure that the attorneys at Mike Agruss Law will leave no stone unturned when investigating your truck accident.
Tips On What To Do After a Truck Accident
Your personal injury claim starts the moment the accident happens. Truck accident cases can be compromised if you say or do the wrong thing, such as talking to the insurance company before speaking with an attorney.
First, you will need to inspect yourself and any other passengers in your vehicle for injuries. Then check on the other driver and any other person who is involved in the accident. Call 911 and inform the operator of how many people were involved in the accident and how severe it is.
You will need to get the driver’s name, address, phone number, insurance information, driver’s license number, and license plate number. Generally, there is an 800 number posted on the backs of commercial trucks to report an issue with the truck driver.
You’ll likely be suffering from serious injuries after a truck accident so you want to capture any evidence you can at the scene of the accident on your phone using your camera. Take pictures of the injuries, road conditions, and damage to the vehicles, as well as any videos that can help your legal team when building your case.
Do not refuse medical treatment at the scene of the accident or delay receiving it. The insurance companies may deny your claim by suggesting that your personal injury from the accident was not severe or, worse, exaggerated.
The next step is, of course, to hire a legal team that specializes in personal injury. When filing a truck accident claim, you might be going up against a very large trucking company working with another large insurance company, so you will need an experienced and respected Chicago truck accident and personal injury to go up against these goliaths.
The Discovery Phase
After you have hired an attorney, they will file your claim with the court, who will notify the defendant. The defendant, or their lawyers, will then file an answer.
The discovery phase of an investigation occurs after both sides have been made aware of the lawsuit and start putting together the facts of the case. The attorneys for the defendant will put a lot of work into defending their case, so you need a strong attorney who will is ready to fight for you by:
- Requesting documents from the trucking company that are relevant to your case, such as driving logs and maintenance records
- Getting depositions from witnesses
- Hiring an expert who can assess the truck for any maintenance issues
Another key resource that a Chicago truck accident attorney provides is access to expert witnesses such as accident reconstructionists and medical experts. It takes years to develop relationships with professionals who are authorities in their field of expertise. Expert witnesses can play a crucial role in explaining how an accident or an injury occurred.
The settlement fees can be a difficult dance because the insurance company will argue to reduce the amount they pay to you in damages. The truck accident attorneys at Mike Agruss Law aggressively fight for our clients to receive all the damages they deserve. The defendant’s attorney will propose a settlement that our truck accident attorneys can review and discuss with you.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Driving requires paying attention to the road and obeying all traffic laws. It also requires that the driver make reasonable and sensible decisions when driving. Here are some of the common causes of truck accidents:
- Driving in bad weather conditions
- Driving while using prescription medications that impair motor function
- Brake problems or any part malfunction
- Distracted driving
- Aggressive driving
- Lack of experience
What are some common types of tractor-trailer and commercial truck accidents?
Large commercial vehicles are involved in different types of trucking accidents.
Blind Spot Accidents
It’s so important for drivers to check their blind spots before changing lanes or merging. But it’s harder for drivers of large trucks to check their blind spots. If you were injured in a trucking accident as a result of a blind spot accident, then call our office today so we can fight the insurance companies on your behalf.
Jackknife accidents are named after the foldable blade because, in an aerial view of the accident, the cab and the trailer fold in a certain way that resembles the acute angle of a pocket knife.
Commercial trucks are much harder to control when accelerating or braking than a passenger car. Many of the car accidents that involve commercial trucks are rear-end collisions. There are two different types:
- When a truck strikes the back of a passenger vehicle
- When a passenger vehicle strikes the back of a semi-truck
Faulty brakes play a big role in rear-end commercial truck collisions. This is why it is crucial for trucking companies and drivers to have their vehicles inspected regularly.
Rollover accidents can be caused by turning or swerving too fast, speeding, distracted driving, or aggressive driving. The majority of truck roll-over accidents are caused by the truck driver either turning too quickly or speeding on a curve such as a freeway or interstate on the offramp. Or the driver could be speeding through a curve because they are behind schedule and they want to get a shipment out fast.
Underride Trucking Accident
The center of gravity on trucks sits higher, and they are much taller than most passenger vehicles. An underride accident occurs when a smaller vehicle, such as a motorcycle or a passenger vehicle crashes either into the back or the side of a truck and then gets stuck under the truck. These are some of the most gruesome truck accident types as they often cut off the top of the smaller vehicle.
Multi-Vehicle Accidents Involving A Truck
Another dangerous type of accident or multi-vehicle crash is where one vehicle striking another sets off a chain reaction of other vehicles hitting each other. When a truck hits a vehicle, it exerts a tremendous amount of force to send it forward several feet.
Truck Accident Statistics
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 4,119 people died in truck crashes in the U.S. in 2019. As already mentioned, truck accidents are a lot more lethal than car accidents. Of those deaths, 67% were occupants in passenger vehicles at the time of the accident, while only 16% of these deaths were truck occupants. 15% were pedestrians, motorcyclists, or bicyclists.
Unfortunately, the number of trucking crashes is going up. Compared to 10 years prior, the number of people who died in truck crashes was 31% higher in 2019 than in 2009. Additionally, 12% of all passenger vehicle occupant deaths in multi-vehicle crashes in 2019 involved large trucks.
Who Is Responsible for a Trucking Accident?
The question of who is liable in a truck accident case can depend on different factors, which is why you need an experienced Chicago truck accident attorney to investigate your case. They will determine who is responsible for paying for your medical expenses and pain and suffering damages.
The Truck Driver
Being a truck driver requires focus and caution. Truck drivers are obligated to take breaks and notify their employer of any changes that require them to take a medication that could cause drowsiness or otherwise impair their driving.
Driving while under the influence or drowsing driving are two big reasons why people get into accidents. A drowsy driver can nod off or fall asleep while behind the wheel. Even if they only fall asleep for a few seconds, that’s quite a distance when driving at high speeds on the highway. Drivers who are fatigued, drunk, high, very sleepy, or otherwise not sober are responsible for thousands of truck accidents annually throughout the U.S.
Truck drivers are also obligated to pay attention to the road at all times and to do nothing else behind the wheel. They should not be texting. If you were hit by a distracted driver, call now to speak to a truck accident attorney.
Truck Accidents Caused By Product Liability
Unfortunately, sometimes defective parts and products are used in manufacturing a truck, which presents a multitude of potential safety concerns for the driver and other road users. One of the most common product liabilities in truck accidents is brake failure. Trucks are supposed to be inspected regularly to ensure safety and protect the drivers and others from being hurt. It’s important that any defective parts discovered in the inspection are replaced before the truck is driven again.
The Trucking Company
By law, a trucking company is responsible for the actions of employees while they are acting within the responsibilities of their job. Trucking jobs should not be independent contractor jobs because that is illegal. The labor law was changed in the 1950s to hold trucking companies accountable for damages caused by drivers driving for them.
However, that doesn’t mean that they will be liable for the accident because the driver drives for them. In order to prove fault, your attorney will have to provide evidence of negligence on behalf of the truck company.
Trucking accidents can also be the result of heavy cargo shifting that can knock a truck’s center of gravity off-kilter. Large trucks have a high center of gravity and move at high speeds. When freight is not properly loaded, it can shift in transit and cause the truck to roll over.
What kinds of injuries are common after a truck accident?
The trucking industry is a crucial part of the economy by not only shipping goods but providing jobs to drivers. But they have much more mass than a car and especially a motorcycle, so they do more damage when there is an accident. Trucks can also carry a variety of goods, chemicals, and liquids, so an accident can become more serious because of the truck’s contents.
Truck crashes leave accident victims with serious injuries. Here are some of the most common severe injuries caused by an accident with a semi-truck.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is very common after a motor vehicle accident and can range in severity from mild to life-changing and permanent. It occurs when there has been a jolting blow or hit to the head. There are two types of TBI: open and closed. An open TBI is when something has penetrated the skull and exposed the brain. Closed TBI occurs when the skull is intact. Symptoms can include:
- Blurry vision
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Changes and sleep pattern
- Loss of coordination
- Slurred speech
Back and Neck Injuries
The majority of accident victims will end up suffering from back and neck pain after their accident, but a truck accident can also cause severe injuries to the spine. Commercial trucks weigh many times more than smaller vehicles so they end up taking a lot of the force of the collision.
Whiplash is one of the most common neck injuries, often resulting when the muscles in the neck are rapidly whipped forward and back from the force of the collision. The result is damage to soft tissue and vertebrae. The resulting inflammation may last a few weeks or be permanent. It can even cause tingling and numbness in the arms.
Spinal fractures and spinal dislocations are also likely after a truck accident. When muscles are pulled and torn, then vertebrae can slip out of place. There are many different important nerves that run not only down the spinal cord but throughout the back. A break or dislocation can cause damage to those nerves and surrounding tissues.
Cuts and Lacerations
Cuts and lacerations are very common after truck accidents. Glass from the window and windshield can shatter and cause lacerations. But cuts can also be caused by sharp and bent metal that was ripped apart during the accident.
Wrongful Death Caused by Truck Accidents
All drivers — whether they drive a tractor-trailer, a taxi cab, or a motorcycle — are required to exercise reasonable care while using the road to protect their own safety and the safety of other road users. In fact, if you looked at your driver’s license, you will see your signature saying that you agree to follow all motor laws. When a driver fails to meet their duty of care, then they can be held liable for the resulting damages. This is especially true with truck drivers who are usually carrying much heavier loads than a passenger vehicle, and therefore, can cause even more damage and distraction during an accident.
If your loved one was killed in a truck accident as a result of someone else’s negligence or recklessness, then you may be able to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Certain loved ones can file a wrongful death claim for someone who would have had a personal injury lawsuit if they had survived. Your Chicago truck accident lawyer will have to prove negligence on the part of one of the defendants and that the negligence was the cause of the loved one’s death. In Chicago, under Illinois law, the surviving loved ones who are able to sue for wrongful death include:
- The surviving spouse
- The decedent’s surviving children
- The decedent’s parents
- The decedent’s biological or adopted siblings
Truck crashes are traumatic and cause accident victims unbearable physical and emotional pain and suffering before the victim’s death.
Punitive damages punish a defendant for an intentional tort, negligence, or willful conduct that risked injuring and killing another party. In order to receive damages, your attorney has to prove willful conduct that was negligent and reckless.
Why Mike Agruss Law
At Mike Agruss Law, we understand that this is one of the most difficult times of your life and that you might be riddled with anxiety and stress. We are here to stand by your side and fight aggressively for you by diligently working on your case and seeking justice on your behalf.
We also believe that communication is key with our clients. Our past clients kind of are that we keep you up-to-date with the specifics of your claim. We are here to be your legal advocate and your trucking accident case.