Chicago Truck Accident Lawyer
Trucks such as semi-trucks, big rigs, 18-wheelers, cement trucks, garbage trucks, and tractor-trailers are the bigger and heavier than any other vehicle on the roadways. Truck accidents are more severe than car-on-car accidents, and trucks cause severe damage to whatever and whoever they strike.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 4,761 large truck fatalities in 2017, a 9% increase nationally from 2016. About 1,300 of these deaths were the truck drivers, with the remaining 72% of these deaths occurring to the occupants of the other vehicles involved in the collision, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and/or pedestrians.
At Agruss Law Firm, LLC, we have helped thousands of clients to seek justice and compensation for personal injuries, and you won’t owe us a penny for our services unless we win your case. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to negligence, contact our office today for a free consultation.
2017 Truck Accident Statistics
In 2017, there were 11,011 crashes involving large trucks, which accounted for 3.5% of the total vehicular accidents that occurred in the state of Illinois. Fatalities in truck accidents in Illinois decreased by 1.7% between 2016 and 2017, with 96 fatal truck accidents, 1,818 injury accidents, 352 severe (non-fatal) injury accidents, and 9,097 property damage accidents.
In Illinois, slightly more fatal truck accidents occurred on rural roadways than urban roadways, however, the majority of truck accidents that involved injuries were on urban state routes, interstates, and city streets.
The average cost nationally of large truck accidents that do not involve a fatality is approximately $62,000, while fatal truck accidents cost an average of $3 million dollars or more.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents can occur for a variety of reasons. Some truck accidents are caused by distracted truck drivers who aren’t keeping their eyes on the road, while other accidents happen because truck drivers, who are tasked with delivering their cargo as quickly as possible and are often asked to skirt federal rest guidelines, are fatigued and driving when they should be resting.
Large trucks can weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds and it is easy to see why truck accidents are often serious and deadly. At Agruss Law Firm, LLC, we have helped thousands of victims of auto accidents to see justice served and be compensated for their injuries and losses, and some common causes of these accidents include:
- Fatigue - The most common cause of truck accidents is driver fatigue. Most truck drivers are driving for long periods of time with few rest breaks. Trucking companies often demand their truck drivers deliver their goods as quickly as possible and while the Federal government regulates the time a driver can be on the roadways, drivers are often asked to circumvent the rules to meet these deadlines.
- Distracted driving - Driving a truck for long distances and long periods of time is monotonous. Truck drivers that are acting negligently will look for something to cure the boredom, including checking their email, using their phone for social media, phone calls, or texting, or they may be eating, using a GPS system, or changing the channels on the radio. Any time a truck driver takes their eyes off the road, they put other drivers at risk.
- Improper training or poor truck maintenance - Before a truck driver is allowed to take to the roads, he or she is required to be trained for a set number of hours and meet certain minimum requirements. Because there is a decrease in the number of truck drivers on U.S. roadways, some trucking companies will push their new drivers into the cab of a truck and onto the roads before they are ready. Likewise, trucking companies are required by law to keep their vehicles in top working order. When these same companies do not do the important repairs and maintenance that their trucks need, they put everyone on the roads in danger of a serious and deadly accident.
- Speeding - Truck drivers are often trying to deliver their cargo as quickly as possible which means they are driving well over the safe speed limits on the roads they are traveling. Speeding decreases the reaction time of a truck driver, making it more difficult to stop quickly.
- Brake failure - Most trucks have air brakes that are designed to stop a fully loaded truck that is traveling at 35-40 mph in about 100 feet. Unfortunately, it is common for these braking systems to fail, especially when improperly maintained, making these trucks deadly.
- Tire blowouts - Trucks travel thousands of miles a year and carry heavy loads, which puts extensive wear and tear on the tires. When a truck’s tires are overused, they can blow out and cause serious and deadly accidents.
- Overloaded and improperly loaded cargo - In Illinois, as well as Federally, the total weight that a truck is legally allowed to carry is 80,000 pounds. Some trucking companies are pushing to increase this weight limit, however, any truck that is found to be over the total weight of 80,000 pounds in Illinois is subject to fines. Trucks that are overloaded are much more difficult to manage and truck drivers could lose control of their vehicle. Also, if the cargo is not properly loaded and secured, it is possible for the cargo to shift, fall to the roadway, or strike other vehicles.
- Blind spots - Trucks have large “no zone” areas where they cannot see other vehicles, pedestrians, or cyclists. These blind spots are common places for accidents to occur.
Truck Accident FAQs
- I was just in an accident with a commercial truck. What should I do next?
- My loved one was killed in a truck accident. Can I sue on their behalf?
- What is my timeframe for filing a truck accident lawsuit?
- What are the costs of hiring a truck accident lawyer?
- What can I be compensated for following a truck accident?
- Should I take a settlement?
Types of Truck Accidents
To be compensated for your injuries and damages following a truck accident, it must be established that the truck driver was acting in a negligent manner and their negligence directly caused your accident. This can either be straightforward or more complicated depending on the circumstances of your particular case and the type of truck accident you were involved in. The most common types of truck accidents include:
- Rear-end collisions - These collisions occur when the front of the truck collides with the rear of another vehicle and can be caused by multiple forms of negligent driving including distracted driving, speeding, and brake failure.
- Head-on collisions - When the front of the truck collides with another vehicle. Often this occurs when a truck driver has fallen asleep behind the wheel or is distracted and veers into oncoming traffic or they misjudge a turn.
- Turning accidents - Turning is much more difficult for trucks that are larger and wider than passenger vehicles. Truck drivers that underestimate the space needed to make a safe turn or are distracted, fatigued, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol are acting negligently.
- Road construction zone accidents - Construction zones are dangerous and chaotic. Truck drivers that speed, are distracted, fatigued, inexperienced, or under the influence can cause serious accidents. Those in charge of construction zones may also be responsible, especially if there is improper signage, road debris, or other forms of negligence.
- T-bone and jackknife accidents - T-bone accidents occur when the front of one vehicle crashes into the side of another vehicle. Jackknife accidents occur when a truck with a cab and trailer folds in on itself, forming a 90-degree angle.
- Underride/Override accidents - An override accident occurs when a smaller vehicle is run over by a truck and underride accidents occur when a smaller vehicle slides underneath the back or side of a trailer. Inclement weather, faulty braking, speeding, and poor road conditions are often the causes of these accidents.
- Wide turning accidents - Large trucks are difficult to maneuver, and truck drivers can miscalculate the amount of space needed to make a safe turn.
Common Injuries in Illinois Truck Accidents
In 2017 there were 1,818 people injured in Illinois truck accidents, (according to the Illinois Department of Transportation), and 352 suffered a “significant injury” which prevented them from resuming their daily activities from before the accident; these are categorized as “A” injury accidents. Injuries sustained in truck accidents can vary greatly, and here are some of the most common significant injuries:
- Bone fractures
- Chemical burns
- Brain injuries
- Back/neck injuries
Applicable Laws for Illinois Truck Accidents
Illinois has a number of laws that may apply to your truck accident case. The most important law to keep in mind is that Illinois has a two-year statute of limitations for most personal injury cases. This law, (735 ILCS 5/13-202), states that your personal injury claim must be filed within two (2) years of the date of the accident or you will be permanently barred from filing for that accident.
It is also important to remember that Illinois is a contributory negligence state. According to the Illinois Compiled Statutes (735 ILCS 5/2-1116 (c)):
- If your actions were determined to be 50% (or more) responsible for a truck accident, you cannot recover damages.
- If your actions were determined to be less than 50% responsible for a truck accident, you may recover some damages for the accident. For example, if you were at-fault for 25% of an accident and the truck driver was 75% responsible, you will be able to recover damages, but they will be reduced by 25% or the amount of fault it was determined you contributed to the accident.
Understanding Insurance Companies
If you’ve never been involved in a vehicle accident, you may not have had to deal with an insurance company in this capacity before. It is important to remember that insurance companies are a business and they are not on your side. It is their goal to pay you, the victim, as little as possible or to find loopholes in your case to deny your claim completely. This is why the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer is essential to ensure that you are fully compensated for your injuries and damages.
Truck accident victims that attempt to negotiate their claim on their own have a slim chance of full compensation and run the risk of having their claim dismissed fully, without any compensation. Also, those victims that attempt negotiations without proper representation are often tempted to take the first settlement offered by the insurance company. This can be risky as this number may not cover all your expenses, currently and in the future.
A personal injury lawyer understands the negotiation process and can help determine how your injuries will not only affect you today but long term. Having experience on your side ensures that the insurance company does not try to lowball you and that you receive full compensation for your losses, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Truck Accident Compensation
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident due to the negligence of a truck driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses by filing a personal injury claim. Each personal injury case will be unique, but the lawyers at Agruss Law Firm, LLC can review your case for free and determine what you may be entitled to.
Some of the most common types of compensation a truck accident victim could receive include:
- Medical expenses - This can include both current and future medical expenses related to the truck accident, including medical transport, doctor’s visits, emergency room fees, medications, rehabilitation, surgery, and physical therapy.
- Lost wages - An accident victim may be eligible for wages that were lost due to the accident and any future lost income or related benefits because of your injuries.
- Property damage - This includes the damage to your vehicle and any property within the vehicle.
- Disfigurement/disability - If you were left with permanent scarring, disfigurement, or a disability that severely impacts your life in a negative way, you could be eligible for compensation.
- Pain and suffering/emotional distress - These are non-economic damages that are awarded when a victim can prove that they were affected mentally and physically following a truck accident. This is subjective and often relies on testimony from the victim and their doctors.
- Punitive damages - If a truck driver’s behavior was found to be egregious, a judge may award punitive damages to punish the driver for this reckless behavior and to dissuade others from following in their footsteps.
- Wrongful death - The Illinois Wrongful Death Act allows the next of kin of the deceased truck accident victim to be compensated for their losses, including funeral expenses, medical bills, loss of consortium, and loss of financial support.
Preparing for Your Truck Accident Case
Most personal injury cases are settled with the insurance company before they even reach a courtroom. However, each case we undertake at Agruss Law Firm, LLC is thoroughly prepared for the possibility of a trial and our clients are consistently rewarded with larger settlements.
Some of the steps you can expect the lawyers at Agruss Law Firm, LLC to take in your truck accident case include:
- Collecting and analyzing police reports
- Contacting witnesses and collecting witness statements
- Collecting medical documents and reports
- Obtaining photographs of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and injuries
- Hiring accident reconstruction experts
- Collecting data from truck “black boxes”, driver records, and video footage
- Meeting with physicians and medical experts and discussing the long-term effects of your injuries
- Communicating with the insurance companies and their representatives
Contact Us for A Free Review
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses. Contact Agruss Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation. We are an Illinois statewide-based injury law firm representing individuals (and their families) who have been injured in an accident. We will handle your case quickly and advise you every step of the way, and we will not hesitate to go to trial for you. Lastly, we are not paid attorneys’ fees unless we win your case. Our no-fee promise is that simple. There is no risk when you hire us – only the opportunity to seek justice.
Cities We Serve
In addition to the Chicago area, Agruss Law Firm, LLC also serves the following cities in Illinois:
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