Commercial truck accidents are among the most devastating accidents you could be involved in. When you are traveling by motorcycle, sedan, SUV, or other traditional vehicle and come into contact with these enormous big rigs, injuries are likely to be catastrophic.
If your life has been turned upside down by the trauma of a collision, do not hesitate to contact an experienced Illinois truck accident lawyer at Mike Agruss Law. You can meet with a personal injury attorney in Illinois from our firm today to learn more about how the claims process works, whether you have grounds for legal action, and how much compensation you could be awarded. Contact our office for a free consultation to get started.
Illinois Truck Accident Statistics
Here are some of the most important truck accident statistics from the Illinois Department of Transportation you should be aware of. They are related to the year of 2023 (as of July 10th).
- There has been a total of 539 fatal car accidents
- There has been a total of 590 fatalities
- 134 victims did not use seat belts properly or at all
- 92 accidents involved unlicensed drivers
- 100 accidents occurred on Interstates
- 200 accidents occurred on State US Routes
- 188 accidents occurred on city streets
Here is other data that includes the most recent information available from 2021:
- There were 54 fatalities involving semi trucks in 2021
- In 2021, there were more than 295,000 motor vehicle accidents
- Driving over the speed limit accounted for more than 30% of total collisions
- Semi-truck accidents accounted for nearly 9% of fatal car accidents and nearly 4% of total collisions
- Almost 84% of fatal truck accidents happened on dry roads
This is by no means an exhaustive list of truck accident data over the years. These are just a few quick statistics to keep in mind as you navigate the truck accident claims process.
You can expect the defense to utilize this data in an attempt to avoid financial liability for your damages. Your truck accident lawyer will work tirelessly to protect you from being taken advantage of and ensure you are compensated fairly for your damages.
What to Do When You’re Involved in a Truck Accident
In the aftermath of a collision with an 18-wheeler, it can be difficult to know what your next steps should be. Although you may be in shock or panicking, it is important to remain as calm as possible. These initial steps could have a dramatic impact on your ability to prove the defendant’s liability and negligence and the value of your personal injury claim.
Call EMTs and Police to the Scene
First and foremost, make sure you call emergency responders. Getting the police and emergency medical technician (EMTs) to the accident scene is essential. It is not uncommon for injury victims to use police crash reports and accident information to support their case against those responsible for causing their injuries. According to Illinois traffic accident laws and the Illinois State Police, you may be legally obligated to report the collision to law enforcement officials if there are serious bodily injuries or property damage.
Gather Valuable Evidence
While you are waiting for emergency responders to arrive, you should take steps to document the damages and begin collecting evidence that could be used to prove that someone else is responsible for causing your injuries. Some examples of the evidence you might gather after a truck accident include:
- The names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident
- A note or a journal entry that details how the accident happened
- Photos of your injuries
- Photos of the damage at the truck accident scene
- Photos of the trucking company’s logo
- The addresses or businesses nearby that could have caught the truck accident
- Dashcam footage of the collision
- Data from your vehicle event data recorder (EDR), if possible
- The license plate and insurance policy information of the other involved parties
If your injuries are so severe you cannot collect evidence at the accident scene, do not worry; your experienced truck accident attorney will be responsible for thoroughly investigating every detail of the case. For this reason, you may want to get started on your case as soon as possible.
That way, your personal injury lawyer can request and collect traffic cam data and other video surveillance footage of the accident that may be overwritten or deleted in a matter of days.
Get Medical Attention ASAP
It is crucial that you get medical help as soon as possible after the truck accident. There may be adrenaline coursing through your body at the time that prevents you from feeling the full extent of your injuries. You may be dealing with catastrophic internal injuries that you do not notice until your body relaxes.
Internal injuries can be fatal if left untreated. Furthermore, if you do not get medical help right away, you can expect the defendant to argue that your injuries were not as severe as you are claiming. You can protect yourself from such allegations by getting medical help as soon as possible after the accident. You can visit a local emergency room, your primary care doctor, or even an urgent care facility, as long as you start documenting your injuries immediately after the crash.
Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer in Illinois
Once you are clear, or if you have the time to do so at the scene of your truck accident, contact our Illinois truck accident lawyers. An attorney will collect evidence that could be used to prove the defendant’s negligence and liability for your damages.
While you focus on your physical and occupational therapy and move forward with your life, your attorney will start negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance company, and prepare to bring your truck accident case to trial if necessary. Our goal is to ease your burden so you do not need to deal with unnecessary worries and anxiety.
Most Common Types and Causes of Truck Accidents
Your truck accident attorney must carefully review the type of truck accident you were involved in so they can determine its cause and identify those responsible.
Common Types of Truck Accidents
Accidents involving commercial trucks have various causes. Some of the most common types of collisions we see at Mike Agruss Law include:
- Distracted driving truck accidents
- Jackknife accidents
- Highway accidents
- Blindspot accidents
- Underride accidents
- Drunk or drugged driving accidents
- Accidents caused by drowsy driving
- Head-on collisions
- Rear-end collisions
- Multi-vehicle accidents
- Road rage accidents
- Accidents caused by unlawful turns or improper use of a turn signal
- Failure to yield accidents
The injuries these accidents can cause could have a catastrophic impact on the victims’ lives. It should be noted that the type of injury your physician diagnoses you with is not what determines whether you have grounds for a truck accident injury claim. Someone else must be responsible for causing your injuries, and your injuries or the accident must’ve had a substantial impact on your life.
With that in mind, there are certain types of truck accident injuries we see more often than others. Examples of these injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Facial trauma
- Dental injuries
- Third-degree burns
- Soft tissue injuries
- Neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken and fractured bones
- Second impact syndrome
- Penetrating brain injuries
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Lacerations that lead to sepsis
- Abrasions or contusions
Common Causes of Commercial Truck Wrecks
One of your truck accident lawyer’s top priorities will be to figure out what caused your truck accident. The individual or entity responsible for causing the collision will be ordered to compensate you for your damages. Do not be surprised if multiple parties share fault for the injuries you sustained.
For example, if a commercial truck driver was drunk when he crashed into you, and they were sold alcohol by a local dram shop, the dram shop may also share liability if they knew the trucker was already impaired. In addition to claims against negligent truck drivers for irresponsible or unsafe driving, you may also have the right to pursue claims against any of the following:
- Cargo loaders who improperly loaded the semi-truck
- The trucking company that makes workers violate work-hour regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
- Trucking companies that failed to make necessary safety repairs to the big rig
- Safety inspectors who shirk their duties or misrepresent the details of a safety inspection
- Mechanics who make mistakes when repairing tractor-trailers
- Government agencies responsible for road maintenance and safety
These are only a few parties who could be partially responsible for the injuries you sustained. You can rely on your Illinois truck accident attorney’s in-depth investigation to find anyone who may share the blame for your damages.
How to Determine Who is At Fault
As previously mentioned, figuring out who is responsible for causing your semi-truck accident is crucial. Your Illinois truck accident lawyer will thoroughly investigate the accident and gather valuable evidence to prove the defendant’s negligence. The burden of proof in civil claims is based on a preponderance of evidence, so the evidence they collect against the liable party is essential.
Some of the most potent types of evidence we use to prove fault in a truck accident case include:
- The truck driver’s driving history
- The trucking company’s employment records
- The trucker’s chemical blood alcohol test results
- Safety inspection logs
- Data from the truck’s black box
- Copies of your medical records
- Photos of your injuries
- Video surveillance of the collision
- Witness statements and testimony
- Police reports
- Maintenance records
- Reports from trucking accident reconstructionists and experts
- Testimony from your family and friends
How to Pursue Truck Accident Cases
Immediately after commercial accidents, you may not be sure what your next steps should be or how to take action against the liable party. Also, you may not know exactly who is at fault yet. For this reason, hiring a reputable and experienced personal injury attorney is always in your best interests.
Every person’s case is different, but the claims process generally unfolds the same:
- You start by hiring a semi-truck accident lawyer to take your case
- Your attorney conducts a thorough investigation to identify the cause of the accident, gather valuable evidence, and determine which parties are responsible for the injuries you suffered
- Once we know who is responsible, we determine whether we will file an insurance claim or go to trial
- If the liable party has insurance coverage, and they likely will, under Illinois Revised Statute Code 625 ILCS 5/7-601(a), you may have the right to file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance provider
- If the insurance company does not settle your claim fairly, or your insurance settlement does not adequately cover your damages, your personal injury lawyer will be ready to move forward with a truck accident lawsuit
How Truck Accident Insurance Claims Work in Illinois
Illinois is a fault state for insurance purposes, which means the liable party is obligated to cover the victim’s damages after an accident. When you file a claim with the insurance company, you may initially expect to be compensated for every loss. However, this is not typically the case.
First, insurance only covers specific types of damages. For example, when you have bodily injury liability coverage, this is specifically designed to cover medical expenses. Property damage liability coverage covers damage to your personal property or vehicle.
However, insurance rarely, if ever, offers compensation for any type of noneconomic loss or damages that do not have a tangible financial value. This means it is nearly impossible to receive a settlement from the insurance company that covers your damages in full.
Another issue you might encounter when negotiating with the insurance company is that they do not prioritize your needs. The insurance company does not care about the trauma you went through; they care about protecting their financial losses. For this reason, getting an attorney involved from the start may be in your best interests. This way, you can protect yourself from being taken advantage of and show the insurance company that you are not going to back down without a fight.
Compensation for Illinois Truck Accident Victims
You are entitled to compensation for every way your life has been affected after a commercial truck accident. There is no reason you should have to cover the cost or be stuck dealing with permanent disabilities caused by someone else’s negligence.
Recovering maximum compensation is crucial if you hope to get through this trying time without falling into financial ruin. To ensure you are repaid for every loss, your attorney will categorize your damages as economic or non-economic.
Economic damages include every financially-based loss you experience after your commercial truck accident. The value of your economic damages is easier to calculate because they have set financial values that can be proven with financial records, statements, receipts, and other documentation.
Some of the most common types of economic damages after a collision with a semi-truck include:
- Occupational therapy fees
- Physical therapy costs
- Prescription medications
- Medical devices
- Medical equipment
- Ongoing medical treatment
- The cost of mental health counseling
- Diagnostic testing expenses
- Future medical treatment
- Home accommodations
- The cost of hiring a home healthcare provider
- Other medical bills
- Loss of income
- Loss of employer-provided health insurance coverage and other employee benefits
- Loss of future potential earnings
- The cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle
- Rental car expenses
- Increases to your insurance premiums
- Damage to your credit score or report
- The diminished value of your vehicle
Non-economic images are different. They do not have a set financial value and can influence every truck accident victim’s life differently. However, since non-economic damages are so impactful, it is crucial that your attorney accounts for them. Some examples of non-economic damages after a tractor-trailer crash include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Diminished quality of life
- Unexpected childcare needs
- Loss of household support
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Disfiguring scars
- Permanent or temporary disability
- Shock and fear
- Apprehension and anticipation
- Reputational damages
Illinois Truck Accidents FAQ
We understand how overwhelmed and intimidated you must be feeling during this challenging time in your life. We know you have many unanswered questions that deserve answers. For this reason, we have addressed some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding Illinois truck accident claims below.
If you have additional questions we do not cover here, do not hesitate to contact our personal injury lawyers to discuss the specific circumstances of your case in further detail.
Will I have to go to court?
It is difficult to say whether your truck accident case will need to go to trial. Many injury victims can avoid going to court by negotiating with the insurance company or the liable party outside of court. However, insurance settlements are often not enough to fully cover a victim’s needs.
When the insurance company does not compensate you for every loss, one of the only ways to recover the funds you are entitled to is by filing a civil lawsuit against the trucking company. However, if the insurance company is willing to settle your claim reasonably, you could avoid going to trial. It may be in your best interest to prepare for the possibility of going to trial either way. That way, if you need to go to court, you will be prepared.
How long do I have to file a truck accident lawsuit in Illinois?
Although filing a lawsuit and going to trial may be the last thing on your mind, the sooner you get started on your claim, the better. Illinois has a strict two-year statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits, as stated by 735 Illinois Compiled Statutes section 5/13-202. If your lawsuit is not filed before this deadline, you lose the right to pursue compensation in court.
For many truck accident victims, two years can seem like more than enough time to take action. However, you might be shocked at how quickly time passes after a devastating event. The sooner you get started, the less likely you will lose your chance to pursue the compensation you deserve. However, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations.
For example, suppose your minor child suffered catastrophic injuries in a big rig collision. In that case, you may have the right to file a claim on their behalf or allow the statute of limitations to be temporarily paused until your child reaches the age of 18.
You may also have until two years from the discovery date to file your claim. This deadline occurs two years from the date you knew or should have known about your commercial truck accident-related injuries. If you are unsure of how much longer you have to file your claim, do not hesitate to contact our truck accident attorneys to discuss the specific details of your case and to protect your right to maximum compensation.
What happens if you are accused of sharing fault?
Being accused of sharing fault is one of the most devastating things that can happen after being involved in a collision with a semi-truck. Unfortunately, this tactic is commonly used by liable parties as Illinois is a modified comparative negligence state.
Under Illinois 735 ILCS 5/2-1116, sharing liability for the accident will not prevent you from getting compensation unless your portion of the fault is greater than 50%. when you share liability for your severe injuries, your settlement can be reduced proportionally.
For example, if you were not wearing your seatbelt at the time of the accident and the jury finds that you are 22% responsible for the semi-truck injuries you suffered. Since you share liability for the motor vehicle accident, your settlement can be reduced in proportion to your percentage of culpability.
If the jury awarded you $375,000 for your damages, you could expect your settlement to be reduced by 22%. This means your truck crash settlement would reflect a Shared Fault deduction of 22%. This would amount to $82,500 or a total truck accident settlement of $292,500.
If you still have questions or concerns about how much your injury settlement could be affected by sharing liability, be sure to discuss your concerns with your truck accident injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Get Help From a Truck Accident Lawyer in Illinois Today
An experienced truck accident lawyer at Mike Agruss Law is here to help you get justice after suffering debilitating injuries in a collision with a tractor-trailer. The claims process can be overwhelming, but if you have a respected legal advocate fighting for your rights, you can heal while we handle the legalities of your personal injury lawsuit and insurance claims. Take back control of your life when you contact our team for a free, no-obligation consultation. Fill out our quick contact form or call us to get started.