Truck accidents can have many outcomes, including severe injuries and death. Victims of truck accident injuries are often confused and devastated. You may have lots of questions like ‘What damages can I collect for a truck accident?’ or ‘Do I need an accident lawyer?’ After sustaining injuries in a truck accident, to recover the money to deal with medical expenses, income loss, physical rehabilitation, you require an experienced and dedicated truck accident lawyer to help you recover fair compensation.
At CCAL, we have decades of experience handling a wide range of personal injury cases, caused by truck accidents. We understand the complex state and federal regulations under which large trucks must operate. Contact us today at (312) 300-2515 or chat with us online for a free consultation.
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Who Is at Fault in a Truck Accident?
To recover damages in an Illinois truck accident, you must show that some other party caused the accident in which you sustained injuries i.e., some other party was negligent.
Sometimes, proving who’s at fault in an accident is fairly easy. Here are some scenarios where liability is fairly easy to prove:
- A vehicle hit you from behind (the rear vehicle in a rear-end crash is always at fault)
- A driver violated some traffic rules, such as driving while under the influence or failing to stop at a stop signal, and received a citation for it.
Other times, it’s hard to prove liability. Your truck accident lawyer or your insurance company will need to investigate the accident and gather solid evidence to prove that someone else was at fault. To do this, your Chicago personal injury attorney will:
- Depose the other driver
- Identify and depose the witnesses
- Get security footage
- Hire an independent investigator to investigate the accident
- Examine police reports.
Also, your accident lawyer will investigate all the possible at-fault parties. Apart from the driver, other parties that might be at fault for a truck accident include:
- The trucking company. The trucking company may be at fault fully or partially to blame for the accident if, for instance, they violated any federal or state laws, such as asking their truck drivers to drive more hours than permitted by the law.
- The cargo company. One of the common causes of truck accidents is overloading or improperly overloaded cargo. In these scenarios, the cargo company may be liable.
- The manufacturer. Often, truck accidents are caused by defective vehicles, such as improperly designed trailer hitch that causes the trailer to loosen. In these cases, the manufacturer of the defective part may be at fault.
In Illinois, the respondeat superior, a legal theory, can hold a company responsible for a truck accident caused by its truck driver employee. According to this legal theory, the employer is responsible for the actions of its employee, so long as the actions were:
- Unintentional; and
- Committed within the employment terms and in furtherance of the employer’s business.
Shared Liability Laws
Sometimes, both the truck driver or any other party associated with the truck, and the motorist involved in the accident are liable. What happens then?
Illinois follows the modified comparative fault theory, which states that the number of damages a plaintiff can recover is reduced by a percentage that reflects their degree of fault. However, if the plaintiff’s degree of fault is over 50%, then they can’t recover any damages.
What Damages are Victims of Truck Accidents Entitled to?
Commercial truck drivers must carry general liability insurance, which covers all bodily injuries, personal injury, and property damage in an accident where the truck driver is at fault. General liability insurance also covers damages in accidents caused by the negligence of the trucking company or the truck’s manufacturer. This makes sure victims of truck accidents can recover the maximum amount for their damages including non-economic and economic damages. In some cases, punitive damages may be recovered as well.
With a solid truck accident claim, you can recover the following types of compensation, but the amount varies from case to case:
- Medical expenses. If you have suffered bodily injuries following a truck accident, you’re entitled to any expenses related to doctor visits, medication, required medical devices, and other medical bills and expenses caused by the truck driver’s negligence.
- Lost income. If you have missed work, lost your job, or have lost other types of income because of the truck accident, you could recover compensation for lost wages.
- Pain and suffering. You may recover damages related to physical therapy, psychiatry services, and other emotional and mental trauma caused by the truck accident.
- Property damages. You may recover damages for any damage to your vehicle or personal property during the truck crash, as well as any money you may have spent to repair the damage.
Although many truck accident victims can expect to receive some portion of the above damages, the amount that your truck accident claim is worth depends on many factors. Common factors include how long you took to file your lawsuit, whether the other party is solely at fault, the total cost of medical expenses, the severity of your injuries, and whether a truck accident lawyer in Illinois is representing your case.
Truck Accident Statistics in Illinois and Nationally
The Federal Highway Administration reports that in 2018, 4,136 people died in large truck accidents. The number of people who died in truck accidents was 31% higher in 2018 than in 2009.
In Illinois, there were 13,071 accidents involving large trucks in 2018. Sadly, nearly 10% of those accidents led to fatalities and 2,235 people suffered bodily injuries. Illinois is one of the top 10 states in the average of fatal truck accidents each year.
According to a report by the Illinois Department of Transportation, in 2018:
- More injuries and fatalities happened on rural roads than urban roads.
- Only 19 tractor-trailer occupants were killed; 86 other vehicle occupants, 14 pedestrians, and 12 pedal cyclists were killed in truck accidents.
- The number of fatal truck accidents increased by 10.4% from 2017 to 2018.
How Long Does a Truck Accident Claim Take to Settle?
It’s impossible to predict exactly how long it will take to settle a truck accident claim. These types of claims take longer than other accident claims. Because semi-trailers, tractor-trailers, and other trucks are very large and are often commercial vehicles, settling truck accident claims involving these vehicles is more complicated than usual.
Often, an insurance company may offer a settlement shortly after a truck accident, but it’s not in your best interests to accept that first offer because you may deserve more compensation than the initial offer. It’s worth it to wait for a full investigation and medical examination before you negotiate for compensation for your truck accident claim.
Settling a claim following a truck accident takes longer because of many reasons, including that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) needs a thorough investigation for major truck accidents. Other factors that may delay a truck accident settlement include:
- Liability investigation. The investigation into who is to blame for a truck accident often takes much longer than a typical car accident because of the nature of the accident. Before settling a truck accident claim, investigators have to determine:
- If the truck driver violated any rules and regulations.
- If any other drivers are at fault or are also at fault for the crash.
- If the trucking company serviced its vehicle properly.
- If the trucking company violated any rules and regulations.
- If any other parties are liable, such as a deficient mechanic or a bartender who may have over-served the truck driver.
- The severity of the crash. Often, trucks cause accidents with severe consequences because of their massive size. The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the size and weight of different types of trucks to maintain safety on the roads. Truck accidents are often more destructive, resulting in massive vehicle damage, more severe bodily injuries, and even death. The increase in severity leads to more facets that need to be investigated and documented.
- Insurance coverage. Interstate semi-trucks and tractor-trailers must carry insurance coverage, and FMCSA has strict requirements for truck insurance. There are varying insurance coverages that cover the trailer, truck’s cab, and the load the truck carries.
- Medical treatment. If you or a loved one has sustained injuries following a truck accident, the need for medical treatment can influence how long it takes to settle a truck accident claim. It’s in your best interest to wait before accepting any settlement until you have recovered fully. This will allow you to know the full extent of your medical bills. For instance, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), whiplash may manifest weeks after the accident. Settling your claim before your medical treatment is over can lead to high medical expenses that aren’t covered in the settlement.
- Settlement negotiation. Finally, the negotiation process can delay the settlement of a truck accident claim. The above factors of the severity of the accident, liability investigation, medical treatment, insurance coverage, and even other factors can enter into the negotiation process and delay the settlement of truck accident claims. It may take several rounds before you get an offer that includes fair compensation for all your expenses and losses, including pain and suffering.
Contact a Chicago Truck Accident Attorney at CCAL Today!
Hiring an experienced truck accident lawyer can help you through the complicated process of truck accident investigation and settlement negotiation. An attorney can gather evidence, determine recoverable damages, and communicate with all involved parties so you can focus on recovering after the accident.
Although we can’t tell you exactly how long it will take to settle your truck accident claim, you don’t have to go through this complex process alone. The team of experienced and dedicated accident lawyers at CCAL can help you identify the recoverable damages you may be entitled to and negotiate with insurers on your behalf to help you get fair compensation.
Call us today at (312) 300-2515, or chat with us online for a free consultation with an experienced Chicago truck accident lawyer. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you will pay us only if we win you money. Don’t wait! Call us today!