Whether you've been in an accident before or not, accidents involving trucks can be terrifying, dangerous, and deadly. They also tend to be extremely expensive, as large trucks are extremely expensive vehicles. There are many rules and regulations in place when it comes to CDL's, or commercial drivers licenses, the kind of licenses need to drive these large trucks. These extra tests and rules are to help prevent as many accidents as possible, but they do still happen.
If you have been involved in a trucking accident, it is important that you protect yourself as soon as possible. Whether the accident was your fault or not, these accidents tend to be extremely expensive and insurance companies want to avoid paying out as much as possible. That means that insurance companies will do whatever they can to push blame and those costs onto anyone else they can. The best way to protect yourself and your interests are with the help of a personal injury or truck accident attorney. At Chicago Car Accident Lawyers we do everything we can to protect our clients and their needs and interests.
What re the 3 Steps You Should Take Right After an Accident?
- Call Authorities: if you have been involved in an accident, the first thing you need to do is contact the police and EMS. It is imperative that you contact the police in order to have a police report of the accident, called an accident report, on file to be used for insurance reasons. You will also want to contact EMS too, at the very least, give you and the other people involved in the accident, a brief look over to make sure you don't have any hidden injuries.
- Contact Your Own Insurance: with your police report in hand, it's time to contact your insurance company. Even in cases when the accident is not your fault, your own insurance will often cover things like simple repairs, medical bills, and sometimes even the cost of a rental vehicle to replace your personal vehicle for as long as needed. Your insurance company normally does this under the assumption that the at-fault driver's insurance company will reimburse them during your settlement.
- Contact Your Attorney: Your final step should be to contact an auto accident attorney. Having an attorney on your side will not only guarantee that you will receive the settlement you deserve from the at-fault driver's insurance but also make sure that you follow all of the necessary steps to make sure you receive proper medical treatment as needed and that all of your expenses from the accident, from pain and suffering to loss of income, are all also included in your insurance claim.
These steps apply to all car accident situations, not just a truck accident claim. These steps will need to be tailored slightly to your particular situation. In trucking accidents, for example, you may be dealing with the trucking company's insurance, not your own or the at-fault driver's insurance. This is why having a personal injury law firm working for you is the best idea: because of the intimate knowledge they have of the legal system and of insurance companies, they will know the exact right steps for you to take, and catered to your exact situation.
Who is Responsible For Paying for the Accident?
In almost all car accidents, this is very simple: the insurance of the driver who caused the accident. Truck accidents, however, are very different. There are normally at least three insurance companies involved, adding one more for each victim of the accident. Those three insurance companies are the insurance companies of the trucking company, the truck driver, and the insurance of the other driver.
And because of how expensive truck accidents are, many times insurance with try to blame anything else for all or part of the accident, to try and avoid paying all of the costs and fees. This can mean blaming the weather, mechanics who worked on the trucks, bad driving by the truck driver or the car driver, etc.
There are cases in which both or neither drivers may be found at fault. In these cases, it can seem like there is nowhere to turn to for help, especially if you disagree with the no-fault or equal-fault ruling. Having an attorney on your side means knowing which insurance to file claims with, and making sure that you receive the settlement you need and deserve.
What Can I Include in My Insurance Settlement Claim?
Property damages and physical injury aren't the only things you can include in your insurance settlement claim. Any and all medical attention and treatment needed, mental and physical, can be included. This means your PTSD or depression claim is just as valid as a broken arm claim. You can also sue for lowered quality of life if you have become disabled, or for lost wages, if you missed work due to the accident.
This can be especially important for truck accident victims if you lost your job from an inability to work due to a long term or permanent injury. This doesn't just include the actual injury treatment, but also any physical therapy needed to help you recover.
Severe injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injuries resulting in a constant need for medical attention, tend to happen more often during accidents involving commercial trucks because these trucks have a tendency to crush anything in their way. This also means that many truck accidents are fatal truck accidents. If a loved one or family member was killed in a trucking accident, you may be able to make a wrongful death claim or sue for wrongful death.
If you feel as though the accident was due to extreme negligence on the part of the other driver, you can also ask for punitive damages. These are added fees, up to the discretion of the deciding party, awarded to victims when the at-fault driver showed a certain lack of concern for the life of those around them. This can apply during drug or alcohol-related DUI truck accidents, or if the at-fault driver was speeding dangerously.
What Do I Do if the Insurance Rejects My Claim or the Settlement is too Little?
You have two options if you are not offered a settlement or the settlement offered is too small: a lawsuit with the insurance company, or a lawsuit with the at-fault driver. If you so wish, you are able to sue both parties. If you choose to sue both the at-fault driver personally and the insurance company, winning one of those cases makes it easier and more likely to win the second lawsuit.
Suing the insurance companies is more likely to result in an actual settlement, as many times the at-fault driver will not have the actual funds to pay whatever settlement is ruled in your favor. On the other hand, however, it is also much harder and much more expensive to sue insurance companies, as they normally use very experienced and expensive attorneys to protect themselves in court.
Having the right truck accident lawyers on your side, however, will make sure that you are able to build a strong case and win what you deserve. Liable parties may avoid a settlement as long as they can, but the longer they drag out the case the more money the case normally ends up awarding, as your attorney fees are normally included in your settlement.
How Much Does an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Cost?
Trucking accident attorneys normally take payment after a settlement has been reached, through a percentage of the settlement you are awarded. Many times those suffering from truck accidents do not even have the money to care for themselves, definitely not to pay an attorney to help them. This is why personal injury attorneys and trucking accident lawyers sign contracts with their clients, taking payment as normally around 30-35% of the final settlement. If the case goes to trial, these fees normally increase to 35-40% of the final settlement.
This arrangement is also normally a guarantee from your attorney that they will be doing everything possible to raise your settlement and ensure that you are taken care of because if you do not receive a settlement, they do not get paid. The higher your settlement, the more they get paid, as well.
Call Us Today
Truck crashes happen every day in the United States, and in Illinois. Our Chicago Car Accident Lawyers know that many victims in these accidents need financial compensation to simply be able to survive. Passenger vehicles are no match for commercial vehicles, and semi-truck accidents often leave truck accident victims horribly injured and in need of extreme help.
During your initial consultation at CCAL we will help you figure out the likelihood of a possible settlement and realistic amounts that settlement might be, as well as walk you through the legal process of filing a claim or lawsuit. Call us today, and let us help you start on the road to healing.