Peterbilt, Mack, Kenworth, and Freightliner—for those who have traveled on Illinois’s roadways, these names are familiar. Primarily because when you look in your rearview mirror, you have seen them at least once. To learn more from an experienced truck accident attorney read on and find out your legal options if you were rear ended by a semi.
The Problem Persists on Our Roadways
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, 3.5 percent of overall crashes on Illinois roadways involved a truck during 2017, the most current statistics available. In total, more than 92,000 accidents were classified as rear end collisions. There is no data for how many of the rear end accidents involved trucks, but there is little doubt that at least some of them were; with more than 11 million registered vehicles statewide, the number of truck accidents is not surprising.
Rear End Truck Accident Causes
Every driver on the roadway has an obligation to ensure they are traveling safely, for their own protection as well as the protection of other drivers, pedestrians, and passengers. Operators of a truck on Illinois roadways have to not only be concerned about themselves and other drivers, but they also have to meet federal regulations pertaining only to operators of large trucks including maintenance procedures, hours they are allowed to drive, and regulations pertaining to prescription drug use.
Violations of these standards can lead to multiple types of truck accidents, which can be a result of:
- Faulty equipment – When a commercial truck has not been properly maintained there could be faulty or damaged brakes that can mean a higher incidence of rear end accidents.
- Driver distraction – A driver who is paying attention to their GPS, radio, or using their cell phone may not realize the driver in front of them has signaled their intention to turn.
- Driver fatigue – Truckers work long hours, often have deadlines to meet, and can be traveling on roadways that start looking all the same very easily. Fatigue is a very real problem and ignoring it can be a reason for a rear end accident.
In some cases, truckers can miss obvious signals that can signal trouble—for example, when the driver in front of them turns on a turn signal, slows down because they spot a potential hazard, or the driver has a sudden emergency such as a flat tire and tries to get out of the roadway.
Serious Injury Potential in Rear End Accidents
All accidents involving a truck have the potential of causing serious injury. However, a rear end collision often catches the victim completely off guard, which can result in traumatic injuries. Victims of a rear end collision often wind up with whiplash; the crash surprises them, and they are pushed forward quickly, causing soft tissue damage in the neck. Even a rear end crash where the truck is moving slowly can result in serious back injuries, paralysis in the spinal cord, head and brain injuries, and wrist and arm injuries. Victims often suffer disfiguring wounds to the face, because in some cases, the impact of the crash causes them to strike the steering wheel or windshield.
Although an accident victim may feel fine immediately after a rear end truck accident, you should consider having a medical professional perform an examination anyway. Because our body immediately responds to fear by flooding our system with adrenaline, injuries can be masked.
In addition to the immediate injuries, the real possibility exists where victims could suffer a secondary injury as a result of a rear end accident. For example, broken bones or a herniated disc could require surgery and the victim winds up with an infection. Unfortunately, in nearly all cases where a truck and car are involved in an accident, there is also a potential the victim could lose their life.
Calculating Damages After Rear End Accidents
Victims of a rear end truck accident often suffer serious financial losses. These may include time lost from work recovering from their injuries, the loss of the use of their vehicle, and medical costs that include pain medication, treatments, doctor visits, and in some cases, rehabilitation costs. These financial losses can weigh heavily on the victim’s mental health and on their family. Victims have a right to file a claim with the insurance agency representing the at-fault party and may also have the right to sue the responsible person should their insurance be insufficient.
Illinois statutes also allow for non-monetary damages to be collected by victims of personal injury. Some of the possible compensable damages include loss of consortium, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.
Drivers Are Not Always the Only at-Fault Party
Truck accidents are complicated because there are numerous factors to consider. For example, if you are struck from behind by a driver who had faulty brakes, the trucking company, driver, and repair company may also be partially liable. Drivers who are drowsy or distracted may not have been properly trained on the rules they must abide by which makes the driver and their employer liable for the accident.
When you are a victim of a rear end truck accident, or you have lost a loved one due to a rear end truck accident, before you contact the insurance company, contact an attorney who has experience with truck accidents. Contacting an Illinois truck accident attorney for a free consultation immediately following an accident is sensible, since you typically only have two years to file a personal injury claim due to the statute of limitations in Illinois. Your attorney can take over negotiations with an insurance company who may be denying your claim, or refusing to offer you a settlement that accurately reflects your losses.
Recovering from a rear end truck accident can be lengthy, expensive, and painful. Placing your case in the hands of a trusted and experienced personal injury attorney can help set you on the right path to a full and prompt recovery.