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Truck Accidents That Involve Drivers Under the Influence

Dave Abels Lawyer
Truck Accident Lawyer, Dave Abels

Across the United States, truck drivers spend long hours on the road and away from their families. Spending all day on the road can raise stress levels considerably, adding to the sense of loneliness or regret when missing life events at home. Truck drivers, to alleviate that loneliness, may turn to drinking. Around the world, as many as 91 percent of truck drivers admit to abusing alcohol on the job.

When drug tested, a study found that 12.5 percent of American truck drivers tested positive for alcohol. Unsurprisingly, those truck drivers may have a substantially higher accident risk than their sober counterparts. If you suffered injuries in a drunk driving accident with a truck driver, contact a truck accident lawyer.

How Alcohol Increases Accident Risk

Every year, more than 10,000 people die and thousands more suffer severe injuries as a result of accidents related to drinking and driving. Even a seemingly low blood alcohol content can impact a truck driver’s ability to drive safely, inhibiting decision-making skills and leading to poor choices on the road.

As alcohol use increases, driving use can decrease along with it. Drunk drivers may:

  • Experience severe loss of motor control. Many drunk drivers, especially truck drivers, struggle with the motor skills needed to successfully navigate on the road.
  • Suffer decreased reaction time. Drinking and driving can slow reactions substantially. As blood alcohol content increases, truck drivers may struggle to control their vehicles, especially as they need to respond to the actions of other drivers on the road.
  • Impaired decision-making skills. Drunk drivers have a higher likelihood of speeding, running red lights, or failing to follow other traffic rules. They may also experience an increased likelihood of road rage.
  • Narrowed field of vision. After consuming high quantities of alcohol, the driver’s eyes may not focus as effectively. Poor focus can make it harder to judge the road and other vehicles on it.

Drinking on a regular basis can create a false sense of security, especially for truckers who regularly drink and drive. Over time, the trucker may grow overconfident, increasing alcohol consumption without regard for how it impacts his or her ability to safely navigate on the road. For truck drivers, who drive extremely large vehicles that require more coordination and skill to maneuver, this may substantially increase accident risk and the severity of the injuries associated with those accidents.

Common Injuries from Drunk Truck Driver Accidents

Drunk truck drivers plus large vehicles amount to a dangerous combination on the road. Not only can drunk truck drivers face more challenges navigating the road safely, but also big trucks often cause more serious injuries when involved in an accident.

Injuries may include:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Burns, including chemical burns from tanker truck cargo and friction burns
  • Amputations
  • Broken bones
  • Internal injuries
  • Soft tissue damage

Filing a Claim After a Drunk Truck Driver Accident

Serious injuries after an accident with a drunk truck driver can leave you with heavy financial burdens. Filing a personal injury claim can help you seek compensation for those injuries.

Who bears legal liability for an accident with a drunk truck driver?

Typically, in a drunk driving accident, including one involving a truck, the drunk driver and trucking company bears liability for the accident. Drunk drivers may also face serious criminal penalties in addition to the civil damages that they may end up owing any victims. In some cases, however, factors other than driver error can contribute to drunk driving accidents, changing the balance of liability.

Consider the following:

  • Mechanical failures that caused or contributed to the accident
  • Improperly-loaded cargo
  • A trucking company that required the driver to drive in spite of inebriation or had other unrealistic requirements for the driver

Consult with an attorney if you believe other factors may have contributed to your drunk truck driver accident. An attorney can help you identify all parties who bear liability for your accident and, therefore, help maximize the compensation you may receive for your injuries. Keep in mind, however, that each case turns on its specific circumstances, and no one can guarantee you a favorable result in your case.

How much compensation should I expect from a drunk truck driver accident?

Your compensation after a drunk truck driver accident will vary. Truck drivers and trucking companies usually carry substantial insurance coverage to help protect accident victims.

Most people, when filing a personal injury claim after a truck driving accident, include the following:

  • All medical expenses related to injuries sustained in the accident, including emergency treatment, ongoing medical care, therapy, and the cost of durable medical equipment
  • Payment for wages lost due to the accident, including time hospitalized or unable to work during recovery
  • Lost earning potential if your injuries permanently prevent you from returning to work
  • Compensation for pain and suffering resulting from the accident

Consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer before pursuing compensation for your drunk truck driver accident. An attorney can help provide you with a full breakdown of the compensation you should expect for your injuries.

Should I accept the insurance company’s settlement offer?

Some insurance companies may contact you shortly after you suffer injuries in an accident with one of the drivers the company covers, especially if the driver showed signs of inebriation at the time of the accident. Do not accept this offer without consulting an attorney first. Often, insurance companies will attempt to minimize the compensation that they offer, especially in the early days after an accident. Instead, consult with an attorney to learn what compensation you should expect, including when to accept an offer.

Do You Need an Attorney After a Drunk Driving Accident with a Truck?

Yes. You will need legal assistance to help you seek the compensation you deserve after an accident with a drunk truck driver. An experienced personal injury attorney can provide valuable legal advice, help you understand the compensation you deserve after an accident, and fight for you if your claim needs to go to court.

Abels & Annes, P.C.
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 924-7575

How to Preserve Evidence for a Truck Accident Claim

Dave Abels Lawyer
Truck Accident Lawyer, Dave Abels

When you are involved in an accident, everything happens very quickly at the scene of the accident, and important evidence can be lost.

While your first step should be to ensure the safety of you and your passengers, there are some important steps that you can take at the scene of the accident, and following the accident, to ensure the preservation of important evidence if you file a truck accident claim in the future.

Preserving Evidence Matters With Truck Accidents

More than 10 percent of roadway accidents in Illinois involve a tractor-trailer, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. These scenes are often chaotic and may involve more than two vehicles. Because it is initially difficult to determine who caused an accident, preservation of evidence matters. Once you feel confident that you’re in a safe place following your accident, you should start to take proactive steps to prevent the destruction of evidence.

While at the scene of the accident, you should:

  • Photograph the scene. Photographing the scene of the accident is important. Taking photos of signage near the scene, the vehicles involved in the accident, and the location of the accident may prove useful later.
  • Obtain contact information. You should obtain contact information from all drivers, passengers, and witnesses to the accident. Additionally, you should request information regarding the truck driver’s employer.
  • Accurate police report. An accurate report to police is a crucial step in the preservation of evidence at the scene. Do not accept blame for the accident. Use caution answering questions, providing only facts, not opinions.
  • Seek medical attention. As quickly as possible, seek medical attention if needed. Whether you are transported via ambulance, or you take yourself, see a doctor immediately and let him or her know about any pain or discomfort. Make sure it is documented by the medical professionals that you have been involved in a truck accident.

Preserving Non-Scene Evidence

After you seek medical care, you need to take additional steps to ensure that there is no evidence destroyed or altered before a truck accident claim. Keep in mind, while a trucking company has records preservation rules, some may get destroyed before you have to file a claim within the Illinois statutes of limitations.

Here are some things that need to be done after the fact to ensure the preservation of evidence following a truck accident:

  • Contact a truck accident attorney. Because of the complexity of truck accidents, you need to seek legal help. An experienced Chicago truck accident lawyer can help. The attorney will ask you questions pertaining to the accident, help you determine what steps you need to take, and make sure that you understand your rights. Your attorney may also recommend the submission of a spoliation letter. This letter can preserve information found in the black box of a truck that may otherwise be overwritten within 30 days of the accident, as well as other important information. Destruction of this evidence could harm your accident claim.
  • Notify insurance carriers. Your lawyer will file an insurance claim shortly after your accident to provide a written notice of a claim.
  • Documenting your health. Oftentimes, victims of truck accidents think that after their initial medical care, it is no longer important to do anything to preserve information about their health. This is not accurate; you should create a written record of your day-to-day challenges with your health, including pain levels, the time you spend running back and forth to doctors and physical therapists, and any additional information that may substantiate your final truck accident claim.

Fault and Truck Accident Claims

Driver fatigue, improper maintenance, and poor training are some of the issues that may cause a truck accident. When you retain an experienced Chicago truck accident attorney, he or she may need to launch a thorough investigation to find out the root cause of your truck accident. The investigatory process can be complicated, as it may involve numerous entities, including the police, insurance company, trucking company, and the driver of the truck.

If there is a catastrophic injury or death, a thorough investigation of the accident scene, information obtained from trucking logs, and data found on the truck’s black box will all be reviewed and analyzed to establish the facts of the accident. Such evidence will help your truck accident lawyer determine if the accident is the fault of the driver, both the driver and his or her employer, or other third parties.

Working With a Truck Accident Lawyer

After the accident you should avoid speaking directly with the insurance company. Instead, you should direct all insurance representative inquiries to your legal representative. This is important because the insurance company may reach out to you and try to obtain a recorded statement or reach an early settlement. Keep in mind, the earlier the offer, the more likely the settlement will be a small amount meant to avoid paying a larger claim. Depending on what the driver of the truck was transporting, Illinois, as well as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), have strict requirements for truck driver liability policies.

One of the reasons that it is important to avoid speaking with the insurance adjuster is his or her training. Keep in mind, insurance adjusters do not work for victims of a truck accident. Their role is to ensure that insurance companies pay as little as possible toward any claims. The less paid in claims, the lower the trucker’s insurance rates stay, and the higher the profit of the insurance company. Keep in mind, if the insurance company asks you to sign any documents, avoid doing so because it may constitute a waiver of your rights to file a claim later in the process.

You need to focus on your physical recovery following a truck accident. You likely also have several questions pertaining to what rights you have, what steps you should consider taking, and how the claims process works. The best thing you can do for yourself is to make sure you contact an experienced truck accident attorney, and ensure the preservation of evidence that may prove vital during the claim process.

Abels & Annes, P.C.
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 924-7575

How Much Money Can a Passenger in a Car Accident Recover?

Gary Annes Lawyer
Car Accident Lawyer, Gary Annes

Depending on who is at fault in an accident, you might be reluctant to sue, particularly if you were a passenger in the car of a friend or family member who caused the accident. If you get into an accident while riding in a car with a friend or relative (other than a household member), you can sue to recover damages for your injuries.

Your friend or relative does not pay for your injuries and losses if they were at fault; rather, his or her insurance company pays. Even if you have to go to court because the insurance company denies your claim or offers an inadequate settlement amount, your friend or relative is not likely to pay out of pocket.

Illinois Accident Statistics for Passengers

Of the 311,679 accidents in Illinois in 2017, 93,517 people sustained injuries, and 12,003 people suffered incapacitating injuries. Of this number, 1,090 suffered fatal injuries, of which 213 were passengers in motor vehicles. 23,840 passengers sustained injuries, while 61,514 drivers suffered from injuries in an accident. Of the passengers who suffered injuries, 2,703 suffered incapacitating injuries.

Potential Injuries

As a passenger, you could suffer from severe injuries in a car accident. Vehicles contain several airbags to hopefully protect passengers, including:

  • A front passenger airbag in the dashboard
  • Driver and front passenger knee airbags
  • Seat-mounted and roof-mounted airbags in the front and rear for the outboard passenger seats

Even with airbags, you could suffer from injuries, including injuries from defective airbags i. Injuries may include:

  • Death
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord and back injuries
  • Internal injuries
  • Head, neck, and shoulder injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Simple and compound fractures
  • Sprains, strains, pulled muscles, and other soft tissue injuries
  • Bumps, bruises, cuts, and scrapes

Any open cut has the risk of becoming infected, especially if you have underlying conditions, such as diabetes and autoimmune disease, or if you are on medications, such as chemotherapy, that lower your white blood cell count. In some cases, you might require surgery to repair internal injuries or a compound fracture; the open wounds from surgery may also become infected. Always notify the medical staff and your attorney if you have issues that may require additional medical care.

Time Limits

In most cases, you have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, if a passenger is under 18 years of age, he or she has two years after his or her 18th birthday to file the lawsuit. If the claim is only for property damage, then you have five years under Illinois’ statute of limitations to file. Please note are some one year statutes of limitations for certain defendants, like a municipality, so it is better to consult with an accident lawyer as soon as you can after a collision.

However, some insurance companies attempt to require that you file an uninsured or underinsured claim much sooner than that. The time frame available depends on the insurance company’s policy, so it is advisable to file a claim within a few days of the accident. If you contact your own insurance company, tell the representative that you were in an accident and give the representative the other party’s contact and policy information, as well as your attorney’s contact information. However, it is always recommended that you let your lawyer contact the insurance carriers.

Because insurance companies look for any reason to deny a claim or to offer the least amount of compensation possible, let your attorney talk to the adjuster regarding the particulars of the case. Otherwise, the insurance company will try to twist your words to lay the fault on you. Should you decide to take your case to court, the insurance company may also attempt to use your words to sway the jury.

Recovering Damages

If you are riding in a vehicle that caused an accident, your lawyer will contact that driver’s insurance company to make a claim. If the driver is a spouse or another family member of your household, in Illinois you still can sue the driver’s insurance company. The same applies if another friend or relative is driving, you can sue the driver’s insurance company.

If someone else caused the accident, your lawyer will contact that driver’s insurance company. Furthermore, if more than one driver is at fault, including the driver of the vehicle you are riding in, you may file claims with the insurance companies of all at-fault drivers.

Passengers can recover the same damages as a driver that suffers injuries in a car wreck, including special, general, and punitive damages, which are discussed in more detail below.

Special Damages

Economic damages, also known as special damages, involve expenses that an injured individual has had to pay out-of-pocket, including:

  • Past medical expenses incurred as a result of the accident
  • Future medical expenses for follow-up appointments and additional surgeries
  • Past and future therapy expenses for physical therapy, cognitive therapy, and/or psychological therapy
  • Past lost wages for the time you missed from work because of your initial injuries
  • Future lost wages for the time you will miss from work because of the injuries, surgeries, or long-term or permanent injuries
  • Replacement or repair of personal property
  • Burial and funeral expenses

General Damages

Non-economic damages, also known as general damages, are those that do not have a price tag, including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of use of a body part or function
  • Disfigurement

Punitive Damages

Courts order general and special damages in an attempt to make injured individuals whole again. Punitive damages are not intended to make such individuals whole again, but rather to punish a defendant’s grossly negligent or intentional behavior if that behavior caused your injuries. A jury might find the defendant grossly negligent if he or she was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, texting while driving or, in some cases, speeding excessively.

If you, as a passenger, suffered injuries because of a motor vehicle accident, a free consultation with a car accident lawyer can answer your questions and help you decide whether you have a good case.

Abels & Annes, P.C.
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 924-7575

How Long Will I Feel Sore After a Car Accident?

Gary Annes Lawyer
Car Accident Lawyer, Gary Annes

If you were in a car accident in the last few days, weeks, or months, it’s not unlikely that you still feel sore. Many different people will give you many different answers concerning how long you should be sore, ranging from a few weeks to several months or even years. However, no single timeline or rule can predict how long you will experience soreness, and you may feel sore for longer than you think you should after a car accident. In fact, many different factors, especially the type of injuries you’ve suffered, can impact the length of time that you feel sore after a car accident.

This guide provides information from our experience as lawyers about the types of car accident injuries that cause soreness and factors that impact the length of time you will feel sore. The information below does not constitute medical advice. If you are struggling with continued soreness after a car accident, you need to share your pain and discomfort with your doctor to ensure it’s documented in your medical record.

Car Accident Injuries That Commonly Cause Soreness

The force of impact from a car accident can cause many types of injuries to a driver or occupant. In some cases, soreness is a direct response to the injury, and in other cases, soreness can be a symptom of a specific type of injury. Below we provide an overview of some of the most common culprits of soreness after a car accident.

Neck and Back Injuries

Many car accident victims experience some level whiplash during an accident. You might already know that whiplash is a neck injury, but it specifically refers to soft tissue damage in the neck that occurs when the muscles and ligaments around the neck go beyond their normal range of motion from the impact of a car crash. Individuals who suffer whiplash typically experience soreness in their necks and sometimes shoulders. In mild cases, pain can subside rather quickly. However, in severe cases, pain may last for months and sometimes becomes chronic, drastically reducing a person’s quality of life when the pain interferes with their job and day-to-day activities.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Research shows that about one in five people who suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) doesn’t completely recover and thus experiences chronic pain. Car accidents can lead to mild TBIs, more commonly called concussions, or severe TBIs. Even mild concussions, however, can cause symptoms for years.

The exact location of the pain and the extent of pain depends on what part of the brain was injured, but chronic headaches and soreness in the neck are the most common types of pain that TBI patients experience.

If you experience increased pain in your neck or headaches that don’t subside, see a physician immediately.

Back Injuries

Car accidents can lead to a wide range of disc-related back injuries. Once again, depending on the severity and type of injury, you may feel sore for weeks, months, or years. Bulged or herniated discs can cause soreness at the site of the injury and all around, which likely will not subside without corrective surgery. Even surgery doesn’t always eliminate soreness in the back for car accident victims. Sometimes, back injuries can result in pinched nerves, too. A severely pinched nerve can cause sharp pain, but mildly pinched nerves can cause a general soreness in the area of the injury.


If you broke one or more bones in a car accident, you may need surgery or you may just need to wear a cast or splint while the bones heal. You may experience pain during this time, which can last for months, but you might also have some residual pain after doctors remove your cast. In other situations, soreness in a specific area may be a symptom of an undetected break or hairline fracture. Severe fractures, especially compound fractures, sometimes don’t heal perfectly. This can leave car accident victims to struggle with soreness from arthritis near the site of injury for years after the injury.

Soft Tissue Damage

Damage to the soft tissues of the body, such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments, is one of the most common causes of soreness. Your muscles tense up during a car accident, which can lead to soreness for days or weeks. Sprains and strains also commonly occur during car accidents; you can expect most of the soreness from a sprain or strain to subside within six to eight weeks. More serious soft tissue damages, such as torn ligaments or tendons, can cause soreness for much longer.

The extent to which an accident victim experiences pain from these soft-tissue injuries depends on whether they completely heal or not. For example, a torn meniscus or torn ACL tendon may require surgery and physical therapy before soreness dissipates.

Internal Organ Damage

Most car accident victims assume that they will be sore in the days following an accident, causing some to avoid seeking proper medical treatment. Soreness that occurs soon after the accident, especially if it increases, can be a symptom of internal organ damage. Left untreated, damaged organs may in rare cases lead to death.

Factors That Affect How Long You Experience Soreness After a Car Accident

Sources of soreness in your body vary, and so can the time it takes to heal. Some types of injuries simply heal better and faster than others. Other factors may also impact how long you feel sore after a car accident.

These include:

  • Age. Younger accident victims typically heal faster than older victims, especially when recovering from fractures.
  • Speed. The faster the vehicles were traveling when a car accident occurred, the more severe the injuries and the more time needed for the soreness to subside. High-speed accidents also increase the chances of chronic discomfort.
  • Safety devices. Seat belts and safety devices can save your life during a car accident, but they also can cause injury, including bruising and broken bones, which may extend the amount of time you feel sore after a car accident.

Soreness is a serious effect of a car accident and should not be taken lightly. If you were in an accident, seek medical treatment ASAP and consult an experienced auto accident attorney to help pay for those injuries.

Abels & Annes, P.C.
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 924-7575

How Long Do You Have to File a Claim for a Truck Accident?

Dave Abels Lawyer
Truck Accident Lawyer, Dave Abels

Big rigs, tractor-trailers, eighteen-wheelers, and commercial trucks go by many names. They are all large and cumbersome, and when your car is hit by one, the consequences may prove deadly.

Regardless of whether you have a sedan or an SUV, tractor-trailers weigh much more than your car. The sheer size and weight of those trucks can cause intense damage to other vehicles and serious injuries to passengers, even at slow speeds. At higher speeds on highways, the results of impacts with big rigs are often catastrophic.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident on Illinois roads, you will not want to delay your search for an experienced and skilled truck accident lawyer who has your best interests in mind. Choosing the right lawyer for your case can give your personal injury claim a leg up and make sure you don’t miss any important deadlines for filing your case.

Start Your Claim Quickly

In Illinois,you typically only have two years from the date of the accident to file lawsuit. Two years may seem like a long time, but life quickly gets in the way, especially when you consider the severity of your injuries.

Depending on the type of injury you have suffered, you could be in the hospital for extended periods, which also means you are out of work during those times. Your bills will quickly pile up, and you may have no way to pay them.

Financial stress should not be your focus following an accident. You should put all of your effort, energy, and focus into your physical and emotional recovery. By handing off the stress of a personal injury claim to your lawyer, that weight is lifted off your shoulders, giving you the best chance of making a full recovery from your truck accident injuries.

Not taking swift action may cause you to lose out. If you do not file your personal injury claim in time, a court may dismiss your case, and you may end up paying out of pocket for injuries that you did not cause. We have seen this happen, tragically, and do not want to see it happen to you.

Truck Accidents Cause Serious Injuries

Illinois roadways have over 300,000 accidents a year. Tractor-trailers were in 3.5 percent of those crashes but caused 9.6 percent of all fatal accidents. While not all truck accidents will cause death, the size and weight of commercial trucks often cause more serious injuries. These include:

  • Burns
  • Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Amputation

The aforementioned injuries play a massive impact on your enjoyment of life and your ability to return to the life you had before your accident. When you are the victim of a truck accident, your life may change in dramatic ways:

  • Temporarily or permanently out of work
  • Long hospital stays
  • Rehabilitation center stays
  • In-home medical care and assistance
  • Help with daily routines, like bathing and getting dressed

Truck accident injuries are serious and life-changing. It’s important to remember that you did not cause the accident, and thus you should bear none of the responsibility for the medical bills you face in your recovery. When you work with a trusted Illinois truck accident injury lawyer, you give yourself the best chance of making a complete recovery, getting back to the life you love, and maximizing your compensation.

Make Sure You Seek Compensation

Medical bills are expensive. When you face serious, life-altering injuries from a truck accident, your medical bills may prove astronomical. Nearly two-thirds of all United States bankruptcy filings result from medical bills.

Medical bills, however, are not the only exponential costs that you will face in the aftermath of an accident. You should also seek compensation for the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of life enjoyment
  • Past, present, and future medical bills
  • Rehabilitation costs

What many truck accident victims forget to include in their claims are future expenses. Many victims are excited to get a quick settlement offer from the at-fault truck driver’s insurance company. Unfortunately, this initial offer likely doesn’t account for future expenses, and thus often leads to victims paying out-of-pocket for their own medical expenses in the future.

When you work with a seasoned personal injury lawyer in Illinois, you gain access to years of experience investigating truck accidents and helping clients maximize their compensation. Part of this process begins with creating an accurate estimate of your future medical needs. When you suffer injuries from a truck accident, your injuries are likely severe and will require lots of medical attention. Such care is expensive, but when you work with us, we can help you understand your future medical expenses and how much they could cost.

If you take the first offer from the insurance company, you may miss out on recovering these additional expenses. The first offer from the insurance company is usually a low-ball settlement offer. Insurance companies know that you are out of work and concerned about the medical bills you see piling up on your kitchen table. Retaining a lawyer helps to make sure you don’t fall victim to insurance company tactics.

What’s more tragic is that if you sign the lowball settlement offer, you will likely waive your right to bring any future claims against the insurance company for your accident. This means you could end up paying out of pocket for costs associated with your recovery from an accident that you did not cause.

The best way to avoid this situation is to work with an Illinois personal injury lawyer whom you trust. Let your lawyer take control of the legal aspect of your claim, so you can focus on your physical recovery and getting back on your feet.

Don’t Delay Contacting a Lawyer

If you delay too long, your claim may suffer. Maximizing your financial recovery is key to your physical recovery. You have more than enough to worry about with your injuries and your recovery. Let go of the stress and worry about how to pay your bills, and let a truck accident lawyer deal with the legal complexities of your personal injury claim and work on maximizing your financial recovery.

Abels & Annes, P.C.
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 924-7575

How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help You After a Serious Crash?

Dave Abels Lawyer
Truck Accident Lawyer, Dave Abels

It only takes a second for a truck driver to lose control of his tractor-trailer on a busy highway. When a large truck crashes into you, the results are devastating. If you experienced serious injuries due to a negligent truck driver, trucking company, or both, you deserve justice.

Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you should seek compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To learn if a personal injury lawsuit is an option for you, contact a truck accident lawyer today.

Why Truck Accidents Happen

Truck drivers spend long hours on the road and away from family. The pressure to deliver their loads on time and to return to their families may result in drivers taking unnecessary—and dangerous—risks behind the wheel.

The following are just a few examples of how a truck accident can happen in a second, leaving victims with traumatic and life-changing injuries:

  • Drowsy driving – According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of Americans admit to driving while sleepy. Federally mandated hours-of-service limit the amount of hours truck drivers can drive. However, some truck drivers may experience trouble resting during breaks or have an undiagnosed sleeping disorder.
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) – The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) legal limit in Illinois for a driver with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is 0.04 percent or higher. This is lower than the 0.08 legal limit for other drivers. As of January 1, 2020, recreational marijuana is now legal in Illinois; however, the drug remains on the federal list of Schedule I drugs and off-limits for truck drivers.
  • Aggressive driving– A truck driver who is in a hurry to reach his or her final destination on-schedule may purposely speed or tailgate other drivers. Aggressive driving can quickly escalate into road rage, leaving victims with serious injuries.

Other reasons for truck accidents involve truck maintenance issues. Failing to inspect tires, brakes, or properly maintain a truck is a deadly combination when combined with a negligent driver. A trucking company that fails to maintain its fleet or check driver records for prior traffic convictions is irresponsible and potentially liable for your injuries.

Discussing your case with a personal injury lawyer is your best option for pursuing justice. A personal injury lawyer can review the evidence, determine liability, and handle your claim so you can focus on your health and recovery.

Types of Truck Accidents

  • Rear-end crashes – A fully loaded truck, traveling at normal speed in good weather conditions, needs the length of two football fields to stop. Even if you see the truck approaching in your rearview mirror, there is typically no time to get out of its way.
  • Side underride crashes – Government statistics estimate that as many as 200 people die every year due to side underride crashes with tractor-trailer trucks. Safety groups are advocating for more attention and solutions to this dangerous problem.
  • Jackknife – When a truck accident causes a truck to jackknife, the truck and the trailer become out of sync. The result is an L or V shape of the tractor-trailer on the highway. Driving too fast for weather conditions and improper braking are among the leading causes of jackknife accidents.
  • Rollover accidents – A rollover accident is especially dangerous when it involves a tanker truck. If the truck is carrying flammable liquid, it can leave you with serious burns in addition to other injuries.

These are just a few examples of the types of truck accidents that can change your life within seconds. If you experienced serious harm due to a negligent truck driver, a personal injury lawyer will help determine your eligibility to pursue compensation.

Common Truck Accident Injuries

An out-of-control truck is no match for a passenger vehicle. No matter the type of accident, the injuries are often catastrophic and may include the following:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Internal injuries

Medical costs continue to rise, making the ongoing need for your care—or that of a loved one—expensive. When you experience life-changing injuries due to no fault of your own, you deserve quality medical care. While each case is different, filing a civil action against those responsible for your situation can possibly alleviate your financial stress.

Sadly, not all truck accident victims survive their injuries. If you lost a close loved one due to a negligent truck driver, you may want to consult with an attorney regarding a wrongful death claim. You may be eligible to seek compensation for final medical expenses, funeral costs, and more.

Wrongful death claims are complex and best left to a legal professional. You have enough to deal with during your time of immense grief. Let a personal injury lawyer experienced with truck accident cases handle your claim, so you can focus on your family.

How a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You

Insurance companies like to settle claims quickly and for the least amount of money possible. Representatives may offer you a settlement that seems like a large amount of money. The reality is that an initial settlement offer is most likely not enough to cover your future financial and medical needs.

Do not fall for the high-pressure tactics of big insurance companies, and don’t try to handle negotiations on your own. Insurance companies are too skilled at what they do to take on alone. Protect your best interests by not speaking with insurance company representatives and securing legal representation instead.

Act quickly due to the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a law that limits the amount of time you have to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Once you miss the deadline for filing your case, your opportunity for legal action is lost forever.

No one deserves to suffer physically, financially, and emotionally due to the careless actions of a truck driver, trucking company, or both. If you were seriously injured due to no fault of your own, give careful thought to contacting a truck accident lawyer. Securing legal representation not only protects your best interests, but it can also afford you peace of mind during this most difficult time.

Abels & Annes, P.C.
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 924-7575

Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis in Illinois Causes Accidents

Gary Annes Lawyer
Car Accident Lawyer, Gary Annes

Medical marijuana use has been legal in Illinois since 2014, and as of January 2020, recreational marijuana use is also legal. This includes a wide variety of substances made from the cannabis plant, including gummies, chocolates, and other edibles.

Legalization doesn’t mean that individuals who previously abstained are now headed to their local dispensary to stock up, but legalization may bring some new users into the mix. Regardless, more people are probably behind the wheel in Illinois while under the influence of cannabis.

Cannabis use while driving can land you in jail and result in a DUI conviction, the same way driving while under the influence of alcohol does. It can also result in car accidents that seriously injure passengers and other drivers.

Below, we discuss how cannabis use impairs drivers, some of the challenges law enforcement face with enforcing cannabis-related DUIs, and how all of this puts you at risk for accident and injury when you share the road with those under the influence of marijuana.

Cannabis Is Not Harmless—It Impairs Drivers

Cannabis in any form can impair drivers just as badly as alcohol. Several worldwide studies have addressed the dangers of using marijuana while driving.

Here is some recent research about marijuana and driving

  • Marijuana impairs judgment, motor skills, and reaction time.
  • A direct relationship exists between blood THC levels and driver impairment. THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis that gets users high—not to be confused with CBD, which doesn’t appear to impair driving.
  • Drivers with THC in their blood are about two times more likely to cause a fatal crash than those who have not used drugs.
  • Drivers with THC in their blood are three to seven times more likely to cause an accident than those who haven’t consumed drugs.

Enforcing Drugged Driving Laws Has Proved Challenging

If you get in a traffic accident, law enforcement typically comes to the scene of the accident. Officers may take note of many different things that indicate whether alcohol played a factor in the crash, such as the smell of liquor or beer on a driver and open containers in a vehicle. A police officer might choose to perform field sobriety tests on a driver and get the driver to take a Breathalyzer test. When properly maintained and used by trained officers, Breathalyzers are an effective tool to test the blood alcohol levels of drivers. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple for situations involving drivers under the influence of cannabis.

No simple tool exists for law enforcement to test for THC levels in a driver at the scene of an accident. Instead, an officer must bring the driver to the nearest police station and request that he or she agree to chemical testing. Police must administer these tests within two hours of the accident, and a medical professional must perform any blood tests.Drivers must comply if they don’t want their licenses revoked, and if drug tests reveal more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood or more than 10 nanograms per milliliter of urine, drivers will lose their licenses.

The biggest challenge in testing for THC is that it can remain in a person’s body for months after a person consumes or smokes cannabis. This makes it difficult for courts to convict people of marijuana-related DUIs and much easier for defense attorneys to argue against conviction—but what does it mean for other motorists who don’t drive while high?

What to Do if You’re in an Accident With a Drugged Driver

If you are in a traffic accident in Illinois, you might not suspect that the other driver is under the influence of drugs. If the other driver is high, you might not find out until you see the official police report. Even if law enforcement charges the driver with a DUI, and a court convicts him or her of criminal charges, this doesn’t help you face the losses that often come with a severe accident and injury.

Depending on the severity of the accident, you might incur the following economic losses:

  • Medical expenses for an ambulance ride, emergency room treatment, doctor visits, diagnostic testing, surgery, aftercare, follow-up visits, and prescription medication
  • Lost current and future wages from missing work due to injury, hospitalization, treatment, and permanent disability
  • Costs of replacement services for things that you can no longer complete around your home, such as lawn care, childcare, snow removal, and cleaning

Suffering severe injuries in an accident caused by a drugged driver also comes with non-economic losses that include:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Loss of consortium with a spouse
  • Other non-economic losses that might apply to your circumstances

You can sometimes recover a portion of your losses from a drugged driving accident through insurance claims. However, severe injuries that require massive amounts of medical treatment and significant time away from work, and catastrophic injuries, can quickly exhaust insurance policy limits. You deserve full compensation when a negligent driver strikes you after choosing to get behind the wheel after using marijuana.

The best way to maximize your compensation is by consulting an experienced auto accident attorney. A skilled lawyer can not only help negotiate the best settlement for you or litigate when settlement isn’t an option, he or she can also negotiate your outstanding medical bills to put more settlement money in your pocket. He or she will know the ins and outs of the state’s new drugged driving laws as they pertain to cannabis use and car accident cases, and how to use them to help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Abels & Annes, P.C.
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 924-7575

What Happens When Someone Dies in a Car Accident

When your loved one dies in a car crash, it causes an immediate rift in your family’s social, emotional, and financial wellbeing. The Illinois Wrongful Death Act gives you a legal process for damage recovery if someone’s negligent actions caused the accident. The process is sometimes complicated. To avoid missing a critical requirement or deadline, you should consult with a legal representative for guidance on protecting your rights.

When a negligent driver causes your loved one’s death, grief and anger often disrupt everything you do. If the decedent is your spouse, you must handle your new financial and family challenges alone. It becomes your responsibility to get your family back on track to meet school, work, personal, and financial obligations. You must find new ways to accomplish daily tasks, often while adjusting to a reduced income.

Before your financial losses become overwhelming, it’s important to take the proper legal steps to recover the damages to which you’re entitled. While a financial recovery won’t lessen your grief or loss, it will help you provide a better future for you or your family. A car accident lawyer can help you through that process.

The Illinois Wrongful Death Act

When a negligent driver fatally injures your loved one, you have legal rights under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. You’ll find the provisions detailed under ICS, Civil Liabilities, 740 ILCS 180. The statute provides a legal recovery remedy for surviving spouses and next of kin. It allows you to recover the damages the decedent would have recovered had he or she not died before making a claim or filing a suit.

The statute also includes provisions for damage recovery for “…grief, sorrow, and mental suffering.” Courts base your ability to recover damages on specified personal relationships with the deceased.

Other critical requirements apply:

  • The decedent’s personal representative–often the spouse–must initiate the lawsuit on behalf of all next of kin.
  • Next of kin include the decedent’s natural children and natural parents. Under the statute, an “adopting parent” and an “adopted child” have the same rights as natural parents and children.
  • Illinois courts distribute judgments and/or agreed settlements among the surviving spouse and next of kin. Courts base distribution upon a person’s “…percentage of dependency…” upon the deceased person. Damage calculations take into account all other beneficiaries’ damage percentages.
  • In the absence of a surviving spouse or next of kin, hospitals, medical providers, and others receive the proceeds of a decedent’s wrongful death lawsuit. The personal representative also receives a fee for administering the estate.
  • In a wrongful death action involving an auto accident, the statute of limitations expires precisely two years after the date of the occurrence in most cases, however there are shorter one year statutes for certain defendants. If the personal representative doesn’t settle the claim or file a lawsuit by that date, the decedent’s family gives up its right to file a claim for damages.

Making a Wrongful Death Claim

The Illinois legislature constructed the state’s wrongful death statutes to provide financial support for a decedent’s family. Damage recovery is based on the decedent’s family’s ability to prove that the other driver’s negligence caused the accident. As with other liability cases, you must present evidence that proves the other driver was at fault.

When a driver sustains fatal injuries, civil courts must make their decisions based on the remaining driver’s testimony, available physical evidence, witness accounts, and police officers’ opinions. Courts have leeway to find negligence against both drivers, and still pay a portion of the decedent’s wrongful death claim.

Dealing With Insurance Companies After a Fatal Auto Accident

Judges and juries sometimes resolve wrongful death cases, but they often begin and end as liability insurance claims. When a fatal car accident occurs, insurance companies become involved immediately. Whether or not a court ultimately resolves a wrongful death case, insurance companies usually conduct the initial investigation.

If you and your loved one have separate insurance policies, you should locate the insurance policy and have your lawyer make the required claim report. To preserve the decedent’s policy rights, you should make a report as soon as possible. While this often seems inconvenient when you have so many other post-accident responsibilities, reporting an accident as soon as possible helps protect your right to make a claim.

Your Insurance Company’s Investigation

When you report an auto crash with fatal injuries, the insurance company contacts witnesses, drivers, and passengers. They also obtain official reports and conduct site investigations. When liability issues remain unresolved, some insurers hire accident reconstruction experts to provide an opinion based on physical evidence, traffic pattern analysis, debris, skid marks, and other key elements.

Insurance companies conduct comprehensive investigations to complete the following tasks.

  • Determine negligence and fault
  • Evaluate and pay for the deceased insured’s vehicle damages and address any lienholder interests
  • Examine and photograph vehicle damage, points of impact, and other physical evidence that might provide insight into the accident
  • Assess liability for the other driver’s vehicle damages and injuries, as well as injuries to occupants in the other vehicle
  • Determine if the deceased insured has a valid Uninsured or Underinsured or Motorist claim.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists Claims

If the negligent party didn’t have liability insurance at the time of the accident, Uninsured Motorist coverage pays the damages the responsible party’s carrier would have paid. If the other party had liability insurance, but not enough to pay all of the wrongful death damages, the Underinsured Motorist coverage pays the difference between the other party’s limit and the UIM limit. UM and UIM coverages pay based on the other party’s liability. You have the same duty to prove fault.

Uninsured Motorist coverage is mandatory in Illinois. An insured must carry coverage in an amount equal to mandatory liability limits: $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident. An insured may request a lower or higher UM/UIM limit when purchasing a policy.

The Liability Carrier’s Investigation

The other driver’s liability insurance carrier will likely conduct its own investigation. Unless you were a passenger when the accident occurred, they realize that you have no direct information about what happened, but they will likely contact you anyway. If you are the decedent’s spouse, legal representative, or a close relative, they see you as a source for information. You have no duty to talk to the other driver’s insurance company or provide any of the requested information.

When a driver sustains fatal injuries, their case has a potentially high settlement value. If liability insurance carrier must reserve their case file without direct information, they rely on creative resources to help evaluate the damages. Beyond crash scene evidence, insurers conduct social media investigations on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other sites. As families often forget to deactivate a decedent’s pages, they often become a rich source of personal and professional information.

Insurance companies may also conduct activities checks. While not common, a representative could visit the decedent’s neighborhood to view their home and document how they lived. They may also talk to neighbors seeking additional information to support their evaluation and settlement efforts.

A Negligent Driver’s Insurance Carrier May Offer a Settlement

Illinois courts provide a formal process for resolving wrongful death cases. That doesn’t prevent a responsible driver’s insurance carrier from attempting to settle your case. If their liability investigation determines that their insured is at fault, they sometimes approach the decedent’s representative to resolve the case before the family files a lawsuit.

Liability insurers do this for several reasons.

  • They can’t predict how much a judge or jury might award.
  • Insurance companies prefer to settle quickly as injury values often increase as time passes.
  • They want to avoid punitive damage awards. In some cases, an insurance company is responsible for paying punitive or exemplary damages.
  • They want to take advantage of the opportunity to settle your case for a low amount before you seek legal representation.

Do You Need an Attorney to Recover Wrongful Death Damages?

After losing a loved one, you may never feel like it’s the right time to take legal action. However, It’s important to learn your legal options so you can protect your rights before you lose the opportunity. Wrongful death attorneys work to resolve your legal, liability, and damage issues. They intervene with insurance companies, protect your rights, and prepare your case for courtroom presentation. They work to recover damages while you take care of your family.

An initial legal consultation is typically complimentary. You discuss your case with a lawyer, get to know your legal options, and may choose to pursue legal action. The choice to move forward is always up to you.

That being said, it’s recommended that you retain counsel as soon as possible.  Cases are often damaged by claimants trying to deal with an insurance carrier on their own.

What to Expect Physically After a Car Accident

You breathe a sigh of relief when you walk away from a car accident with no bleeding wounds, broken bones, or other visible signs of injury. Visible physical injuries get the most attention during an accident, but the injuries you don’t see are often just as severe. Pay attention in the days following a car accident. You’ll never really know how your body is reacting physically to a crash until a day or two later.

While you’re figuring out if you have injuries with delayed symptoms, it’s important to follow these simple post-accident rules:

  • Never say “I’m fine.”
  • Never reject the idea of a post-accident medical examination.
  • Always pay attention. A minor twinge or ache might be your body’s way of telling you that you’re injured.
  • Never admit fault. If you do, you may jeopardize your chances of negotiating a fair injury settlement.
  • Call a car accident lawyer for help recovering compensation.

Why Do Some Vehicle Occupants Sustain Injuries and Others Don’t?

How does it happen when there are two or more occupants in a car during a crash, and one walks away while another must seek emergency care? It’s true that speed, impact, points of contact, and vehicle size often affect the seriousness of crash-related injuries. Insurance companies rely on these factors when trying to establish a cause and effect relationship for accident-related conditions. Other factors are just as relevant, however, because they sometimes change the way a person’s body responds physically to a crash.

Pre-Existing Conditions

When a person is physically frail, sick, or has a pre-existing condition, an accident often causes more serious injuries or re-injuries than the vehicle damage indicates. This is sometimes a problem when a person has had recent surgery or a fracture reduction. Also, CDC statistics show that 5 percent of men and 65 percent of women over age 65 have osteoporosis or other bone-density disorders. Their bones are weaker than normal, and break more easily during an accident.

Rear-End Accidents

When a vehicle strikes your car’s rear, your body often endures a physical dynamic typically known as “whiplash.” The name comes from the neck’s whip-like flexion/hyperextension motion. Whiplash affects the neck, back, nerves, soft tissues, spine, and other body parts.

Whiplash injuries are often deceptive. They occur even after a low-speed impact and symptoms won’t always appear until a day or two after an accident. Whiplash injuries affect the neck and back but they sometimes resolve within weeks. Another person’s condition may worsen over time. They may have chronic pain, headaches, spasms, and physical symptoms that sometimes defy diagnosis and treatment.

Passenger Seat Location

When an accident occurs, a passenger’s seat location often determines if they sustain injuries and how serious the injuries are:

  • During a side crash, a passenger nearest the impact usually endures the most force and sustains the most severe injuries.
  • Front seated passengers sustain lower extremity injuries when severe front end collisions push metal into the lower front seat compartment.
  • Rear-seated passengers fare worse than those seated in the front. Glass and metal pushed into the passenger compartment cause serious head and upper body injuries. Seat belts cause internal constriction injuries when they’re activated upon impact. Rear seated passengers don’t have front airbags or side airbag curtains. As the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety explains, rear seat belts lack the tensioners and force limiters found in front compartment seat belts. These mechanisms help secure passengers during impact and ease the tension when it becomes too great.

A Severe Impact

Vehicle damage isn’t always a predictor of injury severity. A severe impact against a reinforced vehicle door or a shock-absorbing bumper sometimes causes injuries. Brain injuries often occur when a crash jolts a passenger so hard, it forces the brain to slam against the inside of the skull. It’s important to be aware of post-accident dizziness, vision difficulties, light-headedness or other symptoms that indicate a brain injury.

Some People Are More Vulnerable to Accident Related Injuries

Anyone can sustain an injury in an accident, even at slow speeds and with minimal impact. Crash severity, vehicle size, and speed are key indicators of the potential for serious injuries. They also occur due to factors you might not anticipate.

Age: Adults 65 and Older

Seniors are more subject to serious injury even in a simple crash. As the Center for Disease Control and Prevention explains, the risk of accident-related injury increases with age. The CDC’s national 2017 statistics show that 7,700 older drivers died in car crashes and 257,000 sought emergency room treatment after an accident. Older drivers display safer driving habits but they are more vulnerable to injury as they are frailer than younger drivers and passengers.

Child Passengers

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13 nationwide. Children are small and fragile so they require special precautions to keep them safe during an accident. Children sustain injuries when they don’t wear seatbelts. They also sustain injuries when they’re traveling in the wrong safety seat. In 2017, the CDC documented 116,000 auto-accident related child injuries and 675 deaths.

Young Drivers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the CDC recognize that auto crashes are the number one cause of teen deaths in America. Distraction, speed, and alcohol consumption contribute to teen accidents and injuries. NHTSA’s national statistics show that 3,255 drivers age 15 to 19 died during one recent year from injuries sustained in car crashes. While five-year Illinois accident trends show that teen accident rates have gone down, 13,574 drivers ages 15 to 20 were involved in injury accidents during one recent year.

Pay Attention to Your Body

There’s often a lot of confusion after you’re involved in an accident. You must still make an effort to pay attention to your body. Pain, headache, or other symptoms are often physical reactions to stress, but they could also mean you have an injury that requires immediate attention.

If your child is in an accident, they might not know how to explain their internal pain. Children can be more vulnerable to injuries. It’s important to consider getting an emergency medical exam even when you see no visible signs of injury.

Do You Need an Attorney if You’re Injured in an Accident?

If you or a family member is injured in an accident, a car accident attorney works to protect your legal rights. Lawyers help you understand your legal options. They deal with insurance companies on your behalf and help you recover the damages to which you’re entitled.

An initial legal consultation is usually free. It allows you to discuss your accident with a legal professional who understands liability and damage issues. When you schedule a legal consultation, it’s an information-only discussion. An attorney helps you understand your legal options. When you’re ready, you decide if you want a lawyer to file a claim on your behalf.

However, we recommend finding a lawyer to fight for your interests as soon as possible. Personal injury cases often get ruined when an accident victim tries to handle his or her own claim against an experienced insurance adjuster.

The Most Common Causes of Collisions

No one wants to get in a wreck, and most people try to avoid accidents by driving carefully and keeping their eyes on the road. However, sometimes it is just not possible to avoid someone coming at you, no matter how hard you try. Either that person will hit you or force you into another vehicle or a stationary object such as a telephone pole, tree, barrier or even a house.

If that happens, a car accident lawyer might know if you have a good legal claim against the responsible driver.

Meanwhile, these are the collisions you’re most likely to encounter.

Types of Collisions

Illinois Department of Transportation reported that the state saw 319,146 accidents in 2018. Of those, 951, or less than 1 percent, were fatal and 67,453, or 21.1 percent, were injury crashes. Illinois also keeps statistics on A-injury crashes. These are crashes with injuries that keep someone from driving, walking or doing normal day-to-day activities. An A-injury could range from broken bones to catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injuries. Of 67,453 injuries, 13.4 percent were A-injury crashes.

With that many accidents, it stands to reason that a crash is not always between two vehicles. You could have a single-vehicle crash, two vehicles involved, or you might be a part of a multi-car pile-up. Different types of vehicles could come together with you in a car, on a bicycle or even if you are walking down the street. Depending on the type of accident, your injuries could be worse. For example, if a tractor-trailer truck hits a compact car, the damage and injuries are bound to be severe. If a compact car hits a pedestrian or someone on a bicycle or motorcycle, the person not in a car is likely to suffer more injuries or even catastrophic injuries.

Whether you are in a vehicle, on two wheels, or on foot, you always have to watch for other drivers who are not paying attention. Even then, you might not be able to get out of the way in time. Knowing the causes of accidents could help you avoid an accident in some cases. If you see someone driving erratically or speeding, you have a chance to get away from that driver before his or her driving gets out of hand.

Common Causes of Wrecks

While you might think car wrecks shouldn’t happen if people just paid attention, you’d be right, except for one thing: A medical emergency sometimes cannot be helped. Though a medical emergency is a cause of a car wreck, it’s not very common. Negligent behavior is the most common cause of vehicle crashes. Gross negligence, or willful and wanton conduct, is also a cause of accidents. Gross negligence sometimes comes with additional penalties for the defendant, such as punitive damages.

Both types of negligent behavior include:

  • Driving while distracted. Often, this is looked upon as gross negligence. A driver is distracted if he or she is talking on the phone, eating, putting on makeup, drinking non-alcoholic beverages and alcoholic beverages, reading a book, texting, fiddling with the radio and other controls or even yelling at the kids in the back seat. Anything that takes your eyes off the road is considered distracting behavior. The courts might find some sorts of distractions, such as texting while driving, to be grossly negligent, while it might find glancing in the rearview mirror as you yell at the kids to be negligent.
  • Driving under the influence. This behavior is almost always considered gross negligence. A driver doesn’t have to be drunk to be charged with driving under the influence. He or she might be on legal prescription drugs, illicit drugs or high on chemicals, such as the high you get from huffing.
  • Reckless driving and speeding. Reckless drivers speed, constantly change lanes, ignore road signs, tailgate or even constantly speed up and slow down. Any of these behaviors could cause an accident that hurts innocent drivers. These drivers are not paying attention to the road and are often upset, angry or just focused on getting somewhere because they are late.
  • Speeding. This is a behavior that is often considered grossly negligent. The higher the speed a vehicle is traveling when it crashes, the more catastrophic the damage and injuries are in most cases. A drunk driver or someone evading the police and driving at excessive speeds does not have all of his or her attention on the road and is more likely to wreck.
  • Ignoring traffic signals. Whether it’s a yield sign, stop sign, stoplight, speed limit signs, or other driving instruction on the road, ignoring it could cause an accident. Common accidents at intersections are T-bone accidents, which could cause extensive damage and severe injuries.

All of these behaviors could catch you unaware, but in some instances, you might notice erratic driving. If you do see someone driving recklessly, get as far away from them as possible. If you are on a highway, slow down, so you are further behind that driver. On city streets, take a detour.

One of the common causes of accidents you might not be able to avoid is an accident because of the weather. As long as the other driver is driving carefully, you will never know if he or she will wreck because of ice, snow, black ice, rain or even wind. If someone is in front of you and going 35 mph in a 55 mph speed zone, and that person hits black ice and spins out, you will most likely get hit. Because of the road conditions, you might not be able to evade or stop fast enough to avoid that person—and that person, while driving under the speed limit, was still arguably driving too fast for conditions.

Further, if it is raining and someone is driving 60 mph in a 55 mph speed zone, you should back off. Transportation departments post speed limits for a reason—they determine what speeds are safe for dry conditions. It is easy to hydroplane in the rain, even at or below the speed limit. And, you can almost count on a speeder hydroplaning.

Finally, vehicle maintenance plays a part in accidents—although, like medical emergencies, it is not one of the most common causes of accidents.

Were you in a car accident? A car accident lawyer can help you determine the cause, no matter what it is, and help you decide whether you have a good case for seeking compensation.