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Truckers Often Use Stimulants to Stay Awake

Many people rely on a cup of coffee to help them wake up or keep them alert during a long work day. And, the energy drink industry has seen a boom like never before. These options have their risks, but there are other ways to stay alert out there and some of them have serious consequences for both their consumers and the people around them. We are talking about stimulants, specifically those used by truckers to increase drive time and ultimately profits.

Why do Truckers Resort to Drugs to Stay Alert

When a truck driver has to make a stop to rest or sleep, they can fall behind on their deliveries and lose precious time on the road, which can cost them and their employer’s money. When coffee and energy drinks aren’t enough to keep them awake, some drivers in the trucking industry have turned to the dangerous practice of taking illegal stimulants.

Such stimulants include blackmarket psychoactive drugs like cocaine, amphetamines, Adderall, and Ritalin. These drugs are most often taken without a proper prescription and can pose serious risks for truck accidents.

The Dangers of Stimulant Use for Truck Drivers

While truck drivers may believe they are being safe by using stimulants to avoid fatigued driving, a study published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) indicates a correlation between stimulant use and deadly truck crashes. One of the main reasons for this is that, like any other type of drug, stimulants can impair a driver’s abilities including reflexes, judgment, focus, and more.

Furthermore, while drivers feel more awake, this is often a false sense of alertness. Just because stimulants can cause the senses to wake up and feel more energetic does not mean they are a substitute for rest or sleep.

A sleep-deprived truck driver is still sleep-deprived, even if they take stimulants. This can be even more dangerous than being merely sleepy, as drivers may not be aware just how fatigued they are when they mask their fatigue with drugs.

Commercial Trucking Regulations Keep Roads Safe

When properly followed, regulations about when and for how long truckers can drive keep everyone on the roads safer.

Truckers can only drive for specified periods of time before they must rest. This regulation prevents truckers from overworking and employers from exploiting their employees by requiring that truckers get off the road after so many hours.

Additionally, there are heightened safety laws in place that truckers need to follow. Among these are rules about lane changes, speeds, and distractions.

While truck drivers are required to following specific laws, they do not always play by the rules. Those situations where a truck driver is negligent and causes an accident create liability for themselves and their trucking company. In those cases, both the driver and the company may be liable for injuries and damages.

Call a Phoenix Truck Accident Attorney for a Free Consultation

At Abels & Annes, P.C., our Phoenix truck accident lawyers know there is no excuse for truck drivers to drive while impaired by illegal stimulants or other intoxicating substances.

If you have been injured in a truck crash, please call our office 602-819-5191 or 1-855-PHX-LAWYER to learn how we can help you today.

 

Chicago Accidents Involving Delivery Trucks

Delivery trucks have become more and more common on our roads as the rise of online shopping has led to more deliveries. All these new delivery trucks on the roads have led to more accidents and more injuries.

Delivery trucks and other large commercial vehicles can cause serious injuries to passenger car occupants when an accident occurs. These delivery vehicles, such as FedEx trucks, Amazon Prime trucks, UPS trucks, and even food delivery trucks, are often much larger than regular cars. Because of this, delivery trucks exert a greater force when colliding with passenger cars that can leave drivers and passengers with severe injuries.

Large truck crashes can cause injuries like traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, broken bones, back injuries, and more. These injuries are often expensive, and many require surgery, physical therapy, or other costly treatments. Contacting a truck accident attorney after your injury is crucial, as your attorney can help to ensure that you get the compensation that you deserve.

Why Are Delivery Trucks Becoming More Common

Online sales have risen 43% between 2019 and 2020. One of the major reasons for this rise in delivery vehicles is the coronavirus pandemic, since many people were quarantined. This means more people are ordering goods online and having them delivered by companies like FedEx, UPS, and Amazon Prime.

While these services are convenient, they also pack the roads with more delivery vehicles, as more vehicles are needed to keep up with the increased demand.

Types of Delivery Trucks on Road

FedEx, Amazon Prime, UPS, and even USPS are growing in numbers in 2020. It seems like you can’t run to Starbucks without seeing a dozen of them. Each of these companies either hire their employees directly or outsource the hiring to another company that hires drivers as contract or freelance workers.

FedEx, Amazon Prime, and UPS most often deliver their packages with large vans. These vans have huge blind spots and require extensive skill to maneuver, which inexperienced drivers may lack. For some companies, like Amazon, you aren’t required to have a commercial driver’s license to deliver packages, even though they use large vehicles for their routes.

What Causes Delivery Truck Accidents?

Delivery truck accidents are caused by many different circumstances. These drivers are often hired quickly to meet the rising demand for deliveries, which means they may not be trained properly. Inexperienced drivers can lead to more mistakes and more accidents.

Large delivery trucks are also much harder to bring to a sudden stop. If a car comes to a halt quickly in front of them, they may rear-end the car if they were following too closely or couldn’t stop in time.

Many of these drivers are required to use their phones for work purposes while they’re driving. This can cause the driver to be distracted, causing an accident. Other common distractions for delivery drivers include texting while driving and eating while driving.

It’s also possible for an accident to occur because of a driver’s negligence. This can include speeding, driving recklessly, acting aggressively, or just failing to pay proper attention.

Finally, because drivers are in high demand right now, many drivers are overworked. Overworked drivers can be exhausted or fatigued, leading them to dose off behind the wheel.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Safety Measure System, FedEx was cited with 991 citations in the past 24 months, 245 of which were for unsafe driving. Of those citations, 30 of the drivers were driving over the federal hours of service laws. These laws specify how long a driver is allowed to be on the road before it becomes unsafe. Drowsy driving is one of the leading causes of truck accidents so these reports are indicative of an unsafe practice among delivery truck drivers.

Who is Responsible for a Delivery Truck Accident?

Determining liability for an accident involving a delivery truck can be difficult to determine, since there are many parties that could potentially be liable for your accident. An experienced truck accident attorney will be able to determine who exactly was liable and how their negligence caused your accident.

In most cases, the accident was probably the fault of the delivery truck driver. They may be driving too fast, driving while distracted, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or driving aggressively.

It could also be the fault of the company who hired and trained the truck driver. If the driver’s inexperience led to the accident, the hiring party could be liable. The company could also be liable for an accident that occurred because the driver was distracted by company mandated software (like tracking software), or if the company overscheduled the driver, leading to exhaustion. The company will also be liable under an agency theory if it is their employee that is the cause of a crash.

The owner of the truck (this could be a third party or the truck company themselves) could also be liable if the accident was caused by some type of truck malfunction. This is true if the malfunction could have been avoided with proper maintenance. If the malfunction was caused by a defective part, the manufacturer of the vehicle or the part may be liable.

Some Challenges in Filing a Claim Against a Delivery Company

Filing a lawsuit against a delivery truck driver or company can be complex and challenging, since it can be hard to tell exactly who to pursue. While an employee may have on a shirt with a FedEx logo on it, it’s possible that that driver works for another company or is an independent contractor that FedEx outsources their deliveries too. This makes things a bit tricky. While FedEx’s name is involved, you may actually end up suing an entirely different party as well.

Another challenge with delivery truck accident cases is the multiple parties that could be liable for your accident. Suing more than one party always makes a case more complex.

Because these cases are more complex in nature, hiring an attorney is crucial in the success of your case.

Contact a Chicago Car Accident Attorney Today

If you or someone you love has been injured in a delivery truck accident, contact the experienced truck accident attorneys at Abels & Annes. We can explain your rights, go over the facts of your case, and discuss your options. For more information or a free case evaluation, please contact us online, by using our chat feature below, or call us at 855-529-2442.

How much is my truck accident case worth?

Getting into a truck accident can result in expensive medical bills and a lot of stress. These accidents often result in damages greater than the average car accident case, as these accidents have a tendency to leave people with more severe injuries.

A passenger car weighs about 4,000 pounds on average, while the average commercial truck weighs about 80,000 pounds. That makes for a huge difference in terms of force. Commercial trucks are harder to stop quickly and can impact cars more severely than another passenger vehicle would.

Large trucks accounted for 9% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes in 2018, according to Injury Facts. In 2018 there were 4,862 large trucks that were involved in fatal crashes. When truck accidents occur, the injuries or deaths most often occur within the smaller vehicle. Most truck accident drivers walk away without any serious injuries.

Truck accidents can cause severe injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, or even death. After getting into an accident, the last thing you want to do is think about money. But you’re probably worried about the medical bills you’ll have to pay. An experienced truck attorney, such as the aggressive lawyers of Abels & Annes, will be able to help unload that stress off of your back and allow you to continue recovering from your injuries.

Factors Considered when Calculating Your Injury Claim

There are many different factors that come into play when determining how much your claim is worth. No two claims are worth the same amount. While a judge and jury will be the ones to decide your claim’s worth if you go to trial, your attorney will keep you in the know on how much you should expect once he or she has fully evaluated your case.

Medical Bills

The more medical bills you have, the higher your claim is often going to be worth. An accident that caused you serious injuries will leave you in much more medical debt than an accident that caused you only a few minor injuries. Your treatment time and the amount of overall medical attention you need will play a part in determining your case’s value. The compensation that you receive should be enough to cover any past or future medical costs related to the injuries you incurred because of the accident.

Lost Wages and Income

Any wages that you lost because of your injuries will be included in your claim’s value. If you had to take time off to recover, you are eligible to receive that money back. You may also receive compensation for any wages you will continue to lose because of your injuries. You can also receive compensation for the loss of earning capacity. If you’re no longer able to do the job you were doing, you may receive additional compensation to cover for those losses.

Property Damage

In a truck accident case, property damage refers to the damage done to your vehicle. Your own insurance may cover some of these costs, but you can claim any costs not covered by your insurance, such as your deductible.

Other Economic Damages

Other economic damages can include things like in-home care, such as a personal grocery shopper, childcare, or travel fees to and from medical appointments.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering compensation is different based on each individual case. If you settle, your lawyer will demonstrate to the insurance company your quality of life before the accident, and how it’s changed since the accident occured. The greater the change, the more compensation they’re likely to offer you. The same is true if your case is brought to trial, except the decision will be made by the judge and jury instead.

Permanent Disability or Disfigurement

If your accident has left you permanently disabled or disfigured, your case will have a higher value. These disabilities can greatly change someone’s life, so that’s why they’re awarded further compensation.

Should I Settle my Truck Accident Claim?

Settling your truck accident claim can be a huge decision to make. Your decision to settle should be based on three factors: your case’s trial value, settlement value, and chance of winning. If your case has a trial value of $100,000 and you only have a 50% chance of winning, your settlement value is going to typically be well less than full value.

Many insurance companies will try to get victims to settle in order to avoid going to trial. It’s really up to you whether you want to settle or not, but your attorney can help you make the decision. If you have a high chance of winning your case, taking a low settlement is often a bad idea. If you have a low chance of winning your case, you may want to start to think about accepting a settlement offer.

Negligence and Your Claim

Negligence also plays a huge factor in your claim. If your accident occured because of gross negligence, you may be awarded punitive damages. Punitive damages are given to the victim as a punishment to the negligent party in order to keep the same party (or different parties) from committing a similar act in the future. Punitive damages are rare but can occur if a party was grossly negligent or if the court is trying to deter the accident from reoccurring.

Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer

If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident, our experienced truck accident attorneys here at Abels & Annes are ready to help you win your case. Getting into an accident can be stressful, but a good attorney can help to take the weight off of your shoulders. For more information, or a free case evaluation, please contact us online or at 312-924-7575.

What Happens if a Truck Driver Leaves the Scene of an Accident?

truck accident lawyer in chicagoLeaving the scene of a traffic accident is a crime, especially when a crash causes injuries, fatalities, or significant property damage. Truck accidents commonly cause that level of harm; which means that a truck driver who leaves the scene of a crash faces serious consequences, and that victims of the crash often need skilled legal help to obtain the compensation they need for their injuries and losses.

Let’s take a closer look at what happens when a truck driver leaves the scene of an accident.

Why a Truck Driver Might Leave the Scene of an Accident

Truck drivers, in particular, know better than to leave the scene of an accident. To obtain their commercial driver’s licenses, truckers must pass written and on-the-road tests that emphasize safety and responsibility behind the wheel. To keep their licenses, truckers must also abide by strict state and federal regulations, and must pass periodic re-certifications and health screenings.

Still, sometimes truck drivers leave the scene of an accident in which their trucks were involved. Why would they do something so irresponsible?

Some potential explanations might include:

  • The driver’s CDL license had expired or had been revoked or suspended, exposing the driver to serious discipline;
  • The driver had consumed drugs or alcohol and had driven while impaired;
  • The driver knew the truck was unsafe and/or had not passed inspection; or
  • The driver simply did not realize that an accident had happened.

These are explanations, not excuses. Truck drivers must never leave the scene of a crash. Potential penalties for doing so can include loss of a commercial driver’s license, termination from employment, prosecution for a misdemeanor or felony, jail time, and fines.

What Happens After the Truck Driver Leaves

Victims of a truck accident in which a driver leaves the scene often fear that they will never get compensation for their injuries and losses. However, that is not the case. By following some simple steps, truck accident victims can protect their rights to payment for their injuries and losses.

A Search For the Driver Needs to Start Immediately, So Call 911

Always call first responders to the scene of any truck accident, especially one in which the truck driver leaves the scene.

Summoning the police and EMTs serves several important purposes:

  • It alerts the authorities to the fact that the truck driver has likely committed a crime by leaving the scene, allowing them to start their search for the driver as soon as possible;
  • It ensures that police will file an official report of the accident, which can help serve as valuable evidence of what happened and the fact that you reported the driver’s wrongful action; and
  • It safeguards your health by ensuring that emergency medical responders come to the scene and render aid to you and other victims.

Your Observations and Pictures/Video Are Important

A truck driver may leave the scene immediately, or may stop momentarily and then take off. If possible, act quickly while the truck driver is still at the scene to capture photos or video with your cell phone of the truck and any of its identifying markings. Take images of the other vehicles involved in the accident, too. This visual evidence could prove useful to the police in locating the truck driver, and in proving your case for compensation.

When the police arrive, tell them everything you observed about the truck and truck driver who left the scene. Share the information as soon as you can so that your memory is still fresh.

An Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Can Help

By calling 911, reporting what happened, and giving the police your best recollections (and any photos/videos) of the truck and its driver, you will have done your part to help the police find the truck driver. With luck, the police will track the driver down, and you will have the opportunity to hold the trucker and/or trucking company financially accountable for your accident injuries.

However, you do not need to rely only on the police to find the truck driver, and finding the truck driver is not necessarily the only way to obtain compensation for your injuries and losses. By working with an experienced truck accident injury lawyer, you can explore all of your options for obtaining the compensation you need and deserve.

An experienced truck accident lawyer can:

  • Investigate further to track down evidence that may identify the truck driver and/or owner of the truck involved in your accident;
  • Work with your auto insurance company to get you uninsured motorist benefits (if you carry that type of coverage);
  • Evaluate your accident and injuries to determine if someone other than the trucker may have a legal liability to you for your truck accident injuries.
  • Plan and execute a legal strategy for giving you the best possible chance of recovering compensation for your injuries and losses.
  • Take legal action against the trucker, trucking company, and others seeking damages.
  • Negotiate a settlement of your claim or take your case to trial to get you the money you deserve.

Truck Driver Left the Scene? Do Not Lose Hope.

Anyone would feel frightened and confused after a truck accident in which the truck driver left the scene. By leaving, the driver commits a crime and leaves accident victims wondering what they can do to obtain the compensation they need to regain their health and rebuild their lives.

However, we encourage you not to lose hope. By acting quickly to report the truck accident to the authorities, to communicate and preserve your observations, and to connect with an experienced truck accident injury lawyer, you can still hope to receive the compensation the law allows for your injuries and losses.

If you suffered injuries in a truck accident involving a truck driver who left the scene, you may have the right to significant financial compensation. Contact an experienced truck accident injury lawyer today for a free case consultation.

What Can I Sue for in a Truck Accident?

truck accident lawyer in chicagoA tractor trailer truck hauling a load can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. In a crash, all that weight inflicts massive damage on a smaller vehicle, often resulting in catastrophic and fatal injuries to the vehicle’s occupants.

Victims of truck crashes have the right to take legal action seeking compensation from individuals, companies, and government entities whose unreasonably dangerous decisions and actions contributed to the cause of the crash. In this blog post, we examine the types and amounts of damages those victims can often sue for, to get the compensation they need to rebuild their lives.

Liability for Truck Accidents

To sue for damages after suffering injuries in a truck accident, victims need to have evidence to prove that someone else’s dangerous decisions and actions caused the crash and their injuries. Every truck accident has unique facts and circumstances that determine who has a legal liability to the crash victims.

In general, however, in many truck accidents one or more of the following parties has at least some legal and financial responsibility to the victims:

  • Truck drivers who make mistakes behind the wheel that cause a crash;
  • Truck driver employers who have a legal responsibility to answer for the truck driver’s actions, and may have a liability of their own for careless driver hiring or truck maintenance practices;
  • Truck owners who fail to maintain trucks in safe working condition, leading to a crash;
  • Truck contractors, like mechanics or shipping depot operators, who perform trucking related services improperly and contribute to the cause of a wreck;
  • Truck manufacturers, if they produce defective trucks or truck parts that fail, causing an accident;
  • Anyone else whose dangerous decisions and actions contributed to the cause of a truck accident that caused damage and injuries.

Most of these parties will typically carry some amount of liability insurance that covers them against the costs of accidents their actions cause. Sometimes, these parties also have assets that courts can force them to use to pay damages to accident victims.

What Truck Crash Victims Can Sue For

When one or more parties like the ones listed have legal liability for a truck crash, injured victims and families of deceased victims can often file a lawsuit seeking damages. The particular facts and circumstances of the truck accident determine the types of damages a lawsuit might obtain for a victim.

However, generally speaking, truck accident plaintiffs can sue to recover compensation for:

  • Medical expenses related to their injuries, including the cost of hospitalizations, long-term care, doctor visits, therapy appointments, medication, and medical equipment.
  • Non-medical expenses that they incur because of their injuries, such as the cost of repairing or replacing damaged property, and of hiring services to help out with daily needs;
  • Past and future lost income, resulting from victims missing work while recuperating, or suffering disabling injuries that prevent them from returning to work;
  • Pain, suffering, harm to personal relationships, and diminished quality of life stemming from the injuries they suffered in a truck accident; and
  • In some cases, punitive damages that aim to punish and deter extremely wrongful conduct that caused the truck accident.

There is no guarantee that all truck accident victims can recover all—or any—of these categories of damages. You will want to work with a skilled truck accident injury attorney to find out what damages you may have the right to recover after a truck crash disrupts your life.

How Much Truck Accident Victims Can Sue For

The amount of money damages represented by each of the categories above varies from crash-to-crash and victim-to-victim, and depends on factors that include:

  • The type of injury the victim suffered;
  • The severity of the victim’s injuries;
  • The victim’s prognosis for making a full recovery;
  • The impact of the injury on the victim’s current and future day-to-day life;
  • The victim’s age, income, and general state of health at the time of the accident; and
  • The actions that led to the accident and injuries.

The amount of money a truck crash victim has the right to sue for can differ, however, from the amount of money the victim might actually receive by taking legal action.

That is because the outcome of a lawsuit also depends on factors such as:

  • The degree of dispute between the parties about what happened and who was at fault;
  • The financial resources available to pay damages to the victim, either through insurance coverage or the liable party’s assets;
  • The willingness of the parties to reach a settlement of the victim’s claims; and
  • The victim’s personal priorities and needs.

How to Sue for Truck Accident Injuries

If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a truck accident, then you need skilled, experienced legal representation to obtain the maximum compensation available. Do not trust just any attorney with your claim. Truck accidents frequently involve complicated factual and legal issues that challenge the abilities of even the most seasoned attorneys. Trust only an attorney who has represented truck accident victims and has a track record of success in truck accident cases.

The steps an attorney takes on your behalf to obtain compensation for you will depend on your particular needs and the specific circumstances of your accident and injuries.

In general, however, an experienced truck accident attorney can:

  • Conduct a thorough investigation of the truck accident to identify the parties with liability who have the ability to pay damages;
  • Evaluate your injuries to determine the amount of compensation you need and deserve to address the full scope of harm you suffered;
  • Negotiate with defense lawyers and insurance companies to achieve a fair and reasonable settlement of your claim, if possible; and
  • Prepare, file, and litigate your claim in court, taking it to a trial in front of a judge and jury if necessary to get you the money you need and deserve.

For a free consultation about your legal rights after suffering injuries or losing a loved one in a truck accident, contact a skilled, experienced truck accident injury attorney today.

Semi-Truck Accident Lawsuits: How Long Does It Take to Settle?

semi-truck accident lawyer in chicagoTrucks are a vital part of commerce; in fact, our economy would come to a standstill without them. Many of the goods and products necessary for modern life are delivered by trucks. The trucking industry also employs thousands of workers.

However, there are negative consequences to having so many enormous vehicles on our roads and highways. Large trucks are responsible for many serious accidents in the United States every year.

For victims of these accidents, life may never be the same. In many instances, the injured party may be left with permanent disabilities requiring lifelong care and treatment. Physical hardship often coincides with financial difficulties, often caused by medical debt and job loss. For many truck accident victims, imagining a stable future for both themselves and their families is nearly impossible.

Although the outlook may seem grim, victims are not without options. If a semi-truck accident was caused by the negligence of another party, the injured person may seek financial compensation through the legal system. The first step is filing a truck accident lawsuit that seeks to recoup damages for the hardships suffered by the injured party and their family. A successful suit can provide critical assistance in a time of critical need.

A prospective plaintiff may ponder various questions before filing a lawsuit. Oftentimes, of utmost importance is how much money they stand to win. Relatedly, many plaintiffs want to know how long it will take to be awarded that money. In the context of semi-truck accidents, this can be reduced to the simplified question of “How long will it take to settle?” since almost all semi-truck cases never make it to trial.

Even an experienced lawyer can rarely predict with any certainty how long the settlement process will take; there are simply too many variables at play. However, the following factors may influence the settlement timeline, pushing it either longer or shorter.

How Long Did Your Injuries Take to Heal?

The nature of the injuries suffered could impact the time it takes to settle. If your injuries are severe you may spend considerable time in the hospital. Oftentimes, it may take days, weeks or months for a doctor to determine the full extent of your injuries. Your lawyer may not want to proceed with your lawsuit before knowing with certainty just how badly you are injured and how much care is going to cost; the reasoning being that your desired settlement amount will largely be based on these two factors.

Additionally, in some instances, you may not appreciate the extent of your injuries until significant time has passed from the time of the accident. Some injuries cause degenerative conditions, for example, that take years to worsen. For this reason, it’s important to be examined by medical experts as soon as possible following the accident. Again, the longer it takes to grasp the ramifications of the accident the longer it may take to settle.

When Did You See a Truck Accident Lawyer?

Lawsuits and settlement negotiations involving semi-truck accidents are often complex and require extensive investigation. For this reason, it’s important to meet with an experienced truck accident attorney right away. The right lawyer understands the contours of the law and how they fit your case, can get an idea of how much your case is worth, and knows what evidence is needed to prove that value.

Schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer as soon as possible after a semi-truck accident, even if you think your injuries were not that serious. This will give your attorney ample time to assess your legal options and plan a strategy that has the best chance of achieving a favorable settlement. Waiting too long to see a lawyer could cost you considerable time and money.

What Damages Are You Seeking?

The compensation that you seek for your semi-truck accident injuries will largely depend on the unique characteristics of your injuries and losses. The difficulty of proving those damages, and the amount you claim, can affect the timeline for achieving a settlement.

Simple, economic losses are generally easy to prove. Medical debt, for example, can be proven with billing records; property damage can be proven with an actuary’s statement.

On the other hand, claims for more abstract losses usually require a more extensive investigation, these often fall under the category of non-economic damages. The Center for Justice and Democracy defines non-economic damages as “the loss of the enjoyment of life, the pleasure, the satisfaction or the utility that human beings derive from life, separate and apart from earnings.”

For example, if you seek damages for emotional distress, then your lawyer may want to rely on the testimony of an expert (such as a psychiatrist) to bolster your case. Obtaining that expert’s opinion of your condition can take time and lengthen the timeline for a settlement.

In other words, the complexity of your semi-truck accident lawsuit can impact how long it takes to settle. If your case requires extensive investigation and fact-finding, you may need to wait a little longer to settle. Your truck accident lawyer, however, will try to resolve your claim as quickly as possible without sacrificing the compensation you need to overcome your injuries and pay your medical bills.

An Experienced Semi-Truck Accident Attorney Keeps Your Case on Track

A serious semi-truck accident can turn your world upside down. The things you took for granted may now be a thing of the past. It can affect your life on so many different levels, from your physical health to your finances, to your career prospects, to your family life. A semi-truck accident is truly a life-altering experience—and not just for you. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 500,000 truck-related accidents occur in the U.S. annually, resulting in more than 87,000 injuries.

If you were in one of those traumatic events, returning to anything resembling normal may seem impossible. However, victims and their families should know that they don’t have to suffer in silence. An experienced semi-truck accident injury attorney can help them obtain the compensation they need and deserve to recover as fully as possible.

To learn how long it may take to settle your semi-truck accident claims, contact a skilled, experienced semi-truck accident attorney today for a free case evaluation.

What Happens When a Truck Driver Has a Fatal Car Accident

Our economy depends on large trucks to transport goods. If you recently bought something from a grocery or appliance store, it likely got there via truck. In fact, trucks move 71 percent of all freight in the United States, per trucking.org. Indeed, our society couldn’t function without trucks on the road.

However, the prevalence of these large vehicles has negative consequences as well—serious traffic accidents. Fatal truck accidents are part of the reality in which we live. According, to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, over 4,000 people were killed in truck accidents in just one recent year. Most of these fatalities were passenger vehicle occupants.

These fatal accidents not only end a life prematurely, they often leave the bereaved with a litany of problems, including emotional trauma, medical bills, loss of income, and an unsure financial future. Of course, many people will explore legal avenues to obtain relief for themselves and their families.

A lot happens before a legal claim is even filed and being informed of the process is critical to making the right decisions after such a life-changing event. Furthermore, many laws, regulations, and customs govern fatal truck accidents and their aftermath, whether or not they were followed correctly may be relevant to your legal strategy.

At the Scene

In most jurisdictions, the law requires that all vehicles remain at the scene of the accident. A driver caught fleeing an accident, especially one where a fatality occurred, could end up with serious fines and even prison time.

The police and emergency medical personnel will arrive at the scene to treat the injured and ask questions. The police will gather information about the accident by analyzing the scene and talking to witnesses. The evidence gathered by the officer, in addition to his opinion on what caused the accident, will be compiled in an accident report. This report may prove very valuable later on in the event of a lawsuit. The officer’s report is also valuable as a means of proving fault for an insurance claim. Additionally, both police officers and medical personnel can testify in a trial proceeding if need be.

The Investigation

An investigation will follow any serious accident. Local law enforcement will likely investigate whether there was criminal wrongdoing. Additionally, federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) may become involved, especially if the accident took place on the interstate.

The NTSB could deploy a team of experts known as a go team. The go team will analyze the scene of the accident and its aftermath, talk to witnesses, and gather other important information. The go teams, and the NTSB generally, are particularly interested in why serious accidents occur and what can be done to prevent them.

The Carrier’s Obligations

The carrier is required to take certain steps after the accident. Firstly, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires the carrier to register any accidents involving their vehicles within one year. To register, the carrier must describe the accident and where it took place and give the name of the driver and the truck number.

The Lawsuit

The family of the deceased may wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In this context, a wrongful death lawsuit claims that the accident, and the decedent’s death, were caused by the wrongdoing of another party.

Wrongful death lawsuits are often brought under a theory of negligence. To prove negligence, the plaintiffs must demonstrate that the defendant owed the decedent a duty of care, the defendant violated that duty, the death occurred, and the death was caused by the defendant violating its duty of care. For example, if the accident occurred because the truck driver ran a red light, he could be sued for negligence.

Many different parties can be sued as part of a negligence claim. If the truck driver made a serious mistake that could have been avoided by better training, the trucking company could be liable. If the local government failed to properly maintain the roads and that contributed to the accident, they could be liable as well.

Obtaining enough evidence to bring a successful wrongful death lawsuit may require an extensive investigation. The plaintiff’s lawyer may talk to witnesses, take sworn statements, and consult experts.

A successful wrongful death lawsuit will result in an award of damages. Damages are a monetary sum awarded by the court to compensate the plaintiffs for their losses. In legal vernacular, damages are often described as intending to make the victims whole again.

The court will look at a variety of factors to determine how much damages a plaintiff is owed, including:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Medical bills
  • Loss of income
  • Loss of financial support (especially if the decedent was the breadwinner)
  • Loss of consortium

In rare cases, the court will award what are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages go beyond what’s necessary to compensate the victim to punish the defendant. The court only grants an award of punitive damages for especially reckless conduct. The judge wants to make it clear to the defendant and society that such conduct is not acceptable. For example, if a truck driver was going 100 miles per hour in a school zone at the time of the accident, this conduct may warrant punitive damages.

When a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You

Every fatal truck accident is tragic, but some are made more heart-wrenching by the fact that they were both preventable and the result of wrongdoing. So much attention is given to the victim, and rightly so, but those they leave behind are often left to pick up the pieces.

Exorbitant hospital bills, spiraling debt, loss of income, and an unsure financial future are dropped in the lap of the decedent’s loved ones, all while they’re still grieving. Returning to anything resembling normal may seem implausible.

However, there’s no need to suffer in silence. If you lost a loved one to a fatal truck accident because another party was irresponsible, you have rights under the law. With the help of an experienced truck accident attorney, you may obtain financial compensation through the court system.

Meet with an attorney right away. Fatal truck accident lawsuits are often complex and may require extensive investigation. Additionally, many jurisdictions impose a statute of limitations requiring you to file a truck accident claim within a certain time after the accident, those who fail to do so forever forfeit their right to legal recourse—so call a truck accident lawyer today.

Why You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer

If you were injured or lost a loved one due to an accident with a commercial truck, here is a detailed look at three reasons why you may need an experienced Chicago truck accident lawyer from Abels & Annes, P.C.

The Severity of the Injuries Involved

Why You Need a Truck Accident LawyerAccidents involving commercial trucks are among the most catastrophic accidents to experience, often resulting in death or serious, life-altering injuries. In the U.S., commercial truck accidents result in more than 4,000 deaths a year. Because of the massive size of these trucks—often weighing 20 to 30 times more than the average passenger car—the victims of these accidents are most often the occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

The size disparity between commercial trucks and other vehicles is often quite large, resulting in severe injuries. In just a matter of six years, the number of injury crashes involving large trucks or buses increased by 62 percent. Severe injuries not only result in extraordinary medical expenses, but they also increase the likelihood of impacts on every facet of the person’s life. Your truck accident lawyer can calculate these impacts into the value of the case. The victim whose life that accident permanently altered deserves compensation.

Personal injury lawyers will generally start evaluating a case by adding up economic damages, which are out-of-pocket expenses that result from the injury.

Examples of economic damages include:

  • Medical expenses, such as emergency treatment at the scene of the accident or in the emergency department; transport by ambulance or air to the hospital; diagnostic testing such as X-rays or MRI scans; physician and surgical services; hospitalization; prescription medication; physical therapy and rehabilitation.
  • The amount of income lost due to being too injured to work or missing work to attend injury-related medical appointments.
  • The loss of future earning capacity if the injury results in a permanent disability that prevents the injured person from performing the job he or she held before the accident, or prevents the injured person from working at all.
  • The cost of repairing or replacing the injured person’s vehicle or other property damaged in the accident.

Once your truck accident lawyer calculates your economic damages, he or she will consider non-economic damages, which relate to the impact that your injury has on your life. Some non-economic damages include:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of the enjoyment of life
  • Permanent disability
  • Loss of consortium—this is a type of damage awarded to the spouse of the claimant for the loss of physical intimacy and companionship that his or her partner can no longer provide as a result of the injury.

The more severe the injury and its impacts, the more economic damages your lawyer may seek. A lawyer with experience in truck accident cases understands the importance of including all economic and non-economic damages when determining the value of your case to ensure that the amount of compensation you receive is enough to cover your expenses and fairly compensate you for the impacts.

The Complexity of Truck Accident Cases

Commercial trucks, the companies that use them to provide transport for shippers around the country, and the drivers who are employed to drive the trucks are all federally regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Among the regulatory oversight provided by the FMCSA is:

  • The development of standards used to test and license commercial drivers.
  • Regulatory compliance and enforcement, including regular drug screening of drivers; monitoring the hours of service drivers are working to prevent accidents occurring due to driver fatigue; requirements of regular maintenance of trucks; requirements of additional training for the safe hauling of hazardous materials, and more.
  • Compilation of data regarding commercial truck crashes, injuries, and fatalities.
  • Research about issues impacting the safety of motor carriers and technology designed to eliminate some of the risks faced by drivers of large trucks and others on the roadway.

Proving liability after a truck accident involving death or injury requires gathering a lot of evidence. Time is of the essence when gathering this information, as the law only requires trucking companies to keep some documentation for a short time.

Some evidence an experienced truck accident lawyer may ask for includes:

  • The truck driver’s hours of service logs
  • The truck driver’s medical and past driving history
  • The truck driver’s qualifications and training history
  • Inspection and maintenance reports for the truck
  • The trucking company’s history with complying with federal regulations
  • Cell phone records for the trucker that could reveal distractions such as texting or other cell phone use

Knowledge of the Legal Issues Surrounding Truck Accident Cases

There is a legal process for obtaining compensation from an at-fault party if an accident involving a commercial truck injured you. There is also a legal process for obtaining compensation if you have lost a loved one in a truck accident. Each of these processes has a strict time limit, after which you generally cannot pursue compensation.

Truck accidents often feature multiple sources of liability, which includes:

  • The truck driver, whose negligent or reckless actions resulted in the accident.
  • The company that employed the truck driver, which is responsible for ensuring the proper licensing and training of the driver.
  • The shipper, which sometimes loads the cargo for transport and that must carry sufficient insurance and comply with federal regulations.
  • The individual or entity that performed maintenance on the vehicle.
  • Other drivers whose negligent or reckless actions contributed to the accident.

An experienced truck accident lawyer understands the legal process, the potential sources of liability and the insurance resources that can be accessed to compensate you, and how to prove your case. If you have further questions, contact an experienced truck accident attorney who can help you understand your legal options.

Avoiding the Most Common Causes of Flatbed Truck Accidents

Flatbed trucks help transport goods across the country, from construction equipment that needs to move through the city to large, bulky items that need to move long distances. Unlike semi trucks with enclosed trailers, flatbed trucks typically use straps to hold down cargo on a long, flat bed. Operators usually take care to check the straps and cargo at each stop. Nevertheless, flatbed trucks can pose unique hazards. If have suffered serious injuries in a trucking accident, the Chicago truck accident lawyers from Abels & Annes can help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

As a driver, you cannot always avoid accidents with big trucks, including flatbed trucks. You can, however, significantly decrease your risk of an accident by following a few simple guidelines.

1. Falling or Shifting Cargo

Sometimes, the driver or the party that loads a flatbed may fail to properly load the cargo. If the straps come loose, the cargo may start to slip. The driver may not even realize that the cargo came loose until too late. Shifting cargo, or cargo that the loaders did not secure properly, can also raise the risk of jackknife accidents or rollover accidents.

To avoid a falling cargo accident, pay careful attention to the cargo on flatbed trucks. If you notice the cargo swaying or slipping, widen the distance between you and the truck. If you can, try to signal the driver about the problem, but do not place yourself at risk to do it. Also, pay attention to flags on that cargo, which can indicate cargo that hangs over the side of a vehicle.

2. Speeding

Increasing speed by just a little bit can increase accident rates by as much as 3 percent. Unfortunately, some truck drivers choose to ignore speed limits and live with the risks, especially if they need to meet deadlines or near the end of their legally limited time on the road.

Maintain a safe rate of speed, as set by the speed limit, whenever you drive. Do not try to pressure other drivers on the road, including truck drivers, to increase their rate of speed. Leave plenty of room for a truck driver to maneuver, rather than trying to force your way into space occupied or needed by the truck.

3. Jackknife Accidents

In a jackknife accident, the trailer swings around past the cab, out of control of the driver. Often, the flatbed’s cargo makes it heavier than the truck’s cab, which can make it incredibly difficult for the driver to regain control of the vehicle.

At high rates of speed, jackknife accidents become more common. Drivers may also have a higher likelihood of jackknife accidents if they must maneuver abruptly, often in an attempt to avoid an impact with another vehicle on the road. To help decrease the risk of jackknife accidents, exercise caution around flatbed trucks. Do not cut off a flatbed truck, and keep an appropriate distance when traveling at high speeds.

4. Inebriated, Exhausted, or Distracted Drivers

In many cases, driver error can lead to substantial accident risk. Flatbed drivers often spend many hours behind the wheel each day. They may suffer from high rates of fatigue. Because they spend long hours on the road alone, away from their families and friends, truck drivers may also struggle with excessive drinking, which sometimes extends to drinking and driving or driving while intoxicated.

Drivers may also grow too comfortable behind the wheel and engage in distractions they should not while driving, including talking on the phone, texting, eating and drinking, or even working with a GPS device instead of paying attention to the road.

You cannot avoid every potential accident on the road, nor can you control the actions of flatbed truck drivers.

You can, however, take several steps to decrease your risk of accident or decrease your risk of severe injuries in an accident.

  • Leave flatbed trucks, in particular, plenty of room to maneuver. Some flatbeds, including those that carry cargo that exceeds the size of the trailer, may have chase cars to help keep other vehicles from getting too close. Those vehicles may get a substantial distance away from the flatbed and its cargo. You should never attempt to get between the chase vehicles and the flatbed. Always leave plenty of room for a flatbed truck driver to complete turns, stops and starts, and lane changes.
  • Back off and leave more room if you notice a truck driver driving a flatbed erratically. It can help to leave plenty of time for your trips, so you do not have to stress about completing your journey sooner than necessary. If you notice a driver swerving or struggling to control the vehicle, get out of the way. You may want to notify the police if you notice erratic or dangerous behavior on the road. If you do need to call the police, make sure you pull off the road to a safe location before making the call.
  • Stay aware of the truck driver’s blind spots. The blind spots a flatbed driver faces may change based on the cargo he needs to haul at any given time. As a result, he may be less aware of his blind spots than a driver who operates a tractor trailer. Make sure you stay out of the truck driver’s blind spots whenever possible.
  • Try not to get between a flatbed and a sharp drop. On steep inclines or a steeply graded road, in particular, the truck driver may struggle to maintain control of his vehicle. Try not to get between the truck driver and an incline or drop. If you cannot increase your speed to get past the truck, you may want to fall back behind the truck.

As a driver, you can take many steps to help decrease your risk of an accident, but you may not have the ability to avoid every potential accident on the road. If you do suffer serious injuries in an accident, a Chicago truck accident attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Do not wait to contact one of Abels & Annes Chicago truck accident attorney following your accident.

What Do I Need for an Initial Consultation With a Truck Accident Attorney?

chicago truck accident lawyerThe time immediately following your truck accident is often one of confusion and stress. When you decide you need to speak with an attorney, having the right information readily available for your consultation can help your truck accident lawyers determine the best course of action for you.

Here is some of the information you might want to bring to an initial consultation with a truck accident attorney, if you have it available. If not, your truck accident lawyer can help you track it down.

Police Report

A police report serves as an official account of the accident. The responding officer may determine fault based on the evidence at the scene. If the accident requires further investigation, officers may delay their official conclusions.

Providing the police with your account of what occurred is always a smart idea. An official report can serve as valuable documentation for future civil action. Speaking with the officer is important; however, it is equally important that you use caution in speaking with others. Anything you say to the other driver or others at the scene may work against you later.

Never admit fault or apologize to the other driver. Statements like an apology can and often are used against accident victims who experienced serious injury due to the negligence of another driver.

Witness Statements

Chances are that witnesses who observed your accident were close to becoming accident victims themselves. Collecting the contact information for any witnesses that stop at the scene can help with your case. In addition to witness statements to police, a personal injury lawyer can use the contact information to follow-up with them once your case is underway.

Some witnesses may feel uncomfortable becoming involved in a legal matter, while others may express a willingness to help. Their relief that they escaped injury and their anger toward the reckless truck driver may propel them to assist your quest for justice.

Accident Scene Photos and/or Video

A smartphone can capture quality photos and/or videos of your accident. If your injuries are too severe, ask a witness to take photos for you. The presence of mind to take photos and possible video can help when it comes time to take civil action.

A truck accident lawyer can also ask witnesses if they have pictures of the scene or possible dashcam video of the crash. According to Google’s Automotive Trends report, dashcams are a large consumer-led trend as drivers want another set of eyes and documentation for possible accidents.

Medical Bills

An accident with a large truck puts you at risk for serious and often catastrophic injuries. The medical bills associated with the following types of injuries can far exceed your insurance and personal budget:

  • Spinal cord injury – A spinal cord injury is especially devastating due to the paralysis that can result. The use of a power chair, the need for home modifications, and other expenses can escalate into the millions of dollars each year, throughout your lifetime.
  • Traumatic brain injury – A severe traumatic brain injury impacts such functions as thinking, movement, and sensations. The need for 24-hour care for your loved one may require placing your loved one in a skilled nursing facility. The costs associated with such care in Illinois averages between $5,900 to $6,700 per month.
  • Broken bones – The severity of an impact with a large truck can leave you with more than just a broken arm. With more than 200 bones in the human body, the possibility of breaking more than one is very real. Depending upon the severity of your break you may face future surgeries, extensive physical therapy, and possible amputation.
  • Internal injuries – An internal injury often exhibits no outward signs or symptoms. Internal injuries are why you should always accept emergency transport to the hospital following a serious accident. Only a trained medical professional using the appropriate testing can diagnose and treat an internal injury. If left untreated, a serious internal injury can result in death.

These are just a few examples of the serious injuries that can result from an accident with a truck. Bringing any medical reports and expenses that you have can help with your free case evaluation.  If you haven’t received any, don’t worry, your accident lawyer will order all of your records and bills as the case progresses.

Insurance companies may offer you a settlement soon after your accident. The initial settlement offer may seem like a large sum to you and your family. The reality is that the initial settlement offer is most likely not enough to cover your future medical needs. If you accept their offer, you may lose your right to pursue compensation later.

Do not speak with insurance company representatives, and secure legal representation instead. Insurance companies want to protect their best interests, and not yours. Hiring an attorney experienced with truck accident cases is a smart way to protect your best interests.

How a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You

A truck accident is a sudden event that turns your world upside down. Dealing with your injuries is difficult enough. You do not need the high pressure of insurance company representatives who want to settle your case quickly and for the least amount possible.

Knowing that someone is on your side can afford you valuable peace-of-mind. A truck accident lawyer can aggressively negotiate with insurance companies for the compensation you deserve while treating you and your family with a companion.

Most truck accident lawyers offer free case evaluations, leaving you with nothing to lose by contacting a lawyer today. Preparing for your free case evaluation by gathering essential documents and information can make the process smoother and less time-consuming.

The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury case requires quick action. If you miss the deadline for filing your case, you may miss your opportunity for possible compensation forever. If you experienced serious injuries due to a negligent truck driver, give careful thought to consulting with a personal injury attorney today.