Crash on the Kennedy? Wreck on the Dan Ryan?
At some point every year, most of the 12.7 million Illinois residents will travel on at least one highway, freeway, or interstate. Many visitors to the state will travel the same roads. Some on their way to a vacation in Illinois while others are just passing through the state.
Illinois expressways also service a large number of commercial vehicles, including trucks and vans. These vehicles allow goods to reach consumers within the state. Interstates provide a convenient and efficient means of transit for nearly all in Illinois. Yet unfortunately, as our Chicago expressway accident lawyers know, they also pose a risk to the safety of those who use the interstates.
Expressways generally have high speed limits and the vehicles that travel them likewise travel fast. With restricted access to highways and subtle changes in the layout, it can be safe to drive at high speeds on these roads when caution is exercised. When a driver fails to act within reason or drives negligently, though, an accident may occur. Further, those on the expressway may sustain injury or even death.
Crashes on interstates are some of the deadliest of all car accidents. This, because of the relative speeds of the vehicles involved. Higher speeds lead to a greater amount of force when two vehicles collide. That force in turn leads to the crumpling of vehicles or a loss of vehicular control by a driver.
Serious Injuries from Expressway Accidents
Accidents that occur on an expressway are more likely to cause serious injuries because the speeds are much higher on expressways than on other roads. These high speeds make it harder to brake in time, which can cause multi-car accidents, rollover accidents, and rear end accidents to be more severe. Because of the increased speed and force associated with highway accidents, they can cause traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, severe broken bones and fractures, and internal injuries.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
The term traumatic brain injury (TBI) covers a wide range of brain and head injuries that dramatically affect a person’s way of life and ability to function. TBIs are often classified as mild, moderate, and severe. No matter how a brain injury is classified, all types of brain injuries can seriously affect a person’s life: physically, mentally, and financially. Claims involving brain injuries, especially those caused in serious events like expressway car accidents, should be handled by an experienced personal injury attorney. TBI cases need a qualified attorney because of the possibility of significant damages and other long-term ramifications that a quick settlement from the insurance company will overlook.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are also very common in expressway accidents because of the severe impact force created with high speeds. Spinal cord injuries can create significant medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering because of how the injury can affect a victim’s life and the length of recovery time. Injuries to the spine require long-term and extensive treatment, such as surgery, physical therapy, injections, and medications. These injuries can be costly, but an experienced attorney can help you recover the damages a spinal injury creates.
When most people think broken bones, they think of a simple broken arm and a cast. While most broken bones can be handled this way, many accidents create much more serious types of broken bones. If a bone is broken badly or multiple bones are broken at once, it can require surgery, lots of time to heal, and may lead to complications like infections. Broken bones of this magnitude should always be handled by an experienced attorney.
Internal injuries can include damage to the organs and internal bleeding. These types of injuries can be very serious, especially if they’re not treated right away. Sometimes victims of expressway or highway accidents may not go to the hospital because they don’t believe that they’ve been seriously injured. However, adrenaline and shock can mask serious problems like internal injuries. It’s important to always get medical attention after an accident so that a qualified doctor can examine you and determine if you have any injuries or health concerns.
Expressway Accidents Caused by Semi-Trucks
Semi-trucks are a constant presence on Illinois expressways as they move product from one area to another. When compared to a driver of a car, truck drivers tend to be in fewer collisions than a member of the public. But when a large truck is in a crash, the consequences are often severe.
Fully loaded semi-trucks can weigh several tons as they drive down the interstate. The greater weight means that it takes a longer distance for a truck to slow or stop. This creates issues in the event of a hazard appearing on the road, like an accident, a blown tire, or a storm.
Semi-truck crashes on an expressway are some of the deadliest collisions that occur on Illinois roads. This is because of the large size of the truck compared to the other vehicles involved.
Though semi-truck collisions may not be as common as other accidents, they almost always result in significant injury. They can leave victims with large medical bills and no means to pay them.
Expressway Accidents Caused by Cars
In terms of the number of overall collisions, cars make up a greater proportion of expressway accidents than other vehicles. This is because of the large number of cars that travel the roads as well as the makeup of the drivers behind the wheel. Generally, those driving cars on the highway have basic driving education as required by law. However, they have not had additional driver training, like what’s necessary for commercial certifications.
A number of different factors can cause car accidents. Many collisions result from driver mistakes or errors. Recent studies suggest that speeding is a factor in approximately 50 percent of all car accidents. That equals around 50% of collisions that occur in the nation.
Another common reason that drivers cause interstate accidents is distracted driving. Distraction comes in many forms, such as:
- A conversation with a passenger
- Songs on the radio
- A cell phone or a tablet
- The in-dash electronic displays in newer cars
- Texting while driving
Texting is one of the most dangerous activities and also one of the most visible. A large number of people consider the practice unacceptable yet still admit to doing it themselves. Texting while driving is just as likely to cause a collision as is a driver who has a blood alcohol content of 0.08, the legal limit in Illinois. Yet, people who would never drink and drive still choose to text while driving.
Difference Between Car and Truck Accidents on Expressway
Expressways are common places for car accidents involving semi-trucks to occur. These types of accidents are very different from regular passenger vehicle accidents.
One of the major differences is that truck accidents often result in more serious injuries since the force of an out-of-control commercial truck is much greater than the force of a passenger car. This can cause severe injuries that result in mountains of medical debt and substantial lost wages.
Another key difference between truck and car accidents is liability. With car accidents, the liable party is almost always one of the drivers involved in the accident. With truck accidents, there are many different parties that can be liable.
The liable party in an expressway truck accident is often the driver, for reasons like distracted driving, driving under the influence, driving while exhausted, or driving recklessly. But other parties may be liable as well. Other potential liable parties include the trucking company, the truck loaders, the truck manufacturer, and the owner of the truck.
The trucking company may be liable if the accidents occur because of something they could have prevented. For example, if the accident occurs because of poor driver training, or a driver that’s exhausted from being overscheduled. Further, the trucking company may be liable under an agency theory.
The truck loader may be liable if the accident is caused by the truck being loaded incorrectly or improperly secured.
The truck manufacturer could be partially or fully at fault if an accident is caused because of a defective or malfunctioning part.
All of these examples are key differences that are important to expressway trucking accidents because they dramatically alter how severe the injuries are and how compensation will be pursued.
Expressway Accidents Caused by Poor Road Designs
When designing expressways, there are many factors to consider before construction actually begins. Expressways need to be functional in all weather and at all times of the day. Therefore, those who design interstates consider things like rain, water runoff, the number of turns and the degree of the road’s curvature when they are planning a highway. Equally important is the thought that is given to on and off ramps and to the length of merging lanes.
Most expressways in the nation and in the state of Illinois are well designed and are safe. Yet, a minority of expressways have a defect or a poor design that makes them dangerous to drivers. These are factors that are rarely considered when driving and may lead to an accident.
After a crash, drivers may report that a traffic sign was not visible as the driver was approaching an intersection. Or, the paint on the road was so worn that it was impossible to see where lanes were divided.
Putting an overpass in an area with a tight curve may also lead to unnecessary hazards and potential crashes. Whatever the flaw in design, when a road is built in an unsafe manner, drivers are the ones who face the risk of serious injuries.
What to do After an Expressway Accident
Immediately after an expressway accident, make sure that everyone involved is safely out of the way of other vehicles on the road. If anyone is unresponsive or severely injured, immediately call 911. After making sure that everyone is not in danger of further harm, you should still contact the police and file a police report.
Other parties may try to talk you out of filing a police report, but it’s crucial that you follow through with contacting the authorities. Having a police report is incredibly helpful in proving your case later. Also, some insurance companies may outright reject your claim if you fail to contact law enforcement.
After contacting the police, you’ll want to exchange contact information and insurance information with everyone involved in the accident. Be diligent about collecting this information.
You should then take as many pictures of the accident scene as you safely can. You should take pictures of your car, other vehicles involved in the accident, and your injuries.
You should also gather the information of anyone who may have witnessed the accident and encourage them to stick around to give a statement to the police. A police report with a solid witness on your side is a great start to your case.
After gathering all the necessary information, you should then head to the doctor or emergency room to seek medical attention. Even if you don’t recognize serious injuries right away, it’s important to be examined by a medical professional. Be sure to let them know that you were involved in a motor vehicle accident and let them know where you are experiencing pain. This will ensure they document these facts in your medical records.
Before you do anything else, you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. If you don’t speak with an attorney as soon as possible, you may be tricked by an insurance company into signing something, giving a damaging statement, or accepting quick cash, all of which could potentially damage or end your ability to collect compensation. Let your lawyer deal with these issues instead.
Call a Chicago Expressway Accident Lawyer at Abels & Annes
If you have injuries from an expressway, highway, or interstate accident, you have legal rights. You can bring a claim for your financial damages. A personal injury attorney can help you understand what options are available to you and what type of recovery you may be able to obtain.
You may be able to recover your:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitative care
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
However, the laws in Illinois are very clear. If you fail to act appropriately and in a timely manner, you could be barred permanently from seeking relief by the statute of limitations.
Let us protect your interests. Contact an expressway accident attorney in Chicago today. Call Abels & Annes, P.C. toll free at (855) LAW-CHICAGO (529-2442) or locally at (312) 924-7575. Please take advantage of our free, no-obligation case consultation, or contact us online. We are standing by 24 hours a day to help you.