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. Read on to learn more about expressway accidents from our experienced Chicago car accident lawyers.
Settlements for car accident victims
Our track record speaks volumes.
Our firm has settled various expressway and car accident claims throughout Cook County, and some of our results include:
- $825,000 for a Chicago resident in a rear-end collision with a commercial truck
- $300,000 for a multi-vehicle collision resulting from a negligent truck driver
- $200,000 for a drunk driving accident in Chicago
There are many other settlements we have obtained for our clients in Chicago. While there is no guarantee on how much compensation you will receive for your injury, we will work to get the maximum amount possible for your claim.
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.
What vehicles are in freeway accidents?
There are many heavily used highways in the Chicagoland area, and accidents are sure to happen with many different vehicles.
The most popular interstates in the area are:
- Kennedy Expressway (parts of I-90, I-94, and I-190)
- Tri-State Tollway (parts of I-94, I-294, I-80)
- Eisenhower Expressway (parts of I-290)
- Stevenson Expressway (I-55)
- Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88)
- The Dan Ryan and Bishop Ford Expressways (I-94)
- Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355)
Hundreds of drivers use these expressways every day to get to their destinations. You will likely encounter trucks, cars, and more. Accident severity will vary depending on the vehicles involved in an accident.
When a semi-truck causes an accident, the injuries and consequences are severe and legal claims are complex. An empty truck will not cause less devastation, but a fully loaded truck will cause serious harm to everyone around.
Semi-truck accidents involve multiple liable parties and insurance policies. There is the truck driver, the cargo loaders and owners, the trucking company, and other responsible parties you can file a claim against in these accidents.
The most common expressway accident occurs between two passenger vehicles. Most vehicles using the freeway are passenger vehicles trying to get to a location. Most often, vehicles will be commuting to work during rush hour. Drivers on the expressway have basic driver training, and when you are in a hurry to get to work, it is common to make mistakes when trying to make it to work on time.
What Causes Expressway Accidents?
Driver errors account for at least 50 percent of all crashes.
The most common driver errors are:
- Conversation with other occupants or on the phone
- Changing the radio station or song
- General use of a tablet or cell phone
- Playing with the electronics in the vehicle
- Drinking and driving
There are two critical differences between passenger vehicle accidents and semi-truck accidents. The two differences are severity and liability. Accidents involving trucks are often more severe with multiple liable parties.
Another complex car accident is one involving rideshares like Uber and Lyft. Liability in those accidents is very complicated because it will depend on the driver’s status at the time of the collision.
There are also collisions with buses that can complicate an accident further. Tour buses on the expressway often transport tourists and others around town. While the bus offers additional protection for its occupants, you cannot say the same for those who impact the bus. Although larger vehicles on the freeway can cause significant damage, that does not mean you will not suffer injury from a passenger vehicle accident. Depending on the car and parties in the accident, there are different legal processes for personal injury claims.
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.
Compensation for a freeway accident
Determining the fault for a car accident is essential for filing a claim in Chicago. Illinois handles car accidents using a fault-based system. A driver can only obtain compensation for their injuries and damages if they can prove the other party was the cause of their injuries. All Illinois drivers must purchase insurance to cover expenses during a motor vehicle accident. Some critical evidence will prove who was at fault for the accident.
Never admit fault or disclose too much information to the insurance company or any other party. When speaking to the insurance company, stick to facts like where and when the accident happened, the type of accident, and the parties involved. Do not provide any additional information as that can hurt your claim. You're actually better off letting your lawyer contact and communicating with them.
The evidence that will show who was at fault for the accident includes:
- The police report
- Eyewitness statements
- Surveillance footage
- Photos of the accident scene
- Pictures of the vehicle damage
- Expert testimony
- Dashcam footage, if available
Once your Chicago freeway accident attorney determines who was at fault, we can begin to compile a demand package detailing your losses and send it to the insurance company.
There will be some discourse from the insurance company, and through negotiations, we can obtain compensation for:
- Emotional distress
- Lost income
- Vehicle damage and other lost property
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Quality of life damages
- Emergency medical treatment
- Physical therapy
- Ongoing medical treatment
Determining fault sounds simple, especially when the circumstances of the accident are apparent; however, the responsibility is a very contentious topic in accident claims. Even when the cause of the accident was clear to everyone involved, insurance companies will try to shift the blame onto innocent victims to lower claims. Depending on the complexity of your car accident, it can take a few months to a few years to resolve a car accident claim.
The factors that will affect the length of time your claim takes are determining fault, the severity of your injuries, and the parties in the accident. A Chicago expressway accident attorney can give you an idea of how long the claim can take. Still, there is no way of knowing exactly when the case will resolve, and you will get your necessary compensation. We will work diligently to secure payment for you as quickly as possible while considering your future expenses.
Contact a Chicago Freeway accident attorney as soon as possible
Move quickly after an accident on the freeway because there is only a two-year window when you can file a claim. While most cases will fall under the two-year statute, there are exceptions, and you may find that your claim timeframe is much shorter, especially when a government entity is involved.
You will need the right Chicago freeway accident lawyer to review your case and file a claim as soon as possible. Accident victims regularly obtain more compensation when they enlist the help of our experienced attorneys than when they try to handle the claim independently.
Call a Chicago car accident attorney from Abels & Annes, P.C., to get your claim started today. Our personal injury lawyers will explain the possible outcomes of your claim and any challenges you might expect. Abels & Annes, P.C. will also negotiate with the insurance company - or multiple insurance companies - on your behalf to get the maximum compensation for your claim.
Never settle for less money than your claim is worth and always consider all factors before accepting insurance payments. Our Chicago car accident attorneys can advise you of your legal options and ensure insurance tactics do not blindside you. You can get a free claim evaluation through our contact page or by calling us at any time at (312) 924-7575.