Have You Been Injured in a Chicago Truck Accident?
Semi trucks drive more miles on Illinois roads every year than most passenger vehicles. Yet, they account for a small number of crashes. Many reasons for this have been suggested, including the fact that:
- Trucks drive slower than most traffic on highway
- Truckers must undergo more intense training to become license
- Some truckers are more aware of the dangers associated with driving and therefore more careful of safety procedures
However, our Chicago truck accident lawyers know that even though they aren’t involved in as many accidents, semi-trucks are involved in a large number of crashes with serious injuries and fatalities.
Our lawyers have experience with seeking compensation for semi truck accident victims. We can help you and your family recover. Contact us today for a free consultation at (312) 924-7575 or by filling out our online form.
Common Injuries Associated with Truck Accidents
Truck accidents usually yield more serious injuries than car accidents, simply because of the size of commercial trucks. They’re much heavier than passenger vehicles and take a much longer time to come to a complete stop, so the injuries associated with these accidents can be much more debilitating and severe. A more severe injury leads to more treatment, and more treatment means a higher medical bill. With these serious injuries, many people end up more stressed about paying back their bills. However, an experienced attorney can help you recover the compensation that you need to pay back your medical bills and more.
Back and Neck Injuries
Back and neck injuries are extremely common with truck accidents because of the rapid back and forth motion that occurs when a car is hit. These injuries can include spinal cord injuries, whiplash, and dislocated discs. Complications can arise because of these injuries as well, leading to paralysis and life-ling pain.
Broken Bones, Bruises, and Lacerations
Broken bones, cuts, scrapes, and bruises are all very common after these types of accidents. They may occur alongside a more serious injury, although they can create their own serious complications. Lacerations may require stitches and a broken bone may require a surgery. These injuries can also lead to complications like infection.
Head injuries, like a traumatic brain injury, can occur during a truck accident. One may experience a concussion or a late onset of symptoms. You should always be checked by a doctor after a major accident, especially if you’re feeling any symptoms, like dizziness or confusion. Head injuries can result in complications such as brain death, vegetative state, coma, or death.
Because truck accidents can be so severe, they can cause death at the scene or during treatment of one’s injuries. If someone you love died because of a truck accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.
Why do semi trucks get into accidents?
Due to their size and the relatively long time it takes to slow or stop a semi, it is easy to see how the driver of a small passenger car would likely suffer injuries in a semi crash. Semi truck crashes can happen for all of the same reasons as other vehicle collisions. However, there are a few types of truck accidents that are among the most common. In the experience of our attorneys, the following list comprises some of the most common causes of semi truck accidents:
Driver error on the part of a trucker accounts for a significant percentage of all semi crashes. This category includes crashes caused by a speeding driver, a driver who fails to check a blind spot before switching lanes, and driver confusion.
Truck drivers work long hours and they have demanding schedules. The hours they drive are limited by the law. However, many drivers continue behind the wheel when they are exhausted or otherwise should be resting. Long haul drivers may be in a cab for days or weeks at a time. There’s little to break up the monotony of the road. This can lead a driver to lose focus on the road and to ignore safe driving techniques, causing a crash.
Driving Under the Influence
It is illegal in every state to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In Illinois, commercial drivers are held to a higher standard than the public. They can only have very little alcohol in their system. This is because the size, weight, and force of a semi-truck make them an inherent danger to others on the road. There’s a need for the utmost safety. Drivers who operate a semi under the influence pose an extreme danger to themselves and everyone else on the road.
Failing to Secure Loads
Semis in the Chicago area are often hauling trailers that are full of products. Big or small, this product needs to be properly packed and secured so the weight is distributed across the truck. Failure to properly distribute the weight makes it more likely that a truck will cause an accident. This is especially true when turning or when trying to stop. When a product is not properly tied down or stored on a flatbed trailer, it can fly off the trailer and into the path of another vehicle, causing that other vehicle to crash.
Low Filled Liquid Loads
Many trailers are designed to transport liquids, including gas and oil. These tanks can hold a certain amount of liquid before they are full. However, leaving the hold partially full can be more dangerous than you may realize. If a trailer has less than ¾ fill, the liquid can splash around inside the trailer and cause the truck to sway back and forth, especially with turns or changes in speed. When the liquid makes a sudden movement, a driver can lose control of the truck and can cause an accident.
One of the deadliest types of crashes in Chicago is a rear-end semi truck crash. This can occur when a semi truck driver fails to slow or stop their vehicle in time to prevent a crash with a car in front of them. The truck strikes the rear of the car, often with significant force. A car is not capable of taking this heavy of an impact and will likely crumble. All vehicle occupants are at risk for injuries in the event of a rear-end crash. However, backseat passengers, who are often children, have a particularly high risk of injury or death.
Whether turning right or left, a semi truck will make a wider turn than a standard passenger vehicle. This is because of its length, size, weight, and limited turning radius. However, this does not give a truck a right to turn as wide as they please and cross other lanes of traffic. Trucks still have to remain in their lane of traffic while turning and to exercise due care for others in the area. Failure to do so may result in a crash.
Many truck drivers focus on the road and nothing else while they drive. Unfortunately, not every driver takes this approach. As modern technology continues to improve, more and more drivers carry cell phones, tablets, GPS, and other gadgets. These can all be a source of distraction. Aside from technology, eating behind the wheel, conversing with a passenger, or even getting lost in a song on the radio can be a distraction. Many companies have rules about what their drivers can and cannot do behind the wheel. That being said, it is up to an individual driver to comply with these rules and with any local and federal laws.
Lack of training
With the demand for truck drivers being so high, sometimes commercial truck companies do not do enough to train and check on their drivers’ skills. This can lead to dangerous and severe accidents, especially since trucks are so heavy and large
Lack of Maintenance
Trucking companies and owners are required by law to maintain their vehicles and keep them in a condition that ensures safety. However, there are costs and time involved in maintaining semi and commercial trucks. This cuts into profits and time that could be used to make deliveries. Thus, poorly maintained trucks are one of the biggest causes of truck accidents in Illinois.
Common Injuries from Semi Truck Accidents
In truck versus car accidents, the car occupants are more likely to suffer severe injuries when compared to common car versus car accidents. This is because of the sheer size difference in the vehicles. Truck accident victims are often left with more severe injuries, longer recovery times, disabilities and disfigurement, and sometimes even death.
Head and Brain Injuries
Head and brain injuries caused by truck accidents can range from mild to severe. This can include concussions, mild, moderate, and severe TBIs, diffuse axonal injuries, contusions, coup-contrecoup injuries, and open head injuries. Brain injuries can lead to complications like prolonged recovery times, trouble various aspects of everyday life, cognitive and emotional issues, learning disabilities, coma, vegetative state, and even death. Brain injuries after a truck accident are common and can be life changing the sufferers and their families.
Spinal Cord and Neck Injuries
Spinal cord injuries are also a very common result in truck accidents. Spinal cord injuries can cause an accident victim to have a complete loss of ability (meaning full paralyzation) or an incomplete spinal injury can leave a person partially paralyzed. No matter how the spine is affected in a truck accident, it almost always means costly medical bills, extreme pain and suffering, and a serious change in one’s quality of life.
After a truck accident, it is possible to have no visible injuries, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not seriously hurt. Internal injuries, such as internal bleeding, are incredibly common with any type of vehicle accident. Symptoms can appear immediately, hours later, or even days after the accident occurs. This is why it’s so important to get medical treatment right away after a car or truck accident.
Broken Bones and Fractures
Truck accidents are powerful and the force of the collision can be devastating. These accidents can result in broken bones for the car driver or their passenger. Fractures often heal in a cast, but they can still cause complications like infection or necessary surgery. Broken bones are often present alongside other injuries, like neck and back injuries.
Lacerations are common in vehicle accidents because of broken glass and sharp metal and plastic objects. The force of a truck hitting a passenger vehicle may cause windows or a windshield to break, and cause other objects to protrude in hazardous ways. Many lacerations heal properly with the right care, usually stitches or staples to keep the wound closed. However, if not treated properly or if other complications arise, lacerations can lead to infection. Further, many lacerations lead to disfiguring scars.
Mental and Emotional Trauma
Being in a truck accident can be emotionally jarring. Accident sufferers may develop depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder after the incident. These conditions may never go away, but with the proper care like therapy and medication, it can get better. Mental health treatment is often overlooked after an accident, and it can be difficult to recover these damages in court.
How is a Truck Accident Different from a Car Accident?
Truck accidents and car accidents share many similarities, but they do have a few key differences. While car accident cases are usually between two parties and their corresponding insurance companies, truck accident cases can include multiple third parties. Hiring an attorney is a crucial step in any accident case, but especially so if you’ve been involved in a truck accident because of this difference.
If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, you may have to deal with various different liable parties. This can include the trucking company, the driver, the loaders, the manufacturer, and the owner of the truck. The involvement of these parties can make the case more complex, but an experienced attorney can help you to navigate the various issues and challenges.
When dealing with a car accident, you’re often dealing with the other driver’s auto insurance and your own carrier as well. This means that the value you can collect for damages is typically limited to the coverages of the at-fault driver and your own policies. With a truck accident, you’re often dealing with the insurance companies of multiple parties. Further, these are typical high limit commercial insurance policies. Usually, this means you can often get more of the compensation you need to recover in higher value injury cases.
And finally, as noted above, truck accidents often result in more serious injuries in comparison to car accidents. This means a longer recovery time, more potential complications, more pain and suffering, and higher medical bills.
Determining Truck Accident Liability
Determining liability for your truck accident can be complicated, as there are often many different parties that could be liable for your injuries, depending on how the accident occurred and what your attorney finds during the investigation.
For example, the driver may be liable if they were drinking and driving, texting and driving, driving recklessly or aggressively, or driving while tired. In many of these cases, the accident would be the driver’s fault for acting negligently behind the wheel.
However, if the driver was driving while drowsy or tired because the trucking company was overscheduling the driver or not allowing proper breaks, then the trucking company could be liable for the injuries you sustain. If the accident occurred because of lack of training, it could also be the fault of the trucking company. Finally, the trucking company may be liable under an agency theory if the driver was an employee.
The manufacturers of the truck could be at-fault for your accident if a defective part caused the accident to occur. Likewise, the truck owner or the company they work for could be responsible if the accident could have been prevented with proper safety checks.
Investigating the accident is the first step in determining who is liable for your injuries. Your truck accident attorney will investigate how the accident occurred and who is liable while investigating your case.
After a truck accident, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of financial debt you’ve accumulated or will accumulate. However, your attorney will help to ensure that you get the best settlement possible.
When it comes to damages, you can receive compensation in two different categories, economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to direct monetary values associated with your case. This includes medical bills, lost wages, and any other direct costs you incurred while you were recovering from your injuries.
Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of earning capacity, and compensation for any permanent disability or disfigurement. An experienced attorney will be able to calculate the proper amount to demand for your pain and suffering based on their past experience with settlements, jury verdicts, mediations and arbitrations, the severity of your injuries, and your prognosis.
Commercial Trucking Regulations
There are many regulations in place to avoid truck accidents from occurring. Truck drivers aren’t allowed to drive more than a certain number of hours at a time and are required to take a break in between each shift. Drivers must perform certain safety checks and document maintenance. They’re also expected to be free of any alcohol or drug influence before getting behind the wheel of the truck.
These regulations also state what kind of licensing and safety training a driver needs to have before they’re able to drive a commercial vehicle. Drivers must have a relatively clean driving record, complete a certain number of hours of training, pass a written test, and be able to obtain medical verification that they’re in good health. If any of these steps are skipped or if a driver breaks any regulation rules and an accident results, they could be liable.
On top of that, a driver may be influenced by the company they work for to drive for longer hours or skip safety steps. If this is found to be the case, the trucking company could also be liable for the accident that occurred.
Determining liability is a little bit different in a truck accident case compared to a passenger vehicle car accident case. Because there are many different parties that can be liable (driver, trucking company, manufacturer, loaders), it can be much harder to determine who was actually negligent in causing your accident. In some cases, there can be multiple liable parties, also known as third-party liability.
If the truck driver was acting with negligence, they could be liable for your case. That can look like texting while driving, speeding, driving under the influence, driving while fatigued or exhausted, or driving recklessly.
If the trucking company is liable it could be because they didn’t properly train the driver, they instructed the driver to ignore trucking regulations, or overscheduled the driver. They could have passed on safety evaluations or even mistakenly or intentionally skipped a scheduled maintenance. Finally, a trucking company will often be liable under a theory of agency, as the driver was its employee.
The manufacturer of the truck, trailer, or certain parts could be held liable if the accident was caused by a defect. This is something that should have been caught in safety testing by the manufacturer. On the flip side, if the part was recalled and the trucking company continued to use it, that would be considered the fault of the trucking company.
Trucks have to be loaded a specific way in order to spread the weight out properly. If the weight isn’t distributed properly, this could cause an accident. Certain measures are also required to ensure loads are properly secured to the trailer, which if done improperly, can cause an accident. In these cases, it would be the fault of the loading company and anyone who was in charge of checking the load to make sure it was safe before the driver started their trip.
What Compensation Can I Receive?
You may be stressed about receiving enough compensation to cover the cost of any bills or money you’ve lost because of your accident. However, experienced attorneys like the ones here at Abels & Annes, can help to ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.
Economic damages will help to cover your medical bills, including any surgery costs, ambulance rides, hospital visits, therapy, or other medical treatment you may have needed. You can also recover damages for any wages you lost while you were out of work or any wages you may lose in the future because of your injury. You can also claim damages for necessary in-home care, like childcare.
Non-economic damages refer to compensation that you receive for pain and suffering, permanent disability or disfigurement, loss of consortium, loss of earning capacity, and more. These damages are calculated based on the amount that your life has changed and what you’ve had to go through because of your accident. These damages change from person to person, but your attorney can help you figure out what you should expect. If you are left with a permanent disability or disfigurement from your accident, you may be able to receive additional compensation. If you’re unable to perform your job because of your injury, you could receive additional compensation for lost earning capacity as well.
Should You Contact a Chicago Semi Truck Accident Lawyer?
When an accident with a truck in the Chicago area occurs, there is likely going to be injuries or fatalities. If the truck driver, the truck itself, or the company the driver works for are wholly or partially to blame, those victims with injuries may be able to make a claim for their losses with the assistance of a personal injury lawyer.
We never charge a fee unless a recovery is made on your behalf and our consultations are always free. We can determine whether one of the common causes of semi truck accidents played a role in causing your injuries.
Call the personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes at (312) 924-7575 for a free case consultation now.