Millions of people regularly use Illinois’s 16,000 miles of highways to commute to work, run errands, and travel for leisure. For the most part, these state highways are an efficient and reliable way to get from point A to point B. Unfortunately, not all trips end safely. When highway accidents happen, unsuspecting victims can find themselves severely injured and with a ton of new stresses in life. Recovery from your injuries often requires a great deal of time, commitment, and medical treatments – none of which are free.
Your career, personal life, and finances can all suffer as a result of a highway accident. And when the collision was not your fault, all these new stresses and financial responsibilities may seem unfairly placed on you. This is when a personal injury attorney can help you: by working to obtain proper financial compensation for your injuries.
Highway Accident Statistics
While highway accident injuries are often severe, highways actually see fewer deaths than local roads. Local roads see fatal accidents at a rate three times higher than highways.
Highways do not have to be busy or congested in order to be dangerous. Travel on rural highways accounts for 30% of highway traffic in the United States. Further, over half of fatal car accidents happen in rural areas of the country.
What Causes Highway Accidents?
Highways can be dangerous for lots of reasons, including high speeds, distracted driving, improper lane changes, aggressive driving, drowsy driving, and dangerous weather conditions.
Speeding can lead to accidents no matter what type of road you are on. However, speed limits are already increased on highways. When drivers exceed those higher limits, the impact can be especially damaging and cause injuries that are much more severe than collisions that happen at lower speeds.
Distracted driving is one of the biggest problems we face on roads today. Any time a driver diverts their eyes, hands, or mental attention away from operating their vehicles, they are distracted. Consequently, they aren’t able to react appropriately to changes on the road. And again, the speed limits on highways can make reaction times much more important. Distracted driving decreases reaction times dramatically and makes highway accidents more likely.
Improper Lane Changes
Vehicles changing lanes while moving at high speeds can be risky. Often, drivers change lanes without making sure it is safe to do so and without checking blind spots. New technology, like blind spot sensors, helps prevent this type of accident, but they still occur often. This is especially true with large trucks.
Aggressive drivers tailgate, change lanes without warning, and cut off other motorists. Their behavior disrupts the predictable flow of traffic. As a result, accidents become more likely. Aggressive driving, especially on highways, is exceptionally dangerous. Tensions might be heightened due to the stresses of congested traffic, the desire to get home from work, and other frustrations that are unique to driving on a highway or interstate.
Approximately 328,000 fatigue-related collisions occur annually. Highways tend to have long monotonous stretches of road. This can be a serious problem for tired drivers. If you find yourself drowsy or dozing off in any way, you should pull over immediately and get some rest. Studies have shown that drowsy driving is nearly as serious as drunk driving.
Harsh weather conditions
Conditions like rain and snow impact visibility and traction. Motorists who don’t adjust their driving habits to accommodate inclimate weather risk losing control of their car. This is especially true on highways where high speeds and congestion can make it harder to stop quick enough on wet or icy roads.
Common Injuries from Catastrophic Highway Accidents
As you are aware, accidents that occur on highways can have serious repercussions. Some common injuries that occur due to highway accidents include brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, internal bleeding, and broken bones.
If your head hits an object or is thrashed around during a highway accident, you could develop a traumatic brain injury. TBIs lead to cognitive decline and a host of emotional problems. These conditions can make it difficult to hold a job and maintain relationships, not to mention they are expensive to treat. Additionally, on average, TBI-related injuries cause 150 American deaths every day.
Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries can be extremely serious and very painful. They can take away your ability to control bodily functions, which may lead to loss of bladder control, spasms, and breathing issues. The most severe spinal injuries can leave accident victims either partially or completely paralyzed. Victims of injuries that cause paralysis have to make significant adjustments to their lifestyles, often relying on caregivers. For this reason, the cost of care and treatment for spinal injuries is often extremely expensive.
Blunt trauma from a highway accident can cause internal bleeding anywhere in the body. It is especially dangerous when vital organs are impacted. If internal bleeding isn’t addressed right away, it can cause serious complications or even turn fatal.
Broken Bones and Fractures
Breaks and fractures can happen anywhere in the body during a car accident. The bones themselves can take months to heal. However, a fracture serious enough to require surgery may require a much longer recovery time. In turn, that represents higher medical costs. Surgery is likely when multiple bones are broken or fractured during a highway accident. When this type of situation occurs, complications like infection, nerve damage, and the cost of treatment can all just be the beginning of a seriously painful and stressful situation.
Multi-Vehicle Accidents Caused by Trucks
The more cars involved in a highway accident, the more complicated the legalities may become. That is because determining who is at-fault in a multi-car pile-up is often less clear and may require extensive investigation.
In a collision involving multiple vehicles hitting each other on a highway, determining liability can become complicated. Who is at fault for a pile up? Do some of the drivers share partial responsibility? How would you prove who was liable in a multi-car crash? These are just some of the legal questions that make multi-car pile-up accidents on highways complex.
For instance, say a truck strikes a vehicle directly in front of it, pushing that vehicle into your car. The driver in the middle car may be partially responsible, or all of the fault may lie only with the truck driver. In a complex scenario like this, your car accident attorney can analyze the accident report, available dashcam footage, and other evidence to determine whether you should pursue compensation from one or more parties.
To further complicate matters, a truck driver is not necessarily at-fault when a truck causes a multi-car pileup. For instance, if an unstable truck rolls over, it could be due to poorly-loaded cargo or malfunctioning parts. A variety of entities in the trucking industry may be responsible. Since trucks exponentially outweigh normal vehicles, pile-ups involving trucks can cause injuries that are especially devastating. Commercial trucks are usually heavily insured to cover these injuries. It is best not to leave these personal injury claims to chance. Working with an experienced personal injury attorney could be crucial in discovering the cause of the crash so that you can be properly compensated for your injuries.
What Can I Recover in Damages from a Highway Accident?
Medical Expenses. You can recover the costs of your medical bills you received because of a highway accident. Some examples of medical bills include hospital stays, doctors’ appointments, physical rehab, and surgeries. Medical expenses often extend beyond initial treatment. For instance, you may have to pay for medications to treat chronic pain or you may need ongoing physical therapy.
Lost Wages. The wages you would have otherwise earned can be included in your highway accident claim. This can account for days or weeks you were off work to get treatment, and time you spent healing at home. Further, if your injuries prevent you from moving forward in your career, you may be able to seek compensation for lost earning capacity. This not only impacts yourself, but your entire family.
Pain and Suffering. Compensation cannot undo the excruciating pain you had (or have) to endure. Nor can it take away the stress and uncertainty of having a significant injury. However, pain and suffering are reasonable damages you can expect to receive compensation for after an accident.
Contact a Chicago Highway Car Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one was injured in a highway accident due to negligence, speak with an attorney at Abels & Annes. We are proud of our extensive track record of successfully handling car accident cases. Our attorneys evaluate each client’s case in detail in order to pursue maximum compensation for injuries and other damages. For a free initial case evaluation, call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.