Chicago Truck Accident Attorneys
The truck accident lawyers of Abels & Annes represent individuals who were injured in Illinois truck accidents and other types of commercial truck accidents as a result of the negligence of others. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.Were You Injured in a Truck Accident?
A large commercial truck, such as a tractor-trailer manufactured by Freightliner, Kenworth, Mack, or Peterbilt, may be 20 times the size of a conventional passenger car when pulling a trailer. Given the extreme disparity between the weight and mass of commercial trucks and regular passenger cars, it is not hard to imagine how dangerous it is for the occupants of a regular car when they get in an accident with a big rig—not to mention the effects on a pedestrians, motorcyclists, or bicyclists.Truck Accident Attorneys in Chicago
According to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, although large trucks make up only 4.3% of all motor vehicles registered in the United States, and are involved in only 5.2% of all traffic accidents, accidents involving large trucks account for nearly 10% of all traffic accident fatalities—and most of those fatalities are to the occupants of smaller vehicles rather than the trucks.
For Illinois specifically, according to the 2016 Crash Facts and Statistics compiled by the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were over 11.5 million registered vehicles within the state in 2016. Accidents involving tractor-trailers numbered about 11,000, of which there were 106 fatal crashes. A total of 117 people died in Illinois in 2016 from involvement in tractor-trailer collisions, and 101 of those were the occupants of other vehicles.
Unfortunately, while new safety regulations such as mandatory seat-belt laws and installed technological innovations such as airbags seem to consistently help drivers and passengers to survive more accidents, the dismal numbers relating to large truck accident fatalities are unlikely to improve significantly in the near future, either in Illinois or in the United States as a whole.
Commercial trucks not only include tractor-trailers hauling freight, but garbage trucks, delivery trucks, construction vehicles, emergency service vehicles, and so on. In fact, tractor-trailers account for only 2 million of the 15.5 million commercial trucks that operate in the United States, and commercial trucks transport nearly 70% of all freight traveling the nation’s roads. As the use of these vehicles persists and even increases, they bring with them the sobering reality that smaller passenger vehicles—even heavier ones such as SUVs—simply cannot contend with these trucks in the event of an accident.
Check out this link for more Truck Accident Statistics.Commercial Trucks and Drivers are Highly Regulated making Personal Injury Cases Relating to Truck Accidents Different
Large truck accident cases are quite a bit different from other car accident cases. In particular, commercial vehicles—and their drivers—are regulated more stringently than regular vehicles and drivers.
Because of the inherent danger that these huge vehicles pose to other drivers, numerous laws and regulations have been enacted at both the federal and state level to ensure that truck drivers are safe.
These laws include:
- ensuring that truck drivers are adequately trained,
- that their vehicles meet specified safety standards,
- and that operators comply with regulations.
Illinois commercial truck regulations include:
- limiting how many hours a trucker may drive per day,
- how often they must be tested for alcohol or drug use,
- how often their vehicles must be inspected,
- how often vehicle systems must be maintained and serviced,
- how loads must be secured, and so on.
There are additional regulations regarding the transport of hazardous materials. All of these rules and regulations are constantly being updated and revised to reflect the discovery of new risks and the development of new safety equipment.Truck Drivers May Violate Regulations, Causing Serious Accidents and Injuries
Unfortunately, however, it is not uncommon for one of the contributing causes of a commercial truck accident to include a violation of one or more of these driver or vehicle regulations. In one study presented to Congress on Large Truck Crash Causation, it was noted that, of the trucks involved in the study, over 66% inspected after a crash had some sort of regulatory violation, including over 32% with brake violations, and over 23% with signal, light, or marking violations.
When you consider these mechanical problems in the light of other factors that can contribute to commercial vehicle accidents, such as driver fatigue, the general unfamiliarity that commercial drivers have with many of the highways and roads they drive upon, driver distraction or inattention, road or ramp designs or conditions that are not optimum for big rigs, the different ways in which large and heavy vehicles respond to various weather conditions, and so on, it is not surprising that commercial trucks pose a significant risk of danger to all users of the highways.Causes of Chicago Truck Accidents
Semi truck accidents are serious business. Because of the size difference between a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle, it is important that truck drivers are safe. However, just like any other motor vehicle accident cause, there are some things that tend to increase the chances of a semi truck accident. For example:
- Driver Fatigue
- Lack of Training
- Overweight Trucks
- Drunk Driving
- Distracted Driving
- Road Hazards
- Speeding While Driving
- Jackknife Accidents
- Swinging Turn Accidents
- Wide Turn Accidents
Drivers of big trucks must complete hours of classroom and on-the-road training to operate their vehicles safely. Thanks to this training, these drivers can often avoid accidents.
When accidents with big trucks do occur, however, they can cause extensive damage to both your vehicle, its occupants, and others on the road. In one recent year, more than4,000 people died in truck accidents and thousands more suffered substantial injuries, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Are you struggling to recover after a truck accident? Do you have questions about your rights to compensation under Illinois law? Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we get from our clients here at Abels & Annes. If you have additional questions, we invite you to contact us.1. Who has legal liability for my truck accident: the truck driver or the trucking company?
Either of them, or maybe both of them, or maybe someone else entirely. Here’s what we mean.
Truck accidents frequently happen because of a poor decision by a truck driver. That might mean the driver and his insurance carrier have liability to you for your injuries. But that’s not always the case, and even if it is, that doesn’t mean he is the only party with liability.
Other commercial entities with interests in the truck may also face liability under a theory of agency or if their actions contributed to an accident. For example:
A trucking company that has unrealistic working conditions that require its drivers to work too many hours, to drive when tired, and to drive when ill or medicated;
A shipping company that failed to secure the cargo when it loaded the trailer the truck was pulling at the time of the accident; or
A mechanic who failed to service the truck properly, leading to an equipment failure.
In any truck accident, there may also be people or companies with no relation to the truck whose actions nevertheless caused the truck to crash. For example, other drivers may cut a truck off, precipitating an accident. Or a dangerous road condition caused by a negligent road crew may cause the truck to lose control.
Bottom line: experienced truck accident attorneys know to investigate all parties with potential legal liability to their clients, not just the truck driver or his employer.2. Does legal liability mean that someone’s insurance will definitely pay for my medical bills after a truck accident?
No. Just because someone has legal liability does not mean that person or company will step up and do the right thing on their own. Oftentimes, insurance companies for parties with legal liability will try to grind down your claim to nothing by trying to pin responsibility for the accident on you (or someone other than their insured). If they think their customer has liability no matter what, they may also try to offer you a lowball settlement offer to escape what they know might be much larger financial exposure.3. Do I need a lawyer to handle a truck accident claim?
In most cases, yes. To start, an experienced truck accident lawyer can protect you against the insurance company tactics described above. Lawyers negotiate with insurance companies day-in, day-out. They know how to protect their clients and extract the maximum settlement offer the insurance company is willing to offer.
Attorneys also have the experience and skill to investigate the root causes of your truck accident, and to make an accurate calculation of the wide range of damages you may have the legal right to recover. Finally, an attorney can take your case to court, if need be.
Could you handle all of those tasks by yourself? It’s unlikely. It requires too much education and training for most people to do it correctly.4. What injuries commonly occur after truck accidents?
Truck accidents often cause serious injuries to numerous people. Trucks have greater mass and size than passenger cars. Not only does this mean that they need more room to slow down or come to a full stop, it also means that they require more room to maneuver and can cause more damage when they strike another vehicle. Common truck accident injuries may include:
Spinal cord damage
There is no correct answer to this question. Every truck accident, and injury, is different. The amount of damages a person injured in a truck accident might recover depends on a wide variety of factors. These typically include:
The victim’s age, occupation, family status, and state of health before the accident;
The severity of injuries and prognosis for making a full recovery;
The amount of physical and/or emotional pain the injuries inflicted;
The number and nature of parties with potential legal liability; and
The amount of insurance parties with potential legal liability carry.
Skilled truck accident attorneys know that to arrive at an appropriate figure to demand as damages, they must investigate their client’s accident and injuries. Only after doing this investigation is it possible to put a reasonably-accurate number on the damages due.6. How long do I have to file a claim after a truck accident?
Under Illinois law, in most cases you have two years to take legal action for damages after sustaining an injury in a truck accident. But that doesn’t mean you should wait 1 year and 11 months to speak with an attorney. The sooner you consult with an experienced truck accident attorney about your injuries and losses, the better your chances of protecting your rights and recovering the maximum compensation you deserve. Not only does acting early give your attorney the time to do a proper investigation of your case, it also helps to ensure you preserve evidence you might need to prove your case.
A truck accident can leave you with serious injuries and facing many challenges you didn’t plan for and have limited time to face. By consulting a truck accident lawyer, however, you can increase the odds that you will receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.If You Have Been Injured in a Truck Accident, the Chicago Truck Accident Attorneys at Abels & Annes Can Help
At Abels & Annes, we believe commercial drivers and trucking companies should be held accountable when they are responsible for causing accidents and injuries. The unfortunate reality is that some trucking companies and drivers can be negligent in adhering to the rules and regulations that are enacted to keep the roadways safe.
When drivers and companies are under economic pressure to meet deadlines or to complete contracts, they can make poor decisions that impact the safety of others, such as foregoing inspections, overloading trailers, operating without required safety equipment, or committing similar infractions. And more often than not, the result of these bad decisions is an accident.
An experienced truck accident lawyer in the Chicago area understands all of the special considerations that may be relevant in truck accident cases. At Abels & Annes, we are familiar with both Illinois and federal commercial motor carrier regulations regarding vehicles and drivers, and we are diligent in investigating the potential causes and issues that may impact issues of liability for commercial trucks.
Even if the trucking company involved is based out of state, or the case may involve independent drivers, leased vehicles, maintenance contracts, and so on, at Abels & Annes, we have the resources and knowhow to get results. The sad fact is that large truck accidents often involve very serious injuries, such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and permanent disablement, or even death. If you are injured in an accident involving a large truck, it is essential for you to work with a law firm that has the capability to fight large companies, large insurers, and the law firms that defend them, and that has the resources to make detailed and timely inquiries into the facts and factors that apply in commercial trucking cases.
Most commercial vehicles are required to carry insurance limits that are significantly higher than passenger vehicle limits, and we have experience working with and negotiating with commercial insurance carriers, in pursuing claims so that our clients obtain all that they are entitled to, no matter where the insurance carrier may be based, and no matter who is representing them. We can help truck accident victims to recover not only medical costs, loss of income, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and other direct losses, but, if necessary, we will pursue punitive damages if the motor carrier has acted especially egregiously in ignoring public safety. We know that protecting future drivers from suffering the results of carelessness and negligence by commercial truck companies and drivers means lives saved.
If you or someone you care about has been involved in an accident involving a large truck, contact us online or call the truck accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Abels & Annes. You may contact us toll-free at (855) LAW-CHICAGO or locally in Chicago at (312) 924-7575. Your consultation is completely free. If we agree to take your case, we will not charge any fee unless and until we recover damages on your behalf.