Truck accidents can be one of the most devastating motor vehicle accidents one can experience. Unlike passenger car accidents, commercial trucks and semi-tricks are incredibly heavy, making them much more likely to cause devastating injuries when they collide with smaller vehicles. Even though truckers receive special training and licensing, they can still make mistakes and act negligently. In fact, since they spend so much time on the road, truckers are actually more susceptible to things like driving while drowsy or distracted.
In 2018, there were 4,136 fatalities caused by truck accidents in the US. Of those fatal accidents, 67% of the people who died were the driver or a passenger in the smaller vehicle. Additionally, 15% of the fatalities were pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. That means that only 18% of the fatalities caused by truck accidents were truck drivers.
If you were injured because of a truck accident, you are probably under a lot of stress. Your injuries are probably serious, you’re racking up a mountain of debt, and you’re probably unsure about what to do next. Well, take some comfort in knowing that hiring an attorney is not only your best bet, but it will also not cost you any money upfront.
An experienced Waukegan truck accident attorney, like the ones here at Abels and Annes, will be able to help you recover damages and get compensation for your truck accident injuries. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
Truck accidents can be caused by the same things that cause a regular car accident, but there are also a few additional causes that are specific to semi truck collisions. Some common causes of truck accidents include:
- driver fatigue
- distracted driving
- driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- poor training
- maintenance issues
- improper loading
Let’s go a little deeper into some of the common causes of truck accidents.
Driver fatigue occurs when a driver is exhausted from being on the road for too long. Drivers have to follow federal guidelines that outline the maximum number of hours they’re allowed to work. This varies based on the type of vehicle they are driving, if they are carrying passengers, and how far they are going. These laws also mandate how long a driver has to break before they begin driving again. These laws are specifically in place to prevent driver fatigue. However, it is not uncommon for these regulations to be ignored by trucking companies and drivers in order to meet a deadline.
Distracted driving can include texting, talking on the phone, eating, or doing anything that distracts a driver. Distracted driving is extremely common among truckers since they spend so much time in their vehicles.
Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is unfortunately very common among commercial truck drivers. Drugs are often used to help a driver stay awake, but can have unfortunate consequences and cause accidents.
Poor training is another common reason for truck accidents. As the demand for shipping goods continues to rise, companies are having to hire drivers at a fast pace. Sometimes, this means drivers do not receive adequate training before they are allowed behind the wheel of a 30 ton truck.
Who is Liable for my Truck Accident?
Truck drivers are still most likely to be the person responsible for your accident, but it is not always the case. Unlike car accidents, third-party liability claims are more common with truck accidents, since other parties could have been the cause of the accident like the trucking company or truck loaders.
Determining truck accident liability can be complex, much more so than a regular car accident. This is simply because there are many parties that can be involved in a truck accident case.
Truck drivers are most commonly the party liable for a truck accident. This can be because of any negligent behavior, like driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving unsafely, speeding, or driving while distracted. The driver could also be driving while drowsy because of a failure to follow resting guidelines. This is where it becomes tricky since oftentimes the trucking company requests or pressures the driver into staying on the road.
Trucking companies are most often responsible for accidents when they fail to properly train a driver. It is solely the responsibility of the trucking company to make sure that the person they put behind the wheel is adequately trained to operate such a large vehicle. Trucking companies may also be responsible if they require or pressure their drivers into breaking federal guidelines. Finally, a trucking company can be liable for its employee’s negligent actions under an agency theory.
A truck is required to be loaded in a certain way to distribute the weight around the trailer evenly. If the loading is done incorrectly, shifting or loose cargo can cause an accident.
If the accident occurs because of a defective product, the manufacturers of that product could be liable for the accident. However, if the product was recalled and the trucking company didn’t replace it, it could be the fault of the trucking company.
In some cases, commercial trucks are owned by one company and rented out to other companies for use. In these cases, if the truck isn’t safe or isn’t maintained properly, it could be the fault of the truck owner as opposed to the truck company.
Truck accidents can cause severe injuries, such as back and neck injuries, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, burns, amputation, and internal injuries. Truck accident injuries tend to be more severe because of the size of commercial trucks in comparison to smaller cars.
Traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injuries are two of the most common, and more severe, injuries that a person can suffer from a truck accident.
Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, occurs when the head is struck or penetrated with force, causing damage to the brain. TBIs often greatly affect victims' lives physically and emotionally, and can create serious debt and stress to go along with it.
Spinal cord injuries are also very serious and very common after truck accidents. Any damage to the spinal cord or vertebrae can create lifelong pain and discomfort. Some spinal cord injuries have a better prognosis than others and will eventually heal completely. However, they often create severe pain and discomfort during that process and may require extensive treatments and surgeries. People who experience permanent spinal cord injuries may experience limited loss of motion, or they may completely lose the ability to move certain body parts. Permanent spinal injuries also can mean a lifetime of pain for the sufferer.
Deciding whether or not to settle your truck accident case can be a big decision. Discussing this matter with your attorney is the only informed way to make this decision.
As a general rule, you should avoid settling early. The at-fault party’s insurance company may try to reach out to you after you’ve filed a claim. They may offer you quick cash in exchange for a signed release of claims. It’s important that you don’t take this money since it is most likely a lowball offer.
Something to consider is your settlement value versus your trial value and the chance you have of winning your case if it goes to trial. Oftentimes, negotiations last right up until a trial date is looming. This is because insurance companies try to hold out as long as possible in order to pay as little as possible. However, if it comes down to the possibility of going to trial, you and your attorney will discuss how the value of your case could change if you were to present your case to a jury. Obviously, if the jury decides against you, it is possible that you may receive no compensation, as opposed to taking a pre-trial settlement offer from the insurance company. If your truck accident claim goes this far, it is likely that you and your attorney will have had extensive conversations about it before you reach this point.
As with any personal injury case, you can receive compensation in two different main categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are damages that have a monetary value associated with them, like medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages refer to pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of earning capacity, and any compensation for permanent disability or disfigurement.
There is another category of damages known as punitive damages. This type of compensation is reserved for very specific cases and is meant to punish the defendant financially to prevent them and others from doing something similar in the future. Punitive damages are rare and are only reserved for specific cases.
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a truck accident, contacting an experienced Waukegan personal injury attorney is a crucial step toward getting the compensation you need to fully recover. At Abels & Annes, we have the experience, resources, and zeal necessary to fight for our clients so that they get the most compensation available to them. For more information or a free case evaluation, contact us online, by using our chat box below, or by calling us at 855-529-2442.
Abels & Annes, P.C. (Waukegan Office)
404 W Water St Suite 100
Waukegan, IL 60085