If you were injured or lost a loved one due to an accident with a commercial truck, here is a detailed look at three reasons why you may need an experienced Chicago truck accident lawyer from Abels & Annes, P.C.
The Severity of the Injuries Involved
Accidents involving commercial trucks are among the most catastrophic accidents to experience, often resulting in death or serious, life-altering injuries. In the U.S., commercial truck accidents result in more than 4,000 deaths a year. Because of the massive size of these trucks—often weighing 20 to 30 times more than the average passenger car—the victims of these accidents are most often the occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
The size disparity between commercial trucks and other vehicles is often quite large, resulting in severe injuries. In just a matter of six years, the number of injury crashes involving large trucks or buses increased by 62 percent. Severe injuries not only result in extraordinary medical expenses, but they also increase the likelihood of impacts on every facet of the person’s life. Your truck accident lawyer can calculate these impacts into the value of the case. The victim whose life that accident permanently altered deserves compensation.
Personal injury lawyers will generally start evaluating a case by adding up economic damages, which are out-of-pocket expenses that result from the injury.
Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical expenses, such as emergency treatment at the scene of the accident or in the emergency department; transport by ambulance or air to the hospital; diagnostic testing such as X-rays or MRI scans; physician and surgical services; hospitalization; prescription medication; physical therapy and rehabilitation.
- The amount of income lost due to being too injured to work or missing work to attend injury-related medical appointments.
- The loss of future earning capacity if the injury results in a permanent disability that prevents the injured person from performing the job he or she held before the accident, or prevents the injured person from working at all.
- The cost of repairing or replacing the injured person’s vehicle or other property damaged in the accident.
Once your truck accident lawyer calculates your economic damages, he or she will consider non-economic damages, which relate to the impact that your injury has on your life. Some non-economic damages include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
- Permanent disability
- Loss of consortium—this is a type of damage awarded to the spouse of the claimant for the loss of physical intimacy and companionship that his or her partner can no longer provide as a result of the injury.
The more severe the injury and its impacts, the more economic damages your lawyer may seek. A lawyer with experience in truck accident cases understands the importance of including all economic and non-economic damages when determining the value of your case to ensure that the amount of compensation you receive is enough to cover your expenses and fairly compensate you for the impacts.
The Complexity of Truck Accident Cases
Commercial trucks, the companies that use them to provide transport for shippers around the country, and the drivers who are employed to drive the trucks are all federally regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Among the regulatory oversight provided by the FMCSA is:
- The development of standards used to test and license commercial drivers.
- Regulatory compliance and enforcement, including regular drug screening of drivers; monitoring the hours of service drivers are working to prevent accidents occurring due to driver fatigue; requirements of regular maintenance of trucks; requirements of additional training for the safe hauling of hazardous materials, and more.
- Compilation of data regarding commercial truck crashes, injuries, and fatalities.
- Research about issues impacting the safety of motor carriers and technology designed to eliminate some of the risks faced by drivers of large trucks and others on the roadway.
Proving liability after a truck accident involving death or injury requires gathering a lot of evidence. Time is of the essence when gathering this information, as the law only requires trucking companies to keep some documentation for a short time.
Some evidence an experienced truck accident lawyer may ask for includes:
- The truck driver’s hours of service logs
- The truck driver’s medical and past driving history
- The truck driver’s qualifications and training history
- Inspection and maintenance reports for the truck
- The trucking company’s history with complying with federal regulations
- Cell phone records for the trucker that could reveal distractions such as texting or other cell phone use
Knowledge of the Legal Issues Surrounding Truck Accident Cases
There is a legal process for obtaining compensation from an at-fault party if an accident involving a commercial truck injured you. There is also a legal process for obtaining compensation if you have lost a loved one in a truck accident. Each of these processes has a strict time limit, after which you generally cannot pursue compensation.
Truck accidents often feature multiple sources of liability, which includes:
- The truck driver, whose negligent or reckless actions resulted in the accident.
- The company that employed the truck driver, which is responsible for ensuring the proper licensing and training of the driver.
- The shipper, which sometimes loads the cargo for transport and that must carry sufficient insurance and comply with federal regulations.
- The individual or entity that performed maintenance on the vehicle.
- Other drivers whose negligent or reckless actions contributed to the accident.
An experienced truck accident lawyer understands the legal process, the potential sources of liability and the insurance resources that can be accessed to compensate you, and how to prove your case. If you have further questions, contact an experienced truck accident attorney who can help you understand your legal options.