Chicago Truck Accident Lawyers
Truck drivers and truck companies can be held liable for your injuries.Large semi-trucks carry consumer goods from coast to coast every day. They are a common sight on roadways across the United States. However, these large trucks are involved in thousands of motor vehicle accidents every year. Their massive size and tremendous momentum at high speeds can lead to catastrophic collisions, leaving accident victims with severe injuries.
At Walner Law®, our Chicago truck accident lawyers’ priority is to offer the highest level of personal attention to make sure your truck accident claim stands up in court. We will take every legal action to determine liability in the truck accident and pursue justice.
Injuries from Truck AccidentsEvery 16 minutes in the United States, a person is injured or killed in an accident with a commercial vehicle. A 3,000-pound passenger vehicle is no match for an 80,000-pound semi-truck. Cars and SUVs are designed to withstand motor vehicle crashes with similar-sized vehicles, not trucks that may be more than 20 times larger. Therefore, truck accident victims are more likely to sustain severe injuries. Sometimes, these incidents become fatal crashes.
Several typical semi-truck accident injuries include:
- Brain injuries
- Neck and spinal cord injuries
- Wrongful death
Reasons for Truck AccidentsThere are a number of factors that can lead to a truck crash, such as:
- Driver fatigue: This is one of the number one causes of accidents. Trucker fatigue often leads to reckless driving behavior, such as unsafe lane changing, swerving, and running off the road.
- Unrealistic driver schedules: The trucking industry is competitive so truck companies tend to put their drivers on overwhelming delivery schedules because they know drivers will accept it. Close deadlines and cross-country treks in short time spans can be very dangerous as drivers are often traveling at high speeds, driving while too fatigued, or while under the influence of stimulants (both legal and/or illegal). These schedules can cause a trucker to forgo sleep, falsify driving logs, and drive aggressively if they don’t want to lose their jobs. Sadly, this type of erratic behavior often leads to serious injuries for the drivers and passengers of smaller vehicles and the parties responsible for the schedule frequently walk away without ever being held liable.
- Improper truck maintenance: Trucking companies must properly maintain their tractor-trailers, and truck drivers are required to inspect their rigs before they leave for delivery. If a driver fails to check their brakes, lights, and emergency equipment, it can lead to catastrophic consequences.
- Overloading cargo: Trucks that are overloaded require longer stopping distances. Overloading can result in brake failure or a rollover accident. Overloaded cargo can also cause tires to blow out, which can cause a commercial truck driver to lose control of their semi.
- Aggressive driving
- Failure to yield
- Defective roadways
- Road debris or other obstructions
- Inclement weather
What to Do After a Truck AccidentWhen you are involved in an accident with a large commercial truck, the steps you take at the scene and immediately following will play a role in your ability to collect proper financial compensation.
On the Scene of a Truck AccidentThe first thing to do following a truck accident is to check yourself and all your passengers for injuries. If you are able, you should contact 911. This is important even if no injuries are immediately apparent.
While awaiting emergency personnel, gather as much information as possible. This will include:
- The name and insurance information of the truck driver
- The name and contact information of all witnesses
- Photographs of the truck crash from various angles
- Details of weather and road conditions
Following a Truck AccidentAfter the accident, seek medical help even if you do not appear to be injured. Many serious injuries can result from truck accidents and not all of them will be immediately apparent like broken bones or bruises. You need a thorough examination from your doctor or an emergency room physician to rule out problems such as brain injuries that may take months to show symptoms.
Even in minor accidents, you will want to contact a Chicago truck accident lawyer at our firm. One of our lawyers will investigate your accident, determine liability, and establish the case necessary to secure proper compensation. They will also be able to advise you of your legal rights and help you deal with all issues that arise from these personal injury cases.
No Match for Safety FeaturesFor those involved in commercial truck accidents, injuries will vary based on the type of collision and the force of the impact. While most passenger vehicles are designed with airbags and antilock brakes to keep you safe, an accident with a large 18-wheel truck may still be fatal.
Truck accident victims are prone to a number of serious and debilitating injuries, including:
- Brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Whiplash or neck injury
- Damage to internal organs
- Injuries brought on by seatbelts and airbags
- Broken and fractured bones
- Crushing injuries
- Back injury
- Facial trauma
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Road rash
Override AccidentsIn an override accident, the front end of an 18-wheeler runs over anything in its path. These types of truck crashes are often caused by one or more of the following:
- Brake failure
- Tire blowout
- Trucker tailgating
- Improper truck maintenance
- Truck driver fatigue and unrealistic driving schedules
- Reckless or erratic driving behavior
Underride AccidentsUnderride truck accidents take place when a passenger vehicle collides with a truck and then continues traveling underneath the truck. When this happens, the roof of the passenger vehicle is effectively ripped off or crushed, and victims in the passenger vehicle can suffer severe head trauma, spinal cord injuries, or decapitation.
Statistics reveal that about 40% of all underride accidents that end in a fatality involve a passenger vehicle sliding under the corner of a commercial vehicle while trying to navigate through traffic. This scenario can happen at any time of the day and in all types of weather conditions.
Preventing Override and Underride AccidentsTo avoid override and underride accidents, all trucks should:
- Have properly working lights, warning signs, and hazard lights
- Maintain a safe and appropriate distance from other vehicles on the road
- Avoid stopping or backing across traffic lanes
- Have functioning tail lights
- Have reflective tape
- Have their brakes regularly inspected
- Have appropriate underride guards
- Remain alert to road conditions to avoid sudden, unexpected maneuvers
Insurance Issues in Truck Accident CasesAfter a serious car accident of any kind, your first priority is to get better and return to your normal lifestyle. However, it can be difficult to resume your routine daily activities, especially when the trucking company’s insurance keeps trying to contact you. At Walner Law®, we are all about taking on insurance companies. Our accident lawyers will take care of your truck accident lawsuit so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries. We are all about making sure that innocent people like you aren’t left without answers from the responsible party.
Serious truck accidents often lead to an extensive investigation by the trucking company and its insurance provider. If you were involved in a commercial vehicle accident and became injured, take detailed notes and make copies of them and any other documentation, including medical records. Obtain the truck company’s information. If you were injured by the truck driver’s reckless behavior, their insurance company will attempt to minimize its payout to you, putting some blame for the crash on you. Having all of this evidence handy will help our attorneys get you and your family members the compensation you deserve.
When the Insurance Company Tries to Contact YouInsurance representatives from the truck company will attempt to contact you for a recorded statement. Some insurance companies go as far as to show up at the hospital to talk to you or a family member about the crash. Remember, you have absolutely no obligation to speak to the trucking company’s adjuster. Even if you are certain that the motor vehicle accident was not your fault, it is in your best interest not to make a statement. If you do make a statement, it can be twisted and used to your disadvantage when you try to collect maximum compensation.
When the insurance company contacts you, speak to a qualified Chicago truck accident attorney before answering their calls or agreeing to a statement. A skilled truck accident lawyer will make sure you understand your legal rights and help you draft a statement.
Common Insurance IssuesHere are a few insurance issues that you may come across that may make it harder for you to obtain the money you deserve in a truck accident case:
- Trucking company investigators: Because a trucking company stands to lose a great deal if its truck is involved in an accident involving serious injury, many companies will hire their own investigators. This person will arrive on the scene immediately to collect evidence and interview witnesses. These truck company investigators work to minimize the liability of the at-fault truck driver and his employer, so it is important that you hire an attorney who will arrange for a separate investigation.
- Numerous insurers: In some truck accident cases, there may be more than one insurance representative involved. The truck driver may have one company representing him or herself, while the tractor-trailer may be covered by another company, and the trucking company may have its own insurance carrier. Dealing with several different insurance representatives can make recovering damages complex.
- Loss of crucial evidence: When analyzing an accident to determine who is at fault, crucial evidence may be lost or overlooked. Impact marks, gas stains, and drug and alcohol test results involve incredible detail. If it is not collected quickly, time, and, in some cases, weather can destroy evidence pertinent to your case. The truck company can even alter the records in an attempt to avoid compensating you fairly.
Your Financial BurdenAny serious injury requires medical care, which costs you significantly in the long run. Each doctor’s office visit and physical therapy session is just another expense. If your injury required a trip to the emergency room, you’ve probably already incurred the cost of an ambulance, ER visit, and extended hospital stay. You may even need additional medical care to address the emotional trauma brought on by the truck crash.
The cost of your injuries could cost you and your family thousands. Your injury, coupled with the additional financial hardships you may be undergoing, is typically more than most people can afford. This is especially true if you are hurt too badly to work.