Chicago Truck Accident Lawyers
Drivers and Their Employers Can be Liable for Your Injury Damages
Large semi-trucks carry consumer goods from coast to coast every day. They are a common sight on roadways across America. However, these large trucks are involved in thousands of motor vehicle accidents every year. Because of their massive size, large semi-trucks traveling at high speeds carry tremendous momentum A collision can have catastrophic consequences to victims in smaller passenger vehicles.
At Harvey L. Walner & Associates, Ltd., our Chicago truck accident lawyers’ priority is to offer the highest level of personal attention. We value our connections with our clients.
Injuries from Truck Accidents
Every 16 minutes in the United States, a person is injured or killed in a truck accident. 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.
Several typical semi-truck accident injuries include:
- Brain injuries
- Paraplegia and quadriplegia
- Neck and spinal cord injuries
- Wrongful death
Reasons for Truck Accidents
There are a number of factors that can result in a truck accident, from debris on the road to a sharp turn.
Here are the more common reasons for semi-truck accidents:
- 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: Because the trucking industry is so competitive, truck companies know they can set unrealistic schedules because drivers will accept it. These schedules 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).
- Improper truck maintenance: Trucking companies must properly maintain their trucks, and drivers are required to inspect their rigs before they leave for a delivery. If a driver fails to check their brakes, lights, and emergency equipment, it can lead to a catastrophic collision.
- 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 blowout, which can lead to a loss of control.
Other reasons for truck accidents, at the fault of the truck driver or passenger vehicle driver, include:
- Aggressive driving
- Failure to yield
- Defective roadways
- Road debris or other obstructions
- Inclement weather (wet or icy roads, fog, snow, dust, or high winds)
What to Do After a Truck Accident
When you are involved in a truck accident, the steps you take at the scene and immediately following will play a role in your ability to collect proper compensation.
On the Scene of a Truck Accident
The 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 trucker
- The name and contact information for all witnesses
- Photographs taken from several angles
- Details of weather and road conditions
Once emergency personnel arrive, cooperate fully. Allow EMTs to thoroughly examine you for injures and give a full report to the police. At no time during these interactions should you admit fault.
Also, be sure to contact your insurance carrier while still at the scene. They may wish to send an adjuster to photograph the accident. Do not admit fault to your insurance company.
Following a Truck Accident
As soon as possible following a truck 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. You need a thorough examination from your doctor 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 rights and help you deal with all issues that can arise from these often-complex cases.
No Match for Safety Features
If you become involved in a truck accident, the extent of your injuries often depend on the type of collision and the force of the impact. While most passenger vehicles are designed with airbags and anti-lock 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
- Seatbelt or airbag injuries
- Broken and fractured bones
- Crushing injuries
- Back injury
- Facial trauma
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Road rash
If you have suffered one of these injuries or another type of injury, you should speak to a Chicago truck accident attorney as soon as possible.
In an override accident, the front end of an 18-wheeler runs over anything in its path.
There is a range of causes that result in an override accident, the most common including:
- Brake failure
- Tire blowout
- Trucker tailgating
- Improper truck maintenance
- Truck driver fatigue and unrealistic driving schedules
- Reckless or erratic driving behavior (such as failure to yield, speeding, and improper lane change)
Underride truck accidents take place when a passenger vehicle collides into a truck and then continues traveling underneath the truck. When this happens, the roof of the passenger vehicle is 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 rear corner of the semi-truck. A majority of these accidents are caused when smaller vehicles are trailing closely behind an 18-wheeler and the truck stops suddenly or is not seen by the smaller vehicle. This scenario can happen at any time of the day and in all types of weather conditions.
Preventing Override and Underride Accidents
To avoid override and underride accidents, all trucks should:
- Have properly working lights, warning signs, or flashing lights
- Maintain a safe and appropriate distance from other vehicles on the road
- Avoid stopping or backing across traffic lanes
- Have functioning taillights
- 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 Cases
After a serious truck accident, your first priority is to get better and return to your normal lifestyle. But it can be difficult to resume your routine daily activities, especially when the truck company’s insurance keeps trying to contact you.
At Harvey L. Walner & Associates, Ltd., your wellbeing is our priority. Our Chicago truck accident lawyers are dedicated to your case and dedicated to you and your speedy recovery. We pride ourselves in providing you with personal service.
Serious truck accidents often lead to an extensive investigation by the truck company and its insurance. If you were involved in a truck accident and became injured, take detailed notes and make copies of them and any other documentation. Obtain the truck company information. If you were injured by the truck driver’s reckless behavior, their insurance company will attempt to minimize its payout to you. Having all the evidence handy is the first step to protect yourself.
When the Insurance Company Tries to Contact You
Insurance representatives from the truck company will attempt to contact you for a recorded statement. Remember that you have absolutely no obligation to speak to them. 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 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 lawyer will make sure you understand your rights and help you draft a statement (if you are advised to make one at all).
Common Insurance Issues
Consulting a lawyer is especially important in the aftermath of a truck accident.
Here are a few insurance issues that you may come across that may make it harder for you to obtain the money you deserve:
- Trucking company investigators: Because a truck company stands to lose a great deal if its truck is involved in an injury accident, many companies will hire their own investigators. This person will arrive on the scene immediately to collect evidence and interview witnesses. These investigators work to minimize the liability of the at-fault truck driver and truck company, so it is important that you hire an attorney who will arrange for a separate investigation.
- Numerous insurers: With truck companies, 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 a truck accident to determine who is at fault, crucial evidence may be lost or overlooked. Evidence collection (including impact marks, gas stains, and drug and alcohol tests) involves incredible detail. If it is not collected quickly, time and the elements (such as rain, wind, and dust) 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 Burden
Any injury requires medical care, which costs you money in a hospital, doctor’s office, or physical therapist’s office. If your injury required a trip to the emergency room, you have also incurred the cost of ER treatment and possibly an extended hospital stay.
The cost of your injury could be in the thousands or tens of 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.
Contact Experienced Chicago Truck Accident Lawyers Today
If you have been injured in a truck accident and you live in the Chicago area, you could be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries.
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Our family-run law firm has more than 75 years of experience standing up for the rights of injured people and families across Chicago.
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Our team of more than 45 legal and medical professionals are dedicated to providing our clients with access to medical experts, treatment, and financial assistance.
“Kristin was so knowledgeable and guided me step by step about my options and kept me in the loop about my case.”- Monica
“I chose Walner Law because they made me feel like a very important client and took consideration of my medical injury at the time.”- Denise
“This law firm was very responsive to my needs and very empathetic about my injury.”- Kyle