With multiple shipping ports and easy access to several main interstates, including I-90, I-57, and I-55, Chicago is an integral player in the export, import, and movement of commercial goods. While this is great for our local economy, it also means that we share the road with a large number of big commercial trucks.
If you’ve been injured in a truck crash in Chicago or Cook County, you need a Chicago truck accident lawyer from Thomas Law Offices on your side.
Unlike with car accidents, insurance claims for truck crashes tend to involve much higher settlements for things like medical bills, lost wages, property damage, psychological trauma, and more. We don’t want you to miss out on a single cent of what you are lawfully owed, which is why Thomas Law Offices will build the strongest possible case on your behalf.
We offer free consultations to truck accident victims and their families. This no-cost meeting is a great opportunity to learn about our law firm and the rigorous legal representation we provide.
Illinois Truck Accident Statistics
Sharing the road with big trucks in Illinois can be dangerous. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), in 2020, there were:
- 117 fatal accidents
- 237 incapacitating injury accidents
- 1,636 serious and minor injury accidents
Why Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?
Truck accident cases are notoriously complex. You are not simply asking a negligent driver to pay for your damages—you are going up against a large trucking company with its own legal team and insurance company. If you have suffered severe injuries, significant financial losses, or intense mental anguish, you need the backing of an experienced truck accident lawyer.
Personal injury lawyers can also help with the following tasks in the aftermath of Chicago truck accidents:
- Investigating the cause of the accident
- Determining liability
- Valuing the worth of a personal injury claim
- Fielding questions from the insurance company
- Submitting necessary documents and paperwork
- Negotiating a settlement
- Presenting your case in court if negotiations fail
Thomas Law Offices is proud to help those who have been injured in Chicago and the greater Illinois area. Fighting for justice when innocent people have been harmed drives us to fiercely advocate for our clients.
Questions To Ask a Chicago Truck Accident Lawyer
Deciding which Chicago trucking accident attorney to work with can feel like a difficult decision to make, especially in the aftermath of a serious or even fatal truck accident. Most good personal injury lawyers will offer free consultations, during which time you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions about your case and their experience.
We recognize what an overwhelming experience this can be, which is why we recommend preparing a list of questions ahead of time. Here are some sample questions to start with:
- Have you handled many truck accident cases similar to mine? What was their outcome?
- Do I have a case?
- What might my claim be worth?
- How can I get in contact with you when I have questions about my case?
- What are your legal fees, and how do you collect payment?
Note down the attorney’s answers to these and any other questions that you have. Don’t be afraid to ask other questions as they occur to you—an experienced truck accident attorney should be prepared to answer any and all questions you may have that are related to your case.
What To Do After a Truck Accident in Chicago
Your main priority after a semi-truck accident should be your health and safety. Unfortunately, trucking companies and their insurers will often use any perceived “misstep” as proof that you were at fault for the accident or were not that seriously injured. This can be a frustrating situation, as the average person who does not deal with commercial truck accidents on a regular basis likely does not realize just how tricky the insurance company can be.
To limit the number of potential hurdles with truck accident claims, we recommend that those who have been involved in large truck accidents take the following steps.
What To Do at the Scene of the Truck Accident
While still at the scene of the motor vehicle accident, you should:
- Call 911 and report that an accident has occurred. Ask that police and an ambulance be sent to the scene.
- Allow yourself to be evaluated for injuries by emergency responders and transported to a hospital if necessary.
- Exchange information with the truck driver, having the responding officer facilitate this exchange if necessary.
- Speak with the responding officer and provide facts (not opinions) about what caused the accident. You can later access a copy of their police report for the purpose of filing a truck accident case.
- Take pictures and videos of the accident scene. Be sure to show the general scene, any other vehicles involved in the crash, property damage, and injuries sustained in the collision.
- Speak with eyewitnesses to secure their contact information and statements.
A tractor-trailer accident is almost always a physically, financially, and emotionally traumatizing event. Do not discount how serious trucking accidents can be, as the adrenaline that is released during a collision can mask serious signs of trauma. If you were in an accident involving a big truck, be sure to complete as many of the above steps as possible to help preserve your right to compensation in a personal injury case.
What To Do After You Leave the Scene of a Truck Accident
What you do after you’ve left the scene can also impact your ability to collect compensation. We recommend taking the following steps:
- Seek medical attention, either at an emergency room or with your primary care doctor.
- Follow your treatment plan by taking all medications as prescribed and attending all appointments.
- Keep important documents like statements detailing medical costs and auto repair bills.
- Meet with a semi-truck accident lawyer who is prepared to fight for what you are owed.
Trucking companies are large, profit-minded businesses that will not hesitate to pick through the details of accident victims’ actions in the aftermath of semi-truck accidents.
How Much Compensation Am I Owed for a Truck Accident?
Personal injury cases involving accidents between big commercial vehicles and smaller passenger cars are particularly complex and often involve significant financial losses. Correctly calculating how much you are owed is a job for the Chicago truck accident attorneys of Thomas Law Offices.
We believe in transparency with our clients, which is why we want you to understand the types of damages for which you may be eligible, and why.
Economic Damages & Non-Economic Damages
Both economic and non-economic damages are categorized as compensatory damages. These are meant to compensate you for specific losses you have suffered, whether monetary (economic) or non-monetary (non-economic).
Economic damages in personal injury cases involving large trucks include:
- Lost wages if you’re unable to work.
- Reduced earning potential if you can no longer work in the same capacity.
- Medical expenses, including those for hospital stays, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, doctor visits, and other medical costs.
- Property damage, including auto repair bills and replacement costs for valuable property damaged in the crash, such as a smartphone.
- Domestic services like those for cleaning, cooking, or child care if you are no longer able to perform these tasks by yourself.
Non-economic damages for accidents involving semi-trucks include:
- Physical pain and suffering associated with your serious injuries.
- Mental anguish and psychological trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by the truck crash.
- Loss of enjoyment in life if you are no longer able to partake in your hobbies or engage in life as you once did.
You need to work with a qualified truck accident lawyer who understands the significance of correctly valuing the worth of your claim. Only work with an attorney who is willing to fully investigate your claim and evaluate the totality of your losses.
As Chicago personal injury attorneys, we must advise that punitive damages are relatively rare in personal injury cases, even those involving serious or fatal truck accidents. Different from compensatory damages, punitive damages are not intended to compensate a victim for any specific loss. Instead, they are meant to punish the at-fault party for intentional, willful, or fraudulent behavior, and deter them from engaging in similar actions in the future.
Depending on the outcome of their investigation, your semi-truck accident lawyer will advise you whether punitive damages are appropriate for your case.
What To Do if You’re Offered a Truck Accident Settlement
Once you accept a settlement offer from the insurance company, there is no going back for a do-over or to ask for more money. For this reason, we advise that you never accept the first offer, which is often markedly lower than what you are actually owed.
Your first step after receiving a settlement offer should be to speak with a Chicago truck accident attorney. Under the guidance of your attorney, carefully evaluate the offer to determine if it fully addresses your economic and non-economic losses. Ask yourself questions, such as “Does this replace my lost income?” and “Will this cover any medical bills I receive in the future?” If the answer is “no,” do not accept the offer.
Instead, work with your truck accident lawyer to negotiate a counteroffer with respect to the full and fair compensation you are rightfully owed.
Types of Truck Accidents
There are many different ways in which large trucks can collide with other vehicles. Determining the type of truck accident that caused your personal injuries can be an essential step in determining whether trucking company or truck driver negligence played a role in the collision.
When filing a truck accident lawsuit, the following may be indicative of truck driver negligence:
- Jackknife accidents
- Rollover accidents
- Override and underride accidents
- Blind spot accidents
- Tire blowout accidents
- Wide turn (squeeze play) accidents
- T-bone accidents
Your Chicago truck accident lawyer will draw on a wide range of evidence when determining what type of truck crash you suffered severe injuries in. This may include the police report, the truck’s electronic logging device (ELD), dash cam or traffic cam footage of the collision, eyewitness statements, and more.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
If you suffered a serious injury in a semi-truck accident, you are far from alone. When in a collision involving big trucks, occupants of passenger vehicles are much more likely to suffer severe or even fatal injuries than those that truck drivers suffer.
When filing personal injury lawsuits for truck accident victims, it is common for us to seek compensation for past, current, and future medical bills pertaining to the following injuries:
- Broken and fractured bones
- Crushed limbs
- Amputated limbs (loss of limb)
- Severe lacerations
- Head injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Back and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Chest injuries
- Internal organ damage
Commercial vehicle accidents have the potential to completely upend your life. These types of devastating injuries may not only prevent you from working and supporting yourself, but are also likely to interfere with your ability to simply live and enjoy a pain-free life.
Thomas Law Offices does not believe that negligent behavior from truck drivers and their employers should be allowed to continue unchecked. Our truck accident attorneys are standing by to discuss your case. We want to know how we can best support your legal claim so that you can focus on your health, recovery, and wellbeing.
Causes of Truck Accidents in Chicago
Identifying the cause of your truck accident is an essential step. If you fail to correctly identify how the actions of the truck driver or their employer led to the collision in which you suffered serious injuries, the insurance company may seize on the opportunity to lay the blame at your feet.
The experienced truck accident attorneys of Thomas Law Offices have the requisite legal experience and knowledge of all state and federal regulations that is necessary to correctly identify the cause of a trucking accident. Below are some of the most common causes of semi-truck crashes in the Chicagoland area.
Truck drivers have a legal and moral responsibility to behave in a way that preserves the safety of those they share the road with. When we find that a truck driver behaved in a way that was negligent, reckless, or wrongful, we fight to recover compensation for the harm they caused when they chose to forego safety.
The following errors committed by truck drivers are common causes of semi-truck accidents in Chicago:
- Distracted driving. Any cell phone use behind the wheel, including taking pictures or videos, texting, responding to emails, scrolling through social media, or taking a phone call can be a major distraction. Eating, drinking, reaching for objects, and other tasks that take a driver’s hands off the wheel, eyes off the road, or mind off the task of driving are all considered to be dangerous distractions.
- Speeding or driving too fast for conditions. A fully-loaded semi-truck weighs as much as 80,000 pounds, which increases the time the vehicle takes to come to a full and complete stop after applying the brakes. When truck drivers choose to drive faster than the posted speed limit or at speeds that are inappropriate for driving conditions (such as wet or icy roads), they are much more likely to cause an accident.
- Following too closely. Higher weights and longer stopping distances also require truck drivers to maintain greater distances between the front of their trucks and the rear of other vehicles. Following too closely (also called tailgating) increases the likelihood of a rear-end or override collision should the leading car brake.
- Drowsy driving. Truck drivers spend long hours on the road, often traversing long stretches of interstate with similar scenery that does little to stimulate the mind. It is far from uncommon for drivers to grow sleepy even before hitting their maximum allotted time behind the wheel, which may slow their reaction times and increase their chances of causing a crash.
If a negligent truck driver caused your accident, Thomas Law Offices will work with you to prove that they were at fault. We won’t let the insurance company wrongfully pin the blame back on you.
Truck crashes can also be the result of mechanical failures. While this is sometimes caused by negligent maintenance practices, we must also consider defective auto parts, debris on the road, and other factors that may have influenced the durability and reliability of important vehicle components.
Mechanical failures known to contribute to truck crashes include:
- Tire blowouts
- Brake failure
- Steering system failure
- Coupling system failure
- Transmission failure
Any mechanical failure that contributed to a semi-truck accident should be thoroughly investigated to determine who was at fault. As Chicago truck accident lawyers, this is a task that we take seriously with every truck accident case we handle.
Trucking Company Negligence
The trucking industry is one of the most highly regulated industries in the United States. Despite this, trucking companies continue to engage in dangerous business practices that endanger the lives of everyone on the road.
We may be able to hold the trucking company liable for your commercial truck accident if it:
- Neglected to perform regular maintenance
- Engaged in negligent hiring practices
- Did not provide adequate training to drivers
- Created unreasonable delivery schedules
We won’t let the trucking company off the hook for its bad behavior. At Thomas Law Offices, we know that these large businesses only make changes when they’re hit where it hurts—in their finances.
Most Commonly Violated Trucking Regulations
Regulations for the trucking industry are set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. According to the FMCSA, some of the most common violations include:
- Improper lane changes
- Following too closely
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Using a hand-held phone while driving
- Failure to wear a seat belt
- Driver possession of alcohol while operating a truck or on duty
- The presence of unauthorized passengers
- Texting and driving
After an accident, a trucking company may try to quickly erase any evidence that its driver violated an FMCSA regulation. Preserving evidence means acting fast—contact Thomas Law Offices today so that a truck accident attorney can get started on your case before critical evidence disappears.
Who Is Liable for My Truck Accident Injuries?
Liability for a trucking accident can be complicated. Although a semi-truck driver’s actions may have been clearly negligent, this is no guarantee that they will be the at-fault party named in your truck accident claim. This is distinctly different from insurance claims for car accidents, in which the driver and their insurer are most often named as the financially liable parties.
The difference is that truck drivers rarely own the vehicles they are driving, and are instead operating the trucks on behalf of their employers. In some cases, neither the driver nor the trucking company is the owner of the vehicle, bringing in another potential liable party.
So who pays for your injuries sustained in an accident involving a big commercial vehicle? There may be multiple at-fault parties, including:
- The truck driver
- The employer
- The owner of the truck (if different than the employer)
- An auto part or truck manufacturer
Identifying all at-fault parties will allow us to ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your injuries and damages, including all current and future medical expenses.
Truck Accident Frequently Asked Questions
Navigating the complex process of filing a trucking accident claim on your own is unattainable for most people. The good news is that you don’t have to do any of this on your own—Thomas Law Offices is here to guide you through this process.
In addition to offering an initial free consultation to accident victims in Chicago, Cook County, and the greater Illinois area, we have also provided cursory answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Why Are Truck Accidents So Serious?
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), large trucks weigh as much as 20-30 times more than passenger cars. This profound weight and size difference means that greater force is exerted during a collision between a truck and a car than in the average car accident.
Can I Afford To Hire a Truck Accident Attorney?
Every personal injury law firm will handle its lawyers’ fees differently. When you first meet with a lawyer, always ask about their legal fees and payment structure. Be sure that you understand how much you will owe and when payment is expected.
At Thomas Law Offices, our truck accident lawyers take most cases on a contingency fee basis. This payment model allows us to provide our superb legal services regardless of our clients’ income level or ability to pay. We do not take any payment upfront, instead only collecting our legal fees as a small percentage of your total award if (and when) we win your case.
Will My Truck Accident Case Go to Court?
Most insurance claims involving truck accidents are negotiated and settled outside of the courtroom. However, in the event that an agreeable settlement cannot be reached, we will not shy away from filing a Chicago truck accident lawsuit.
Our accomplished trial attorneys will prepare for court even as we strive to recover maximum compensation. Although our goal is to never have you set foot inside a courtroom, we will not be caught off guard if taking your trucking accident case to court is unavoidable.
How Long Do I Have To File My Truck Accident Claim?
In Illinois, the statute of limitations to file an insurance claim for a tractor-trailer accident is two years. This is the legal timeframe in which you may take action, and the clock begins ticking the moment your vehicle was hit.
A trucking accident attorney can advise you of any exceptions (such as the discovery rule) that may extend the statute of limitations in your specific case. However, it is always a good idea to work closely with an attorney to ensure that all paperwork and documentation is completed and submitted within the prescribed deadline.
How Long Will My Truck Accident Case Take?
Insurance claims for truck accidents may take anywhere from six months to a year to settle. Keep in mind that this is an average figure, meaning that your case may take more or less time. Several factors will influence the timeline of your case, including the extent of your injuries, the amount of damages you are owed, and whether the trucking company is being cooperative.
Can I Still File a Claim if I Was Partially at Fault for My Truck Crash?
Illinois state law applies what is known as modified comparative negligence in regard to the recovery of damages in accident cases. This means that you may still pursue and recover compensation for your damages even if your actions played a role in the collision, so long as you were no more than 49% at fault. However, your total settlement will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Choose a Chicago Truck Accident Lawyer Who Cares
Each and every attorney at Thomas Law Offices practices law with a tireless dedication to the wellbeing of our clients. When we take on a case, it becomes personal. We don’t let the trucking companies get away with negligent behavior that harms the residents of Chicago.
If you’ve been injured in a semi-truck collision and are ready to take action, a Chicago truck accident lawyer is standing by to speak with you. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation. Our law office is just a call or click away.