Large tractor-trailers are common vehicles on the road. We depend on them to transport goods all over the country. Typically, this means truck drivers are on demanding schedules to meet their deadlines. Most truck drivers have road experience and the know-how to operate their vehicles safely. When people in charge of the trucks or the driver acts negligently, however, innocent people are put at risk. A truck driver’s negligence can cause an accident, which results in people suffering from severe injuries that could have permanent consequences.
Survivors of truck accidents are often faced with extensive medical bills, time missed from work, and the pain and suffering of going through a traumatic event. Seeking legal options may seem like another responsibility to worry about, but you don’t have to go through the legal process alone. A Chicago truck accident lawyer from Thomas Law Offices will stand up for your rights.
You deserve to have dependable representation during this time. Our attorneys are skilled and compassionate people who will carefully investigate your case. We understand that every case is unique and will treat it with the individual respect and attention to detail it deserves. During our investigation, we’ll gather evidence to show how the other party failed to act responsibly and how their negligence caused your injuries.
Analyzing your financial and emotional losses will allow us to determine the compensation you’re rightfully owed. Once we’ve compiled everything into a comprehensive case, we’ll start the fight to get you a fair settlement. With this financial security, you can rest assured that you will be able to pay your bills and recover in peace.
You may be in a difficult situation where you weren’t harmed in a truck accident, but your loved one was. Depending on their injuries, they may not be able to seek compensation for themselves. If your loved one was injured in a truck accident, our lawyers are here to help in any way we can.
How Safe Are Tractor-Trailers on Illinois Roads?
You may be wondering about the number of truck collisions that occur in Illinois. The 2016 Illinois Crash Facts and Statistics from the Illinois Department of Transportation reported the following:
- Tractor-trailers were involved in 11,301 crashes.
- Tractor-trailer fatalities increased from 2015 to 2016 by 30 percent.
- On urban roadways, there were 40 fatalities from truck accidents.
- Rural roadway accidents that involved trucks resulted in 66 fatalities.
- There were 22 fatal accidents and 170 injuries in work zones that involved trucks.
These accidents can happen for a variety of reasons. When you know what behaviors or actions make truck accidents more likely to happen, you may be able to identify a dangerous driver on the road or figure out how the truck driver who injured you acted negligently.
What Contributes to Truck Collisions?
The following are common ways for truck accidents to occur. After an accident, you may automatically think it was the truck driver that caused the collision. While truck wrecks can be caused by a negligent truck driver, it may not necessarily be their fault. There are other parties who could have caused your accident and they may not have been at the scene at all. A careful investigation will show who was at fault for your accident.
Let’s look at the examples of how the truck driver can be at fault for your truck accident:
- Aggressive Driving. Aggressive driving includes speeding, tailgating, and sometimes can include giving in to road rage. Trucks take longer to slow down and turn. If a trucker is driving aggressively and traffic in front of them suddenly slows down, they may not have enough time to slow down or stop the truck to avoid a dangerous situation or hazard on the road. An aggressive truck driver will have less control of the truck and can easily get caught in a situation where they need to correct their steering. If they overcorrect, they could swerve out of their lane and cause an accident.
- Inexperienced Driving. New truckers may not be accustomed to handling a truck’s size and weight. They may not know that their vehicle needs more time to slow down, make turns, and change lanes. If an inexperienced driver is behind the wheel, they may also be a nervous driver. While cautious driving is usually associated with safe driving behaviors, nervous driving puts the trucker and other vehicles at risk. A trucker going under the speed limit may be going too slow for traffic, which could increase the chances of accidents. A trucker who doesn’t know when to properly slow down or signal their turn could confuse other drivers around them.
- Distracted Driving. All it takes for a wreck to happen is for the driver to take their eyes off the road or hands off the wheel for a second. The driver’s cell phone can be one of the greatest distractions. Cell phones take the driver’s attention away from their most important job—driving. A driver may be focused on sending a text or taking a phone call, but this prevents them from fully focusing on the road. Changing music and volume is another distraction that can occur. If a trucker doesn’t know where they’re going, they may rely on a navigational app. They could be watching the app more than the traffic in front of them. Eating and drinking are also major distractions, especially for truck drivers who are often on the road for long stretches of time. They may try to save time and eat while driving, but this often keeps at least one hand off the wheel and the driver is more focused on their food than safe driving.
- Poor Knowledge of Blind Spots. Truckers need to be aware of their vehicle’s blind spots. A trucker has blind spots on all sides of their vehicle: 20 feet ahead of them, 30 feet behind them, up to two lanes to the right, and one lane to the left. While you will always be aware of the truck you’re driving next to, it’s dangerous to assume the truck knows you’re there or that they’re used to anticipating vehicles in their blind spots. If you’re wondering if the truck driver can see you, there’s a general rule of thumb you can try. If you can’t see the driver through their side mirrors, then it’s unlikely they’re aware of your location.
- Unfamiliarity with the Route. Some truck drivers travel across several states to get to their destination. They’re probably on roads that they’ve never been on before. If the route has blind turns, varying speed limits, or is under construction, the truck driver cannot anticipate these factors and they may contribute to an accident.
- Poor Driving Conditions. Inclement weather makes the road dangerous for everyone. Snow, ice, and even rain can make the roads slippery and reduce the amount of traction tires get. Truck drivers need to slow down and drive for the conditions they have. If the weather is too dangerous, truckers need to exercise their judgment. It may be safer to stay put and wait for the storm to pass.
- Jackknifing. This is a huge danger for other vehicles on the road. Jackknifing is when the trailer skids out from behind the trailer and moves forward to form an acute angle or an L shape. Typically, speeding or an improperly loaded trailer can contribute to jackknifing. When this happens, the driver cannot control what happens. Once the trailer starts to move out and forward, there is little the driver can do to get the trailer back in place. Cars can get hit by the broadside of the trailer.
- Underride and Override Collisions. These are some of the most dangerous types of truck accidents. When a vehicle gets caught underneath the back of a truck, this is called an underride accident. The opposite of this is an override accident, which is when a truck goes over the trunk of a car. When either of these things occur, the vehicle is stuck underneath the truck. Typically, the truck will tear off part of the car that’s caught. Those in the car lack protection and can’t exit the vehicle. These accidents can result in devastating injuries and fatalities.
- Rollover. If a trucker loses control of their vehicle, the vehicle can rollover. Usually, something on the road will cause the tires to lift. If a trucker is speeding and goes over a curb, the wheels are off the ground and the truck can roll. The trucker cannot control the vehicle and is in danger of sustaining serious injuries when the cab rolls.
While these are all reasons why a truck driver may have caused your accident, it’s important to wait until all the facts are present before deciding. Your Chicago truck accident lawyer may find the negligent party wasn’t in the truck at the time of the accident. But who is liable? The trucking company can be at fault.
- Improperly Loaded Cargo. Trucks have to adhere to regulations when transporting cargo. The truck will only be able to carry a certain amount of weight and the weight needs to be properly distributed in the trailer. If a trucking company overloads the cargo, the axles could fail, and the truck driver could be involved in a fatal crash. Cargo that isn’t evenly secured can move around the trailer and possibly move it out of line with the tractor and could form a jackknife.
- Failure to Inspect Vehicle. Trucking companies have a responsibility to put safe trucks on the road. They are supposed to perform regular maintenance and inspect the trucks to make sure they’re road-ready. Rushing through this process or skipping it altogether means a dangerous truck could be put on the road. The trucker may realize their brakes aren’t working or their headlights are out.
Those who manufacture auto parts for trucks could have been at fault, too. A manufacturing company that sells auto parts that turn out to be defective could put truck drivers at risk of losing control on the road. This could be an issue with brakes, steering, or the engine. Any issue could potentially lead to an accident.
When these accidents happen, it’s usually due to negligence. No matter what happened, the truck accident lawyers at Thomas Law Offices will find the guilty party and make sure they’re held accountable for their actions.
Safety Tips for Driving Near Big Rigs
While you’re sharing the road with semi-trucks and tractor-trailers, you may wonder what you can do as a driver to stay as safe as possible. There are a few tips you can follow to make sure you’re doing everything you can to reduce the chances of an accident occurring.
- Remain Alert. When you’re driving, make sure your hands are on the wheel, eyes are on the road, and focus is on driving. If you’re around a truck, anticipate the maneuvers it could make. See if the truck driver seems to be swerving or if they’re safely staying in their lane.
- Be Aware of Blind Spots. You know about the areas where the truck driver will have issues with seeing you. If you’re driving, don’t remain in one of these spots. The driver may not realize you’re there and could try to switch lanes or turn.
- Provide Space. Don’t tailgate or change lanes in front of a truck with little space between you and them. Truck drivers need time to react to things on the road. If you’re tailgating, they may not even know you’re there and if sudden lane change that puts you in front of a truck, the truck driver may have to slam on their brakes to not hit the back of your car.
- Turn on Headlights. If you’re driving with low visibility, which could be caused by weather or time of day, it’s best to keep your headlights on. This increases your chances of a truck driver spotting you.
- Pass with Caution. When you are passing a truck, make sure you’re doing so with caution. Use the appropriate lane to pass, make sure you’re not going over the speed limit to pass, and safely get back in the right lane after you’ve put more space between you and the truck.
Anticipating negligence, driving as safely as possible, and practicing caution when passing 18-wheelers will help you reduce the chances of getting into a truck accident. However, you can be as cautious as possible, but if a truck driver makes a negligent or reckless decision, you may not be able to avoid an accident.
Unfortunately, the results of a truck accident are often severe injuries. They can cause damage that may require months of medical care and attention. If you or a loved one is going through this, you may be worrying about how you’re going to afford it. Our Chicago truck accident lawyer will look into the extent of your injuries and make sure you get fair compensation so you can get the medical care you deserve.
Let’s take a look at the types of injuries that can occur after a truck accident and how our lawyers can help you move forward.
Types of Truck Accident Injuries
Because of their sheer size and weight, a truck wreck can result in injuries that may take weeks or months to heal. In worse cases, they can have permanent consequences. If the result is a catastrophic injury that causes permanent disability or prevents you from returning to work, your entire way of life could be completely upended. Losing your way to provide a living may not only affect you. If you’re solely supporting or helping to support a family, it can also take a significant financial toll. Here are some examples of catastrophic injuries include:
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). A head wound either from a sharp blow to the head or something penetrating the skull can cause brain bleeding and swelling. These injuries can cause permanent brain dysfunction, affecting a person’s cognitive and motor abilities. Issues with thinking, memory, concentration, and movement are all possible. If the brain injury is severe enough, someone could be in a coma or vegetative state.
- Spinal Cord Injuries. A spinal injury can severely affect someone’s life. Depending on the injury site, the damage could be from the waist down or from the trunk down. The person could lose feeling and function below the injury site. If permanent paralysis occurs, the person will likely need special equipment to remain mobile and maintain a high quality of life. Medical devices can be expensive, which will add to the financial cost of the accident.
- Loss of Limb. In major collisions, amputations can occur. Someone could lose an arm or leg during the crash. In some cases, the limb may have suffered significant damage and would need to be surgically removed. When someone loses a limb, they will have to make a major adjustment to their life and relearn how to do everyday tasks. Cooking and maintaining hygiene are two basic tasks that people do every day but can be a significant struggle for someone who is learning to live with an injury.
- Burn Injuries. If something ignites during the wreck, the people in the vehicles could suffer from burns. These have the potential to be extremely damaging. Burns can reach underneath the skin and harm the tissues, muscles, and even bones. Nerve damage can occur. These injuries usually need immediate medical attention. Patients may need skin grafts and surgeries to recover from a burn.
- Facial Injuries. Facial fractures or eye injuries can be dangerous and potentially cause blindness. If the skull is fractured, bleeding or swelling could occur in the brain.
If your loved one was injured in a car accident, it can be extremely difficult to see them suffering from severe injuries. You know they will need financial assistance to live with their injuries. Thomas Law Offices will fight for them to receive the compensation they need to afford medical care.
In the worst-case scenario, the truck accident may result in a fatality. If you’ve lost your loved one because of a truck collision, you may be seeking answers. You want to know why this happened and who was responsible. Thomas Law Offices has skilled wrongful death lawyers who can and will seek justice for your loved one. We’ll give your loved one a voice and hold the person who acted negligently accountable for their actions. While we cannot undo the accident, we can provide comfort in showing the negligent party their actions caused a wrongful death and the compensation can help your financial future.
Even if your accident caused non-catastrophic injuries, you still may need medical care that you will eventually need to pay for. Dealing with recovery and worrying about past medical bills and future medical care, all the while missing work to let your injuries heal, can put a lot of financial stress on someone. The expenses of your accident don’t have to overwhelm you. Your Chicago truck accident attorney will do everything possible to get you fair compensation so you can recover knowing you’ll be able to afford care, pay your medical expenses, and keep up with your other financial responsibilities as well.
The Reality of Truck Accident Injuries
There may be much more to recovering from a catastrophic injury than waiting for it to heal. You may have to face an adjustment period where you get used to living with the injury. For example, you may be getting used to using a wheelchair or other kind of medical device to help you. This dramatic change can be a lot for one person to handle.
A traumatic injury can leave more than physical scars as well. It’s common for people to develop psychological issues, such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. This could be from adjusting to a new lifestyle or from the shock of the crash itself. One may find that they are afraid of getting behind the wheel or thinking about anything that reminds them of the crash.
These problems usually require psychological help, which will also cost money to go to appointments and possibly for medication. You shouldn’t have to face the choice of affording medical bills or taking care of your mental health. You deserve to be able to treat everything that was harmed in the accident.
At Thomas Law Offices, we believe in getting full compensation for our clients. This includes costs of physical care, lost wages, and emotional care as well. If someone needs professional psychological care to deal with the issues caused by a truck accident that wasn’t their fault, we’ll fight for them to receive compensation that will help them afford that care.
In addition to the economic losses of the accident, you or your loved one may have suffered from significant noneconomic losses as well. These can be more difficult to calculate, as they do not have a direct monetary amount assigned to them. Noneconomic damages include losses like pain and suffering from your injuries. When a truck accident occurs, the injuries may cause a lot of pain. You may be dealing with broken bones, internal organ damage, or surgeries as part of your treatment. Living with painful injuries can take a major toll on someone and we’ll fight for your compensation to reflect that.
Pain and suffering isn’t the only type of noneconomic loss. Loss of enjoyment of life is also something that needs to be taken into consideration. If your injuries mean you’ll be housebound for a number of weeks or months, you may be missing out on life events or activities you used to regularly attend. The isolation from those events can be devastating for someone to miss. There’s also the chance that you suffered a catastrophic injury, which could prevent you from certain activities or hobbies for the rest of your life.
If the truck accident cost your loved one their life, then your lawyer may seek recovery for loss of consortium in your wrongful death claim. Losing companionship, division of physical and emotional labor of running a household, or losing a partner while you’re raising a family are all terrible losses that can occur. If this has happened to you, the team at Thomas Law Offices is here for you.
While you may not be able to stop a truck accident or prevent the injuries they cause, there are some steps you can take that will protect your claim. When you do this, you’re protecting your financial future.
What Happens After a Semi truck Accident?
The moments after a truck accident are often filled with shock and confusion. However, if you do your best to remain calm, you may be able to help make your claim more secure.
At the Scene
After an accident, you first need to assess yourself for injuries. If you’re able to move, you should see if anyone else needs help. It’s important to keep as calm as you can and call emergency services. They’ll send responders who will be able to evaluate your health and attend to the others at the scene. Because truck accidents can do a lot of damage, someone may have life-threatening injuries. Even though you’ve been through an extraordinarily traumatic event, you could be the difference in saving someone’s life.
There may be a small window of time before emergency services arrive. At that time, you may want to move your vehicle out of traffic if it’s safe to do so. The accident could be blocking the lanes and start to hold up traffic. If you’re able to move your vehicle without threatening your safety or the safety of others, put your vehicle on the side of the road to allow traffic to flow. If you notice your car is leaking fluid or something is smoking, do not approach the vehicle, as this may be a fire hazard. Keep a safe distance from the vehicle and help others maintain their distance as well.
When the emergency responders get there, allow them to assess you for injuries. If you need to go to a hospital immediately, they’ll be able to arrange that transport. However, if your injuries are minor, you may be able to stay and speak with the police. The police will be making a report of the accident, which can help your claim because they’re a third party. If they note they detected alcohol in the truck’s cab or noticed the truck driver had been speeding, this helps demonstrate their negligence.
While speaking to police, only report the facts of what happened. You may be tempted to immediately blame the truck driver, but as we’ve mentioned above, it’s possible the at-fault party wasn’t even present at the accident scene. If you start placing blame and are later proved to be wrong, you may be viewed as unreliable, which could hurt your claim. Stick to what you remember and if there are gaps, you can tell the police officer.
Exchange information with the truck driver, including getting information about the trucking company. You may not know who your claim will be filed with, but your truck accident lawyer from Thomas Law Offices will be able to look at your case and determine how to properly file your claim.
Eyewitness accounts of the accident could provide more facts about what happened and could help your side of the story. If there were any witnesses who are willing to make a statement, get their contact information.
Record evidence from the scene. One of the best ways to do this is to take pictures. Make sure to document the entire scene and close-ups of the damage. Debris and skid marks on the road are also important. Your photographs will help show the immediate aftermath of the crash, in addition to road conditions, the time of day the accident occurred, and the weather.
Get a Medical Evaluation
See your doctor as soon as possible after the accident. While emergency responders may have not said you need hospital treatment, this doesn’t mean you walked away injury-free. It’s also important to know that your body’s shock response may be masking symptoms of pain. While you may not feel injured after the accident, you may start to feel painful symptoms a few hours or days following. When you see a doctor, you’ll be able to know the full extent of your injuries and begin a treatment plan. The faster you see your doctor, the sooner you can start treating your injuries and working on regaining your health. You’ll also have a medical record stating you saw a doctor soon after your accident. This physical evidence can help your lawyer with your case.
Waiting to see a doctor poses threats to your health and your claim. If you don’t see a doctor, you may leave injuries untreated. This gives them time to worsen and will likely prolong your recovery time because you didn’t start treatment immediately. Unfortunately, this also harms your claim because it seems like you didn’t have injuries severe enough to go see a doctor. When the injuries worsen because you waited, those weren’t the original injuries caused by the truck accident. Affording care for these injuries may need to come out of your pocket because you may not be able to recover compensation to cover all your treatment.
Get Legal Assistance
Once you’ve started treatment, contact your Chicago truck accident lawyer so you can start fighting for your rights. Your lawyer will help you with the process. One of their pieces of advice may be to avoid social media. It’s common for people to update their social media platforms and tell their friends or followers about their lives. However, this is not the best option when you’re dealing with a legal matter. The pieces of information you give about your case may be used against you by the opposing legal team. Blaming the person who you think was responsible for your injuries, discussing the injuries you’ve suffered, or even posting about going out to dinner could harm your claim, as it may call into question how severe your injuries are and if you’re claiming they’re worse than what you’re feeling.
Don’t post about your accident or claim and make sure to set your social media accounts to private so you’re in control of who sees what. Even with this precaution, you may want to limit what you post and do not reveal information about your personal injury claim.
Our skilled lawyers can also help you deal with insurance adjusters. They may try to contact you quickly after the accident—you may still be dealing with the shock of the wreck and your resulting injuries. They could represent the trucking company and their goal will be for you to settle early. With this method, the insurance company will save money and put the matter behind them. However, when they save money, this usually means you’re getting less compensation than you deserve. You don’t want to settle early and then find out your settlement won’t cover the costs of your medical care. This could leave you in a financially difficult situation. With our lawyers at your side, you won’t have to worry about insurance adjusters contacting you and trying to convince you to settle early. We’ll give the insurance company the information they need and then will start building your case so you can get fair compensation.
Get in Touch with a Reliable Illinois Truck Accident Attorney
Our Chicago truck accident lawyer at Thomas Law Offices believes in standing up for those who were wrongfully injured and getting them the help they need. We make it our goal to provide excellent legal services and will do everything we can to get you the compensation that you deserve.
The devastation of a truck accident can seem untenable, but we’re here to help you get through this difficult time. You deserve to have peace of mind that you’ll be able to pay your medical bills and take the time you need to recover.
It’s important to get started on your claim as soon as possible because personal injury claims are under statutes of limitations. In Illinois, the statute is two years from the date of the truck accident. Waiting too long could run the risk of your case being thrown out without review. With our lawyers as representation, you can trust your claim will be filed properly and on time. Get in touch with us today to schedule an obligation-free consultation.