Chicago Truck Accident Lawyer

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Commercial trucks are vital to Chicago’s economy but as they make their way in and around the city, they pose a real danger to others. Truck accidents are unfortunately common and very serious. If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle, you need a Chicago truck accident lawyer to help you file and navigate your claim.

A commercial truck weighs approximately 35,000 pounds when it is not loaded, and that increases to 80,000 pounds when it is carrying a load. This weight causes an immensely forceful impact when a truck is involved in an accident with another vehicle, resulting in extremely serious injuries and even death.

If you have been hurt in a truck accident due to someone else’s negligence, you have a right to claim damages for your medical expenses, lost income, and other losses. Unfortunately, truck accident claims are some of the most complicated personal injury claims to file. A Chicago truck accident lawyer can help you through the process, and help ensure you recover the maximum damages you deserve.

Connolly Injury Law: Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys in Chicago

Truck accident claims are often filed with a commercial company’s insurance provider. Dealing with these providers in any circumstance can be frustrating, and it is even harder when you are injured or grieving a loss. A claim is incredibly important for your current and long-term financial stability, so it should be filed very quickly after an accident.

It is incredibly beneficial to have professional legal support after a truck accident, as your attorney can handle the stressful aspects of a claim and increase the likelihood of you obtaining a maximum settlement. You can focus on recovering, and feeling confident that your claim is managed by an experienced professional.

At Connolly Injury Law, we have nearly 15 years of experience in personal injury claims, including truck accident claims. Our firm uses this experience to your benefit, but we always remain aware that every claim is unique and requires a personalized approach. Our team provides you with comprehensive legal care and ensures that you remain informed throughout the claim. We can negotiate a settlement or take the claim to civil court to secure the financial compensation you need.

Causes of Truck Accidents

The majority of truck accidents are caused by truck driver error. Truck drivers have a lot to contend with on the road. They must operate their large vehicle while navigating the systems within the truck, communicate with other truckers, and they must meet very tight deadlines. Becoming complacent or making dangerous decisions to meet deadlines can have very serious consequences.

If truckers do not pay careful attention, they could make a deadly mistake such as driving while impaired, speeding, driving while distracted, or driving while drowsy.

  • Driving under the influence is incredibly dangerous, as it lowers the reaction speed and ability of a driver to think clearly. Commercially licensed drivers have stricter DUI laws than other drivers. While most drivers have a legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.08%, operators of commercial vehicles have a BAC of 0.04%.
  • Speeding can be especially dangerous when driving a large commercial truck, as these vehicles take more time and distance to slow and stop. A speeding truck can cause even more harm if it is involved in a collision.
  • Distracted driving is an incredibly common cause of most motor vehicle accidents. It is unfortunately common in truck drivers, considering they have significantly long drives. Distracted driving can include eating and drinking, grooming, concentrating on a GPS system, or changing music.
  • Fatigued driving is considered almost as dangerous as driving under the influence of a substance, but it is not regarded as seriously. It is also very common for truck drivers to work long hours and drive overnight, which can lead to them driving fatigued.

These are just a few acts of negligence truck drivers engage in that cause accidents on the road. In some truck accidents, the negligence of a driver means that their employer is vicariously liable.

Trucking companies can also contribute to a truck accident if they do not comply with federal laws, such as performing regular inspections and repairs. Commercial trucks carry significant weight for long distances, and this wear and tear can result in vehicle malfunctions if proper maintenance isn’t completed. Truck accidents can be caused by failed brakes or the failure of other important systems. The trucking company or party responsible for maintenance can be held liable if they were negligent.

Trucking companies must also ensure they use proper hiring and training practices so their drivers have the necessary skill and experience before they head out on the road. This also includes background checks on whether a driver has a history of DUIs. When a trucking company fails to ensure that their drivers are properly hired and prepared, they can be liable for accidents.

Truck drivers must take a certain amount of breaks under federal law, and trucking companies are responsible for ensuring that these laws are followed. Many accidents can be caused when trucking or shipping companies encourage drivers to ignore these regulations to meet deadlines. Trucking companies could be liable for fatigued or speeding drivers if the company imposed or incentivized unrealistic delivery deadlines. When trucking companies fail to meet these duties, incompetent and inexperienced drivers will cause a crash.

How Do You Prove That Another Party Is Liable in a Truck Accident?

An investigation of a truck accident is necessary to determine its cause. Once the cause of the accident is known, this can help determine which party or parties were at fault. To hold a party liable for the damages you suffered, the following must be true:

  1. That party owed you a reasonable duty of care, which all drivers on the road owe each other.
  2. The party breached the duty of care, typically through negligence but sometimes through intentional misconduct or malice.
  3. The breach of duty directly caused the accident.
  4. The accident caused you to sustain injuries and damages that can be recognized as compensable.

For any party that you are holding partially or fully liable, you must prove all those elements. Evidence of fault, negligence, causation, and the damages you suffered are all necessary. Some important evidence in these claims include:

  • CCTV, such as dashcams and surveillance footage
  • The truck company’s hiring practices
  • Black box information
  • Truck and driver schedules and logs
  • How the trucking company enforces regulation
  • Cell phone records
  • Healthcare and medical documents
  • Employment information
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Maintenance reports for vehicles
  • Professional expert testimony
  • Personal photos and videos of the accident and damages

An attorney is incredibly experienced in investigating these accidents and gathering evidence. They can help prove which party or parties are at fault, along with the true extent of the damages you suffered.

Determining Liability After a Truck Accident

One of the most challenging aspects of a truck accident claim is determining which party is liable for the crash. After an accident involving two smaller vehicles, it is fairly easy to determine liability because one driver usually caused the crash. However, multiple parties may be liable for a truck accident, including:

  • The Truck Driver: Again, truck drivers can act in a number of negligent ways that cause a crash.
  • The Trucking Company: Trucking companies are expected to comply with the legal requirements in the industry. Any time they do not and an accident results, they can be held liable. Trucking companies can also be held partially vicariously liable for the negligence of their drivers. When truck drivers are independent contractors rather than employees, it can be more difficult to hold their employer and trucking company liable. However, there are ways to prove that a company is misclassifying their employees or that they should be held partially liable for other reasons.
  • Inspectors and Maintenance Crews: A trucking company may hire another entity to inspect and maintain their vehicles. When they do, the third-party company is responsible for ensuring a truck is safe before it heads out on the roads. If improper maintenance is done, or a truck is approved to go on the road that shouldn’t be, these third-party entities can be liable.
  • Loading Companies: Sometimes third-party companies are also hired to load and unload the cargo from the trucks. If they do not load cargo properly, it will shift during transit and throw off the alignment of the truck, causing an accident. If the truck is overloaded, this can contribute to brake failure or other malfunctions in the truck. The loading or shipping company can also be liable for this.
  • Manufacturers: Truck manufacturers are responsible for ensuring their vehicles are safe and road-worthy. If the manufacturer of a truck component or a truck created a dangerous product or was negligent, they can be liable for an accident caused by a vehicle failure.
  • Truck Owner: If a company rented or bought truck cabs or trailers from a third party, that party may be liable for failing to ensure that the trucks were road-ready.
  • Governmental Agencies: Public agencies can be held liable when they are responsible for the design of a road, the maintenance of a road and road signs, or design flaws if these cause the accident. Agencies can also be liable if they do not properly implement required trucking regulations. Governmental agencies are also liable if the vehicle involved in the accident is a public vehicle, such as a utility truck, bus, police car, or fire truck.

A Chicago truck accident lawyer can help determine who is liable, so you know which party to hold accountable.

Recovering Compensation When You Are Partially Responsible

In Illinois, truck accidents and other personal injury claims operate under modified comparative negligence rules. Under this rule, as long as your percentage liability for the accident does not exceed 49%, you can still recover partial damages. However, if you are 50% or more responsible, you are unable to recover any compensation. These percentages may be determined by the civil court or through negotiations.

If you are partially at fault, however, this will negatively affect your settlement. For example, if you are discovered to be 30% liable for the accident, you can only recover 70% of your final settlement.

Insurance providers often use this to limit the amount that they are required to give you in a settlement. They may even claim that you were more than 49% at fault and are therefore not owed compensation. Trucking company insurance providers have significant resources to investigate and argue their side of the case. This is why it’s important to have an attorney who has similar resources to combat this.

Your accident attorney can find proof that you were not at fault or that you were less at fault than the insurance company claims. This can enable you to recover the entirety of your damages or a higher percentage than you otherwise would have. An attorney is there to protect your personal interests against an insurance company that only looks out for its own financial interests.

What Influences the Value of My Truck Accident Settlement?

Every truck accident claim is unique because every accident is unique. Your settlement largely rests on the significance of your financial losses. Truck accident claims are often very high-value, as the injuries and impact on an injured party’s life are often significant. There are several factors that can influence the value of a truck accident settlement:

  • Injury Severity: More serious injuries require more expensive medical care and treatment, increasing the compensation in a settlement.
  • Percentage Comparative Negligence: The amount that you are found partially liable for an accident can limit the final settlement you receive.
  • Significance of Evidence: Supporting documentation and other evidence of the severity of your injuries, the details of the accident, and the at-fault party, along with other clear and convincing evidence, can increase the chances of recovering full damages.
  • Recovery Time: An injury that takes you a month to recover from or allows you to work part-time will have a lower settlement than an injury that prevents you from working for a year or longer as you heal. If you are expected to never fully recover, the financial and emotional damage of this must be properly calculated.
  • Income: When personal injury claims include lost income and lost earning capacity, this will reflect the income that you would have otherwise earned. Having a higher-paying job will result in a higher settlement.
  • Non-Compensatory Damages: In some cases, punitive damages are awarded. This can significantly increase the value of a claim beyond the damages you suffered.
  • Attorney Skill: Having a more skilled and experienced attorney increases the chances that your claim can be handled efficiently and secure the most compensation possible.

Compensation Available in a Truck Accident

Many injured parties underestimate the true value of their accident settlement, as they do not properly calculate the emotional damages they have suffered or the future financial impact that the accident will have on them. Because of this, many parties accept a settlement from an insurance company that will not cover their damages.

If other parties are found entirely liable, you have the right to recover full compensatory damages. This may include both noneconomic and economic damages. Economic damages have quantifiable amounts and include costs like:

  • Past medical costs. This includes transportation for emergency care, surgeries, lab tests, x-rays, treatment, doctor’s appointments, medical devices, and mobility aids.
  • Expected medical costs. This covers physical therapy, at-home care, alterations to your home for mobility aids, mental health care, and expected medical complications.
  • Replacement services. If you are unable to complete basic at-home tasks and need to hire household replacement services for a short period of time or for the long term, this is compensable.
  • Lost income. This includes income you would have earned during the time you were recovering or had to take off work for doctor’s visits.
  • Lost earning potential. This compensates for being unable to work in your field of employment, only being able to work light duty, or being unable to engage in any gainful employment due to permanent disability.
  • Property damage. This includes repair or replacement costs for a vehicle and other valuable items in a vehicle.

When individuals calculate their claim values without an attorney, they are likely to forget or improperly determine their future losses from medical care and lost earning potential. An attorney has significant experience calculating these damages. They also have the resources to determine the likely long-term financial impact of the specific injuries you suffered.

Noneconomic damages do not have such set prices. Their values are subjective but still considered valid compensatory losses by the civil court. They include damages such as:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Permanent injury and disability
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium

Noneconomic damages typically apply to very extreme and traumatic injuries. These are frequent in truck accidents. They are especially difficult damages to calculate, but an attorney with experience in severe injuries and truck accidents knows how to determine a fair value for these emotional and psychological injuries.

Compensatory damages are typical in a truck accident settlement. Punitive damages are another form of damages that are much rarer. These do not compensate you for a loss you suffered but are assigned to punish the at-fault party. Punitive damages are only awarded when the at-fault party is considered to have acted with malice or outrageous indifference to human rights and safety.

Truck Accidents and Wrongful Death Claims

Unfortunately, truck accidents frequently result in fatalities or severe injuries that later cause death. If the individual could have filed a personal injury claim, had they lived, then their family members or a representative of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. This claim can recover some financial compensation for reasonable funeral costs and financial support for the surviving spouse, children, and other dependent family members.

A wrongful death claim will never replace the loss of a loved one. However, the compensation can provide family members with the time to grieve without having to stress about financial costs. A claim also ensures that the at-fault party is held accountable for their actions.

FAQs

Q: How Much Are Most Truck Accident Settlements?

A: Most truck accident claims settle at high values, from tens of thousands to millions of dollars. The value of a unique claim relies entirely on the damages you suffered, such as how serious your injuries are or how much income you lost. More expensive medical care and long-term effects from an injury result in higher settlements.

The settlement value also relies on the strength of the evidence that you and your attorney can gather, the percentage of fault that you have in the accident, and whether the case includes punitive damages.

Q: What Is the Longest a Truck Accident Settlement Can Take?

A: A truck accident settlement can take as long as several years, but each claim is unique. Some can be settled in several months or a year. Many factors impact the efficiency of a truck accident claim, including:

  • If the insurance company it is being filed against contests the claim
  • The complexity of your case
  • The extent of your damages
  • If your injuries are expected to have long-term consequences
  • Your attorney’s skill and experience in truck accident claims
  • Whether the claim goes to civil court or is settled in negotiation
Q: Is Truck Accident Settlement Money Taxable?

A: In most situations, money in a truck accident settlement is not taxable in Illinois, as it is considered compensation for a loss, not income.

Q: What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Truck Accident in Chicago?

A: The statute of limitations on a truck accident in Chicago is two years from the date of the accident if it is a civil personal injury claim. This two-year limit also applies to wrongful death claims. If a civil claim is for only property damage, this has a five-year statute of limitations.

It is important to file a claim quickly because missing the statute of limitations will mean that you miss out on any compensation. It’s also essential to contact an attorney soon after a truck accident so that they have time to investigate and create a strong claim prior to filing.

Our Chicago Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help You Claim Damages

Truck accidents are extremely complex and one small mistake could result in a forfeiture of damages. At Connolly Injury Law, our skilled Chicago truck accident lawyer will build you a strong case and file your claim properly so you recover the fair settlement that will cover your losses. Call us today at 312-780-0816 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation, and let us help you get the compensation you need to recover.

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