Tractor-trailers, semis, 18-wheelers, and big-rigs are massive commercial trucks that can do devastating damage whenever they are involved in an accident or collision. The resulting injuries and losses can change a person’s life an instant.
However, if a negligent trucker or their company is to blame for a crash, you have legal options. By enlisting the help of a Bloomington truck accident lawyer, you could receive help with each step of the claims process, from gathering evidence and calculating damages to filing a thorough claim. A dedicated attorney could also answer your questions, explain your rights, and allow you to focus on your recovery during this traumatic time.
Truck Crash Facts
The size and weight of large commercial trucks make crashes involving them particularly devastating. In fact, truck collisions are far more likely to result in serious injury or death. Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Crash Information indicates that only 6.4% of crashes that occurred in Illinois in 2015 involved large trucks, yet these crashes accounted for 10.9% of all fatalities.
Furthermore, it is usually not those in the large truck that suffer the worst damages. Instead, it is often the other vehicle occupants, motorcyclist, biker, or pedestrian who get seriously injured or killed in a truck crash. Indeed, IDOT 2017 Illinois Crash Facts and Statistics confirm that, in tractor-trailer crashes, those in the other vehicles or other parties are far more likely than the truck driver to be killed or suffer serious injury.
What Makes Tractor-Trailer Collision Cases Different?
Commercial truck and semi-accidents can be far more damaging and complicated than a regular car accident case. This is true for multiple reasons, which could be explained and navigated by a knowledgeable Bloomington truck accident lawyer. These nuances include:
- Due to their weight, a big-rig collision often cause more serious injuries and more severe disabilities, and also result in a greater chance of death. There’s also usually more property damage.
- Truck accidents can be more complicated to investigate. Determining whether there was driver error, inadequate truck maintenance, equipment failure, or improperly loaded cargo is crucial in determining fault for the crash.
- Commercial freight trucks are also subject to complex state and federal regulations governing hours of service, maintenance and inspection requirements, and other safety protocols. This means a person will need help in determining whether breaking these contributed to the collision, and in holding the offending party responsible.
- Truck crash cases are usually heavily defended. Truck insurance policies are many times larger than car insurance policies. The different insurance companies involved in a trucking accident case will do everything the can to reduce their liability and an injured claimant’s compensation. All of their tactics are designed to minimize their losses, maximize their profits, and ensure that a person does not get the compensation they deserve. They may offer quick payouts that are much lower than a case is really worth. They might even tamper with or destroy evidence, and they will certainly hire an experienced legal team to fight against an injured claimant.
- Finally, in any truck accident, it is important to determine all the parties at fault that may be liable for damages, including the:
- Truck driver
- Owner of the truck
- Trucking or freight company
- Leasing agency for the truck cab or trailer
- Mechanics or maintenance companies
- Product liability on the part of the truck, trailer, or parts manufacturer
- A shipper who arranged for loading or transporting the cargo
How Do I Prove the Accident Was Not my Fault?
It is common in cases involving truck accidents for there to be a dispute about who was at fault. As a result, it is often necessary to hire an accident reconstructionist to look at things like tire skid marks, vehicle data records, and traffic light signal timing to determine who was at fault and who is responsible for causing the collision. Illinois law also recognizes that an individual can be partially at fault (contributorily negligent) and this can have an impact on the amount of damages that are recovered. To find out more, call an experienced personal injury attorney for a free consultation.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit if I’ve Been in a Truck Accident?
If you have been injured in a truck accident you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to investigate your claim and to preserve evidence if necessary. The time you have to file a lawsuit is called a statute of limitations. If you do not file a lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations your cases likely will be barred by the courts. In the state of Illinois the statute of limitations for personal injury claims generally is two years. However, there are factors that could shorten or extend the amount of time you have to file. The only way to know is to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Types of Compensation After a Semi-Truck Crash
Economic Damages after a Big-Rig Accident
As in other personal injury claims, damages a person can recover from their trucking accident include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages cover the specific costs and expenses a person may incur, including:
- Current medical expenses—costs of ambulance service, emergency room visits, hospital care, outpatient visits, surgery, physical therapy, medical equipment, and any other care provided by medical professionals,
- Future medical expenses—for costs a person might incur in the future for additional medical care and treatment,
- Lost wages—payment for any wages or income a person lost from the time of the injury until they are able to return to full employment, and
- Lost earning capacity—compensation may be available if a person’s injuries negatively impacted their ability to earn a living
Non-Economic Damages after a Big-Rig Collision
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are meant to compensate the victim of the injury and/or their family for any intangible non-financial losses. These may include:
- Pain and suffering—compensation for the suffering from the physical pain caused by the injuries. The extent of the pain, the nature of the injury pain, and the length of time the pain might last are all considered in determining the value of this award.
- Mental anguish—to compensate for emotional distress caused by the accident. This includes fear and anxiety, stress, worry, grief, and any other forms of emotional upset resulting from the accident.
- Disfigurement—compensation for the any visible scarring.
loss of society and consortium—a spouse, parents, and minor children may deserve compensation for the loss of companionship and care, services, assistance, society, and aid of a loved one.
Lastly, in some cases, punitive damages may also be available if the liable party’s actions were willful, malicious, reckless, or fraudulent. These are designed to punish the offender and dissuade others from similar behavior.
I was Injured in a Truck Collision, Should I Hire an Attorney?
Truck accident cases can be complicated. There may be a need to perform inspections of the vehicles involved and to hire engineers to perform crash reconstruction reports. These types of collisions also often result in catastrophic injuries or death so there may be a need to hire medical experts to explain the injuries and the long term impact they will have on those involved. The complexity of these types of cases and the resources they require to pursue is why many people choose to hire an experience personal injury lawyer to assist them with their case.
By working with a Bloomington attorney after a truck crash, an injured claimant could have assistance with getting the justice they likely deserve. An experienced attorney would likely be familiar with the many tactics insurance companies use to avoid paying a claimant what they deserve. A legal professional who has experience serving as a general counsel to a trucking company could help an injured claimant understand the details of this complex process. This may include:
- Reviewing police and accident reports
- Ensuring that important evidence is preserved by the driver and truck company
- Gathering other evidence, such as camera footage or data from the truck’s Electronic Control Module (ECM or “black box”)
- Reviewing and analyzing all pertinent medical records and interviewing medical staff if necessary
- Gathering and organizing all billing and expense information to accurately value a person’s economic losses
- Consulting with needed experts to determine liability for and losses from the accident
A tenacious lawyer could carefully evaluate a person’s case, answer their questions, explain their legal rights, help determine all of the parties at fault, and advise a claimant on the best strategy to recover the money damages they are owed.
Call a Bloomington Truck Crash Attorney for Legal Help
If you were injured in a collision or crash with a tractor trailer or big-rig, you might benefit from retaining a Bloomington truck accident lawyer for help. Our team represents clients on a contingency basis. This means we only get paid if we recovery monetary damages for you. There are no upfront costs.
Your initial consultation is always free, and we are only paid when your claim is settled if we are successful in recovering for your losses and injuries. Because of this approach, you have access to legal help regardless of your ability to pay.
Furthermore, time is critical. The sooner we can act to preserve all critical evidence, the better. We will carefully listen to you so we fully understand your situation. We will thoroughly explain your legal options. We will help you recover from this devastating and stressful event, determine all of the parties who were at fault, and fight to get you the fair and just settlement you deserve. If you are injured and cannot come to us, we can even come to you. To learn more, contact us for a completely free consultation, by calling us or by filling out our no-cost evaluation now, so that we can help you with your case and so you can get back to your life and loved ones.