Chicago Truck Accident Attorney
Record-Setting Results in Illinois Truck Accident Cases
In the past two years alone, the Chicago truck accident attorneys at Power Rogers have recovered over $260 million in truck accident cases. Our firm also holds the record for the largest personal injury award to a single family in Illinois. We understand the nuances of these cases and our team is prepared to offer advanced, strategic advocacy in the field of trucking accidents, injuries, and wrongful deaths.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a commercial truck in Illinois, don't hesitate to give our Chicago truck accident lawyers a call at your earliest convenience.
There are many factors that account for our ability to provide sharp and effective representation to truck and car accident victims, but most important is our experience representing truck accident case and winning millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients.
Some of our most prominent truck accident cases include:
- Joseph A. Power, Jr. achieved a record-setting, multi-million-dollar verdict in a truck accident case in Ogle County, Illinois
- Mr. Power and Larry Rogers, Jr. obtained a $100 million recovery for a family involved in a horrific accident - a case responsible for launching a statewide investigation into the "licenses for bribes" scandal in Illinois, which led to more than 2,000 truck drivers being retested and numerous elected officials and public employees convicted for their involvement in the scandal
Who Is at Fault in Semi-Truck Accidents?
Fault in a semi-truck accident isn’t always easy to determine. The truck driver may be at fault, but so may the truck driver's employer, the entity responsible for the truck’s maintenance, a manufacturer of a truck part, or even the local government for improper road maintenance. A truck accident lawyer can determine and establish fault a number of ways, such as accident reconstruction and expert witnesses.
When an 18-wheeler accident occurs, several parties get involved, including the driver's trucking company and its insurance company. The trucking company, insurance adjuster, and their legal counsel do everything in their power to protect their own interests, not yours. They are on the scene quickly to collect whatever evidence they can, including anything that might show your contribution to the accident.
However, an attorney who is well versed in this area of law will know how to fight the forces against you. Power Rogers has the knowledge and experience to protect your rights and fight for the level of financial compensation you need and deserve.
Fault & Liability: The Basics
Civil injury claims require victims to establish a few essential elements. Aside from demonstrating the existence of a “legal duty” owed by the defendant to the plaintiff and showing actual damages resulted from negligent or wrongful acts which breach that duty, claimants also need to prove who’s “more likely than not” (the burden of proof in civil cases) at fault for the wreck and financially liable for damages.
That may seem simple enough in theory, but proving fault and liability is an undertaking that often requires extensive resources, insight, and meticulous investigation. It’s also a process which may look different depending on the facts of a case, such as:
- Who victims were in relation to the commercial truck (i.e. a driver of another vehicle, pedestrian, bicyclist, etc.);
- Whether other vehicles were involved (pile-ups and multi-vehicle wrecks);
- Severity of injuries / damages suffered by victims, or losses suffered by families.
Victims’ Fault: Comparative & Contributory Negligence
In addition to these types of factors, it’s also important to consider whether a victim’s negligence (if applicable) played any role in causing or contributing to the crash. In Illinois, fortunately, victims of personal injury are not subject to harsh rules of “pure contributory negligence,” which essentially bar a victim from recovering damages if they contributed to an accident in any way.
Instead, injury claims in Illinois operate on a modified doctrine of “comparative negligence,” which means:
- Victims found less than 50% at fault for their accident can still recover from the majority at-fault party
- Victims found more than 50% at fault are barred from recovering financial compensation
Potentially Liable Parties
Truck accident victims who aren’t barred from recovering compensation under rules of comparative negligence must still determine who they can hold at fault for the accident. This will depend on what occurred and who failed to uphold their legal obligations.
In many trucking cases, investigations often focus on common accident causes associated with:
- Truckers – Truck drivers can cause wrecks for all types of reasons, from drunk and distracted driving to fatigue, lane swerving, and other careless acts. Unless drivers are independent contractors covered by their own insurance, which isn’t the norm, trucking companies are typically responsible for wrecks caused by their truckers, and they’re ultimately responsible for the conduct of employees.
- Trucking companies – In addition to vicarious liability for driver negligence, trucking operators can be held at fault for negligent acts of their own. Common factors may include negligent hiring or retention of drivers, failures to maintain vehicles, circumventing commercial license or driver medical exam requirements, non-compliance with Hours-of-Service rules, and other regulatory violations.
There can be many other potentially liable parties to look at after a truck accident, including:
- Other negligent motorists
- Third parties (contractors, distributors, vehicle maintenance crews, etc.)
- Automakers / auto part manufacturers
- Public entities (poor roads, city vehicles, etc.)
- Taxis / rideshare services with insurance policies covering passengers
Evaluating where fault and liability exist, especially in cases involving multiple parties, can be immensely difficult and fact-specific. As such, it’s important that victims work with experienced attorneys as they conduct the meticulous investigations these claims require.
A few things our attorneys look at in trucking cases include:
- Police reports and photo evidence
- Expert analysis / testimony
- Witness statements
- Any available video footage
- Driver / trucking company documents
How Do I File a Lawsuit for a Truck Accident?
It’s important to know what to do if you are ever the victim of a collision with a truck. The most important thing to do is to seek medical attention immediately, both to make sure that you are treated for any injuries you have suffered. In litigation, records of your medical treatment will help your attorney prove that the injuries you suffered were a direct result of the crash, which will help you to secure the compensation you deserve. If you or someone you love was injured in an accident, take the following steps:
- Find out if you have legal standing to sue. The best way to do this is by contacting a truck accident lawyer in Chicago.
- Find out whom to sue. Civil lawsuits are filed by one party, a plaintiff, against one or more parties, the defendant(s). Plaintiffs sue those they believe to be responsible for their injuries or losses.
- Determine the jurisdiction in which your case should be filed (what state and what court).
- Determine the venue in which your action should be filed. Typically, the venue is the location the defendant(s) conduct business or the location the dispute arose.
- The next step is to file the complaint in the appropriate court.
The important thing to remember is that you do not have to do this alone. With one of our experienced attorneys as your legal counsel, you can rest assured that we will take care of the technicalities for you. Call us at (312) 313-0202 today to schedule a free consultation.
How Much Is My Truck Accident Case Worth?
Because trucking wrecks often result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities, they can result in substantial settlements or verdicts for victims and their families. However, there’s simply no way to make an accurate prediction about the value of any particular claim, particularly early on and especially without any individualized assessment. That’s due to many unique factors at play in truck accident cases, including:
- Severity of injuries;
- Future losses;
- Available coverage;
- Denials and disputes; and
- Other case-specific factors.
Severity of Injuries
Victims who suffer cuts and bruises may have real losses (ER assessments, stitches or physical therapy, missed work wages, etc.) but they pale in comparison to the damages brought about by severe and catastrophic injuries like lost limbs or permanent brain injuries. Broken bones, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and other serious injuries can result in long recoveries, expensive surgeries and treatment, and significant time away from work, and as such can increase the value of damages sought in truck accident claims.
Victims of preventable crashes can seek compensation for past losses such as medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and emotional injuries they incurred after the accident and up to the time their case is resolved. Some cases, especially those involving severe injuries or death, mean plaintiffs may continue to face losses caused by their accidents in the future, if not for the rest of their lives.
When victims have damages related to future medical needs, permanent disabilities, lost earning potential or financial support, and other damages, they need to be accounted for in the final case value. These future losses, of course, are also case-specific. A young victim who suffers a permanent disability will need to account for years of lost income and medical care. An older individual who’s already retired, though still entitled to future damages when losses are expected to persist, will have settlement value calculations that look a little different.
Attorneys commonly work with medical experts to provide testimony and insight regarding the prognoses, recovery time, scope of injury or impairment, and expected needs of victims, and they can take steps to carefully calculate other future projected losses.
In a perfect world, accident victims would be fully and fairly compensated. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Not only must victims prove fault and liability when bringing claims against a defendant, they must also ensure there’s sufficient insurance coverage available. This can be a problem when at-fault parties are underinsured or victims have extensive damages which exceed available policy limits.
A judge or jury can award damages against at-fault parties, but if they have no money, victims won’t be able to recover compensation.
Experienced truck accident attorneys should be able to help their clients explore any and all viable avenues for recovering the full amount of compensation they need – whether it’s through trucking operators with larger commercial policies, multiple / third-party defendants that contributed to a crash, their own UM / UIM insurance (if they have this additional coverage), or other available options.
Denials & Disputes
A case where victims are unable to prove fault and liability ultimately has little value in terms of any settlement or verdict. What’s more, denials and disputes from at-fault trucking companies and insurance carriers can put any final damages award or negotiated settlement at risk. For example, defendants may argue that victims contributed to their own accidents in some way or that another party is to blame. Trucking operators and insurers also want to minimize their losses and generally do what they can to pay as little as possible.
Other Case-Specific Factors
There are numerous other case-specific factors which can influence the overall value of a claim. These might include:
- Age, income, remaining working years, and other financial matters unique to victims;
- Arguments from defendants about severity of injuries and their impact on victims / future expected associated costs;
- The degree to which a victim is at fault (if at all) for their accident.;
- Scope of victims’ physical pain and suffering;
- Nature and extent of emotional suffering endured by victims and families;
- Whether defendants’ conduct was “egregious” or so inexcusably wrongful that it warrants punitive damages.
Common Causes of Trucking Accidents
While most truck drivers are law-abiding workers who responsibly own and operate their vehicles, there are some who feel they are above the law and choose to ignore the rules. The unfortunate result is thousands of serious yet entirely preventable accidents.
Truck accidents are commonly caused by:
- Brake Failure - 18-wheelers, semi-trucks, etc. have a difficult time braking due to the sheer size of the vehicle, which makes them incredibly dangerous when the driver fails to notice an oncoming hazard. When those brakes fail completely, the runaway truck could easily cause a catastrophic accident. Far too often, this failure is the result of negligence on the part of the driver and/or the trucking company.
- Hours of Service Violations - Strict regulations are put on trucking companies in order to prevent overworked and overtired drivers from remaining on the road. When companies pressure their drivers to break the rules and keep driving past their limits, or when a driver chooses to continue driving beyond what the law allows, it can put everyone on the road’s health and safety at risk. Drivers are required to keep a log of their travels, and when the numbers don’t add up, it could mean that they violated hours of service regulations.
- Improperly Loaded & Overloaded Trucks - Trucks are incredibly valuable to our economy and society because of how much each vehicle can transport at once. As long as the cargo is properly secured and within the vehicle’s weight limit, the risk of a potential crash is far lower than when it’s not. Improperly secured goods can shift during transit and cause the unbalanced truck to flip, especially during a turn, and overloaded vehicles have considerably more trouble braking in time to avoid a crash.
- Truck Driver Substance Abuse - Driving under the influence is an incredibly dangerous choice far too many drivers make every single day. While the legal blood alcohol content for drivers using passenger vehicles is 0.08 percent, commercial truck drivers’ limit is only 0.04 percent. In addition to alcohol use, drug use is also highly regulated, and in most cases expressly prohibited. Drivers who use or abuse drugs and/or alcohol dramatically increase the chances of causing a crash and seriously injuring those involved.
- Truck Tire Blowouts - Tire blowouts can cause a driver to completely lose control of their vehicle, which can lead to a serious crash. Tire manufacturers keep most data on what causes their products to burst, but some causes these companies have identified as significant factors include over-inflation, under-inflation, overloading with cargo, general wear and tear, and poor or dangerous road conditions. Many of these issues can be prevented through consistent maintenance while failing to keep up to date with these safety checks can lead to serious failures and potential crashes.
What Should I Do If I'm Involved in a Truck Accident?
Immediately after a truck accident, you must call for help. If you are unable to dial 911, ask someone nearby to do it for you. Once you’ve received medical treatment from responding paramedics, take photos of the crash site. Document everything and pay special attention to damaged roads or lane dividers, vehicles, and any other nearby hazards or debris that may have contributed to your crash.
Next, take down the other driver’s information and, if he/she is a commercial driver, the information of their employer. Also, collect contact information from any bystanders or other injured parties, along with brief accounts of what they saw—they could be used as witnesses. You should also write down the names and badge numbers of the responding officers and obtain a copy of the accident report.
Once you’ve taken care of everything at the scene of the crash, schedule an appointment with your doctor for a more thorough medical examination, and reach out to a truck accident attorney at our firm to learn more about your legal options.
Don't Wait to Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer
You should contact an attorney right away. Hiring legal representation as soon as possible will give them more time to conduct a thorough investigation into the events leading up to the crash and the crash itself. Our truck accident attorneys in Chicago have worked with countless people who were seriously injured in truck crashes, and we understand the best way to prepare for and execute an effective strategy that will put you in the best position possible. The sooner you bring us on to represent you, the more we can do to prepare for your case.
At Power Rogers, we leave no stone unturned. We access the driver's log and records. We carefully review the driver's qualification. We examine communications between the driver and the trucking company. We study satellite GPS records and electronic control modules. We call upon our own team of experts—accident reconstructionists, technicians, and specialists—to build your case.
You have a limited amount of time during which to file your truck accident lawsuit. Your truck accident settlement depends on meeting all deadlines. Power Rogers can explain how the statute of limitations applies to your specific case and help you stay within the limits.
If you've been injured in an accident with a semi-truck, big rig, or tractor-trailer, you need aggressive and experienced representation. Call Power Rogers today at (312) 313-0202 to arrange your free consultation.