The Skilled, Aggressive Representation You Need After A Catastrophic Truck Accident
Being seriously injured in an accident with a big rig or semi truck can completely upend your life. You deserve to be compensated for medical expenses, lost wages and other damages, but greedy insurance companies may be preventing you from receiving the support you need. Thankfully, our team at Power Rogers, LLP, is on your side.
Our lawyers understand the nuances of these cases and are prepared to offer advanced, strategic advocacy for truck accident claims involving serious personal injuries and wrongful deaths. They have achieved record-setting results on behalf of clients, including holding the record for the largest personal injury award to a single family in Illinois.
Trucking Accidents In Illinois: What To Know
The Illinois Department of Transportation gathers information about commercial truck accidents in our state. According to its data, 167 fatal accidents involving semi trucks occurred in Illinois in 2022. Semi trucks were involved in about 29% of all fatal accidents. This staggering figure is a testament to just how dangerous large trucks are for other motorists. By working with a semi-truck accident lawyer to hold the driver, trucking company and/or other negligent party accountable for their actions, you can help prevent future semi-truck accidents.
Why Do You Need A Truck Accident Lawyer?
When an 18-wheeler accident occurs, several parties get involved, including the driver’s trucking company and its insurance company. The trucking company and insurance adjuster and their legal counsel tend to 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 back. Our lawyers at Power Rogers have the knowledge and experience to protect your rights and fight for the level of financial compensation you deserve by using:
- Police reports and photo evidence
- Expert analysis/testimony
- Witness statements
- Any available video footage
- Driver/trucking company documents
You can trust that our team will do everything in its power to secure the financial compensation you deserve after a truck accident.
How Do You File A Lawsuit For A Truck Accident?
In order to receive fair compensation for your injuries and losses after a truck accident, it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit. Even if your case ends up settling outside of court (which is most likely), the pressure of legal action often helps increase the amount of compensation offered by the liable party.
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 (which state and court) in which your case should be filed.
- Determine the venue in which your action should be filed. Typically, the venue is the location where the defendant(s) conduct business or where the dispute arose.
- 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 truck accident attorneys as your legal counsel, you can rest assured that they will take care of the technicalities for you.
Statute Of Limitations: How Long Do You Have To File A Truck Accident Lawsuit?
In every personal injury case, including truck accidents, you only have a limited period of time to file a lawsuit. The deadline – called the statute of limitations – varies, depending on the type of case.
The statute of limitations for truck accidents in Illinois is two years. The clock generally starts running from the date of the accident. In wrongful death claims resulting from a truck accident, the clock starts running from the date of death, which means a longer time to file.
Rare Exceptions To The Two-Year Deadline
While rare, there are some exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations. They include the following:
- When the victim is a minor: The clock won’t start running until they turn 18.
- When you’re suing a government entity: If one of the defendants is a government entity, you will only have one year to file the lawsuit.
You should talk to a lawyer if you think one of these exceptions might apply.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait Until The Deadline
Two years may seem like a long time, but it takes time to build a truck accident case. A sloppy or rushed lawsuit could end up getting dismissed. It’s important to leave ample time for your lawyer to do all the legwork leading up to filing the lawsuit, including identifying the right parties to sue.
What Happens If You Miss The Deadline?
Unfortunately, missing the deadline will almost certainly cost you your right to file a lawsuit. You don’t want to end up giving up valuable compensation by waiting too long to talk to an attorney.
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 be the truck driver’s employer, the entity responsible for the truck’s maintenance, the manufacturer of a truck part or even the local government for improper road maintenance.
A Chicago truck accident lawyer can establish fault by using accident reconstruction, expert witnesses and other forms of evidence.
Fault And 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 proving that the injury resulted from negligent or wrongful acts that 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 that 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 (pileups and multivehicle wrecks)
- Severity of injuries/damages suffered by victims or losses suffered by families
Victim’s Fault: Comparative And 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:
- A victim found less than 50% at fault for their accident can still recover from the majority at-fault party
- A victim found more than 50% at fault is 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 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, failure to maintain vehicles, circumvention of commercial license or driver medical exam requirements, noncompliance with hours-of-service rules, and other regulatory violations.
There can be many other potentially liable parties to look at, 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 an experienced truck accident attorney in Chicago as they conduct the meticulous investigations that these claims require.
How Much Is Your 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 one claim, particularly early on and especially without any individualized assessment.
That’s due to many unique factors at play in truck accident cases, including those below.
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, which 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 that 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.
Our Chicago truck accident 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 the victims, and they can take steps to carefully calculate other future projected losses.
Available Insurance Coverage
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, but they must also ensure that there’s sufficient insurance coverage available. This can be a problem when at-fault parties are underinsured or victims have extensive damages that exceed available policy limits.
A judge or jury can award damages against at-fault parties, but if the parties have no money, then 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 uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance (if they have this additional coverage) or other available options.
Denials And Disputes
A case where the victim is 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 that can influence the overall value of a claim. These include:
- Age, income, remaining working years and other financial matters unique to victim
- Arguments from defendants about the 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
- The scope of a victim’s physical pain and suffering
- The nature and extent of emotional suffering endured by a victim and their family
- Whether the defendant’s conduct was “egregious” or so inexcusably wrongful that it warrants punitive damages
Our lawyers at Power Rogers have won millions of dollars for truck accident victims and their families.
Common Causes Of Trucking Accidents
A variety of factors often contribute to semi-truck crashes. Often, liability lies with the truck driver or the trucking company. While most truck drivers are law-abiding workers who responsibly own and operate their vehicles, there are some who feel that they are above the law and choose to ignore the rules. The unfortunate result is thousands of serious – yet entirely preventable – accidents. Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include:
- Drowsy driving
- Distracted driving
- Truck driver substance abuse
- Inadequate driver training
- Hours-of-service violations
- Improper maintenance
- Faulty vehicle equipment
- Brake failure
- Tire blowouts
- Improperly loaded or overloaded trucks
Many of these issues can be prevented through consistent maintenance, as failing to keep up to date with these safety checks can lead to serious failures and potential crashes. Often, a crash involves two or more of these factors. You will need a semi-truck accident lawyer who has handled many of these cases before. Our team members know how to gather and preserve evidence at the crash site. They also frequently hire experts, such as forensic crash analysts, to examine the scenes. This way, our attorneys can determine the cause of the accident and which party is most at fault.
What Should You Do If You’re 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 they are 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 one of our truck accident attorneys to learn more about your legal options.
Don’t Wait To Contact Our Chicago Truck Accident Lawyers
If you’ve been injured in an accident with a semi truck, big rig, or tractor-trailer in Illinois, you need experienced representation. Call Power Rogers today at 312-500-1792 or submit an online contact form to arrange your free consultation. Our attorneys have worked with countless people who were seriously injured in truck crashes, and they understand the best way to prepare for and execute an effective strategy that will put you in the most favorable position possible.