When a large commercial truck, such as an 18-wheeler, big rig, or tractor-trailer, strikes a much smaller vehicle, such as a car, motorcycle, or bicycle, it is almost always the vehicle on the receiving end — along with that vehicle’s occupants or riders — that suffers the more severe damages. This is especially true if a truck accident happens at highway speed.
When truck accident victims suffer injuries, they may become incapacitated for an extended time, and they may be unable to work after their accident, causing a significant loss of earnings.
If you sustained injuries in a recent truck accident, you can file a claim with the at-fault truck driver’s or trucking company’s insurer. However, you can be sure that the insurance company will not act in your best interest.
In fact, the insurance company is your direct adversary, and they will do everything possible to undermine the value of your personal injury claim or lawsuit. When obtaining a fair monetary recovery for your truck accident injuries, you must have a local truck accident attorney on your side.
During your truck accident claim or lawsuit, your truck accident lawyer can gather important documents for your case and retain experts to help satisfy the legal burden of proof. Your lawyer can also negotiate with insurance company representatives and pursue a favorable settlement offer from the adjuster handling your case.
Finally, if the adjuster does not offer you a fair monetary settlement, your Chicago truck accident lawyer can file a lawsuit in the state court system and litigate your case to a resolution there. Your attorney will aggressively advocate for you every step of the way, answer all your questions, and decide on the best course of action for your case.
Truck Accident Causes
Accidents involving large trucks and tractor-trailers typically occur when drivers deviate from the prevailing standard of care and act unreasonably. Some truck drivers act negligently when they disobey standard traffic laws and regulations.
For example, a truck driver might speed, fail to use their turn signal, fail to use their mirrors, or fail to yield the right-of-way to another vehicle when it is appropriate for them to do so.
A truck accident may also occur when a driver is in a hurry and exhibits road rage. Road rage includes a variety of aggressive driving maneuvers, including cutting off other vehicles at merge lanes, weaving in and out of traffic, speeding, and tailgating other vehicles. When truck drivers recklessly operate their trucks, they significantly increase their chances of causing an accident.
Another common cause of truck accidents is driver fatigue. Trucking companies frequently incentivize their drivers monetarily if they drive fast and deliver their cargo to its destination ahead of schedule. As a result, many drivers will not stop to rest but instead attempt to drive the entire length of their trip without taking any breaks.
Fatigued drivers may lose their ability to concentrate and exhibit reckless or careless driving maneuvers. Alternatively, a fatigued driver might fall asleep at the wheel, losing complete control over their truck.
A truck accident may also happen when a truck driver or trucking company does not follow state or federal motor carrier regulations. These regulations prescribe rules for loading and unloading truck cargo and securing cargo to the trailer bed.
Motor carrier regulations also establish standards for exterior lighting on both the tractor and trailer and prescribe cargo weight limits. When a truck driver or trucking company intentionally or negligently violates a motor carrier regulation, cargo may slide off the truck into the road, causing a wreck.
Alternatively, a poorly lit truck may not be visible to other drivers, bringing about a single collision or series of accidents.
Finally, if a truck driver fails to load cargo into their truck correctly, the truck may become top-heavy, causing it to tip over and cause an accident.
Truck accidents can also occur when people drive inattentively. For example, instead of watching the road carefully, a truck driver might be fiddling with a GPS navigation system, cellular phone, tablet, or other electronic device in the cab of their vehicle.
Alternatively, they might be listening to loud music or adjusting the volume on the radio, taking their eyes off the road in the process. When a driver looks away from the road, they may not observe an approaching vehicle, cyclist, or pedestrian, bringing about a severe and sometimes deadly accident.
Finally, a truck accident may occur when a driver operates their vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When intoxicated drivers get behind the wheel, they may exhibit various types of reckless driving maneuvers due to poor coordination and vision.
Additionally, a drunk driver might experience delayed reflexes, impaired concentration, and slowed reaction time. As a result, they might be unable to stop their vehicle by hitting their brakes in time to avoid an accident.
In addition to truck driver negligence, some accidents result from trucking company negligence. Trucking companies may be automatically responsible for the negligent actions and inactions of their drivers committed within the scope of their employment.
For example, trucking companies are responsible for hiring and retaining only skilled drivers with good driving records. If a trucking company hires or retains a driver with a history of moving violations or traffic infractions, and that driver causes an accident, then the trucking company may be responsible for negligent entrustment.
If you suffered injuries in a truck accident that resulted from a truck driver or trucking company’s negligence, your attorney can investigate the circumstances of your accident and file a personal injury claim or lawsuit on your behalf.
Injuries in a Serious Truck Accident
Truck accidents can lead to severe injuries depending upon the accident circumstances, the force of the collision, and the accident victim’s bodily movements when the accident occurs.
Some of the most common examples of truck accident injuries include spinal cord injuries, paralysis, eye injuries, mouth and teeth injuries, broken bones, broken ribs, internal bleeding and organ damage, open lacerations, bruises, traumatic head and brain injuries, and soft tissue injuries.
If you experienced one or more of these injuries in a truck accident, focus on getting the medical care and treatment you need and treating continuously for all your injuries.
By discharging yourself from medical care, you significantly jeopardize your health, not to mention your truck accident claim or lawsuit. Insurance companies are frequently skeptical when accident victims discharge themselves from care, often believing that their claimed injuries are not severe.
By completing all your medical treatment, you show the insurance company and its adjusters that your injuries warrant ample monetary compensation.
While you focus on getting better, your attorney can start handling the legal components of your truck accident claim.
Successfully Proving Your Truck Accident Claim or Lawsuit
To recover the monetary compensation you need for your truck accident losses, you will need to satisfy the legal burden of proof in your case. All truck drivers have a duty to drive carefully and safely under the circumstances.
However, you often must demonstrate that the truck driver violated one or more traffic laws, traffic laws, or state/federal motor carrier regulations. You must also show that as a direct result of this violation, both your accident and physical injuries occurred.
How a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
In a truck accident claim or lawsuit, an experienced attorney will maximize the monetary damages you recover in your case via settlement or litigation.
Gathering Important Documents
First, a truck accident attorney in your area can help gather the necessary documents to prove your case. Those documents may include medical treatment records and bills, police reports, photographs of the accident scene, photographs of your injuries, and any other documents about your case.
Your lawyer can then assemble these documents into a settlement demand package and submit that package to the insurance company adjuster once your medical treatment concludes.
A truck accident attorney may help your case satisfy these legal elements by retaining one or more experts to testify, including a certified accident reconstructionist and/or a medical expert.
An accident reconstructionist can speak with witnesses to the truck accident, review police reports or video camera footage, visit the accident scene, and review photographs and diagrams to determine how the accident happened and who was at fault.
The accident reconstructionist can also draft a formal report and submit that report to the insurance company for review. In addition, a medical expert can physically examine you and causally relate your claimed injuries to the subject truck accident.
Depending on your circumstances, a medical expert can also say on the record, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, if your truck accident caused permanent injuries.
Filing the Proper Claim
Your lawyer can also submit a settlement demand package to the insurance company adjuster handling your claim. The adjuster might review it and make a settlement offer to resolve your case.
However, since initial settlement offers are typically low, your lawyer will probably need to negotiate with the adjuster, possibly several times, before the adjuster will increase their offer sufficiently. If that does not happen, your lawyer may threaten the insurance company with litigation in the court system.
Pursuing Truck Accident Litigation
If you and your lawyer decide to file a personal injury lawsuit in your case, your lawyer can represent you at all legal proceedings and handle the discovery process, such as by preparing you for your discovery deposition. Your lawyer can also represent you at a civil jury trial, mediation hearing, or binding arbitration proceeding in your case.
What Monetary Damages Can You Recover for Your Injuries?
The monetary damages a truck accident victim may recover for their injuries are very case-specific. In most instances, an accident victim who suffers a permanent injury may recover more monetary damages than an accident victim who suffers a less severe injury.
Other factors that may affect the monetary value of a truck accident claim include whether the case goes to litigation, the specific circumstances surrounding the accident, and the cost of the accident victim’s medical care and treatment.
Compensable monetary damages in truck accident claims and lawsuits include compensation for all related past and future medical expenses, loss of earning capacity, lost income, loss of life enjoyment, loss of use of a body part, loss of spousal consortium, pain and suffering, inconvenience, emotional distress, lifetime care costs, permanent disability or disfigurement, humiliation from visible scarring, and wrongful death damages.
Your attorney can evaluate your case and provide you with reasonable expectations. Your lawyer will then do everything possible to maximize your overall monetary award.
Speak with an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Today
If you suffered injuries in a truck accident, time is of the essence. A skilled truck accident attorney in your area will be your advocate during every stage of the proceedings to recover fair monetary damages for your accident-related injuries and other tangible and intangible losses.