A car accident can be so much worse when it involves a truck or big rig. Commercial trucks and 18-wheelers on U.S. roads are so large and heavy that anyone in a passenger car could suffer major personal injuries or even death in the event of even a minor crash.
A catastrophic injury or the death of a loved one can be devastating for you and your family. To make matters worse, large commercial trucking companies often have lawyers paid by insurance companies with a lot of financial incentive to fight lawsuits that would hold them responsible for their drivers’ accidents.
Both the trucking company and their insurance company want to accept as little fault as possible – preferably none at all. As the victim of a crash, this could make it harder for you to get proper compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered because of someone else. Both state and federal governments heavily regulate the activity of commercial truckers. The regulations are essential to establishing the trucking company’s liability. Their lawyers know them inside and out.
None of that phases us at Kramer Injury Law. We know the regulations too. We fight hard and we fight smart for our clients. Our expertise helps you level the field against major corporations. No case is too big for us to take on so that our clients can heal, recover, and move forward with their lives.
A catastrophic injury can turn your life upside down in the blink of an eye. Trucking accident injuries could include severe spinal, head, and brain trauma with long-term implications for your health and mobility. To cut down on truck accidents, federal law imposes regulations on the trucking industry that apply not just to Illinois but to all 50 states. If you have not yet hired an attorney to fight for you who knows these regulations, you should do so immediately.
A trucking accident could be caused by:
- A truck that ignores or fails highway regulations and standards
- A rig that isn’t properly equipped to deal with weather conditions on the road
- A manufacturer’s defect on the truck or rig
- Improper loading or securing that causes the cargo to become loose
- A truck driver exceeding the number of hours they can drive in a day to meet deadlines
- Truck driver fatigue, error, negligence, or alcohol or drug use
- Dangerous roads that make truck maneuvering more difficult
- Hazardous materials spilling out of a truck in the event of a crash
- Improper or negligent truck maintenence
Trucking and freight companies are vicariously liable for the actions of their truck drivers while those employees are carrying out their job duties.
In the case of a truck accident, the responsible parties could be:
- The truck driver themselves
- The company the driver works for
- The truck manufacturer
- The fleet maintenance crew
Most trucking companies are insured, but that doesn't mean their insurance company wants to pay out a settlement. In fact, whoever is responsible usually wants to pay out the least they can get away with. And if you're dealing with an injury, you may want to take whatever settlement is offered to you just so you can get something to cover your bills and move on with your life.
But taking just any settlement offer would be a mistake. Usually, insurance companies lowball their first settlement offer, hoping you'll settle for much less than your case is worth. This protects them and their clients but leaves you out in the cold – and you're the injured party. You deserve to be compensated fully for the harm done to you.
In personal injury cases, the law works to “make you whole” to the best extent possible – as if your accident never happened. Of course, in some cases this is impossible. The courts use monetary compensation to help make up for things the law cannot undo.
While a settlement can’t undo your injury or bring back your loved one, it can help lessen the load with any expenses you’ve incurred or income you’ve lost because of the accident.
At Kramer Injury Law, our attorneys also know that right now is not the time for you to worry about how to afford a lawyer. That’s why we take personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis – you don’t pay us until we’ve recovered compensation for you.
Your initial case consultation is also free. Call our Chicago and Cook County personal injury law firm at (312) 775-1012 to talk to our experienced legal team today. You may also fill out the form on our website for a free case evaluation.
What Should You Do After a Truck Accident in Chicago?
Trucking accidents can have serious consequences, whether you feel them immediately after your accident or not. Either way, you should take steps to protect your health and document the details of the accident if you are physically able.
When you call our law firm, we can help you get the medical attention you need and gather the necessary evidence to prove your case.
Get to Safety and Check for Immediate Injuries
Trucking accidents usually involve large and heavy cargo at high speeds, which could lead to severe injuries in a collision. This is especially true if you’re in a passenger car, which is bound to take more damage simply because it’s much smaller. In addition, the immediate aftermath of a trucking accident could involve spills of hazardous materials.
Get to a safe place away from traffic and dangerous cargo if you can. Call 911 to get immediate medical attention for any injuries on site. The police can help manage traffic around the accident and document the scene of the crash in a police report.
Get Medical Attention and Treatment
If you’re lucky enough to walk away from your accident, you should still get checked out by a medical professional. This is because many accident injuries can be latent – they may not become obvious until days, weeks, or even months later.
Trucking accidents could cause bruises, cuts, burns, broken bones, spinal injuries, concussions, and other severe internal injuries. Head injuries are especially dangerous because you may not realize that you've hit your head and your mental reasoning may be affected.
You may be tempted to walk off your injuries to avoid hospital bills, especially if you feel “fine.” But the sooner you get medical attention, the better. Ideally, you should see a doctor right away after your accident – that same day. If you haven’t gotten checked out yet by a medical professional, doing so will start a paper trail to help prove your case.
It’s better to start documenting your injuries earlier rather than later. Documentation of your injury is important for proving the cause and extent of your injuries later on. A successful personal injury case can help cover the cost of your medical treatment.
In addition, juries tend to believe that “injured people seek medical treatment.” If you don't seek treatment, a jury might think that you’re faking your injury. Even if your case doesn't go to trial, the outcome of your settlement negotiations still depends on how each side believes they will do in court. That's why at Kramer Injury Law, we prepare all of our cases as if they're going to trial from the very beginning – at no upfront expense to you.
Document Evidence of the Accident
Evidence is the most important part of your personal injury case. The stronger your evidence, the better your chances of proving the injuries you suffered as a result of the accident.
You want to start documenting evidence of your accident as soon as you are able. If you are mobile immediately after the crash, document as much of the scene as possible. That means taking pictures or videos from various angles and getting eyewitness information.
With all the adrenaline and shock of an accident, people’s memories can get muddled over time. That’s why evidence that doesn't rely on memory is so strong.
At Kramer Injury Law, we can help you gather compelling evidence such as:
- Recordings from cameras on the truck itself
- Photographs and videos of the scene and the vehicles involved
- Detailed photos of the rig involved in the crash and its configuration
- Traffic or security camera footage from the area
- Statements from bystanders or emergency responders immediately after the crash
- Electronic data like cell phone records that can prove distracted driving
- Electronic logging devices used by truck drivers to record their hours
- Employee records that show failed drug tests or a pattern of poor driving
- Data from the event data recorder (EDR), or “black box,” of your car and the truck
- Manufacturer or maintenance records that show defects or problems with the truck
- Medical records detailing the scope and severity of your injury and treatment
When it comes to evidence in personal injury cases, your medical record is the most important piece. That's why it's so important to get treatment for your injuries.
In trucking accident cases, it's especially important to document the state of the rig involved in the accident. The trucking industry has many safety regulations meant to protect motorists on the road. You could show liability by proving that a trucking company failed to follow the proper regulations and that contributed to or caused the accident.
In addition to all of the above, write down a statement about your own experience as soon as you are able while the events are freshest in your mind. Write down anything you remember later on, too. Make sure to also get contact information from witnesses.
Common Trucking Accident Injuries
Considering the force of a truck collision, truck crashes tend to be more lethal than those involving passenger cars only. Unfortunately, many trucking accidents involve fatalities. If you lost a loved one in a truck accident, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.
Survivors of truck accidents may still end up with profound and lifelong injuries, including:
- Severe traumatic brain injuries (TBI) leading to paralysis, reduced cognitive functioning, personality changes, coma, or death.
- Spinal cord injuries resulting in lifelong paralysis, mobility issues, or pain.
- Neck and back injuries like whiplash, herniated discs, and bulging discs.
- Burn injuries from hazardous materials on truck cargo.
- Bone fractures including broken ribs and other internal injuries.
The Illinois statute of limitations gives you two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury claim against the driver of the truck or their company.
If you've suffered the loss of a loved one in a trucking accident, you have two years from the date of their passing to file a wrongful death claim.
The experienced attorneys at Kramer Injury Law know what you're going through. The effects of a major crash can be life-altering and daunting. We’re here to help you get the treatment you need and the compensation you deserve for what you've suffered.
Call our Cook County legal team now at (312) 775-1012 for a free consultation of your case.
Types of Damages Awarded in Truck Accident Lawsuits
The law uses damages to help “make you whole” for the injuries you’ve suffered in an accident. Damages could cover medical expenses, lost future income, and pain and suffering.
Illinois personal injury lawsuits usually involve two, sometimes three, types of damages:
- Compensatory and economic damages cover actual monetary losses that you've experienced as a result of your accident, including out-of-pocket expenses like medical treatment, caretaking costs, and lost wages from an inability to work.
- Non-economic damages cover the pain and suffering you've experienced as a result of your accident, including emotional distress, long-term or lifelong disability, disfigurement, increased medical risks, and shortened life expectancy.
- Punitive damages aren’t always available and require approval from an Illinois court. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the responsible party for especially bad, reckless behavior to deter others from the same conduct.
Illinois allows for punitive damages if the responsible party acted in a way that was intentional, reckless, malicious, or with an “outrageous disregard or indifference” to the lives of others. Driving under the influence (DUI) often qualifies for punitive damages.
When calculating damages for your case, an Illinois court would take into account the “nature, extent, and duration” of the harm you've experienced from the crash. Negotiation settlements take a similar approach, basing the outcome on your chances of success in court.
The key then to getting a good negotiation settlement is to prove how successful you would be in court. The stronger your case, the more likely a trucking or insurance company is to settle instead – because they realized they've got more to lose if you refuse their offer.
At Kramer Injury Law, we approach our cases aggressively from the beginning, putting together the strongest case we can to show that we mean business for our clients. We aren’t intimidated by corporate legal when we have the law on our side.
The Legal Process After a Trucking Accident in Chicago
Shortly after your accident, the trucking company or their insurance company may approach you with a settlement offer. This may even seem like a large sum. You may be tempted to take their early settlement offer just to cover your bills and move forward with your life.
However, you should always talk to a lawyer before taking a settlement offer. The agreement may have terms that limit your rights and you could actually be owed much more than you think. If you receive a settlement offer from the responsible party, you should show it to your lawyer and tell them to speak with your attorney. After that, they should not solicit you directly again.
At Kramer Injury Law, we've handled cases for hundreds of clients with final settlements or verdicts in the millions of dollars. When you work with us, we handle every aspect of the legal process for you, from presenting evidence to negotiating a settlement and even trial.
Call our Chicago personal injury law firm at (312) 775-1012 to get started on your case now.
Documentation and Investigation
Because personal injury lawsuits are so dependent on the facts, the final outcome of your case will vary based on your specific circumstances. As a result, it's crucial to establish your account of the accident and your injuries with as much credible evidence as possible.
Gathering evidence to prove your case involves investigating the cause of the accident, establishing who was at fault, and documenting the injuries that require compensation.
You should start documenting the accident as soon as you are able with photos and videos of the truck as well as the scene of the crash. You could also gather eyewitness photos and videos from other people who saw the accident or its aftermath. This type of documentation can help establish what really happened in an accident, which is key to proving fault.
The other most important documentation involves your medical diagnosis and treatment. A medical paper trail can help establish a direct causal link between the accident and your injury. To establish this proof, it's important to get a medical record started right away.
When you work with us as your attorneys, the legal team at Kramer Injury Law can help you track down helpful evidence to prove your case. The stronger your body of evidence, the better your position for negotiating a proper settlement to cover your losses and support your future.
Negotiating a Settlement
A pre-trial settlement agreement helps you resolve your case without having to go through a trial. Settlement agreements are encouraged by Illinois courts because they help parties resolve their issues quicker and with fewer court resources.
You could reach a settlement agreement within several weeks to a few months, depending on the size of the case and the quality of your evidence. But if your case ends up going to trial, it could take several months or even years. A drawn-out court case can be tough on families already struggling with medical bills, but you shouldn’t take just any settlement offer you get.
At Kramer Law, our attorneys are extensively practiced in the art of negotiating settlements that properly compensate our clients for the injuries they’ve suffered. We are passionate and aggressive at getting what you are owed under the law. Having us at the negotiation table evens the field when you're facing a trucking or insurance company with deep pockets.
Ultimately, you choose whether to accept a settlement agreement or not. Our job is to advise you on your best options considering the evidence in your case.
Sometimes, your best option might mean going to trial. This could be the case if the responsible party simply fails to take accountability for the harm that they've caused. For whatever reason, they refuse or fail to make an appropriate settlement offer for you to accept.
Taking a Personal Injury Case to Trial
When you go to trial, your case is decided by the judge or jury assigned to it.
Trial cases may take many months or even years to fully complete, depending on the severity of the accident and the injuries involved. Still, they may be your best way forward. Sometimes, trial judgments could far exceed any settlement you were able to negotiate.
Whether we negotiate a settlement or take your case to trial, our lawyers are with you the whole way. We can help you make the best decision for your family and future.
Contingency Fee Arrangements in Truck Accident Lawsuits
At Kramer Law, we take personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. That means you don't pay us legal fees until we recover compensation in a settlement or judgment for you.
Our legal team pours significant time and resources into building our clients’ cases. Our approach gives us the best chance at success but it would be cost-prohibitive for many accident victims who already face a loss of income or increasing medical debt. That's why we don't take fees upfront – you deserve the best legal representation no matter your financial situation.
Call us now at (312) 775-1012 – your no-risk case consultation is free. You may also fill out the form on our website for a free case evaluation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Accidents
Below are questions we frequently receive about trucking accident cases. The answers reflect general situations, not legal advice for your case. You can get more specific answers about your particular case by filling out our free case evaluation form online.
Is It Worth Getting an Accident Lawyer for a Truck Crash?
Absolutely. Research has shown that personal injury lawyers can get up to 350% more in damages compared to cases that don't have legal representation.
You should not sign a settlement offer until you've spoken with an attorney. The truth is, too much is at stake to sign it all away without legal advice. A lowball settlement could pay you much less than what you're actually owed, leaving you on the hook for future costs and expenses related to your injury. When you sign this type of settlement, you could also sign away your right to pursue a personal injury case against the trucking company.
The lawyers at Kramer Law are here to protect you at every step of the way – to make sure that you get the treatment you need to get better and the responsible party covers the cost.
When Should You Call an Attorney for a Truck Accident?
As soon as possible. In Illinois, you have a limit of two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you miss this date, you could miss your chance completely.
The earlier you get a lawyer on your case, the sooner you can get on the right track to getting compensated properly for your injuries. Because your case consultation is free and you don't pay us until we get damages for you, talking to our attorneys comes at no risk to you.
How Much Do Trucking Accidents Usually Settle For?
Depending on the damage to your car and the severity of the harm you suffered in the accident, your damages could equal anywhere from several thousand to millions of dollars.
The ultimate answer depends on the specifics of your case. The more serious, debilitating, or long-lasting your injury, the higher a settlement you can expect to get.
Sometimes, personal injury cases are impossible to value until you've completed your medical treatment – and that can take years in some cases.
When negotiating an appropriate settlement, both sides will consider:
- How much were your medical bills in total and do you expect to have more in the future?
- Did you fully recover or will you have lifelong effects from the accident?
- How much work time did you lose while you were getting treated for your injuries?
- Are you able to return to work in a similar capacity as you were before?
Our qualified personal injury lawyers can help you assess what you can expect in your case.
Can You Get Damages if You Were Partly at Fault?
Yes. Oftentimes accidents are not clear-cut, with both parties at fault to varying degrees. Illinois is a modified comparative negligence state. As long as you’re less than 50% at fault for the accident, you can get compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered.
If you share some fault in the accident but it's less than 50%, your damages would be reduced by that amount. So if a court finds you to be 30% responsible, you would receive 30% less.
What Happens if You Don’t Accept a Settlement?
The settlement negotiation process involves going back and forth with offers and counter-offers until you reach an agreement. But sometimes, both parties are simply unable to agree.
If you refuse to accept a settlement offer and the other party refuses to negotiate any further, then you would file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. Your case would be decided at trial by a judge or jury, who would also determine the amount of damages you receive. However, you are usually able to settle at any point in the process in case negotiations pick up again.
What Would Be Fair Compensation for Pain and Suffering?
Because pain and suffering damages fall under non-economic damages, the appropriate amount can be difficult to estimate. A court would consider:
- How much medical care you've needed for your injuries
- Whether your injuries impact your day-to-day life or your ability to do your job
- If you've suffered a long-lasting impairment or permanent harm
- If your injuries inflamed any pre-existing conditions or put you at higher risk of medical complications in the future
- Whether your injury has caused you daily discomfort, pain, or mental distress
Illinois state law puts no limit on how much you can get for pain and suffering.
How Do You Prove Pain and Suffering After an Accident?
Pain and suffering damages can be hard to quantify, but not impossible. You could show evidence to prove pain and emotional distress with:
- Medical records on your diagnosis, including bills
- Expert testimony about your condition and treatment
- Psychiatric or mental health care records
- Prescription medication for pain management, depression, or anxiety
- The length of the treatment you had to endure
- The amount of home exercise you required for rehabilitation
- Lasting, chronic pain that is permanent
As your lawyers, we can help you get the treatment you need and hold the responsible party liable for the harm they've caused – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help Your Case?
Going up against a trucking company or their insurance company on your own can seem like a daunting task – and rightfully so. But at Kramer Injury Law, we know how to deal with companies that don't want to take responsibility for the harm they've caused.
Our brilliant legal team includes veterans in the field of personal injury law. When we come up against insurance companies, they know they're in for a fight. You can rest assured that we will go the distance to get you the compensation you deserve under the law.
With our contingency fee structure, you don't have to pay legal fees until we recover damages for you. Let us take care of your case while you focus on getting better. If you’ve lost a loved one to a truck accident, our wrongful death lawyers can help you recover for them.
Call our expert team today at (312) 775-1012 to start building your case. You may also fill out the form on our website for a free case evaluation.