If you’ve been injured in a Chicago truck accident, you may be facing mounting medical bills, loss of income, and a decreased quality of life. Automobile accidents of any kind can result in serious injury, but the sheer force involved in a truck collision may cause more extensive damage and more severe injuries with longer recovery times.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that crashes involving large trucks increased by 13% from 2016 to 2019. This increase is significant and reflects the rise in the number of vehicles on the road and a surge in congestion, especially on Chicago’s busy roads and highways.
If you need legal assistance after a Chicago truck accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Levin & Perconti.
Levin & Perconti.
5-year-old boy who was run over by a City of Chicago Fire Department truck while playing in an open fire hydrant on the Fourth of July, resulting in the loss of his leg and half of his pelvis.$6.5 million
for the family of a 32-year-old woman who was killed when their pick-up truck was rear-ended by a semi-truck. Our client and his son both suffered significant personal injuries in the collision.
Common Causes of Chicago Truck Accidents
Chicago is famously known as the “Windy City” and is distinguished by its snowy and icy winters. Unfortunately, the weather is also a significant contributor to truck accidents, especially when drivers have braking problems or aren’t experienced driving in frosty conditions.
The FMCSA found that most truck accidents are caused by one of the following ten factors:
- Vehicle braking problems – 14%
- Driver traveling too fast for road conditions – 11%
- Unfamiliarity with roadway – 11%
- Roadway problems – 10%
- Over-the-counter drug use – 9%
- Inadequate surveillance – 7%
- Fatigue – 6%
- Driver felt pressure from the carrier – 6%
- Illegal driving maneuver – 5%
- Inattention – 4%
Ranking in the top four are factors directly related to road conditions, unfamiliarity with highways, and weather, which are frequent problems for drivers in Chicago.
How Dangerous Are Chicago Truck Accidents?
Truck accidents can be extremely dangerous. The average weight of a car is a little over 4,000 pounds, while a large truck can weigh up to 8,000 pounds. A fully-loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds — or 40 tons.
Due to this disparity in weight, a large truck collision can result in significant personal injuries or even death for travelers in passenger vehicles. Common injuries sustained in a truck accident include:
- Head injuries, such as concussions or traumatic brain injuries
- Internal damage to organs like the liver, bladder, spleen, or pancreas
- Burns, if the crash results in an explosion or fire
- Crush injuries, such as compressed nerves or fractures
- Neck injuries, including severe whiplash
- Herniated discs, spinal cord injuries, or compression fractures
- Injuries to the wrists, such as tendon damage or dislocated joints
- Life-threatening injuries or death
In addition to injuries sustained in the crash, there is a risk of accompanying devastation, such as chemical spills, fires, flying debris, and rollovers of the truck or car. These incidental threats can be quite common when a large truck is involved, especially if it’s in poor condition or carrying hazardous chemicals.
The Chicago Police Department can provide documentation of the accident and connect you with emergency help. They can be reached by calling 911.
To make sure you haven’t sustained a serious injury that you aren’t aware of yet, you should go to a hospital or other health care facility for a full evaluation. A doctor can examine you and take X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs if necessary.
Once you’ve been evaluated by a doctor, it’s important to contact a personal injury lawyer. The personal injury lawyers at Levin & Perconti can provide you with a free consultation.
Who Can I Sue in a Truck Accident Case?
Truck accidents can involve private or government vehicles, company vehicles, city busses, and more. Therefore, there are many factors that play into liability in a truck accident case. After a truck accident you may be able to sue the truck driver, trucking company, cargo loading companies, and parts manufacturers, depending on the cause of the accident. Other parties responsible for the accident might include county, state, or national authorities responsible for road construction and maintenance or implementing certain trucking regulations.
Truck Driver Liability
Truck drivers engaging in negligent behaviors while operating their large vehicles may be liable for an accident and any resulting injuries or losses. If the driver was speeding, involved in distracted driving or drowsy driving, or otherwise acted negligently by not following traffic rules, causing an accident, you could sue the truck driver for your damages. In addition to making sure they’re safely operating their trucks, truck drivers are also responsible for maintaining their vehicles and ensuring cargo is loaded and secured properly. There are other duties and responsibilities of truck drivers and if they breach their duty, putting themselves and others at risk, they may be liable.
Trucking Company Liability
Trucking companies are tasked with properly training their drivers to ensure the safe operation of their commercial trucks. Additionally, they should be providing regular maintenance and inspections on all company vehicles. Even when trucking companies try to evade responsibility by forming independent contractor relationships with their drivers, they could still face the repercussions of an accident with injuries. A court might consider the following to determine if the trucking company should be held accountable:
- Extent of control over the driver
- Exclusivity of the trucking company/driver relationship/contract
- Set working hours or routes
- The driver’s ability to accept or decline work assignments
- The method of payment
- Insurance coverage requirements for the driver, including liability insurance
While not all states handle liability similarly, federal regulations assign a company’s liability based on its ownership of a trucking permit and its display of its name on the vehicle.
Cargo Shipper and Loader Liability
When transporting goods for another company, the carrier likely doesn’t pack, seal, load, and secure the cargo. Though the driver and transport company might be responsible for double-checking the cargo, the loaders may share liability for broken or incorrect straps used to secure the load, overloading, or other issues related to loading and securing cargo.
Parts Manufacturer Liability
Steering problems, tire blowouts, or brake failures might be due to poor maintenance but could also be the result of defective parts. If it’s discovered that there was a defect leading to the failure that caused an accident, the manufacturer or distributor may be liable.
When government vehicles are involved in accidents, such as county or city buses, fire trucks, utility trucks, or other vehicles owned and operated by the city, county, or state, the government agency may be partly to blame. These agencies are responsible for hiring, training, and overseeing their drivers and maintaining their vehicles. Police and other government drivers might also share liability.
Additionally, when local municipalities are tasked with maintaining roadways, defects in the design, poor maintenance, insufficient signage, and other hazards may be attributable to the agency.
Even though immunity might come into play, making a lawsuit more challenging, it’s important that you seek advice from a personal injury lawyer to learn more about your rights, who could be held accountable, and options to recover compensation for your damages.
How Much Is My Chicago Truck Accident Worth?
There are a number of factors that influence compensation for a truck accident personal injury case. These can include any of the below:
Extent of Your Injuries
If your injuries are particularly severe and require a lengthy recovery, you may be more likely to receive compensation. Supporting statements from a doctor or eyewitness can be helpful in documenting the injuries you have incurred as a result of the crash.
The police report will contain information about the cause of the crash and any witness statements. If law enforcement clearly finds fault with the other driver, this finding is likely to strengthen your claim.
Prompt Medical Care
If you seek medical care directly after your accident, even if you’re unsure whether you’re hurt, you have a better chance of preserving your right to receive damages for medical costs.
There are several different types of damages that are typically awarded in truck accident lawsuits. These include economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
Economic damages are tangible damages that are easily quantified. They include:
- Medical costs
- Past and future loss of income
- Property damage
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Lost earning capacity
Non-economic damages are commonly associated with pain and suffering. They can include emotional anguish, humiliation, scarring and disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of activities.
Punitive damages are awarded in cases involving grossly negligent or intentional behaviors and are meant to set a public example to others to prevent similar cases from occurring. They’re not awarded very often, but they can be monetarily significant.
There are no caps on damage awards in Illinois.
Can I Still Receive Compensation if I’m Partially Responsible for the Accident?
Illinois has a modified comparative fault rule. This law allows individuals to recover compensation for their losses even if they’re partially responsible for an accident. However, you’ll be unable to recover damages for the percentage of negligence that you were responsible for. Thus, if a judge finds that you were 20% at fault for the accident, you will recover 80% of the damages available to you.
A personal injury lawyer can help evaluate the specific facts of your case and determine liability.
What if a Chicago Truck Accident Killed My Loved One?
If a Chicago truck accident killed your spouse or parent, you might be eligible to receive compensation for your loss. A personal representative designated per the deceased person to be the executor of the estate (or appointed by the court if no such designation exists) can file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages that are for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse or next of kin. These funds are distributed to these individuals in proportions determined by the court.
The amount recoverable is dependent on various factors, including how much you relied on your spouse or parent. You may be able to claim damages associated with grief, sorrow, and mental suffering.
If the accident resulted from negligence on the part of the driver, a wrongful death suit could be brought within two years of the date of death.
Statute of Limitations to File a Chicago Truck Accident Lawsuit
The Illinois statute of limitations for personal injury cases, including truck accidents, allows injured persons to file a lawsuit within two years of the date of the accident. There are very few exceptions to this rule, and missing the deadline can cost you your ability to recover compensation for your damages. Therefore, it’s wise to contact a truck accident attorney as quickly as possible.
Why Should I Hire the Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys at Levin & Perconti to Handle My Truck Accident Case?
The personal injury lawyers at Levin & Perconti have a combined experience of over 200 years helping victims recover damages sustained in vehicular and truck accidents. Through our dedication, we have recovered over a billion dollars for our clients and families.
Our recent cases have resulted in a $6.5 million dollar settlement for a semi-truck accident that resulted in the death of a mother whose vehicle was hit. We also recovered $10 million for a boy who was run over by a City of Chicago Fire Department truck.
Contact the Chicago personal injury lawyers at Levin & Perconti today for a free consultation.