When a commercial truck is involved in a traffic accident with passenger vehicles or pedestrians, the results are often catastrophic. Many victims suffer serious injuries or die at the scene after being crushed on impact by a significantly heavier vehicle.
Other times, the crash leads to a horrific conflagration potentially causing severe burns when flammable or hazardous materials explode.
Typically, any large vehicle that requires a commercial driver’s license to operate is regarded as a commercial vehicle. Big rigs, 18-wheelers, delivery vans, cement trucks, gasoline tanker trucks, and semi-tractor trailers are considered commercial transport vehicles, as are some classifications of standard pickup trucks.
The truck accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC appreciate the physical and emotional impact a crash can have. Below we have compiled some Illinois truck accident FAQ (frequently asked question) facts for your review. Should you have additional questions, contact our law firm.
How Common Are Truck Accidents?
There are about five hundred thousand truck accidents involving a truck driver (commercial truck drivers, freight trucks, etc.) and another passenger car vehicle in the United States, and, of those, about five thousand of them are fatal with serious injuries.
Roughly one in ten fatal truck accident injuries and deaths are caused by a large commercial truck including a semi-truck or at least involved a truck like this. Plus, nearly all of the people that died in these car accidents at the accident scene were in the passenger car and not the commercial trucks.
How Do Most Truck Accidents Happen?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration  facts, the most frequent reason for truck accidents is truck operator fatigue, drunk driving, truck driver speeding, improper loading of cargo on the delivery vehicles, vehicle malfunction, tailgating passenger cars, and trucking company’s negligence.
These truck accidents have a large impact on the life of the victim and truck driver. It can leave them with injuries, lost compensation, a brain injury, missing materials, and other losses.
Talk to a truck accident lawyer from our law firm if you have questions about a case or settlement offer from the truck operator or trucking company after the accident. You can also read the rest of these truck accident FAQs to get a better sense.
The truck accident lawyers on our team work on a contingent fee basis on every personal injury case and can give you a free consultation or case evaluation about truck law and Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations today.
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What is the Most Common Cause of Lift Truck Accident?
A lift truck accident is common and can cause people serious injuries if they are involved in a truck incident like this. The most common types and causes of forklift truck accidents include insufficient training, operating with an elevated load, other riders on the vehicle, speeding, and poor workplace setup among other things.
A truck accident attorney from our team can answer all your truck accident questions on this page and in a free consultation about your injuries, laws regarding trucks, a police report, settlement offer, compensation, and truck accident claims generally.
What Happens to a Body that is in a Semi Truck Accident?
The force and effect of a truck accident can put substantial harm on the body including the brain, bones, joints, nerves, muscles, back, neck, and spinal cord. If the brain or spinal cord is impaired, this can mean immediate or long-term paralysis across different areas of the body.
Some of the common injuries from a truck accident are concussions, broken bones, lacerations, herniated discs, or even death. A truck accident lawyer or personal injury attorney can talk to you and your family after an accident about which trucking company or trucking companies are responsible and how truck accident cases in an attorney-client relationship help people.
What is the Death Rate of Truck Drivers?
A truck driver (including commercial trucks) is two or three times more likely to die in a truck accident than other drivers or passengers. Approximately one thousand truck drivers die annually putting it at about thirty for every one hundred thousand truck drivers in truck accident cases.
Normally, a trucker is working for a trucking company at the time of the fatal crash but that is not always the case. Even if they do not pass away in the truck accident, nearly all of them will be left with serious personal injuries and unexpectant costs.
Talk to a personal injury lawyer in a consultation today about truck driver’s rights and review the rest of these truck accident faqs to learn more now.
What Trucking Company Has the Most Accidents?
While nearly every trucking company has a trucking accident here and there, these businesses have some of the most collisions on a year-over-year basis: UPS; Werner Enterprises; Averitt Express; FedEx.
As you can see from this FAQ truck accident page, all truck accidents come with extraordinary loss and harm. Each operator should understand the truck driver’s rights to obtain compensation and how a lawyer can help secure that after an accident.
What Should I Do if I’m Involved in an Accident with a Commercial Truck?
You should immediately report the accident to both the police and the insurance company and then begin the process of hiring a truck accident lawyer.
Also, to the extent that you are able, make sure that you document the scene of the accident. This means that you take pictures of the scene and get the contact information of those who can be possible witnesses to the accident.
If you are unable to document the accident, try to contact a lawyer from the scene of the accident who can arrive at the scene and document the scene for you.
What Needs to be Proved in a Truck Accident Lawsuit Involving Personal Injury or Death?
In order to prevail in a lawsuit, you will need to prove that the driver of the truck was negligent which means that:
- You were owed a duty of care
- The duty of care was breached
- You were injured
- The other driver caused your injury or your loved one’s death.
In every case involving personal injury, you will likely hear the word “negligence.” This is shorthand for a four-part test that you must prove in order to show that the defendant should be held liable for your injuries. However, each element of the case may be disputed if your case goes to trial.
The first element of the test is that the other driver owed you something that is called the “duty of care.” This is almost always met.
When you are a driver on the road, you owe this duty to every other operator who shares the road with you. It means that the operator must follow some standard of behavior when driving to act as a reasonable driver would.
Then, you must prove that the driver breached this duty of care and acted unreasonably. What is considered to be unreasonable must be proven at trial. However, some things such as speeding and otherwise driving dangerously would be considered to be unreasonable.
After you show that the truck operator acted unreasonably, you must then show that you have suffered an injury. If you have proven your injury, you must then demonstrate that it was the truck operator who was the proximate cause of your injury.
In other words, you would not have been hurt by the unreasonable actions of the other driver. You need to prove all four of these elements, and if you fail at any one of them, there will be no finding of negligence or wrongful death.
What Parties May Be Responsible in a Truck Accident Involving Injuries or a Fatality and Can I Sue the Trucking Company Responsible for It?
You can sue anyone who negligently caused the truck accident or their employer if they were working at the time of the incident.
The general rule is that an employer can be held liable for the acts of their employees if they are committed within the scope of employment.
In plain English, this means that when an employee is on the job and they are negligent, anyone who is injured by their negligence may sue the company for whom they work because everything that the truck driver does is as a representative of their company.
One of the exceptions to this rule is that many companies try to designate their driver as independent contractors. This means that they are not employees of the company. As a result, there is no employer/employee relationship and this will usually get the company off the hook when it comes to liability.
The other question is what the employee was doing at the time of the accident. They must have been engaged in job duties at the time that they had the accident.
What Compensation Can I Recover in a Truck Accident Case?
In nearly all cases, your compensation will be the sum of your economic and non-economic damages.
Compensatory damages are intended to put you in the same position as if your truck accident never happened. These are generally broken down into economic and non-economic damages.
Economic compensation is meant to pay you back for the actual losses that you have suffered. These include medical bills that you have had to pay as well as payment for time that you have missed and will miss in the future from work. These damages are more readily quantified although there may be some dispute as to the amount of lost wages.
Non-economic compensation includes pain and suffering and mental anguish. These types of damages are more subjective and open to dispute among the parties. Non-economic restitution is intended to compensate you for the trauma and the difficulty of the experience.
How are Trucking Accidents Lawsuits Valued?
Your lawsuit will probably be valued as the total of your economic and non-economic damages.
Economic compensation is meant to pay you back for the actual losses that you have suffered. These include medical bills that you have had to pay as well as payment for time that you have missed and will miss in the future from work among other things like property damage. This compensation is more readily quantified although there may be some dispute as to the amount of lost wages.
Non-economic compensation includes pain and suffering and mental anguish as well as other intangible harms. These types of damages are more subjective and open to dispute among the parties. Non-economic compensation is intended to compensate you for the trauma and the difficulty of the experience.
Pain and suffering is where your verdict can get quite large when your case goes in front of a jury. In a truck accident settlement, the insurance company will try to value your pain and suffering using a multiplier of your actual economic losses.
Your attorney will need to be vigilant because this is where insurance companies try to keep you from getting what you deserve.
Finally, if you wish to receive punitive damages, you will have to show an extreme degree of callousness and recklessness on the part of the truck operator.
How Long Do I Have to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
This varies by state. For example, plaintiffs have two years to file a lawsuit after a truck accident in Illinois if they sue for negligence related to personal injury or wrongful death. 735 ILCS 5/13-202.
Most plaintiffs sue for negligence. It means the defendant acted unreasonably and caused the crash as well as the plaintiff’s injuries. Plaintiffs have years two years as well to make a product liability claim following a trucking crash. 735 ILCS 5/13-213.
In that scenario, claimants must show that a defective product (such as a tire) led to a crash and injury after being used reasonably and foreseeably.
Should I Try and Settle My Truck Accident Case with an Insurance Company?
You should try to reach a settlement agreement but must be prepared to take your case all the way to trial if necessary.
Most times, both parties to the case want to avoid a trial if they can. Let’s face it, trials are expensive and they take time and they introduce uncertainty for everyone.
However, settlements often are not reached overnight. Instead, they may be the product of lengthy and protracted negotiations. Also, this is with the assumption that everybody is negotiating in good faith.
The insurance company may not make you their best offer and often, they will not even make you a good offer at all. Oftentimes, you will need to file a lawsuit because, without it, the insurance company may never make you a fair offer. Sometimes, they may not even settle until the eve of the trial.
Properly negotiating your claim is one reason why you would need a truck accident attorney. Your lawyer will have experience in dealing with these types of cases, be able to gather the information and materials needed, as well as be able to answer any questions that you have.
Have Additional Illinois Truck Accident FAQ?
Contact our law firm today for a free consultation with an experienced attorney who can address any questions you have that are unique to your situation. Let our team help guide you through a difficult time.
Resources:  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration