If you are in an accident with a commercial vehicle and you are physically able to, there are certain things you must do to ensure your safety and well-being as well as protect your rights.
- Call law enforcement immediately. Contact the police and EMT (emergency medical technicians) by dialing 911. There will likely be considerable damage to your vehicle, which should remain in the same spot the accident left it unless it causes a traffic hazard on the roadway.
- Go to the emergency room. Even if you do not believe you are seriously injured, you should be transported to a hospital or ER as soon as possible. You might not be aware of the extent of your injuries without a diagnostic examination. The emergency room doctor can order x-rays and perform a comprehensive physical exam to determine if you are bleeding internally or suffered a head injury, spinal cord injury, organ damage, broken bones or other trauma.
- Collect documentation. You or a traveling companion should try to obtain the names and contact information of every party involved in the accident including witnesses who saw what happened. You or they can use a smartphone to take photographs of the vehicles involved, the accident scene, and other photos that capture the weather and road conditions. Every picture you take could be crucial to proving in court that the truck driver was at fault for your accident.
- Never admit to anything at the accident scene. You might be overwhelmed or in shock in the initial minutes or hours following the accident. You might be relieved that you survived, and the chaos and confusion you experience might make you feel guilt for what happened. However, apologizing or declaring your responsibility for causing the accident when you may not have done anything wrong could have a detrimental impact on your future ability to resolve your case. Among other things, it could find its way into a police report and be used against you later. At some point you will be required to tell your side of the story; however, at that stage you should speak only on the advice of your attorney.
- Never sign anything. The insurance company for the commercial truck operation may ask you to sign an affidavit in order to receive a monetary settlement. However, without legal advice you could be signing away all your future rights to be compensated and settling for a much lesser amount than you deserve.
If I did not Cause the Accident With a Commercial Truck, can I sue the Truck Driver?
More than likely you can sue both the driver and his employer. The legal principle of vicarious liability allows you to sue an at-fault driver’s employer if the driver was acting within the scope of his employment at the time he injured you, which will be the case in most commercial vehicle accidents. This rule holds that an employer is liable for its employee’s negligent and tortious acts while acting at the employer’s behest.
An attorney working on your behalf will be able to identify every party legally responsible for your injuries. Defendants in your case could include the truck driver, the trucking company, and even the truck manufacturer. Your lawyer might determine that the truck driver received insufficient training, the truck was carrying heavy cargo beyond its capacity, or the load was not properly secured inside the trailer, causing the vehicle to shift or swerve in its lane suddenly. The trucking company could be to blame for improperly maintaining the vehicle, or the manufacturer might have designed faulty components like defective tires that exploded and caused the accident.
Filing suit against multiple defendants could maximize the amount of compensation you receive and help you recover the monetary damages you deserve.
If I was Visiting Illinois When the Accident Occurred, Where do I File my Claim?
Illinois’s truck accident law is complex. The truck injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC understand that you may not be able to be present in the state while your case is being resolved. Our firm will represent you in your absence while we work to negotiate a settlement after you return to your home state. We have a comprehensive understanding of civil tort law and Illinois statutes and can work aggressively on your behalf to reach the best possible outcome for you.
Let an Experienced Truck Accident Law Firm Help You and Your Family
The truck accident injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are skilled in the investigation and litigation of commercial vehicle accidents in the metropolitan Chicago area and beyond. Our personal injury law firm represents individuals exclusively—never companies. We invite you to contact our office for a free review of your trucking accident case without any cost or obligation. You only pay us a legal fee if we are successful on your behalf. Call us today.