Sharing the Road with Commercial Trucks Can Result In Deadly Truck Accidents Or At The Very Least Cause Serious Injuries
Truck accidents represent a substantial part of our personal injury practice so we know how to get you compensation from a trucking accident. While your mind may be busy with other things when cruising down the Interstate, your number one job is to try to arrive safely at your destination. But sharing the road with huge semi-trucks is never easy and often not safe at all. Unfortunately, too many people are injured and even killed each year in serious Northern Illinois commercial truck accidents.
The results of Illinois collisions between big trucks and cars are shocking. A total of 10,033 crashes involving tractor-trailers was reported in 2011. In those truck accidents, 94 Illinois citizens were fatally injured. While 15 of these fatalities were occupants of the truck, another 74 were riding in another vehicle.
When you or a loved one becomes one of these statistics from being involved in a truck accident, what is next? At The Fisk & Monteleone Personal InjuryLaw Firm in Rockford, we offer not only expert legal advice but the kind of caring, personal support you need.
Coming Soon Our FREE BOOK, 7 Mistakes That Can WRECK Your Illinois Accident Claim
Whose Fault Was The Truck Accident?
When involved in a truck accident in Illinois, the first concerns of the occupants of the car involved will most likely include dealing with physical injury and getting help as quickly as possible. But when the dust settles, most people ask themselves what caused this horrific crash.
Determining the cause of your truck accident is the first thing police will do, once the scene is secured. And when you are the innocent victim of negligence, you may have a personal injury case against a number of entities. These include:
- The truck driver.
- The owner of the truck, the trailer, or both.
- The company or person who leased the truck or trailer.
- In cases when the injuries were caused by issues with the cargo, the freight loader or shipper.
- Manufacturers including those who created the truck itself, the tires, or any other equipment that contributed to the accident.
Because those involved in the trucking industry will often try to dodge the blame and pin the truck accident on each other, your best course of action is to consult a Northern Illinois truck accident attorney who can sort out the mess and protect your rights.
Why Truck Accidents in Rockford Often Result in Life-Threatening and Fatal Injuries
Trucking accidents in Rockford and the surrounding area are often debilitating or fatal. While many large truck collisions occur on or near I-39 or I-90 given that these are common highways through which semi-trucks transport goods from across the country, large truck crashes can also happen on smaller freeways and even on neighborhood roads in Rockford. It is critical to understand that big rigs frequently cause more severe injuries to passenger vehicle occupants than other cars or light trucks given their sheer size and weight.
Indeed, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), big rigs can weigh anywhere from 20 to 30 times as much as a passenger vehicle—such as a car, light truck, or SUV—and they also have much greater ground clearance. Due to the weight of large trucks, many types of collisions with passenger vehicles can cause irreparable harm to the vehicle and the passengers inside.
The ground clearance of a semi-truck is significantly greater than most passenger vehicles, but particularly cars that sit lower to the ground. What this greater ground clearance means is that passenger vehicles behind large trucks can be readily involved in under-riding accidents in which the passenger vehicle rides under the truck, often resulting in devastating harm to the occupants of that vehicle.
These collisions can happen more often when the driver of a passenger vehicle does not leave enough following distance behind a large truck, perhaps failing to recognize the fact that semi-trucks can take 20 percent to 40 percent more time to come to a stop than a passenger vehicle.
The IIHS and HDLI report that almost 70 percent of fatal injuries in large truck crashes affect occupants of smaller passenger vehicles.
Can I Sue More Than One Party in a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
You may be eligible to file a lawsuit against more than one party depending upon the particular facts and circumstances of your case. The following are examples of situations in which you may be eligible to sue more than one party for injuries resulting from a truck accident:
- Truck driver’s error (such as drowsy or distracted or aggressive driving) caused the accident, but the trucking company owner that employs the truck driver is also responsible through the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, which holds that an employer can be vicariously liable for harm caused by an employee while that employee is acting within the scope of their job responsibilities or duties
- Mechanic’s negligence and error played a role in causing a truck crash, but the truck owner made the decision to avoid having a particular issue repaired due to the high cost, so both the negligent mechanic and truck owner could be liable for injuries
- Loader of the truck bed improperly loaded goods into the big rig based on weight, and the overweighting of the truck caused a tire blowout that led to a serious crash, yet the company that employs the truck loader may also be vicariously responsible through the legal doctrine of respondeat superior mentioned above
- Defectively designed or manufactured truck parts caused the accident and resulting injuries, yet the truck owner also knew about the defect and failed to have it repaired in a timely manner, meaning that both the designer/manufacturer of the defective part and the truck owner could be responsible for damages.
Whenever you can file a claim against a party with deeper pockets, you stand a better chance of obtaining the financial compensation you both need and deserve. For example, although a truck driver might clearly be at fault for the crash if she or he fell asleep behind the wheel, it will be important to determine your eligibility for suing the employer—an entity with deeper pockets—so that you may be able to obtain a fair settlement or damages award based on your losses.
Statute of Limitations for Rockford Truck Accident Cases
For most truck accident lawsuits, the statute of limitations is two years under Illinois law. What this means is that you will need to file your truck accident lawsuit within two years from the date of the trucking accident, or else you can end up with a time-barred claim.
Common Damages in a Truck Accident Lawsuit in Rockford
Under Illinois law, filing a truck accident can allow you to seek two kinds of compensatory damages: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Compensatory damages can compensate you for losses like hospital and other medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and scarring or disfigurement. However, you should know that contributory fault could result in your damages award being reduced or barred altogether.
If the defendant is able to successfully show that you were also at fault for the truck accident—for example, if you were speeding at the time of the crash or following too closely behind a large truck—your damages award will be reduced by your portion of fault if you are 50 percent or less at fault. Once a plaintiff is found to be 51 percent or more at fault, that plaintiff is barred from receiving damages.
Truck Accidents and Wrongful Death Claims
Since many large truck crashes result in fatal injuries to vehicle occupants, it is important to understand that it may be necessary to file a wrongful death lawsuit—as opposed to a personal injury lawsuit—in order to seek financial compensation after a deadly truck collision. While personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death claims are closely related, there are some key distinctions you should understand if you recently lost a loved one in a truck accident.
Most importantly, the Illinois Wrongful Death Act requires the personal representative of the deceased to file a claim and to seek compensation on behalf of the deceased’s surviving spouse and other close relatives like surviving children. The statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits for trucking crash injuries also begins ticking at a different point in time than the clock on a personal injury lawsuit (upon the date of death instead of the date of the accident). Surviving family members can be eligible for additional compensatory damages that can include compensation for “grief, sorrow, and mental suffering to the surviving spouse and next of kin,” according to the Act.
Start Now Getting Your Life Back on Track
We urge you to contact us as soon as you can when involved in a serious Illinois truck accident. We can help you decide whether or not to pursue a personal injury case and force those whose negligence has caused you to suffer to take responsibility.
In general, you should always get legal help if:
- The truck accident has caused considerable property damage.
- You or passengers in your vehicle have been injured.
- A fatality has occurred as a result of the truck accident.
- You are having trouble making ends meet, due to financial problems arising after the accident.
- An insurance company has contacted you and wants you to settle quickly.
With Us, When You Hire a Lawyer, You Get a Lawyer
The Rockford personal injury attorneys at Fisk & Monteleone Ltd. offer you the kind of help you need at a time like this. We provide the personal attention and expertise that only a lawyer who understands the pain you are enduring can provide. While larger firms may make huge promises, we can guarantee a quick consultation with an experienced Illinois truck accident lawyer —not a clerk or paralegal—and we work hard to get you the settlement you deserve.
Don’t make the mistake of waiting too long to get help. Call The Fisk & Monteleone Law Firm in Rockford TOLL-FREE today at 815-962-0044 to get the attention and support you deserve.