When a collision occurs between a semi-truck and another vehicle, the damage is often catastrophic. Debilitating or fatal injuries are common, leaving families reeling.
Where do you go and who do you turn to for help? The skilled truck accident lawyers at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates are here to help you through this process. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.
Read more: Common but deadly types of truck accidents
Steps to take after being hurt in a truck accident
While it’s understandable to be terrified and confused after a truck accident, taking the following steps will be essential to ensuring your physical health and will be important for your case.
1. Move to a safer location
If you can move your vehicle, get it off the road as soon as you can. Even if you can only move it to the shoulder, that will help protect you from oncoming traffic. The best place to go would be a nearby parking lot if possible. If your vehicle won’t start, can’t be driven, or if you’re too injured to move from your car, stay inside your vehicle with your seatbelt on.
2. Call 911 and ask for police and an ambulance
Call 911 for emergency medical help. Report the type of accident, how many cars were involved, and any injuries you’re aware of.
If any emergency personnel recommend that you be taken to the hospital via ambulance, you should follow their recommendation even if you think you feel fine. Immediate care and treatment might catch some injuries before they cause irreparable harm or death.
3. Tell your side of the story to the responding police officer
The responding officers will interview all involved parties so that they can have a complete picture of the accident in order to determine fault in their report. Be truthful while reporting what happened, but don’t say anything to the officer that could be construed as you taking the blame.
If you’re unsure of some specific facts, tell the officer that you don’t currently know or remember – they’ll understand because you’re likely in a state of shock. If you make something up or accidentally or unknowingly admit fault, that could be included in the officer’s report and it could damage your case.
4. Gather evidence at the scene
Pictures and videos of the accident could strengthen your case. If it’s safe for you to do so, take pictures and videos of the damage to your vehicle and other involved vehicles, fresh skid marks, damage to the surrounding area such as guardrails or street signs, and of your injuries.
You should also get the names and contact information of anyone who might have witnessed the accident. You don’t need to get their statement because your Chicago personal injury attorney can get that from them later.
5. Visit Urgent Care or your primary care physician
It’s important that you see a doctor right away so they can conduct a full examination to determine if you have any injuries, including those that aren’t visible. As with most medical treatment, early intervention is key.
Refusing medical care or failing to seek prompt care could make it harder to recover from your injuries. It could also make it much more difficult to obtain fair compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. For example, if you delay seeking medical care, the at-fault party’s insurance company might argue that your injuries aren’t as serious as you claim or that you were injured by something else and you’re simply trying to get a payday from them.
6. Notify your insurance company
You should report the accident to your insurance company right away. In fact, it might be required as part of your policy. Just like with the police officer, tell your insurer what happened, but don’t admit fault or makeup facts where your memory isn’t clear.
7. Speak with a Chicago truck accident attorney
It’s important to seek legal help as soon as possible after the crash. Your attorney will need to investigate the accident to determine how it occurred and who’s at fault–there might be more people liable for your injuries than you think.
Your lawyer might be able to help you receive medical treatment with no out-of-pocket costs through a medical lien. A medical lien is when a doctor provides treatment with the promise or guarantee that they will be paid from your lawsuit settlement or award. Most doctors only agree to medical liens if a reputable attorney is handling the case.
Make sure you file a claim on time
You only have two years from the date of the accident to take legal action–this is called the statute of limitations. If you don’t file before this deadline, you won’t be eligible to receive the compensation you deserve.
In personal injury lawsuits, the compensation you receive for your injuries and financial losses are called “damages”, or they’re sometimes referred to as compensatory damages. Depending on the type and severity of the injuries involved and the amount of property damage caused by the accident, you could receive damages for any of the following:
- Medical bills for the treatment of your injuries
- Diminished quality of life after the accident as a result of decreased ability to take part in activities you enjoy
- Physical pain and suffering during treatment
- Lost work wages during your treatment and recovery
- Property damage to your vehicle
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Prescription medication costs resulting from your injuries
- Disability or disfigurement
- Emotional trauma, such as PTSD
- Wrongful death, including funeral costs, loss of companionship, emotional pain and suffering, loss of support, and other related expenses and damages
- Diminished capacity to continue to earn wages in the future
Read more: Steps to take for a successful truck accident claim
We fight trucking insurance companies to get you full compensation
A lot of factors go into determining the reasonable and fair compensation that should be paid in a truck accident personal injury lawsuit. In order to have a successful claim against the insurance company, your attorney will:
- Document all of your damages and expenses
- Consult with medical and vocational experts to determine the long-term effect of your injuries
- Negotiate all associated costs
Parties who may be liable for the crash
In order to receive compensation, your attorney must prove that the other party acted negligently and that their negligence caused the crash that caused your injury. Several parties may be liable in a truck crash.
The trucking company
First, you must determine whether the driver has an employment relationship with a trucking company, is self-employed, or is an independent contractor. Depending on the relationship, this will likely allow your Chicago trucking accident attorney to assign liability to the company.
Illinois trucking law states that companies are typically held responsible for any damages caused by their employee’s negligence. This is known as “respondeat superior.” As long as the employee’s actions were unintentional and within their work scope, the respondeat superior is in place. The trucking company is liable if the driver was acting as an employee at the time of the accident.
The truck driver
If a truck driver owns the truck and is responsible for insuring it, liability lands on the truck driver instead. If the accident occurs while the driver is not acting in the capacity of an employee, the driver may accept liability.
Other liable parties
Still, other situations exist where the accident is a result of some malfunction of the truck. In these cases, a truck manufacturer, parts manufacturer, and maintenance company, all have the potential for liability.
Semi-truck “black boxes”: What they are and how they may be used in your case
A “black box” is a data recording device in the truck that collects and stores helpful information regarding the truck. It can record information such as the speed the truck was traveling at the time of the accident, the operation of the brakes, and other data.
This data can be essential to your case, which means the trucking company will be reluctant to provide the data without a court order or subpoena. Our truck accident lawyers will do everything necessary to gain access to the data from the black box and all other sources from the trucking company and all liable parties.
Length of time you can expect your claim to settle
We can’t predict how long it will take for your case to settle or be resolved in court because every accident is different. There are several factors that will determine how long it will take for your case to resolve, including:
- Extent of your injuries
- Number of liable parties
- Level of cooperation by the involved parties and their attorneys and insurance companies
At a minimum, you can expect that your case will take at least six months. However, it’s likely that your case will take longer, especially when notoriously stubborn trucking companies refuse to negotiate.
Common truck accident injuries
Truck accidents can cause catastrophic injuries or wrongful deaths due to the sheer size and weight of the truck. Some of the most common injuries we’ve recovered damages for are:
- Spinal cord damage
- Broken bones
- Internal organ damage
- Back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
“Dos” and “don’ts” of dealing with insurance after a crash
Never speak with an insurance company adjuster without having a Chicago truck accident attorney by your side. The adjuster will use anything you say against you and will ask misleading questions in an effort to trick you into admitting fault.
We’ll negotiate with the insurance company for you. During this time, do not accept a lowball settlement offer from the trucking company’s insurance company. Insurance companies exist to protect assets and achieve minimal settlements, and their lawyers are well-versed in this type of litigation.
Read more: What do I do if the truck company denies liability for the crash?
Cost of hiring a truck accident lawyer
Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates represents personal injury clients on a contingency fee basis. This means you won’t pay anything unless your Chicago truck accident attorney achieves a positive result on your behalf.
Our Chicago truck accident attorneys are here to help
Many accidents involving semi-trucks are the direct result of driver error. Our experienced truck accident lawyers in Chicago will thoroughly review the facts in your case. Our resources include accident investigators, legal experts, and financial experts that provide professional support in filing a claim or lawsuit.
Call us today for legal assistance you can trust. We are skilled trial lawyers ready to go the distance for you.