Getting into a motor vehicle accident of any kind can be a painful, dangerous, and traumatic experience, but when you factor in the enormous size difference between a commercial truck like a semi-truck or 18-wheeler and your standard passenger vehicle, what may have been a “fender bender” between two like-sized vehicles can result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities when a truck is involved. This is one of many reasons why commercial truck drivers are required to carry specialized commercial drivers’ licenses, as well as a range of certifications depending on things like the size, weight, and cargo that they are allowed to transport.
While the average American drives roughly 14,000 miles each year, the average trucker will drive between 45,000 and over 100,000 each year — in addition to the miles that they drive in their personal vehicle. It is no wonder why truck drivers have such strict regulations that they must follow, including maximum hours of operation in any given day or week, as well as nearly-continuous maintenance schedules and meticulous log-keeping to track their travels. All of these regulations and requirements make for safer travels — both for truckers and all other drivers alike — but can cause complications when it comes time to make sense of a crash.
Contact Balkin & Mausner Injury Lawyers LLP For a Free Consultation After a Chicago Truck Accident
The sooner you contact the truck accident lawyers at Balkin & Mausner Injury Lawyers LLP for a free consultation, the sooner we will be able to start building a comprehensive personal injury case for you. Partnering with a truck accident attorney is one of the most important steps that you can take as you gear up to take on the trucking company and their insurance representatives to get the money that you are rightfully entitled to. Trying to go through this process alone, especially while recovering from injuries, can feel like an impossible task, but you do not need to do it alone.
Request a free consultation directly from our website, or call now in order to speak with someone at our law firm about truck accidents. We will be happy to go through the detail of your situation, such as our understanding of trucks, accident damages, and how we calculate them, and more. Read more below to get a better understanding of why hiring Chicago truck accident lawyers is so important.
What Happens After a Truck Accident?
When it comes to an accident, trucks certainly complicate things because of how large they are. Trying to determine what to do immediately after you have been involved in a truck accident can be overwhelming as your body is rushed with adrenaline and pain, but the following step-by-step can give you a general idea of what happens after truck accidents, and can be used as a “how to” with ensuring that you are taking the correct actions in the early days and weeks after your crash.
Immediately After Truck Accidents
In the moments after your crash, you will be flooded with panic and pain as you try to make sure that you and your passengers are safe. Remember that no matter what else is going on around you that your safety should be your absolute priority, so take a moment to scan your injuries, check on your passengers, and determine whether or not leaving the vehicle and getting to the side of the road is the safest option. If you are not in the path of oncoming traffic or at risk of a multiple-car pileup, and if you do not think that you or any of your passengers have suffered a neck or spine injury, then moving to the side of the road might be the best option.
Make sure that you or someone else at the scene of the accident calls 911 immediately so that the first responders can be dispatched and tend to your injuries, secure the scene, and make an accident report. While EMTs are examining your injuries and making a determination about whether or not you will need to go to the emergency room, the Chicago police officer will perform an initial investigation that may involve interviewing eyewitnesses, asking questions of you and the truck driver, and ultimately making a suggestion on how the accident was caused.
The Days Following Your Truck Accident
Get Medical Care Immediately
Whether or not you take an ambulance to the emergency room, it is absolutely essential that you get timely medical care. For starters, there is the obvious benefit of getting the care that you need to recover from a personal injury, but in addition, you will be establishing a paper trail that will prove each injury that you claim with the insurance company. The insurance company will likely deny any injury that you do not have clear proof of, so this step is essential for a number of reasons.
Hire a Truck Accident Attorney
You may have expected that the next step would be to file an accident claim with the insurance company, but to significantly improve your chances of a fair settlement (and avoiding serious stress that comes with a personal injury claim process) it would benefit you to consider hiring Chicago truck accident lawyers first. When a law firm contacts the trucking insurance company to file a claim, they know right from that start that you are here to fight for what you deserve, and it is much more likely that they will take the claim seriously right off the bat.
The Weeks Following Your Chicago Truck Accident
The Claims Investigation
Once your truck accident attorneys file a claim on your behalf, the insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to investigate the case. During this time, your lawyer will provide the relevant information from your side of the accident, and they will consider the truck driver’s statements and claims as well before making an initial determination on their settlement offer. During this time, your attorney will be performing their own investigation into the truck accident.
Plan For an Independent Medical Exam
When you are claiming injuries following a trucking accident, the insurance company will likely require that you go through an “independent” medical exam, although the reality is that the doctor who will be performing the exam is contracted by the insurance company and will be looking out for any way to diminish the severity of your injuries. Your truck accident lawyer will help you prepare for this exam so that you know what you should and should not say in order to protect your interests.
Receiving the Initial Settlement Offer From the Insurance Company
Trucking companies and their representative insurance companies want to pay as little money as possible for accidents involving their truck drivers, and your claim will be no different. The initial offer will be far less than what your truck accident lawyers have calculated for a fair settlement, and if you were to accept this one-time payment you would need to waive your right for any future legal action against the trucking company, the truck driver, or the insurance company, regardless of whether or not new developments were to emerge.
Making the Initial Counter-Offer and Initiating Negotiations
Chicago truck accident lawyers have years of experience with preparing for this step in the process, and will quickly make a counter-offer that more accurately represents the damages that you have suffered. It is extremely unlikely that the insurance company will accept the counter-offer, meaning that there will be a series of negotiations with the hopes of reaching an out-of-court settlement, though there is no guarantee that you will be able to settle without taking your case to the Illinois courts.
Receiving Compensation For Your Truck Accident
Whether you and your lawyer take your case all the way to court or if you are able to reach a settlement with the trucking company in the form of an out-of-court settlement depends on a range of factors, all of which you and your lawyer will be able to work through during your time together. While there is no guarantee that you will settle quickly or without seeing a judge or jury, you can take comfort in knowing that an estimated 95% of injury claims are settled out of court.
Types of Truck Accident Injuries
The following are just a few examples of the many injuries that you and your passengers could suffer in a truck accident. Truck accidents have an incalculable number of variables that lead to the types of injuries sustained, so whether or not your own injuries are listed below you can be confident that your attorney is prepared to seek compensation for them — and more.
Whiplash is an extremely common injury in a trucking accident, and is the result of a quick impact when the victim’s head is snapped forward, down, and back after being restrained by the seat belt. This rapid “S” motion causes serious damage to the soft tissues of the shoulders, neck, and back, and can result in stiffness, pain, loss of mobility, trouble sleeping, headaches, and more.
High-impact accidents commonly cause fractures and broken bones, and accidents caused by truck drivers are no exception. When a bone is subjected to an impact or force greater than its own tensile strength, it causes the bone to break apart in any number of ways, including hairline fractures all the way to compound fractures that break through the skin and cause serious secondary injuries.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries are known as a “silent killer,” and for good reason: once, people with concussions were encouraged to “shake it off,” and what is know known as a traumatic brain injury may once have been referred to as “getting your bell rung.” We now know that these types of injuries can cause serious, and even permanent, damage like memory loss, mood changes, hemorrhaging, trouble sleeping, serious depression, and even death.
While not immediately or visibly apparent, internal bleeding is accompanied with symptoms like low blood pressure, passing out, localized internal pain, bloody urine or stool, nausea, vomiting, and more. If left untreated, internal bleeding can cause catastrophic damage and even death, so it is important that you see a doctor immediately to get checked for these types of injuries.
Bruising is extremely common after accidents of all sorts, and are the result of damage to the capillaries – small blood vessels closest to the surface of the skin. This damage results in dark colorations under the skin, typically black, brown, blue, green, or yellow, and can be tender to the touch as well. Typically, bruises will recover on their own, but they may be an indication of a more serious injury, which is why it is always important to see a doctor after accidents.
Broken glass and high impacts are two common ways for lacerations to happen in Chicago, IL accidents, and if you are involved in a truck accident it is very likely that you will suffer from some sort of laceration, whether minor or severe. Depending on how significant your laceration is, you may need stitches or some other sort of surgery to stop the bleeding and mend your wound. Blood loss can lead to serious injuries like organ damage, loss of consciousness, or worse.
Truck accidents are traumatizing events, and the long-term emotional damage may be exasperated if you know that your accident could have been avoided if not for the negligent or reckless actions of the truck driver. While it may be easy to overlook the emotional damage that victims in truck accidents may suffer, they are just as important as a broken bone, and it is important that trucking companies and their insurance representatives are held financially accountable for these injuries.
Safety Tips for Driving Near Big Rigs
Trucking companies go to great lengths to ensure that each truck driver is rigorously trained to avoid truck accidents, but you may unwittingly find yourself partially responsible for a crash if you are not familiar with how to safely drive near these massive vehicles. The following are just a few examples of how you can keep our roads safer while driving near 18-wheelers.
Avoid Blind Spots
When a tractor is hauling a trailer, there is a significant blind spot to the rear of the vehicle. You may notice that many trailers have signs warning that if you are unable to see a driver’s mirrors, then the driver is unable to see you. This is one of many reasons that tailgating a truck (or any vehicle) is a dangerous idea, and one that you should avoid at all costs.
Beware of Wide Turns
18-wheelers have a massive turn radius, and when a driver is taking a sharp turn they need a lot of space to perform it. This can result in cars getting caught under the rear wheels, or distracted drivers rear-ending a trailer because they didn’t expect for the turn to take up so much of the road.
When a trucking company assigns a load to a driver, they have an expected delivery time that accounts for the vehicle traveling at a safe speed, and the driver adhering to all safety rules and regulations about time that they can spend on the road in any given period. Drivers often calculate their arrival times and use cruise control in order to maximize their gas consumption, which can cause drivers to get impatient and make dangerous maneuvers.
Pass On the Left
When passing a tractor-trailer, it is important to always pass on the left. When you pass on the right the driver has a much larger blind spot, meaning that they may unknowingly make a lane change while you are attempting to pass. If you always pass on the left, you have the best chance of the driver seeing you and not making any changes until you are safely past.
Keep a Safe Distance
Tailgating any vehicle is a bad idea, but it is especially dangerous when the vehicle you are following is a massive commercial truck. For starters, you have little, if any, opportunity to see around such a large trailer, meaning that you have no way to anticipate upcoming traffic or hazards that will cause the driver to hit their brakes quickly. This can result in an underride accident, an extremely dangerous situation that can easily be fatal.
Contact Us Now To Get the Legal Support That You Deserve After a Truck Accident in Chicago
The team at Balkin & Mausner Injury Lawyers LLP understands that the days and weeks following any accident can be emotionally taxing, especially as your injuries continue to cause you pain and your lost wages continue to mount — all in the face of growing medical bills and uncertainty about your financial future. We are here to help you make sense of your situation, and to give you the emotional space necessary to focus on your recovery without taking on the additional burden of your legal issues. If you’re in a truck accident Chicago, IL, give us a call today.