Who Can You Sue After a Truck Crash?
In your case, we will investigate whether the truck driver’s careless or reckless conduct played a role in your crash. As we have seen, driver error frequently causes tractor-trailer accidents in Chicago and throughout Illinois. Some examples of truck driver negligence include:
- Speeding, tailgating and other forms of aggressive driving
- Distracted driving
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs
- Driving while fatigued (or in violation of hours-of-service rules that limit the number of hours a driver can be on the road)
- Failing to keep in the proper lane.
Under Illinois law, a trucking company can be liable for the negligent acts of its employees. However, the trucking company may be liable because it has acted negligently in its own right. For instance, the company may have:
- Hired an unfit driver. Before hiring a driver, a trucking company should check the driver’s commercial driver’s license status, traffic violation record, criminal records and physical and mental fitness.
- Poorly trained and supervised drivers. The trucking company may have failed to properly prepare the driver for his or her job duties and/or to monitor the driver’s performance. In particular, the trucking company should make sure that its employees always comply with state and federal safety rules.
- Failed to inspect and maintain its vehicles. Your crash may have occurred because the company did not conduct mandatory inspection and maintenance of the vehicles in its fleet.
- Allowed cargo to be improperly loaded. A company can be liable if it permits a truck to hit the road with excessive weight or unsecured cargo, causing the truck to jackknife or roll over or allowing objects to spill onto the road.
- Forced or encouraged drivers to violate safety rules.Unfortunately, a trucking company’s string of violations of state and federal safety regulations may have caused your crash. For example, the company may have regularly forced drivers to meet delivery deadlines – even if it meant breaking hours-of-service rules.
Many trucking operations use third-party vendors. If one of these parties acted negligently, they could be responsible for your damages. Employment agencies, brokers, cargo shippers, loaders and mechanics are examples of third-party vendors.
If a defective truck or truck part contributed to your accident, you may be eligible to sue the manufacturer and others in the distribution chain. Many crashes can be traced to:
- Brake problems
- Defective tires
- Steering column defects
- Wheel roll-offs
- Insufficient underride protection
- Defective couplings and hitches
- Flawed hydraulic systems.
Additionally, our legal team will look at whether a state or federal government agency or its contractors committed wrongdoing that caused your crash. For example, the agency may have failed to properly design or maintain roads.
What Damages Can You Recover for Your Injuries?
Many truck accident victims and their families are concerned about paying for medical treatment. At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., our truck accident attorneys understand how these crashes typically cause severe injuries. We will pursue compensation that includes:
- Past and future medical expenses – All medical costs related your accident, including emergency treatment, surgery, hospitalization, rehabilitation, assistive devices and medication.
- Lost income and diminished future earning capacity – All of the wages you have lost and will lose in the future due to your injuries, including benefits, bonuses, commissions and self-employment income.
- Pain and suffering – The physical pain and emotional anguish you have endured to date and will likely experience in the future. For instance, you may have lingering back pain that prevents you from enjoying life as you did before the crash. You may also experience post-traumatic stress disorder due to the horrific nature of the accident.
- Scarring and disfigurement – A crash may cause you to lose a limb or suffer severe scars due to cuts and burns. You have the right to seek just compensation for such harm.
Depending on the facts of your case, our team may seek punitive damages as well. These damages serve to punish and deter willful and wanton misconduct. For example, a mechanical defect may have caused your accident. If the trucking company had a long history of failing to conduct inspections that would have caught the defect, punitive damages may be warranted.
If a collision with an 18-wheeler caused you to lose a loved one, our attorneys can pursue a wrongful death claim on your behalf. The claim would seek a different set of damages, including compensation for funeral and burial expenses and the loss of money, goods and services that your loved one would have contributed if he or she had lived.
It will be important to identify all available insurance coverage for your damages. Many cases involve multiple insurance policies. For instance, the truck driver, trucking company and third-party vendors may all carry separate coverage. One policy may cover the truck, while another policy may cover the trailer. A manufacturer may carry special commercial liability coverage.
Generally, state and federal laws require commercial motor vehicles to carry a higher level of minimum liability insurance coverage than what the law requires for standard passenger motor vehicles. This coverage may range from $750,000 (for vehicles over 10,000 pounds carrying non-hazardous freight) to $5 million (for vehicles transporting hazardous materials).
If the amount of insurance coverage of the parties at fault in your crash fails to fully cover your losses, we may turn to your own underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Our goal will be to seek the maximum amount for you so that you can cover your medical expenses and experience the sense of security that you deserve.
Our Chicago Truck Accident Attorneys
Time is of the essence: Your lawyer will need to get started right away on preserving and gathering evidence after a tractor-trailer accident. The lawyer may need to take many other steps to pursue a full financial recovery for you.
Additionally, the statute of limitations for truck accident cases in Illinois, generally, requires you to file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the accident or within two years from the date of your loved one’s death. You cannot wait to take legal action.
Put your trust in the truck accident lawyers at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. With a record of more than $1.3 billion recovered on behalf of clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases, including truck accident claims, we are ready to go to work for you. Contact us today for your free consultation.