Getting into an accident involving a truck can be a terrifying and life-altering experience. Trucks are big and heavy — usually much more so than the passenger cars or even SUVs with which they sometimes collide. When a semi-truck weighing tens of thousands of pounds crashes into a much smaller and lighter vehicle at full speed, injuries can be severe or even fatal.
If you were injured in a crash with a truck, chances are you have stacks of growing medical bills along with a hefty repair or replacement estimate for your own vehicle. You’re wondering who’s going to take care of it all. Most middle-class families would struggle with the kinds of bills that accompany broken bones or other injuries that may have required hospitalization and a lengthy recovery. The accident wasn’t your fault, and you don’t think you should have to bear the cost.
Illinois requires people driving trucks to be financially responsible in much the same way you are when you drive your personal vehicle. Commercial vehicles such as trucks typically have more insurance coverage than a standard vehicle such as your car, and often are covered by commercial liability policies that are designed to cover the larger damage amounts that can result from these kinds of accidents.
Proving Fault in Truck Accidents
As the person bringing the claim, it is your responsibility to prove that you should be compensated. An attorney with experience handling cases involving truck accidents will know what kinds of evidence to look for and how to obtain it. Your medical bills, property damage estimates, repair bills, estimates of lost wages from time off work to recover, accident reports and photos from the scene all will be important.
In addition to the usual sorts of evidence gathered in an auto accident case, an experienced personal injury attorney will look for any evidence that the truck driver or owner wasn’t following the fairly strict regulations regarding driving, loading or maintaining the truck. For example, truck drivers are:
- Limited in how much time they spend on the road
- Have to get periodic medical exams to prove they’re fit to drive
- Have to meet the requirements to hold a commercial driver’s license
If they’re hauling freight, there are regulations about how their trucks are loaded. More regulations detail how trucks should be maintained. Truck drivers and the companies they work for are expected to maintain detailed documentation that your personal injury lawyer should obtain when investigating your accident to gather evidence in support of your claim. If there is evidence that the driver was fatigued, or using stimulants to stay awake on the road, or that the truck was overloaded or improperly maintained, any of that can help support your claim.
The challenging part in obtaining compensation can be determining just who is responsible to pay your medical bills and other expenses. If the truck driver works for a company and was driving on company business, the driver’s employer may be the legally responsible party. If the accident was caused by the truck being overloaded, then the company whose staff did the loading may be responsible. If it was due to improper maintenance, the company that owns the truck may be responsible.
When seeking compensation, it’s very important to identify the correct party so that your claim is submitted to the right insurance policy, or your lawsuit is filed against the right person or company. A good lawyer with experience handling truck accidents will now how to navigate the complexities of your case and make sure your claim or lawsuit is properly filed. If your claim or lawsuit is successful, you may be able to recover compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of normal life
- Disability or disfigurement