Truck Accident Lawyer in Waukegan, IL

March 2, 2024
Truck Accident Lawyer in Waukegan, IL

Even if you take all the necessary precautions, automobile collisions can still occur. In Illinois, commercial truck accidents comprise 9.3% of all vehicles involved in fatal traffic accidents. On average, that is over 175 commercial trucks annually. Sadly, these numbers are trending upward.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a commercial truck accident in Waukegan, Illinois, you are likely feeling overwhelmed and anxious. While we cannot erase the physical and emotional trauma you suffered from your accident, the experienced and empathetic attorneys at Lane Brown, LLC can take some of the weight off your shoulders. 

At Lane Brown, LLC, our seasoned truck accident lawyers are prepared to assist you in understanding all the legal avenues available.

Primary Causes of Truck Accidents in Illinois

Various factors contribute to or directly cause commercial truck accidents in Illinois, many of which are preventable. Common causes of commercial truck accidents in Illinois stem from corporate negligence, driver recklessness, and impaired driving. These include:

  • Inadequate vehicle maintenance
  • Insufficient driver training
  • Improper cargo loading
  • Unrealistic delivery schedules
  • Driver fatigue
  • Distractions while driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Common Types of Truck Accidents in Illinois

All motor vehicle accidents are distressing, but collisions involving commercial trucks are much more likely to result in severe damage to all vehicles and individuals involved due to their enormous size and weight. Some specific types of truck accidents include:

Tire Blowout Accidents are a common cause of accidents for motor vehicles across the board, but on a commercial truck, a tire blowout can cause significant damage.

Comprehensive Turn Accidents involve large commercial trucks losing control as they make a wide turn. This can block throughways and potentially trap or collide with other vehicles.

Spilled Cargo Accidents result from improperly secured cargo falling off a truck. The results are unpredictable because the cargo that commercial trucks can legally carry through Illinois is widely varied. A hazardous substance could fall onto the road or inadvertently become a projectile, especially at high speeds.

Under-ride accidents occur when vehicles behind a commercial truck fail to stop in time, becoming trapped beneath the truck’s trailer. This can be fatal, especially for drivers with smaller vehicles.

Jackknife Accidents result from sudden braking, causing the truck to fold sharply at an angle, obstructing traffic and increasing the risk of further collisions.

Blind Spot Accidents are more common when commercial trucks are involved, unfortunately. Due to the extensive blind spots that commercial trucks have, motorists are more likely to enter them unwillingly, leading to collisions.

Rollover Accidents occur when a truck loses control. This is most likely to occur on curves or steep inclines and can lead to the vehicle overturning and posing significant hazards for the drivers and other motorists on the road.

Safety Tips for Sharing the Road with Commercial Trucks

When you are driving near commercial trucks in Illinois, drivers can take the following precautions to enhance safety:

  • Stay vigilant of blind spots
  • Exercise caution when passing
  • Avoid tailgating
  • Provide ample space for turns

Commercial trucks are enormous and have much broader blind spots than smaller vehicles. Taking caution to ensure that the truck has a good view of you – by staying out of blindspots and avoiding tailgating – can be enormously helpful in preventing truck accidents.

What Truck Accidents Injuries Can Be Compensated?

The severity and type of injuries resulting from commercial truck accidents vary widely, depending on several factors. Common injuries include:

  • Back and neck injuries
  • Fractures
  • Burn injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Lacerations
  • Internal bruising or bleeding
  • Fatalities

If you’ve sustained an injury not listed here, it shouldn’t prevent you from seeking compensation, provided you suffered the injury due to your Waukegan truck accident. If you’re uncertain whether your injury may disqualify you from seeking compensation, please take advantage of Lane Brown, LLC’s free consultations.

It’s crucial to recognize that head injuries, even ones that initially seem minor, might not manifest immediately. Monitoring yourself for symptoms such as confusion, nausea, cognitive challenges (like memory loss, short-term or long-term), and vision issues is essential. Left untreated, these injuries can significantly impact your life over time.

Regardless of how uninjured you feel following your truck accident, you must consult a doctor immediately. Prioritizing your physical health is vital because you deserve safety and wellness and because your medical records could become very important to your commercial truck accident claim.

What Can a Waukegan Truck Accident Lawyer Do to Help Your Case?

Lane Brown, LLC understands how anxiety-inducing it can be to admit that you may need legal help. Unfortunately, the American legal system is not built to be navigable by your average person. With years of legal experience and a network of valuable connections, getting the compensation you deserve can be possible.

An attorney can take the burden of investigating, gathering evidence, communicating with insurance companies, and filing paperwork promptly and correctly so that you can focus on healing.

Investigate and Gather Evidence

If you partner with an attorney, your legal representative will thoroughly investigate your case. They will meticulously compile timelines, procure police reports, and interview witnesses. 

Your attorney has the authority to subpoena vital information that could illuminate critical aspects of your case. In the context of a truck accident, this may include subpoenaing the commercial truck driver’s:

  • GPS records
  • Driving history
  • Maintenance logs
  • Personnel logs

Furthermore, your attorney can coordinate with experts to testify and strengthen your case. For instance, if you sustained severe leg injuries in the accident, your attorney may enlist the expertise of medical professionals or rehabilitation specialists to clarify the long-term physical and financial implications of your injury to all parties present. 

Alternatively, in the event of a dispute over the cause of vehicle damage, your attorney may call a seasoned mechanic to testify, confirming that all damages incurred were a direct consequence of the commercial truck accident. This proactive approach protects you from any attempts by the defendant to distort the facts or evade accountability.

Handle Communications with Insurance Companies

Although insurance companies depend on everyday people like you to sustain their operations, they are profit-driven entities. Consequently, it is not in your insurance company’s best interest to give you the total value of your Waukegan commercial truck accident claim.

Your insurance agent will likely attempt to minimize the compensation offered in your settlement by quickly calling you with a lowball offer and various other tactics.

Working with an attorney can make thousands of dollars when navigating interactions with your insurance company – or any insurance company. Even seemingly harmless remarks, a minor misstep, or thoughtless “I’m sorry” could potentially be exploited by insurers to diminish the value of your claim.

Entrusting this aspect of your case to your legal team helps mitigate the risk of being taken advantage of by your insurance company.

Determining Fault in Waukegan Commercial Truck Accidents

In Illinois, a commercial motor vehicle is defined as “a motor vehicle used, designed, or maintained for the transportation of persons or property and either having 2 axles and a gross vehicle weight or registered gross vehicle weight exceeding 26,000 pounds or 11,793 kilograms, or having 3 or more axles regardless of weight.”

This includes:

  • Shipping trucks
  • Tractor-trailers
  • Utility trucks
  • Delivery vehicles
  • Company vehicles
  • Buses
  • Ambulances
  • Taxis and limos
  • Food trucks
  • Tow trucks
  • Big rigs
  • Cement mixers
  • Vehicles carrying more than 10-15 people for profit

Illinois’s definition of commercial motor vehicles expressly excludes vehicles operated by Illinois or the United States government, recreational vehicles, and school buses.

Commercial vehicle accidents in Illinois present a complex challenge when determining fault. While the person operating the vehicle is often partially responsible for the accident, the company employing the driver may also shoulder accountability.

These companies must hire drivers with clean driving records and provide appropriate training. Moreover, they must ensure that all commercial vehicles are adequately maintained and undergo regular inspections to guarantee their ability to operate safely on the road.

Understanding the Damages Available to You After an Illinois Truck Accident

Economic Damages

Economic damages refer to tangible losses incurred due to the accident, which can be equated to a specific monetary value. Receipts, invoices, or bills evidence these expenses. In Waukegan truck accident cases, common economic damages include:

  • Medical Expenses: costs related to medical treatment, including hospital bills, surgeries, medications, as well as mental and physical therapy sessions
  • Lost Wages: compensation for income lost due to the inability to work while you recover from your truck accident.
  • Vehicle Repair: costs to repair or replace damaged vehicles involved in the accident
  • Transportation Costs: you can be reimbursed for the cost of alternative transportation necessitated by your truck accident.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages encompass intangible losses that are more financially challenging to quantity. These losses often involve emotional and psychological suffering. Examples of non-economic damages you might receive compensation for after a truck accident include:

  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for pain and suffering experienced due to your truck accident.
  • Emotional and Mental Distress: Reimbursement for psychological trauma, anxiety, depression, or PTSD caused by the accident.
  • Permanent Disability: If you suffered a permanent disability, such as paralysis, or now need accommodations or mobility aids to function due to the truck accident, you are eligible for compensation.
  • Permanent Disfigurement: Damages can be awarded for permanent scarring, disfigurement, or loss of limb you suffered.
  • Loss of Consortium is the loss of companionship, care, or intimacy due to injuries sustained in the accident. This can be with the injured person and their partner, minor children, and dependent adult children with disabilities.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life falls under the category of non-economic damages. Compensation is available for the diminished ability to participate in and enjoy activities that were previously a cherished part of your life.

It’s important to note that if you have suffered a loss due to your truck accident that doesn’t neatly fit into any category, you may still be eligible for compensation. Each case is unique, and the extent of compensation depends on many factors.

Consulting with an attorney is crucial for understanding the full scope of your losses and pursuing the appropriate legal course. Your attorney can assess your case, calculate the value of your claim, and advocate on your behalf to ensure you receive fair compensation for your losses.

Punitive Damages

If the negligent party was especially egregious or reckless, punitive damages may be awarded to punish them and deter similar misconduct in the future. Depending on the circumstance, the trucking company or the driver may be subjected to punitive damages.

A plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant was personally involved in either of two types of behavior:

Intentional misconduct: the defendant knowingly engaged in actions deemed wrongful, with full awareness of the high likelihood of causing harm or damage. Despite this awareness, the defendant proceeded with the conduct and directly caused injury or damage.

Gross negligence: the defendant’s behavior exhibited a level of recklessness or lack of care so extreme that it showed a conscious disregard or indifference to the well-being, safety, or rights of those affected by such actions.

In truck accident cases, examples of gross negligence often stem from the truck driver’s recurrent violations of state and federal safety regulations and other traffic laws. For instance:

  • Truck drivers have a history of consistently neglecting to update their records or falsifying the driving hours in their logbooks, thus breaching federal regulations restricting driving time. These federal regulations, referred to as hours-of-service regulations, are in place to prevent accidents caused by driver fatigue.
  • In the event of a breakdown, the truck driver fails to use emergency signs, cones, or otherwise to alert other drivers about the truck’s presence on the road and its subsequent obstruction of traffic.
  • A commercial truck driver with prior convictions for driving under the influence causes an accident due to driving while inebriated, causing an accident.

The company employing the trucker can also be held accountable for punitive damages if one of its drivers causes a commercial truck accident. Besides demonstrating the driver’s involvement in intentional misconduct or gross negligence, the plaintiff must also prove that an officer, director, or manager of the trucking company:

  • Actively and knowingly participated in the negligent conduct
  • Knowingly condoned or consented to the negligent conduct
  • Engaged in conduct that constitutes gross negligence and contributed to the plaintiff’s losses, injuries, and damages.

Typically, this is evidenced by the trucking company’s negligence in hiring a driver unfit to operate a commercial truck, failing to supervise the driver correctly, or encouraging misconduct. For example:

  • The trucking company failed to screen the driver’s record before hiring, failing to uncover a history of accidents, speeding tickets, or DUI convictions.
  • The trucking company intentionally disregarded the driver’s falsifications of logbooks and violations of hours-of-service regulations. Some companies even outright encourage this type of misconduct.
  • The company should have noticed vehicle inspections or permitted a truck to operate despite knowledge of issues like soft brakes or worn-out tires.
  • The trucking company imposed unreadable delivery deadlines, pressuring its drivers to violate hours-of-service regulations to keep their jobs.

There are no caps on punitive damages available in the state of Illinois.

Finding the Right Illinois Truck Accident Attorney for You

If you or someone you care about has been injured or killed as the result of a commercial truck accident in Waukegan, know that you are not alone. While no amount of help or financial compensation could undo the trauma that you have been through, Lane Brown, LLC wants to help you win your case.

Fight for what you deserve today, and prevent similar accidents in the future by holding the guilty party accountable. We offer free consultations so that you can feel comfortable and confident working with us and understand your legal options going forward.

Call us today at 312-332-1400 or complete this form to request a free consultation.

Waukegan Truck Accident FAQ

How long do I have to file a Waukegan truck accident lawsuit?

Illinois’s statute of limitations for filing a personal injury suit after a truck accident is two years from the accident date. If the injured party is under 18 during the collision, the “clock” on the statute of limitations does not begin until the minor turns 18.

While you technically have two years, seeking legal counsel and filing your suit as soon as possible is wise. Waiting too long can significantly harm your case and potentially prevent you from receiving compensation.

Who covers the cost of repairing my damaged car?

If another driver is at fault for the accident, their insurance company is responsible for covering the repairs to your vehicle. 

Conversely, your insurance company should handle the repairs if you were at fault and had full coverage during the accident. However, if you were at fault, lacked insurance, or only had a liability policy, you are responsible for your repair costs.

Who is responsible for paying my medical bills?

Medical bills resulting from commercial truck accidents can be covered through various avenues. Insurance companies usually settle cases in a lump sum after reviewing the related medical files. However, medical bills may accumulate during this period, and collection agencies may contact you. Our attorneys recommend the following while you wait for your settlement:

Group Health Insurance: Utilize your health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare to cover medical treatment expenses. Although your health insurance company is entitled to reimbursement from a settlement or verdict obtained on your behalf, they often pay for treatment at a discounted rate, alleviating immediate financial burdens.

Medical Payment Provision of Your Automobile Insurance: Check if your insurance policy includes medical payment coverage, which can offer upfront coverage for accident-related injuries, reducing immediate out-of-pocket expenses.

Health Care Liens: If the above options are unavailable or exhausted, healthcare providers may agree to place a lien on your personal injury file. This arrangement allows you to receive treatment when you don’t have access to immediate finances, with providers being reimbursed from any settlement or verdict obtained on your behalf.

My injuries prevented me from working. Can I recover my lost wages?

If injuries sustained during your commercial truck accidents kept you out of work or caused long-term changes to your ability to work, you can include your lost wages in your insurance claim. Obtaining a doctor’s note for missed workdays is essential, as any missed days without medical direction are unlikely to be reimbursed.

I was a passenger during the accident – who covers my medical expenses, lost wages, and non-economic damages?

The at-fault driver’s insurance compensates you for medical bills, lost wages, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering – even if the vehicle driver you were in caused the accident. Additionally, if another driver was at fault, you may seek recovery under their insurance and any applicable medical payment or uninsured/underinsured motorist policies from the driver of the vehicle you were in.

How should I take a settlement offered by insurance?

Insurance companies typically offer lower settlements to unrepresented individuals early in the case to minimize payouts. Lane Brown, LLC’s compassionate, experienced attorneys can help negotiate with insurance companies so you don’t get taken advantage of.

What is the value of my case?

Determining the value of your case requires a comprehensive review of all evidence, including medical records, bills, property damage, and more. Several factors influence case value, such as the extent of your injuries, required medical treatment, permanency of injuries, pre-existing conditions, liability assessment, and jurisdiction. Our trial attorneys can provide an accurate assessment based on their knowledge and expertise.

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