Truck accidents are more common in urban areas, especially those like Joliet—just 30 miles from Chicago and with many highways. Three interstates go through Joliet: 80, 355, and 55, which means the area sees a lot of truck traffic. While the hope is that you never tangle with a big rig, living in the third-largest city in the state increases the risk of a truck accident.
Because of the size of trucks—a fully loaded truck could weigh up to 80,000 pounds—accidents often result in catastrophic injuries or death. If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a truck accident, contact the experienced Joliet truck accident lawyers at Zayed Law Offices for a free case evaluation and recover the compensation you deserve.
How a Joliet Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
Truck accident cases are usually complicated—not only because of the severity of the injuries you might sustain but because more than one person is often responsible for the accident. A truck driver could be fully at fault, or the trucking company and others might share liability. A truck accident attorney in Joliet investigates the case to determine who should pay for your damages.
Additionally, a Joliet truck accident lawyer handles the insurance companies, so you do not have to deal with the stress of going back and forth and wondering if the insurance company is cheating you out of money—and it probably is.
Insurance companies are in business to make money. Paying claims, especially when those claims reach hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, significantly cutting into their bottom lines. This is why insurance companies often use tricks, such as twisting your statements, thus denying a claim or offering you a pittance that might not cover your current medical expenses, never mind other damages and future medical expenses.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Many truck accidents are preventable. However, some are not. The drivers are not always the cause of the accident—and these are the cases where the accident might not be preventable. However, in many cases, the truck driver shares liability with another person or entity.
Causes of truck accidents include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Driving while fatigued.
- Distracted driving.
- Poorly maintained roads.
- Driving too fast for conditions.
- Speeding and other aggressive driving.
- Other drivers' actions, including cutting trucks off, swerving into trucks, and hanging in a truck's blind spot.
- Truck and/or trailer manufacturer defects.
- Replacement part defects and/or faulty installation of parts.
- Poorly maintained trucks, including bad brakes, low tires, using recaps, and not replacing light bulbs.
- Weather conditions.
- The driver is experiencing unexpected medical emergencies.
Who Will Pay Damages?
In many cases, the truck driver is not the only one at fault for an accident.
Others who might share liability for damages include:
- The trucking company.
- A dispatcher.
- An auto mechanic.
- The truck and/or trailer manufacturer.
- A third party, such as someone in a passenger vehicle that causes the truck to wreck into you.
- An owner, lessee, or lessor.
- Parts manufacturers and/or sellers.
As part of the accident investigation our attorneys do when you retain us, we locate any parties that could share liability for your accident injuries or the death of a loved one.
What to Do After a Truck Accident
In many cases, a person's injuries might be too severe to do anything after a truck accident.
However, if you can move without incurring further damage:
- Call first responders and check on others involved in the accident.
- Take photos of the accident scene. Be sure to take pictures from all angles, showing all of the damage to all vehicles involved. Also, take photos of any damage to the road and nearby items, including utility poles, trees, yards, fences, and mailboxes.
- Allow emergency medical technicians to check you over. This is the first step in documenting any accident injuries, including those that might crop up in a few hours or days.
- Give the police officer your statement.
- Do not discuss the accident with others involved.
- Do not admit fault or give the impression that you might have been partially at fault.
- Do not post about the accident on social media.
- Do not post your activities on social media. Insurance companies troll social media sites. They will even use a picture of you and your friends or spouse going out for dinner against you.
Everyone who suffered injuries—or their spouses, parents, or children, if an accident victim is not recovered enough or died as a result of the accident—should contact a Joliet truck accident lawyer as soon after the accident as possible.
The sooner you contact a truck accident attorney, the better. You are more apt to remember everything that happened. Additionally, the evidence tends to disappear after an accident, whether because the weather erodes it, the police inadvertently destroy it, or the defendant destroys it, whether purposely or inadvertently.
Finally, insurance companies will use the fact that you waited to contact an attorney against you. They will allege that your injuries are not as bad as you say since you did not contact an attorney right away.
Filing a Truck Accident Claim
Once you retain a Joliet truck accident law firm, your legal team will start investigating your case to work toward settlement or litigation. Most people try settling first since it is quicker than litigation.
Settling a Truck Accident Case
In most cases, insurance companies also prefer to settle. Litigation becomes very expensive for insurance companies. They not only have to pay for their high-priced attorneys, but they also have to pay your attorneys' fees and costs. The attorneys figure this amount into your total settlement, and it only goes to the attorney if you win your case.
It could take from a month to several months to settle a case, depending on how stubborn the insurance company is about paying a fair and reasonable amount for your injuries and other damages. At any time during the settlement process, you can decide to move to litigation.
In some cases, once you file a lawsuit, the insurance company “all of a sudden” finds the money to pay a fair and reasonable amount.
Litigating a Truck Accident Case
Our attorneys thoroughly investigate your case before initiating a settlement agreement since that is the only way they can estimate the compensation you deserve. However, if you decide to litigate because the insurance company refuses to be fair and reasonable, your legal team still has a lot of work to do to obtain more evidence to prove your case.
Your legal team might want to depose witnesses and hire expert witnesses to testify to the injuries you have and whether they might cause long-term or permanent disabilities.
Once your attorney has all of the evidence, supporting documents, and witness testimony, he can then schedule a trial. It could take time to get your case on the docket.
After a Settlement or Trial Win
In most cases, the insurance companies forward your check to your attorney, who then deposits it into an escrow account. The attorney then pays any outstanding medical expenses and other expenses you might have that are related to the accident, reimburses your health and auto insurance companies, and deducts the percentage for attorneys' fees and costs that you agreed on.
He will then forward the balance to you—all that is left is for you to deposit the check.
Recovering Damages After a Joliet Truck Accident
After a truck accident, you could recover compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages include economic damages and non-economic damages. The court orders compensatory damages in an attempt to make you financially whole again.
Sometimes referred to as special damages, economic damages have a monetary value and include:
- Medical expenses.
- Therapeutic expenses for occupational, physical, cognitive, and/or psychological therapies.
- Lost wages.
- Loss of future earning income from the time of the settlement through the time you would normally retire.
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property.
- Death-related expenses, including funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses, probate court fees, and probate attorneys' fees.
Often referred to as general damages, non-economic damages do not have a monetary value and include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life if you must make life changes, such as taking prescriptions or using ambulatory aids for the rest of your life.
- Loss of use of a body part such as a finger or foot.
- Loss of use of a bodily function such as your hearing, eyesight, or bladder control.
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy time with your family or take part in family activities and events.
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the household chores you usually do, such as home repair and maintenance, lawn maintenance, grocery shopping, and house cleaning.
- Amputation of a limb or digit.
- Excessive scarring and/or disfigurement.
The court only orders punitive damages as a punishment for the defendant's grossly negligent or intentional behavior that caused your injuries or the death of a loved one. The plaintiff—you—must be able to prove that the defendant's actions were grossly negligent or intentional. It takes extra time and steps to recover punitive damages but is often worth it, especially when your injuries are catastrophic or you lost a loved one in the accident.
How Long Do I Have to File a Truck Accident Claim?
You have up to two years to take legal action in a truck accident case. However, we do not recommend you wait that long as evidence disappears, and insurance companies will fight harder to deny your claim. Additionally, prepping for a case, including conducting an investigation and taking statements from witnesses, takes a lot of time.
What Injuries Could a Truck Accident Cause?
Truck accidents could cause several injuries ranging from mild cuts, bumps, and bruises to death.
- Simple and compound fractures.
- Crushed bones.
- Road rash.
- Thermal and chemical burns.
- Face and eye injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
- Back and spinal cord injuries.
- Amputation of a digit or limb.
- Strains, sprains, muscle injuries, and other soft tissue injuries.
What Do I Do if the Insurance Company Makes an Offer First?
Never sign any documents an insurance company gives you. Take the documents to your attorney for legal advice. If the insurance company forwards you a settlement agreement, the amount is most likely much less than you deserve.
How Do I Pay Medical Expenses Until I Get My Settlement or Trial Award?
You can use your health insurance and auto insurance to cover medical expenses. When you receive your settlement, they will receive reimbursement if the accident was another's fault. You can also ask your attorney to write a letter explaining the situation and ask medical professionals to hold off on collections until you receive a settlement or trial award.
Contact a Joliet Truck Accident Lawyer
Truck accident injuries are often catastrophic or deadly, which means that is a major change for you and your family. They are also costly, in that you might have significant medical expenses and loss of income.
While money does not remove injuries or bring back a loved one, it significantly reduces the financial stress the accident causes. You should recover the compensation you deserve, not the compensation the insurance company wants to offer. A Joliet truck accident lawyer can investigate your case and help you recover the compensation you deserve.
Don't let the insurance companies take advantage of you. Contact Zayed Law Offices today at (815) 726-1616 for your no-obligation, free case evaluation.