There are many elements to anticipate in an 18 wheeler truck accident lawsuit, including the processes of building evidence, filing a claim, and identifying all liable parties involved. A lawsuit can take a long time and involve various complexities, making it important to know what to expect.
What Makes 18 Wheeler Accidents So Dangerous?
Although any type of vehicle accident can be dangerous, there are factors involved in 18 wheeler accidents that can make them more catastrophic. These accidents often involve life-threatening injuries and fatalities. The following are some reasons why these accidents are particularly dangerous and what causes them.
The Size of the Truck
One of the main reasons 18 wheeler accidents are more dangerous than others is the mass of these trucks. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), loaded commercial trucks like 18 wheelers need the approximate length of two football fields to come to a full stop.
18 wheelers are not only difficult to stop in an emergency, but they can also cause a lot of damage upon impact. They have the ability to cause extensive damage and serious injuries in many cases, and they can collide with many vehicles and properties in a single crash.
Another factor that can make 18 wheeler accidents dangerous is difficulty in handling. Unlike other vehicles, commercial trucks require trained drivers who have commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). They must know how to properly operate these vehicles to avoid losing control and causing accidents.
Commercial truck drivers are often on the road for long hours, and they can become fatigued over time if they don’t take breaks. This is why there are limits in place for how many hours a truck driver can drive, known as hours of service (HOS). However, despite these limits, many truck drivers wind up spending many hours at a time to meet tight deadlines and may grow drowsy, dramatically increasing the risk of accidents.
Another risk factor involved with 18 wheelers is an unsecured load or otherwise improper loading of trailers. Loads could come loose without safety measures in place to keep them secure, or poorly placed loads could shift the center of gravity to the point where the driver loses control of the vehicle and the truck tips over.
Commercial trucks often transport hazardous materials, including substances such as ethanol, gasoline, chemicals, and even radioactive materials. All of these could increase the risk of serious injuries and fatalities in the event of a crash. Specifically, rollovers could lead to spills that expose people to these substances.
These are some main reasons why 18 wheeler accidents are often more dangerous than other vehicle accidents, making it important for drivers and others to ensure they’re safe on the road.
Common Injuries After an 18 Wheeler Accident
There are many types of injuries that accident victims may sustain, with some of the most common injuries including:
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Back and spinal injuries
Filing an 18 Wheeler Accident Lawsuit
You might be wondering what to do after a truck accident in Illinois. There are different steps you can take based on the circumstances of your case.
You may be able to recover compensation through an accident claim with insurance companies. However, these cases often involve multiple liable parties and can become difficult to settle through the claims process, leading to a lawsuit. A truck accident lawyer can help you determine who to hold liable in a truck accident claim.
Often, these cases also involve serious injuries and wrongful death, with liable parties unwilling to settle and forcing the case to go to trial.
In a lawsuit, you will need to prove what happened, who is liable for the accident, the specific damages you sustained, and the amount of money your case is worth. In the process, you will need to perform many tasks and consult with experts as you build a strong case, which requires a lot of time and expertise.
If you wish to file an 18 wheeler accident lawsuit, you don’t want to approach the case alone. You may not have sufficient experience with these cases and compromise your case with any misstep. This makes it important to consult with an 18 wheeler accident lawyer to discuss your case and potentially receive representation during a trial.
Recoverable Compensation in 18 Wheeler Accidents
When filing a lawsuit, there are different types of damages that you may be able to recover from the liable parties involved. These could include a combination of economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages, also known as special damages, are the specific financial losses that result from an accident and injuries. Some examples of economic damages include medical bills for immediate care and ongoing treatment, medication costs, rehabilitation, and modifications made to homes to accommodate disabilities.
Non-economic or general damages, meanwhile, cover less tangible damages. They pertain to the pain and suffering that accident victims experience after a crash. For instance, you might suffer from physical pain or psychological distress as a result of injuries and trauma. You may also experience a loss of consortium (i.e., relationship) or disfigurement because of your injuries. These aren’t as easy to quantify as economic damages, but there are ways to estimate their financial worth and recover them.
In rare cases, the court may also award punitive damages with the intention of punishing defendants. These damages apply when liable parties exhibit gross negligence or maliciousness in their acts, with the goal of preventing them and others from committing similar acts in the future.
Timeline of an 18 Wheeler Accident Claim
The length of time a lawsuit takes will depend largely on whether the case actually goes to trial. In many cases, liable parties and their insurers may want to offer a larger settlement to avoid the headache of a trial process. However, the case could last for months or even years if the case goes to trial.
The timeline of a lawsuit begins with the discovery process, which involves both the plaintiff and defendant, and their attorneys, gathering as much evidence as they can to support their arguments in court. Throughout the discovery process, negotiations may still take place and settle before the case ever goes to trial.
If the case winds up going to trial, both sides will be able to present their cases in front of a judge and jury. The jury or judge may then determine whether the defendant must compensate the plaintiff and the specific amount of compensation the defendant will need to pay.
Every accident case has a statute of limitations. This limits the amount of time you have to file a claim or lawsuit after the accident takes place or upon the discovery of injuries. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for vehicle accidents and other personal injury cases is two years from the time of the accident. If you don’t file a claim or lawsuit within this time, you may be unable to recover compensation for injuries and other damages in the future. This is why you must act quickly after an accident if you believe you have a valid case.
Who Is Liable for an 18 Wheeler Accident?
There are multiple parties that could be liable for an 18 wheeler accident. While the driver is often liable, additional parties could share liability, depending on the cause of the accident.
For example, liable parties could include:
- Drivers who fall asleep at the wheel, become distracted, or engage in other behavior that leads to an accident
- Trucking companies that fail to properly train or screen their employees
- Vehicle and part manufacturers that produce faulty and defective components that cause an accident
- Mechanics who fail to properly identify and repair issues during inspections
- Governments that neglect to repair damaged and worn roadways
It’s crucial to know what to expect with an 18 wheeler accident lawsuit if you plan on seeking compensation for damages sustained in an accident. Taking the right steps and learning more about the details of your accident may help you build a strong case against liable parties.
Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.