Tractor-trailers, semis, 18-wheelers, and big-rigs are massive commercial trucks that can do devastating damage whenever they are involved in an accident or collision. The resulting injuries and losses can change a person’s life in an instant.

However, if a negligent trucker or their company is to blame for a crash, you have legal options. By enlisting the help of a Bloomington truck accident lawyer, you could receive help with each step of the claims process, from gathering evidence and calculating damages to filing a thorough claim. 

A dedicated attorney could also answer your questions, explain your rights, and allow you to focus on your recovery during this traumatic time.

If you or someone you know needs the assistance of an experienced truck accident lawyer, contact us to schedule a free consultation.

bloomington truck accident lawyer

Truck Accidents in Illinois

The size and weight of large commercial trucks make crashes involving them particularly devastating. In fact, truck collisions are far more likely to result in severe injury or death. Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Crash Facts reports that in 2021, there were a total of 9,261 single-unit truck crashes and 12,040 truck-tractor and semi-trailer crashes in Illinois.

Furthermore, it is usually not those in the large truck that suffer the worst damages. Instead, it is often the other vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, bikers, or pedestrians who get seriously injured or killed in a truck crash. Indeed, IDOT 2017 Illinois Crash Facts and Statistics confirm that, in tractor-trailer crashes, those in the other vehicles or other parties are far more likely than the truck driver to be killed or suffer serious injury.

What Makes Truck Accidents So Complicated

Commercial trucks and semi-accidents can be far more damaging and complicated than a regular car accident case. This is true for multiple reasons, which could be explained and navigated by a knowledgeable Bloomington truck accident lawyer. These nuances include:

Truck Accidents Cause Severe Injuries and Property Damage

Due to their weight, a big-rig collision often causes more severe injuries and more serious disabilities, resulting in a greater chance of death. There’s also usually more property damage.

Determining Fault Requires Intricate Investigations

Truck accidents can be more complicated to investigate. Determining whether there was driver error, inadequate truck maintenance, equipment failure, or improperly loaded cargo is crucial in determining the fault for the crash.

Trucking Regulations Add Layers of Complexity

Commercial freight trucks are also subject to complex state and federal regulations governing hours of service, maintenance and inspection requirements, and other safety protocols. This means a person will need help determining whether breaking these contributed to the collision and holding the offending party responsible.

Trucking Companies Aggressively Defend Against Claims

Truck crash cases are usually heavily defended. Truck insurance policies are many times larger than car insurance policies. The different insurance companies involved in a truck accident case will do everything they can to reduce their liability and compensation for an injured claimant.

All of their tactics are designed to minimize their losses, maximize their profits, and ensure that a person does not get the compensation they deserve. They may offer quick payouts that are much lower than a case is really worth. They might even tamper with or destroy evidence, and they will certainly hire an experienced legal team to fight against an injured claimant.

Multiple Potentially Liable Parties Must Be Identified

Finally, in any truck accident, it is essential to determine all the parties at fault that may be liable for damages, including the following:

  • Truck drivers
  • Owner of the truck
  • Trucking or freight company
  • Leasing agency for the truck cab or trailer
  • Mechanics or maintenance companies
  • Product liability on the part of the truck, trailer, or parts manufacturer
  • A shipper who arranged for loading or transporting the cargo

How Much is My Truck Accident Case Worth?

The value of a truck accident case can vary significantly depending on the specific details involved. Several key factors that will impact the potential settlement value include:

  • Severity of Injuries: Cases involving catastrophic injuries like brain trauma, spinal cord injuries, amputations, etc. tend to be worth more due to high medical costs and lifelong care needs.
  • Duration of Treatment: The longer and more extensive the required medical treatment is after the accident, the higher the potential value. Long-term rehab and disability increase case value.
  • Liability and Negligence: If the trucking company’s negligence is proven through violations like overloaded trucks, improperly maintained vehicles, unqualified drivers, etc., it strengthens the case.
  • Income and Employment: When accidents cause disabling injuries that prevent returning to work, the lost earning capacity over a lifetime can substantially increase claims.
  • Pain and Suffering: This non-economic damage is designed to compensate for physical pain, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life caused by the accident.

Every case is unique, but an experienced truck accident lawyer can assess the circumstances and project a potential settlement range to pursue maximum compensation. The most valuable cases are usually those with severe, disabling injuries coupled with clear evidence of negligence by the trucking company or driver.

How Do I Prove the Accident Was Not My Fault?

It is common in cases involving truck accidents for there to be a dispute about who was at fault. As a result, it is often necessary to hire an accident reconstructionist to look at things like tire skid marks, vehicle data records, and traffic light signal timing to determine who was at fault and who was responsible for causing the collision.

Other forms of evidence include dashcam footage, police reports, and witness statements. Illinois law also recognizes that an individual can be partially at fault (contributorily negligent), which can impact the amount of damages that are recovered. To find out more, call an experienced personal injury attorney for a free consultation.

How Long Do I Have To File a Lawsuit if I’ve Been in a Truck Accident?

If you have been injured in a truck accident, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to investigate your claim and to preserve evidence if necessary.

The time you have to file a lawsuit is called a statute of limitations. If you do not file a lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations, the courts will likely bar your case. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims generally is two years.

However, there are factors that could shorten or extend the amount of time you have to file. The only way to know is to consult with an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible.

Types of Damages Bloomington Truck Accident Lawyers Can Seek

Economic Damages After a Big-Rig Accident

As in other personal injury claims, damages a person can recover from their trucking accident include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages cover the specific costs and expenses a person may incur, including:

  • Current medical expenses—costs of ambulance service, emergency room visits, hospital care, outpatient visits, surgery, physical therapy, medical equipment, and any other care provided by medical professionals,
  • Future medical expenses—for costs a person might incur in the future for additional medical care and treatment,
  • Lost wages—payment for any wages or income a person lost from the time of the injury until they can return to full employment, and
  • Lost earning capacity—compensation may be available if a person’s injuries negatively impacted their ability to earn a living.

Non-economic Damages After a Big-Rig Collision

Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are meant to compensate the injured person of the injury and/or their family for any intangible non-financial losses. These may include:

  • Pain and suffering—compensation for the suffering from the physical pain caused by the injuries. The extent of the pain, the nature of the injury, and the length of time the pain might last are all considered in determining the value of this award.
  • Mental anguish—to compensate for emotional distress caused by the accident. This includes fear and anxiety, stress, worry, grief, and other forms of emotional upset resulting from the accident.
  • Disfigurement—compensation for any visible scarring.
  • Loss of society and consortium—a spouse, parents, and minor children may deserve compensation for the loss of companionship, care, services, assistance, society, and aid of a loved one.

Lastly, in some cases, punitive damages may also be available if the liable party’s actions were willful, malicious, reckless, or fraudulent. These are designed to punish the offender and dissuade others from similar behavior.

Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Given the massive size and weight of commercial trucks, collisions involving these vehicles tend to cause catastrophic injuries. Understanding the leading causes can help identify negligence.

Some of the most common reasons truck accidents occur include:

  1. Driver Error — Truck driver fatigue, distraction, intoxication, and speeding are frequent factors. The immense size of trucks requires professional training that some drivers lack.
  2. Equipment Failure — Improperly maintained or defective truck parts like brakes, tires, and lights can cause drivers to lose control, especially when hauling heavy loads.
  3. Improper Loading — When cargo is loaded improperly and shifts during transit, it can create an imbalance that leads to rollover or jackknife accidents.
  4. Blind Spots — Trucks have large blind spots on all four sides. Cutting off or merging improperly into these zones increases the truck driver’s inability to see and avoid crashes.
  5. Road Conditions — Poor weather, construction zones, tight turns, and badly maintained roads make it more difficult to safely operate a large commercial truck.
  6. Negligent Hiring/Training — Trucking companies fail to properly screen drivers or provide adequate safety training to avoid accidents.

Identifying the specific cause in a truck crash case is critical to proving negligence and recovering full compensation from all responsible parties.

Types of Truck Accidents

While all truck accidents have the potential for catastrophic damage and injuries, some of the most common and particularly dangerous types include:

Jackknife Accidents

These occur when the trailer portion swings out at a 90-degree angle from the cab, creating an uncontrolled jackknife motion. This is often caused by abrupt braking or steering maneuvers, slippery roads, or traveling too fast for conditions. Jackknife truck crashes frequently cause multi-vehicle pileups.

Rollover Accidents

When a semi-truck or trailer tips over onto its side or roof, this is considered a rollover accident. Major causes include excessive speed around curves, abrupt steering to avoid obstacles, high winds, and unbalanced or improper cargo loading that shifts weight unevenly. Rollovers can easily crush smaller passenger vehicles.

Underride Accidents

These frontal or rear-end collisions involve a smaller vehicle becoming trapped or wedged underneath the front or rear of a semi trailer. Underride guards are supposed to prevent this, but they can fail and allow vehicles to be crushed underneath the much higher truck body.

Wide Turn Accidents

Big rigs need extra space to properly negotiate left-hand turns. When truck drivers miscalculate or unsafely execute wide turns, their trailers can sideswipe other vehicles, pedestrians, signs, or buildings.

Lost Load Accidents

When cargo isn’t properly secured and distributed within a trailer, it can shift during travel and spill out onto the roadway through openings. Loose freight and debris from an insecure load poses extreme hazards.

Common Truck Accident Injuries

The massive weights and dimensions of semi-trucks make any collision with smaller passenger vehicles catastrophic.

Some of the most severe injuries sustained include:

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) – Violent impacts can cause the brain to collide with the skull, resulting in bleeding, bruising, crushed tissue, and permanent cognitive impairment.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries/Paralysis – The force of truck crashes frequently fractures, crushes, or severs the spinal cord. This can lead to full or partial paralysis requiring lifelong care.
  • Crushed/Amputated Limbs – The sheer weight and momentum of a semi-truck is enough to shear off limbs in many collisions with smaller vehicles, leaving injured persons permanently disabled.
  • Internal Organ Damage – Heavy trauma from truck accident forces can cause internal bleeding, ruptured spleens or organs, and other life-threatening abdominal injuries.
  • Permanent Disability – Many truck accident survivors are left with lasting brain damage, spinal injuries, amputations, or other disabilities requiring round-the-clock care.

Trucking Regulations and Safety Requirements

The immense size and weight of commercial trucks create serious risks, which is why adherence to federal trucking regulations is critical.

Some key rules include:

  • Hours of Service – To prevent fatigued driving, strict limits are placed on consecutive driving hours and mandated rest periods based on truck size and freight type.
  • Truck Weight Limits – The total weight of the loaded tractor-trailer cannot exceed maximums based on the number of axles/brakes to maintain safe control and braking ability.
  • Pre-Trip Inspections – Before each haul, drivers must complete a full inspection checklist examining brake systems, lights, tires, cargo securement, and all components for safe operating conditions.

When trucking companies, owners, or drivers violate these federal safety regulations through overworked shifts, overweight loads, deferred maintenance, or skipped inspections, it significantly increases the risks for catastrophic accidents. Proving these violations is key evidence of negligence.

Should I Hire a Bloomington, IL Truck Accident Lawyer?

Truck accident cases can be complicated. There may be a need to perform inspections of the vehicles involved and to hire engineers to perform crash reconstruction reports.

These collisions also often result in catastrophic injuries or death, so there may be a need to hire medical experts to explain the injuries and the long-term impact they will have on those involved.

The complexity of these types of cases and the resources they require to pursue is why many people choose to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to assist them with their cases.

Benefits of Working With a Truck Accident Lawyer

By working with a Bloomington truck accident attorney after a truck crash, an injured claimant could have assistance with getting the justice they likely deserve. Dealing with insurance companies can be tedious and frustrating. An experienced attorney would likely be familiar with the many tactics insurance companies use to avoid paying a claimant what they deserve.

Additionally, a legal professional with experience serving as a general counsel to a trucking company could help an injured claimant understand the details of this complex process.

This may include:

  • Reviewing police and accident reports
  • Ensuring that important evidence is preserved by the driver and truck company
  • Gathering other evidence, such as camera footage or data from the truck’s Electronic Control Module (ECM or “black box”)
  • Reviewing and analyzing all pertinent medical records and interviewing medical staff if necessary
  • Gathering and organizing all billing and expense information to accurately value a person’s economic losses
  • Consulting with needed experts to determine liability for and losses from the accident

A Bloomington truck accident lawyer can carefully evaluate your case, answer questions, explain legal rights, help determine all of the parties at fault, and advise you on the best strategy to get the trucking accident settlement you deserve.

Call a Bloomington Truck Crash Attorney for Legal Help

If you were injured in a collision or crash with a tractor-trailer or big rig, you might benefit from retaining a Bloomington truck accident lawyer for help. Our team represents accident injured persons on a contingency basis.

This means we only get paid if we recover monetary damages for you. There are no upfront costs.

Your initial consultation is always free, and we are only paid when your claim is settled if we are successful in recovering your losses and injuries. Because of this approach, you have access to legal help regardless of your ability to pay.

Furthermore, time is critical. The sooner we can act to preserve all critical evidence, the better. We will carefully listen to you so we fully understand your situation.

We will thoroughly explain your legal options and fight to get you the fair and just settlement you deserve. If you are injured and cannot come to us, we can even come to you.

To learn more, contact us for a completely free consultation by calling us or filling out our no-cost evaluation now so that we can help you with your case and so you can get back to your life and loved ones.