If you or a loved one has been hurt in a truck accident, you may be feeling lost and overwhelmed. Between medical bills, time away from work and other costs, the financial impact of the accident can be huge, to say nothing of the emotional and physical pain you’re enduring. We know what you’re going through, and our law firm has compiled this list of common questions and answers to help you through the process.
We hope that this information will give you an idea of how to proceed after a truck accident. Remember, though, that every accident is unique, and the best legal steps depend on the facts of your individual case. That’s why we encourage you to contact Schweickert Ganassin Krzak Rundio, LLP as soon as possible after your accident. We’ve been helping injured people in LaSalle County and throughout Northern Illinois for decades, and we’d be honored to meet with you for a free consultation.
The trucker who hit me was driving too fast. Do I have a case?
You very likely do, but like any case, you must prove it. Every motor vehicle collision happens for a reason. Although a truck driver and his employer can be found negligent for many different reasons, the fact the driver was speeding can support your claim he was driving negligently or recklessly. It may also reveal other important issues, such as hours of service violations.
Our investigation will include a review of the truck’s “black box” data, which may show us the truck’s speed at the time of the accident and whether brakes were engaged. We’ll also interview witnesses and examine the police accident report to find proof that the truck was speeding. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, we may consult outside experts, such as an Accident Reconstructionist or trucking expert to prove that the trucker’s negligence caused your injuries.
Can I sue the trucking company?
In most cases, yes. If the trucker is a direct employee of the trucking company, then the company is responsible for their employee’s actions on the job due to the legal doctrine of respondeat superior. However, many truck drivers are independent contractors. It’s not always clear whether this legal doctrine applies – it depends mostly on the trucking company’s degree of supervision over the trucker.
We may also be able to show that the trucking company was directly liable for the accident. For instance, the company may have negligently failed to conduct a background check before hiring a driver with a history of drunk or reckless driving. They may have put pressure on the trucker to drive too fast or work through mandatory breaks to meet an unrealistic deadline. Finding evidence to support claims against the trucking company, the shipper, or other third parties can make or break your case.
How can I get my medical bills paid after an accident?
Ultimately, if the trucking company was responsible for your accident, they’re also responsible for your medical bills. However, they often try to persuade you to accept an inadequate settlement offer or will straight up refuse to pay anything until they are forced to. Your own insurance, if you have it, will be responsible for your medical bills until your case is resolved:
- Medical payments coverage: This is a type of coverage on your auto insurance that pays for injuries you sustain in a car or truck accident. If you have this optional coverage, it will pay for your medical expenses first, before your health insurance kicks in.
- Health insurance coverage: While your employer-provided health insurance may not want to pay for injuries sustained in a crash, their job is to pay for all of your medical care. Going through your health insurance means you may have to pay co-pays and deductibles – be sure to keep track of all of these expenses so we can include them as part of your claimed damages.
Note that if your insurance pays for costs resulting from a truck accident and the trucking company is later found liable, your insurance company will ask to be reimbursed by the trucking company’s insurance company. This is called subrogation.
If you don’t have insurance at all, we can work to get your medical bills paid through an attorney’s lien. This is an arrangement your attorney makes with a healthcare provider in which you receive treatment without payment up front. Once you recover from the trucking company, your medical bills will be paid out of your award.
When should I contact an attorney?
Immediately! The trucking company will start an investigation right after the accident. That’s why you need to act fast to gather the evidence required to protect your legal rights and get the compensation you deserve. There are certain types of evidence, such as hours of service logs, which may be lost or destroyed if an attorney does not take action within a short timeframe. With so much at stake, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible after a truck accident. Call (866) 604-9075 at any time.
Should I accept a settlement offer from the trucking company?
Not without talking to us first. Insurance companies representing trucking companies routinely make low-ball offers to try to settle cases quickly. In most cases, this early offer doesn’t come close to covering the full cost of the accident. You may need long-term medical care or be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. Once you’ve taken the trucking company’s money, you may have waived your right to file a lawsuit against them for additional compensation, so always consult an experienced attorney to protect your legal rights before accepting a settlement offer.
I was hit by a truck with out-of-state plates and now the trucking company won’t answer my calls. What can I do?
Dealing with out-of-state trucking companies can be difficult. Sometimes, they think that if they just don’t answer your calls, you’ll give up. With a lawyer on your side, though, you don’t have to take that kind of treatment. Our attorneys know how to track down a trucking company based in another state – or even, in some cases, another country – and hold them accountable.
How long will my case take to resolve?
That depends on the facts of your case and the trucking company’s willingness to negotiate. Some cases may resolve in just a few months, other may take years. The most important variable in this equation is your health. Before we accept a settlement offer or obtain a jury verdict at trial, we must ensure your damages are fully realized and you have received all necessary medical care and understand the costs of future related treatment. If we were to resolve your case prematurely and you later need surgery for something related to the accident, you alone would be responsible for those medical bills.
The good news is that we work on a contingency fee basis. This means that no matter how long the case takes to settle, we’ll advance all costs and only get paid if and when you get compensation. We’ll be with you every step of the way no matter how long it takes to resolve your case.