The first step in filing a truck accident lawsuit is hiring a truck accident lawyer. The lawyer will help you determine whether you have a solid ground for a lawsuit. The next step is to figure out who to sue with the help of your lawyer. This step involves identifying the party (or parties) liable for your injuries or losses. Next, determine which court has the jurisprudence to hear your case. Generally, the court in the county where your accident happened will be responsible for hearing the case.
The final step is filing the lawsuit. Working with a truck or semi-truck accident lawyer allows you to focus on your recovery as the lawsuit proceeds. The lawyer will help you navigate through the challenging legal process of recovering compensation after a truck accident in Illinois. In addition, an experienced attorney understands the Illinois statute of limitations for filing truck accident cases and other laws applicable to your claim.
Steps for Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Hire a Truck Accident Attorney
Retaining a legal representative is the most essential step when filing a lawsuit. Choosing a lawyer with negotiation and litigation skills increases your chances of winning a truck accident case. Truck accidents are dangerous and often result in serious injuries or even fatalities.
Medical expenses and other losses from a truck accident can cause considerable psychological and financial implications. That is why you need a lawyer when filing a truck accident lawsuit to ensure you do everything correctly and pursue compensation that covers all your losses. Your actions within the first 72 hours after an accident will determine whether you will have a successful truck accident case.
Speak Only With Your Attorney
Limit communication with others once you start working with a lawyer. Do not divulge information about your claim to other parties. Instead, focus on providing your attorney with all relevant information.
Do not listen to insurance adjusters who promise to help you in exchange for a recorded statement. Instead, politely ask them to talk to your lawyer. Only your lawyer will have your best interests at heart.
Filing a claim demands that you have solid evidence against the at-fault party. Strong and convincing evidence ensures that you receive maximum compensation for your losses. Hand over the evidence gathered immediately after the accident to your lawyer. Be sure to record witness statements as soon as possible, as witnesses may forget crucial details about the accident.
Your attorney will send a demand letter to the liable party’s insurer. Sending the demand letter marks the beginning of the negotiation process. The at-fault party’s insurer may settle and honor your demands. Your attorney will guide you through this process to ensure that you receive reasonable compensation.
Negotiate For a Fair Settlement
At this stage, your attorney will aggressively negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurer. The other party’s insurance provider may offer a settlement, where you may choose to accept or sue. Most insurance companies seek to compensate victims with low settlements to maintain their profits. If the compensation cannot cover the full scope of your damages, your lawyer may advise you against taking the offer.
If the negotiation step fails, you may opt to choose mediation. This is an alternative dispute resolution method. Mediation comes into play when disputing parties cannot agree. During the mediation process, each party presents his or her case and a neutral party helps them reach an agreement. If mediation fails, you can then file a truck accident lawsuit.
File a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Few cases proceed to the trial stage. Most cases involve out-of-court settlement. You will only head to court if negotiations fail. When filing a truck accident lawsuit, your attorney will advise you on who to sue.
Continue With Negotiations
After filing a truck accident lawsuit, there are still chances that the at-fault party’s insurer may choose to improve its offer. Many truck accident cases do not proceed to trial, even after plaintiffs have filed a claim in court. This is, in part, due to ongoing negotiations that occur between the plaintiff’s attorney and the other party’s attorney. Your case may move to trial only when the other party is unwilling to meet your demands.
Proceed to Trial
A trial happens when the at-fault party’s insurer fails to meet your demands for fair compensation during the negotiation process. At this stage, the court will set a trial date. Your attorney will then argue your case and demonstrate why you are entitled to a higher compensation than what was offered by the other party’s insurer. In the end, the judge or jury will give a verdict on the outcome of your claim.
Truck Accident Laws in Illinois
Motorists involved in truck accidents are required to:
- Offer Help to Others in Trucking Accidents: Illinois motor vehicle laws require motorists involved in an accident to stop immediately. The assistance may be in the form of giving aid or calling emergency services.
- Exchange of Contact Information: You also have a legal obligation to exchange information with the other driver. The information includes names, contact details, driver’s license information, and insurance information.
What’s the Difference Between Negligence and Strict Liability?
Strict liability is a legal doctrine that imposes liability on a person even if that person did not deliberately cause the resulting injury or harm. Strict liability applies when an act or omission directly harms you.
Negligence is the failure to exercise reasonable care while performing a task and injuring others. Negligence while driving mainly results from recklessness and failure to act where there is an obligation.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit in Illinois
The deadline for filing a truck accident lawsuit in Illinois is two years. The date of the crash counts as the first day. There are exceptions to this statute, however. One is when the victim is a minor. In this case, the “timer” for the two-year deadline will start once the minor turns 18.
The other exception is when you file a lawsuit against a government entity. In this case, the deadline is one year. Time moves fast in an accident case. Working with a lawyer saves you from the hassles of completing multiple confusing forms, complying with applicable laws, and meeting short deadlines.
What Evidence Do You Need for Your Case?
A copy of a police report is a crucial piece of evidence in your truck accident case. A police report captures details on what caused the accident and who is to blame. The report also contains information about any witness statements. Witness statements can help corroborate your story and strengthen your claim.
Photographs of the Scene
Take pictures at the truck accident scene. This may include pictures of the truck, road signs at the scene, and your damaged car. Take pictures of skid marks on the road as well. The photographs will help identify the at-fault party and reconstruct the crash scene if necessary.
Obtain names and contact information of people at the scene who might have witnessed the accident. After getting their details, get them to commit to testifying in a court of law and record their testimonies.
As mentioned earlier, a truck accident may leave you with serious injuries, such as broken limbs, deep cuts, or even traumatic brain injuries. The outcome will be costly medical procedures and treatment. Get copies of medical bills and invoices for all your medical care. Medical bills and invoices are an essential part of a truck accident lawsuit. They demonstrate financial losses incurred due to an accident caused by another person’s negligent actions.
Doctor’s Notes and Diagnostic Reports
These documents link your injuries or disabling condition to the truck accident. They also reveal the impact of the accident-related injuries on your work and everyday life.
Your Employer’s Letter and Pay Stubs
These documents are instrumental in proving your lost wages or reduced earning potential.
Liable Parties in a Truck Accident
You must demonstrate that the other party is responsible for causing the accident that led to your injuries to recover compensation. Potentially liable parties in truck accidents include:
Any truck driver engaging in reckless behavior while operating a large vehicle may be liable for an accident and the resulting damages. Common causes of truck accident in Illinois stem from actions (or inactions) of negligent drivers. These actions (or inactions) include speeding, distracted driving, failure to follow traffic rules, and drunk driving.
Trucking companies have a legal duty to properly train their drivers on safe operations of their commercial trucks. The companies must also regularly inspect and provide maintenance for all their trucks. The trucking company may face a truck accident lawsuit if it breaches its legal duties.
A truck accident investigation may reveal the truck had defects attributable to the manufacturer. The defects may include steering wheel problems and tire blowouts. In such a case, you can hold the manufacturer liable for your injuries, losses, and damages.