Trucking accidents are among the most dangerous kinds of accidents on Illinois roadways. The injuries that can result when your average car collides with or is in an accident with a mammoth semi-truck, can be absolutely catastrophic. It’s no wonder that when someone is involved in a semi-truck accident and visits a Hoffman Estates truck accident attorney, their first question is usually something like, “how long will it take my case to resolve?”
The answer to that question is complex and depends on the circumstances of each case. To better understand how long your truck accident will take to resolve, it may help to understand how complex these kinds of accident cases can be. That complexity can add time to the case, which wouldn’t ordinarily be the case in a traditional car-on-car accident case.
A Lot of People and Companies May be Involved
As you will see, there are a lot of potential targets (that is, possible people or companies that may have done something wrong to cause your accident) and things that can go wrong in a truck accident. The more potential defendants there are the more people or companies who may have done something wrong, and the more time your case may take to resolve.
The Rush For-Profits
Unfortunately, many truck accidents are simply caused by the rush for the trucking company or the company shipping whatever is in the truck, to make a profit. The faster-shipped items get to their destination, the more money companies make (and sometimes, drivers as well, as employers may incentivize and pay drivers more for getting the product to its destination faster).
This has led to many drivers being on the roads, longer than they should. Exhausted truck drivers are dangerous drivers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established guidelines that limit how long a driver can be behind the wheel before they must be given a rest. They also have rules that dictate how many hours at once, over a period of days, a truck driver can legally be required to be on the roads. However, some companies have ignored these regulations. And, even if the rest is provided, many drivers, anxious to meet financial incentives for getting their payload to their destination quicker, don’t take advantage of these rest breaks.
Federal law requires that drivers’ hours be logged and tracked by trucking companies. Some are recorded electronically, by devices placed inside the truck. These records can take time to get, and for your litigation attorney to interpret once they are obtained. This can add time to your trucking accident case-but it is a vital part of showing the trucking company was negligent.
In a similar rush for profits, many trucking companies overload trucks. Trucks must be driven differently depending on their payloads, and if a load is too heavy or packed into the truck improperly, the uneven weight balance of the truck, or shifting of the payloads while the truck is driving, can lead to the truck overturning or jack-knifing. Sometimes, the driver isn’t even aware that the company has improperly or overloaded the truck.
Again, if you are in a truck accident, your Hoffman Estates truck accident attorney will need time to see how much was loaded on the truck, whether the payload was an unsafe amount, and whether the driver used proper driving techniques to account for the payload.
Trucks are Different
Trucks are not like our cars. Their shocks, brakes, tires, and other components are built to manage a 40 ton truck and trailed, not a vehicle the size of your car. Those different components require different maintenance than your car requires, and they also need mechanics specially trained to work on them. Unfortunately, many trucking companies don’t maintain trucks the way that they should be maintained or don’t utilize properly certified mechanics.
In your truck accident case, your attorney will want to see if the accident was a result of a mechanical failure of the truck. For example, truck brakes often fail or don’t operate as they should, especially when they are poorly maintained.
The next step will be to see who was repairing the truck and whether they were properly certified. Federal, and some state laws, require that truck mechanics be specifically certified to work on trucks.
All of this will take some time, as your Claim Your Justice attorney both collects records from the trucking company, and the opinions of experts that your attorney may hire, to analyze those records.
What About the Driver?
The driver of the truck will need to be investigated if the accident was the result of driver error. Trucks are driven differently than standard cars. For example, to make a right turn, a truck may need to “swerve out” in order to make a short right turn. In doing so, the truck can run into oncoming traffic.
Large semi-trucks may have blind spots, which makes changing lanes on the highway dangerous. They also may be more prone to bad weather conditions; a slippery road can be way more dangerous when a truck is on the road than when your car is on that road.
When you or I are on medication that makes it unsafe to drive, we may have the option of not driving. But a trucker doesn’t have that option; driving is his or her livelihood. This leads many drivers to go behind the wheel, even if they aren’t feeling well, or if they are on prescription medication that makes it unsafe for them to be driving.
You and Your Medical Treatment
While the investigation into the trucking company is going on, you will be treated for your injuries. Many people want to try to settle their case as quickly as possible, even though they are still being treated for their injuries.
The problem is that people heal and recover at different time periods. Some will completely heal, while others will be permanently injured. Until you follow your doctor’s course of treatment and undergo therapy, diagnostics, or procedures recommended by your doctor, it is impossible to know whether, in 6 months, a year, or 18 months, you will be healed, or still very much disabled because of your injury.
Negotiate and Settle, Or File a Lawsuit?
When you have healed, and when your Hoffman Estates truck accident attorney has an idea of what the trucking company or its driver did wrong, your attorney will present your case and explain your injuries to the trucking company or its insurance company. At that point, there will be a “back and forth negotiation,” as your attorney and the trucking company, try to settle your case.
If we can reach a settlement dollar amount that you are happy with, your case will be concluded. Prior to that your attorney will go over with you the pros and cons of accepting whatever the trucking company offers, and explain the consequences of accepting or rejecting any settlement offer.
The last thing you want is to settle your case early for less compensation, only to find out that your injuries did not heal as fully as they thought that they would, or to find out you need another procedure that you didn’t think you’d need when you accepted the settlement offer.
Filing a Lawsuit and Getting Evidence for Your Case
If you cannot resolve your truck accident case, you will need to file a lawsuit. The lawsuit will allow you to get all the information your attorney needs to conduct a trial of your case, if necessary. However, getting that information can take time, and the truck company may make it difficult to access critical information.
In addition to gathering paper or document-based information, your Hoffman Estates truck accident attorney will have the chance to take depositions of the truck driver and representatives of the trucking company. These are opportunities for your lawyer to ask the representatives of the Defendant questions about the accident, the maintenance of the truck, the driver, and company safety policies and procedures.
Evidence gathered by your attorney will be forwarded to your expert, who will analyze whether the company did something wrong, and if so, what. This can take additional time as well.
Courts also operate on their own schedules, so if a judge must get involved to make the Defendant trucking company produce information, your attorney will have to schedule hearing times based on the court’s schedule.
If your case does go all the way to trial, you will be given a date for your trial by the court. The court will usually schedule your trial at least a few months forward in the future, to give all sides the chance to prepare.
No One Time Frame for All Cases
As you can see, a lot of variables go into a truck accident case. With all of this, it is easy to get discouraged. You should not be discouraged; not all cases take a long time to resolve—in some cases, where the trucking company clearly did something clearly wrong, and where the extent of your injuries are pretty clear from the start, a truck accident can resolve relatively quickly.
Call our Hoffman Estates truck accident lawyers at Claim Your Justice to schedule a free consultation at 847-434-3555 to help you with your car or truck accident case.