An average American driver is involved in two to three car accidents or traffic incidents in her lifetime. Those who drive more miles or more minutes than average are at an increased risk for collisions and many drivers will experience far more than three accidents during their driving careers, some of which may cause damages that last long after the dust settles. While a vehicle can always be repaired or replaced, the personal injuries sustained by a victim may not heal as easily or may be permanent in nature.
If a large truck is involved in a collision, the damages that result are likely to be greater than if a smaller vehicle were to take the truck’s place. Simply put, the overwhelming size, weight, and build of a truck means that another vehicle is not going to put up much resistance if the truck strikes it and the results can be catastrophic. The propensity of a truck to cause such extreme harm is one of the reasons that commercial truck drivers must undergo additional testing and maintain certain national and state eligibility standards before they can drive legally in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois. Nonetheless, even with these semi stringent restrictions, truck accidents take place every day in this country and victims are left wondering how they can pick up the pieces and move forward with their lives.
Most people want to see that an at-fault truck driver is held liable for his wrongdoing. After all, if not for the mistake made by that driver, a victim would never have been involved in a crash and would never have been hurt. But how can victims ensure that a driver is held responsible and what rights do the victims have to make sure the legal system moves towards justice in their cases?
First, it is important to realize where a truck accident happens. The rights and laws governing collisions vary from state to state and a victim’s rights will vary in response. In Illinois, for example, a victim can protect herself by cooperating with police during an investigation and by bringing a civil claim for her own injuries.
Truckers may face a wide range of consequences if they are determined to have caused a crash. First, they may receive a traffic ticket or other charge by a local law enforcement officer and may have to appear in traffic court to fight that charge. If a driver admits guilt or is found guilty, that driver may face punishments like fines, fees, loss of a license, suspension of a license. If the citation is of a criminal nature or for a more severe charge, a trucker may be sentenced to time in prison or in jail for his conduct. But regardless of the outcome of a traffic ticket, it may not be the end of the legal liability faced by that driver.
Additionally, victims in Chicago have the right to bring a civil claim for their injuries which is separate and distinct from any traffic or criminal charges. This claim will seek to benefit a victim directly and not the State of Illinois as a victim will be the beneficiary of any monetary funds obtained in prosecution of the claim. These funds can help a victim pay for medical expenses, recover from lost wages, or compensate her for the pain and suffering she endured. Further, it is the right of a victim to bring these claims regardless of the actions of local police and/or prosecutors; however, claims must be brought within a time period specified by law or they will be barred forever.
When a truck accident happens in Illinois, there are multiple ways a driver may be held liable and the facts of any particular collision will determine what relief is possible. If your life was affected by a truck crash and you were hurt, speaking with a personal injury attorney may help you realize your options and your legal rights at this point in time.
Prior Blog Entry:
Avoiding a Left Cross Bicycle Accident May Save Your Life, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published August 23, 2016.