What Does a Truck Accident Lawyer Do?

Friday, July 7, 2023

What Does a Truck Accident Lawyer Do?

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

In a recent year, 12,040 motor vehicles were involved in truck accidents. With such a high number of collisions, a truck accident case calls for an attorney’s specialized attention. If you are in an accident with a tractor-trailer, you need a truck accident lawyer who has experience with truck accident cases. The Chicago truck accident lawyers at Malman Law are here to fight for you.  We will guide you through the entire process, from filing your claim to taking your case to trial if needed.

The Dangers of Semi-Trucks

Unlike passenger vehicles, semi-trucks require a longer distance to come to a complete stop. It is estimated that a truck driver operating a cargo-loaded tractor traveling at 65 miles per hour will take 525 feet to stop. Comparatively speaking, a passenger car would only take 316 feet to stop under the same conditions.

The reason? A tractor-trailer is approximately 20 to 30 times heavier than a passenger vehicle, causing accelerating, turning, and braking to become challenging.

A tractor-trailer that is fully loaded can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while a passenger vehicle weighs, on average, about 4,100 pounds. If a tractor-trailer rear-ends you, you are not probably not walking away with minor bumps and bruises.

FMCSA Regulations and Electronic Logging Devices

Truck drivers must follow the hours-of-service (HOS) regulations as laid out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Commercial truck drivers are required to log their driving time and breaks throughout the day in a logbook.

The driver can have one of four statuses:

  • “Driving”
  • “On-duty” (a driver is completing additional tasks but not operating the vehicle).
  • “Off-duty”
  • “Sleeper berth”

Property-carrying drivers, or drivers carrying cargo, are restricted to driving a maximum of 11 hours after being off-duty for 10 consecutive hours.

These days, commercial truck drivers are required to use electronic logging devices (ELDs). An electronic logging device, or ELD, works in tandem with the engine of a commercial motor vehicle to automatically record driving data.

An ELD helps drivers comply with HOS regulations. An ELD can track when a truck’s engine is running, when the truck is in motion, and how many miles the truck has traveled in any given timeframe. Truck drivers must transfer their driving data to service officials for review.

Although the FMCSA places restrictions on driving time, truckers are still under immense pressure to reach their destinations in a timely fashion. When traffic or bad weather inhibits truck drivers from arriving on time, drivers will often speed to beat the clock.

Why Should I Hire a Truck Accident Attorney?

The Claims Process

At Malman Law, we will handle the entire process on your behalf. We will review your auto policy and be sure that we meet all required deadlines to ensure a successful claim.

Critical deadlines include:

  • Time limit for submitting bills
  • Time limit for resolving claim disputes
  • Time limit for submitting additional information that is requested by the insurance company
  • Timeline to hear back from the insurance company

Demand Package

An experienced truck accident lawyer will know which evidence is pertinent to building your case. It is important to save medical bills and any documentation of missed time from work in order to be compensated for your losses in the form of damages.

Compensatory damages can be economic or non-economic. Economic damages are easier to calculate, and include any expenses or missed time from work that takes money directly out of your pocket. You will want to save any medical bills, receipts, and pay stubs to submit to the insurance company.

Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate but affect your quality of life. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and disfigurement. In examining your case, the attorneys at Malman Law have the experience to know how much your case is worth.

This documentation will be submitted to the truck company’s insurance carrier along with a demand letter.

The demand letter should include the following:

  • Establish facts: a demand letter should include all relevant facts about the truck accident. This will include injuries and medical treatment.
  • Detail injuries and medical treatment
  • Describe the insured’s negligence: explain how the truck driver was negligent, causing the accident and proving liability.
  • Categorize damages: in a truck accident or any type of personal injury case, the demand letter should include a list of economic and non-economic damages.
  • Make a demand: how much do you want the insurance company to pay you?
  • Set a deadline: give the insurance company a reasonable and specific date to respond by.
  • Offer a consequence: a quality demand letter should offer a consequence if the insurance company does not respond. For example, you may state that if the insurer does not accept your offer, you will take your case to court and demand a higher settlement

A demand letter is a must in any insurance negotiation. If the truck company does not receive a demand letter, they may dispose of evidence that shows the truck driver’s liability.

When filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company (i.e., the truck driver), the insurer must provide you with the necessary forms to file your claim within 15 working days of your request.  According to Illinois law, the insurer has 21 working days to conduct an investigation and limited time to pay or deny your claim.

Insurance Settlement Offers

The first offer made by an insurance adjuster does not take into account future medical expenses, missed time from work, and diminished earning capacity. It is estimated that the first settlement offer is approximately 40% of what your claim is worth.

If we feel that you are not being offered a fair settlement, we will respond with a counteroffer. Once you accept an insurance company’s offer, you will sign a waiver that will bar you from collecting any further compensation on your claim.

Gathering Evidence

A truck accident lawyer will help you collect video surveillance and photographs, and will interview any eyewitnesses who were present at the accident scene.

In a truck accident case, we can request access to the truck’s ELD. As you can imagine, insurance companies will take all measures to prevent this information from being released.

The ELD will show if the truck driver followed HOS regulations. If the driver violated their maximum driving window, this may suggest that the driver was fatigued and may have been making poor decisions behind the wheel.

Should I Take My Case to Court?

There are a few situations in which you may want to consider filing a lawsuit:

  • If the insurance company outright rejects your claim with no counteroffer
  • If the insurance company repeatedly offers you low settlement offers
  • If negotiations with the insurance company have not progressed
  • If your damages exceed the truck driver’s insurance policy limits

At Malman Law, we want to achieve the best results for you. When our negotiation efforts are not in line with the outcome you deserve, we will discuss bringing your case to court.

A Chicago Truck Accident Lawyer Achieving Results

A truck accident can instantly change your life. At Malman Law, we understand the agony of living with serious and often permanent injuries. Let us work on your behalf to give you legal relief.  Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

What’s your case worth? Submit for a free case review


This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by President and Founder, Steven J. Malman who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

Related Blog Posts

view all news