This is the next post in my series on the handling of Illinois car accident cases which involve commercial vehicles. My last post discussed the need for discovery in an accident case. It is important to understand that in matters which involve multiple defendants, discovery is important for proving each individual cause of action. Retaining an experienced attorney is important so that they may complete the discovery process and provide your case with the evidence it needs. In this article I will be discussing what to expect at trial in such a case. If you or a family member are in need of assistance then contact us today to speak with a personal injury lawyer.
I have previously discussed what to expect when attending trial in a car accident case. There are many similarities between that process and trial in cases which involve a commercial defendant. There are also important differences. As to the similarities, the matter will begin with the selection of a jury. The attorneys for each party will be able to ask questions of the potential jurors and the Judge will ask questions of them as well. While each side may remove jurors of whom they do not approve, they may not do so for discriminatory reasons. Once a jury has been selected then each side will make an opening statement. The Plaintiff will present their case and the defense will follow. The Plaintiff may then present rebuttal evidence and closing arguments will be made. The jury will then deliberate and issue a verdict. This verdict will include a ruling in regard to liability, comparative fault, and damages.
The key difference in matters involving commercial defendants is that they will involve multiple defendants. This is true for trucking accident cases, wrecks involving delivery drivers, Uber accidents, etc. The presence of multiple defendants stems from the fact that each may bear some level of liability for the accident as employers are responsible for the acts of their employees and potentially for the acts of third-parties. Consider the following example, Bob’s restaurant outsources its food delivery to “Speedy Delivery Service.” Speedy then employs drivers to make the deliveries. If Speedy’s driver operates their vehicle in a negligent fashion, and causes an accident, then the driver would face liability. Speedy would also face a cause of action for negligence as well as other potential causes of action against them specifically. Finally, if it can be shown that Speedy has a history of failing to properly supervise its drivers, then Bob’s restaurant may face liability for hiring Speedy in the first place. The number of defendants in a given case will always depend on the specifics of the case.
When the case is submitted to the jury then the jurors will decide the extent to which each party is responsible for the accident. As I discussed in my article on how comparative fault impacts commercial vehicle accidents, if a defendant is found to be more than twenty-five percent responsible for the accident then they will be jointly and severally liable for the victim’s damages. If a defendant is found to be less than twenty-five percent responsible then they will only be required to pay the amount of damages for which they are responsible. The assignment of liability can be quite subjective and it is important that you retain an attorney who is experienced in presenting such issues to a jury.
If you or a family member have been injured by a commercial vehicle then contact my office today to speak with a Peoria car accident lawyer. My office believes in protecting the rights of individuals over those of corporations and we will give your case the attention it deserves. Contact us online or by telephone to schedule an appointment. We look forward to speaking with you. Our firm also serves clients in the Illinois cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington.