The Chicago truck accident lawyers of Abels & Annes represent individuals who were injured in truck accidents and other types of accidents as a result of the negligence of others. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.Have You Been Injured or Someone Close to You Killed in a Truck Accident?
A large commercial motor vehicle, such as a tractor-trailer manufactured by Freightliner, Kenworth, Mack, or Peterbilt, may be 20 times the size of a conventional passenger car when pulling a trailer. Given the extreme disparity between the weight and mass of commercial trucks and regular passenger cars, it is not hard to imagine how dangerous it is for the occupants of a passenger vehicle to get involved in an accident with a big rig—not to mention pedestrians, motorcyclists, or bicyclists.
Truck Accident Attorneys in Chicago
Statistics bear this out. According to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, although large trucks make up only 4.3% of all motor vehicles registered in the United States, and are involved in only 5.2% of all traffic accidents, accidents involving large trucks account for nearly 10% of all traffic accident fatalities—and most of those fatalities are to the occupants of smaller vehicles rather than the trucks.
For Illinois specifically, according to the 2011 Crash Facts and Statistics compiled by the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were over 10 million registered vehicles within the state in 2011, and large trucks, buses, and RVs combined made up about 4% of the total. Accidents involving tractor-trailers accounted for about 3.5%, or over 10,000, of all crashes within the state of Illinois, but were involved in 9.7 % of all fatal crashes, and accounted for just over 10% of all the fatalities. A total of 94 people died in Illinois in 2011 from involvement in tractor-trailer collisions and 84% of those were the occupants of other vehicles.
Unfortunately, while new safety regulations such as mandatory seat-belt laws and installed technological innovations such as airbags seem to consistently help drivers and passengers to survive more accidents, the dismal numbers relating to large truck accident fatalities are unlikely to improve significantly in the near future, either in Illinois or in the United States as a whole. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, over 75,000 new commercial vehicle carriers entered American roadways in 2010, and commercial vehicle driving continues to be a thriving enterprise nationwide.
Commercial trucks not only include tractor-trailers hauling freight, but garbage trucks, delivery trucks, construction vehicles, emergency service vehicles, and so on. In fact, tractor-trailers account for only 2 million of the 15.5 million commercial trucks that operate in the United States, and commercial trucks transport nearly 70% of all freight traveling the nation’s roads. As the use of these vehicles persists and even increases, they bring with them the sobering reality that smaller passenger vehicles—even heavier ones such as SUVs—simply cannot contend with these trucks in the event of an accident.Because Commercial Trucks and Commercial Truck Drivers are Highly Regulated, Personal Injury Cases Relating to Truck Accidents May Involve Special Issues
Large truck accident cases are quite a bit different from other car accident cases. In particular, commercial vehicles—and their drivers—are regulated more stringently than regular vehicles and drivers.
Because of the inherent danger that these huge vehicles pose to other users of the nation’s roads and highways, numerous laws and regulations have been enacted at both the federal and state level to ensure that truck drivers are adequately trained, that their vehicles meet specified safety standards, and that operators comply with a raft of usage regulations that include such factors as how many hours they may drive per day, how often they must be tested for alcohol or drug use, how often their vehicles must be inspected, how often vehicle systems must be maintained and serviced, how loads must be secured, and so on. There are additional regulations regarding the transport of hazardous materials. All of these rules and regulations are constantly being updated and revised to reflect the discovery of new risks and the development of new safety equipment.
Unfortunately, however, it is not uncommon for one of the contributing causes of a commercial truck accident to include a violation of one or more of these driver or vehicle regulations. In one study presented to Congress on Large Truck Crash Causation, it was noted that, of the trucks involved in the study, over 66% inspected after a crash had some sort of regulatory violation, including over 32% with brake violations, and over 23% with signal, light, or marking violations. When you consider these mechanical problems in the light of other factors that can contribute to commercial vehicle accidents, such as driver fatigue, the general unfamiliarity that commercial drivers have with many of the highways and roads they drive upon, driver distraction or inattention, road or ramp designs or conditions that are not optimum for big rigs, the different ways in which large and heavy vehicles respond to various weather conditions, and so on, it is not surprising that commercial trucks pose a significant risk of danger to all users of the highways.
At Abels & Annes, we believe commercial drivers and trucking companies should be held accountable when they are responsible for causing accidents and injuries. The unfortunate reality is that some trucking companies and drivers can be negligent in adhering to the rules and regulations that are enacted to keep the roadways safe. When drivers and companies are under economic pressure to meet deadlines or to complete contracts, they can make poor decisions that impact the safety of others, such as foregoing inspections, overloading trailers, operating without required safety equipment, or committing similar infractions. And more often than not, the result of these bad decisions is an accident.
An experienced Truck Accident Attorney understands all of the special considerations that may be relevant in truck accident cases. At Abels & Annes, we are familiar with both Illinois and federal commercial motor carrier regulations regarding vehicles and drivers, and we are diligent in investigating the potential causes and issues that may impact issues of liability for commercial trucks.
Even if the trucking company involved is based out of state, or the case may involve independent drivers, leased vehicles, maintenance contracts, and so on, at Abels & Annes, we have the resources and knowhow to get results. The sad fact is that large truck accidents often involve very serious injuries, such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and permanent disablement, or even death. If you are injured in an accident involving a large truck, it is essential for you to work with a law firm that has the capability to fight large companies, large insurers, and the law firms that defend them, and that has the resources to make detailed and timely inquiries into the facts and factors that apply in commercial trucking cases.
Most commercial vehicles are required to carry insurance limits that are significantly higher than passenger vehicle limits, and we have experience working with and negotiating with commercial insurance carriers, in pursuing claims so that our clients obtain all that they are entitled to, no matter where the insurance carrier may be based, and no matter who is representing them. We can help truck accident victims to recover not only medical costs, loss of income, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and other direct losses, but, if necessary, we will pursue punitive damages if the motor carrier has acted especially egregiously in ignoring public safety. We know that protecting future drivers from suffering the results of carelessness and negligence by commercial truck companies and drivers means lives saved.
If you or someone you care about has been involved in an accident involving a large truck, call the truck accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Abels & Annes. You may contact us toll-free at (855) LAW-CHICAGO or locally in Chicago at (312) 924-7575. Your consultation is completely free. If we agree to take your case, we will not charge any fee unless and until we recover damages on your behalf.