Articles Posted in Truck Accidents

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Semi-trucks are many, many times the size of the cars we drive and, as such, are involved in some of the deadliest accidents on our roads. These giant commercial trucks are everywhere – because the demand for consumer goods is nearly endless. Big rigs are the mechanism by which we move consumer goods to their rightful owners. As more and more 18-wheelers crowd our highways, it’s important to consider the safety implications. Jackknife accidents are one such concern, and they happen to frequently be attributable to trucker error.

Semi-Truck Accidents: The Statistics

Semis are everywhere, and accidents happen – often such accidents are deadly. Accident statistics reflect the uptick in our nation’s demand for evermore consumer goods. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shares some sobering statistics related to semi accidents:

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Truck Accidents in Chicago

Every day, millions of cars and trucks share the nation’s roads. In most cases, they do so without incident. However, when cars and tractor-trailers do get involved in accidents, the results are overwhelmingly negative for the driver and occupants of the passenger cars.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2014, 3,903 people were killed and an estimated 111,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks. Nearly three-fourths of the deaths and injuries in those crashes were passenger vehicle occupants—and 73 percent were occupants of vehicles other than the trucks involved. Obviously, not all of those accidents were override accidents, but a significant portion were, and override accidents can prove particularly deadly.

A National Highway Transportation Safety Agency study found that override occurs in nearly three-fourths of car-truck collisions where the front end of the truck is involved. While this includes both head-on and rear-end collisions, the latter are far more common. The study determined that when the truck front was involved in the accident, there was override in 72 percent of the collisions. Most car occupants in override accidents die or are severely injured. An analysis of statistics by the National Academies Press confirmed these findings.

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Truck Accident Lawyers in Chicago

Just more than a year ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) proposed rules requiring speed-limiters on heavy trucks. This would mandate speed governors on large commercial vehicles that would prevent tractor-trailer rigs from exceeding specified speed limits. The proposed regulations suggested potential limits of 60, 65, or 68 miles per hour.

According to an industry publication, the rule would require a speed-governing device on all new trucks. Each vehicle, as manufactured and sold, would be required to have a device that would set a speed that the vehicle could not exceed. Speeding has been cited as a major cause of commercial truck accidents, and these automatic speed limiters were proposed to protect all motorists on the roads from unnecessary harm due to speeding trucks.

Because the rule would be enacted and enforced by both the NHTSA and the FMSCA, it would apply more broadly than a rule set by one or the other agency alone. The proposed NHTSA rule would require speed limiters for all multipurpose passenger vehicles, including vans, minivans, trucks, buses, and school buses, while the proposed FMCSA rule would require the limiters only for commercial motor vehicles.

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Truck Accident Lawyers in Chicago

Commercial truck drivers have a huge responsibility, as they are behind the wheel of giant vehicles that can cause severe injuries or death should they make a mistake on the road. Unfortunately, not only do some truck drivers make mistakes, but others sometimes choose to act in a dangerous manner on the highway. Such dangerous driving leads to many of the estimated 415,000 commercial truck crashes that happen per year, which in turn cause around 116,000 injuries.

While dangerous truck drivers should be held fully accountable for their behaviors, the trucking companies that hired these drivers may also be held liable for negligent hiring.

Negligent Hiring Claims

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Commercial truck drivers have a huge responsibility, as they are behind the wheel of giant vehicles that can cause severe injuries or death should they make a mistake on the road. Unfortunately, not only do some truck drivers make mistakes, but others sometimes choose to act in a dangerous manner on the highway. Such dangerous driving leads to many of the estimated 415,000 commercial truck crashes that happen per year, which in turn cause around 116,000 injuries.

While dangerous truck drivers should be held fully accountable for their behaviors, the trucking companies that hired these drivers may also be held liable for negligent hiring.

Negligent Hiring Claims

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Chicago Truck Accident Lawyer

Every commercial truck driver should be fully aware of the Illinois traffic laws and federal regulations with which they must comply to drive safely. However, in some cases, truck drivers are expected to use their judgment and make decisions about safe driving in order to prevent crashes and serious injuries. One such instance is when adverse weather conditions are present.

While a speed limit may officially be 60 miles per hour for trucks on a highway, there may be times when it is unsafe for a truck driver to travel at that speed. The following weather conditions can create higher risks at faster speeds:

  • Rain
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Truck Accident Lawyers in Chicago

Large commercial trucks can cause severe damage and injuries when they crash. One particularly dangerous type of crash is called a “jackknife” accident. A jackknife occurs when the large trailer of the truck swings out into adjacent lanes, becoming perpendicular to the truck and folding like a knife does. If any vehicles or pedestrians are in the path of the trailer, they can be crushed, causing catastrophic damage and injuries. In addition, a jackknifed trailer often causes the driver to lose complete control of the truck, which can result in a rollover or chain-reaction crash.

Because of the serious results of a jackknife, it is important to know who can be held liable for your injuries. In order to identify the responsible party, you should be aware of the common causes of jackknife accidents, some of which are explained below.

Driver Error

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Everyone with a driver’s license should be fully aware of the extreme dangers of drunk or drugged driving. This is particularly true for commercial drivers, who have to go through extra training and are held to a higher standard for impaired driving because of the risks of their giant vehicles.

Commercial drivers have a legal limit of 0.04 percent blood-alcohol content (BAC), compared to the legal limit of 0.08 percent for other drivers. In addition, these drivers must undergo random drug and alcohol tests by their employers as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These higher standards and heightened requirements exist because of the catastrophic damage and injuries that an impaired truck driver could cause in the event of a crash.

Holding Impaired Truck Drivers Accountable

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According to a report published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA),1 truck driver error is the cause of the majority of truck accidents that occur. You may assume, then, that truck drivers are the parties who are held liable for any losses incurred by truck accident victims. However, truck accident cases can be more complex than regular car accident claims and, in most situations, the trucking company can also be held liable for a victim’s losses.

Liability for Employees

There is a legal doctrine called respondeat superior2 that holds employers liable for the negligence of their employees while on the job. If a truck driver is on the clock when they negligently cause a crash, victims generally may file a claim against both the driver and the trucking company that employs the driver. This is important because trucking companies can have significantly greater assets than individual drivers and are required to have sizeable insurance policies, so the chances of having extensive losses covered can be increased.

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Fatigued driving among commercial truck drivers can cause serious and even fatal accidents. In June, 2014 it was a driver who fell asleep at the wheel that crashed into comedian Tracy Morgan’s limo, causing him to suffer a severe traumatic brain injury and killing his longtime friend. Fatigued driving is often associated with the long hours that a truck driver spends on the road, a risk that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) seeks to mitigate by enforcing strict regulations requiring rest breaks.1 However, recently, a newly researched cause of fatigued driving has become a concern in the trucking industry.

How Sleep Apnea Causes Fatigue

 

About 22 million people in the U.S. live with sleep apnea, a condition that disrupts a person’s breathing possibly hundreds of times per night. To resume breathing, the body will wake itself up for a brief moment – also possibly hundreds of times per night. This presents not only respiratory risks during the night, but also results in serious fatigue throughout the day. Fatigue can cause a lack of concentration, impairment in judgment, and slower reflexes, much like alcohol impairment.