The Chicago truck accident lawyers of Abels & Annes represent individuals who were injured in Illinois trucking crashes due to the negligence of others. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Have You Been Injured in a Chicago Truck Accident?
A large commercial truck, 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 regular car when they get in an accident with a big rig—not to mention the effects on pedestrians, motorcyclists, or bicyclists.
How Common Are Truck Accidents in Chicago?
According to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration:
- Large trucks make up only 4.3% of all motor vehicles registered in the United States
- Only 5.2% of all traffic accidents involve trucks
- Accidents involving large trucks account for nearly 10% of all traffic accident fatalities
- Most of those fatalities are to the occupants of smaller vehicles rather than trucks
For Illinois specifically, according to the 2016 Crash Facts and Statistics compiled by the Illinois Department of Transportation:
- There were over 11.5 million registered vehicles within the state
- Accidents involving tractor-trailers numbered about 11,000
- 106 of those truck crashes had fatalities
- A total of 117 people died in Illinois in tractor-trailer collisions
- 101 of those fatalities 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. This is true in Illinois and across the United States.
Commercial trucks not only include tractor-trailers hauling freight. There are 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. Also, 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 a sobering reality. The fact is that smaller passenger vehicles simply cannot contend with these trucks in the event of an accident.
Check out this link for more Truck Accident Statistics.
Commercial Driver and Truck Regulations
Large truck accident cases are quite a bit different from other car accident cases. In particular, commercial vehicles and drivers are regulated more stringently than regular vehicles and drivers.
Because of the inherent danger that these huge vehicles pose to other drivers, there are numerous laws and regulations at both the federal and state levels to ensure that truck drivers are safe.
These laws include:
- Ensuring that truck drivers have adequate training,
- That their vehicles meet specified safety standards,
- That operators comply with regulations.
Illinois commercial truck regulations include:
- Limiting how many hours a trucker may drive per day
- How often they must be tested for alcohol or drug use
- How often their vehicles must be inspected
- The regularity of vehicle systems for maintenance and service
- How loads must be secured
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.
Truck Drivers Who Violate Regulations Can Cause Serious Accidents and Injuries
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
- 32% had brake violations
- 23% had signal, light, or marking violations
When you consider these mechanical problems in light of other factors that can contribute to commercial vehicle accidents, it is not surprising that commercial trucks pose a significant risk of danger to all users of the highways. Other factors may include:
- Driver fatigue
- Unfamiliarity with highways and roads
- 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
Semi-truck accidents are serious business. Because of the size difference between a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle, it is important that truck drivers are safe. However, just like any other motor vehicle accident case, there are some things that tend to increase the chances of a semi-truck accident.
Common causes of truck accidents include:
- Driver Fatigue
- Lack of Training
- Overweight Trucks
- Drunk Driving
- Distracted Driving
- Road Hazards
Fatigue is a major problem for truck drivers. This is because they drive for long hours and have strict deadlines to meet. This can be partially the fault of the truck driver and partially the trucking company. The company could be overscheduling the driver past legal limits in order to make more money. In this case, the trucking company would be partially liable. However, the driver could decide not to follow resting rules on their own, making the accident the driver's fault.
Lack of Training
It's up to the trucking company to provide thorough and up-to-date training to all of their employees. This is in addition to what employees learn on their own when they receive their commercial driver's license. If the trucking company doesn't provide proper training and an accident occurs because of it, they could be liable.
The loading of a truck is very important. The weight must be distributed properly and not overloaded. An overloaded truck could cause an accident because of uneven distribution or improperly secured loads. In these cases, the fault usually falls on the loading team, which is often separate from the trucking company.
Drunk driving and driving under the influence of drugs are incredibly dangerous when operating a large commercial vehicle. When a truck driver decides to drink and drive, it is usually the sole fault of the driver. However, an argument can be made that the trucking company should also be liable for not properly screening their employees or not routinely performing drug tests.
Driving while distracted is a problem for all drivers throughout the United States. Some find it hard to put their cell phone down long enough to make it safely from point A to point B. Distracted driving among truckers is no different, especially when you consider how boring it can be to drive for 8 hours straight. This often tempts them into using their phones for entertainment. Additionally, some truck drivers, specifically delivery drivers, are required to use devices while driving to ensure they're following the correct route, to mark where they are in the process, and to scan boxes. These devices can cause distracted driving accidents if they are used while the truck is in motion, and constitute serious truck driver negligence.
Road hazards such as winter weather, rainy weather, slowdowns, potholes, and poorly maintained roads can also cause truck accidents. Truck drivers are required to use extra caution in the case of poor road conditions to keep everyone around them safe.
A speeding truck is incredibly dangerous and puts everyone on the road around them in real danger. This is especially true with large commercial vehicles, as they are much harder to slow or bring to a complete stop. Unfortunately, truckers often have an incentive to speed. They are often paid for by the delivery. The faster they arrive, the faster they can move on to the next stop.
Semi-truck accidents tend to cause more severe injuries than an accident involving two regular-sized cars. This is because the force behind a semi-truck is much greater. Semi-truck accidents have been known to cause traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, back and neck injuries, fractures, lacerations and scars, internal injuries, and more.
Sometimes people walk away from truck accidents unscathed or with only minor injuries. However, others will suffer serious injuries and may have pain, suffering, and disability. They often have massive medical bills as well.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when the head is struck or penetrated with great force and damage to the brain tissue is caused. The force from a truck accident can also cause the brain to move around inside the skull and cause damage. This is known as coup-contrecoup injuries. Brain injuries can range from minor injuries like concussions to more serious injuries like hemorrhaging and permanent brain damage. As brain injuries become more serious, they become increasingly more expensive to treat and can leave the victim with huge medical bills. Further, it may be unknown how it will affect the rest of their life.
Spinal cord injuries result from damage to any part of the spinal cord or nerves attached to the spinal canal. A spinal cord injury can occur because of a sudden blow or cut to the neck or back caused by a traumatic event like a truck accident. Injuries to the spine and spinal cord can cause permanent loss of strength, sensation, and function. Spinal injuries also cause serious pain and suffering, can affect a victim for the rest of their life, and are extremely costly to accident victims.
Broken bones caused by a serious truck accident can mean more than just a simple fracture to the arm. It can mean multiple broken bones and crushed bones. Broken bones from a truck crash may require extensive surgery, and a painful recovery can be very expensive.
Lacerations refer to cuts to the skin. In the case of a truck colliding with a passenger vehicle, lacerations can be very serious. There may be lots of them, which poses a heightened risk of infection and can even create deep, noticeable scars on the victim.
Internal injuries include damage to internal organs and internal bleeding, both of which pose a serious risk to the patient. They can also be hard to catch since internal injuries often do not cause any significant pain until a few hours or days after the accident. Many car accident victims do not receive medical care after a collision. This can lead to undiagnosed and worsening injuries. Therefore, anyone injured in a car accident should seek medical attention immediately.
After a truck accident, you're likely going to have medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You might be stressed about how you're going to handle these challenges. This is where an experienced truck accident lawyer can help. An experienced truck accident attorney can handle your injury claim thoroughly and make sure you receive maximum compensation for your injuries.
If a truck accident causes injuries, you may be eligible to recover both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to losses with a monetary value associated with them. Some compensable damages in a truck accident case may include:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Loss of earning capacity
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Property damage
- Household services
- Miscellaneous out-of-pocket costs
Non-economic damages refer to losses that do not have an exact monetary value associated with them. They are subjective and negotiable. These types of damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of activities
- Loss of companionship
- Worsening of prior injuries
The amount one can recover for non-economic damages varies. It depends on the severity of the injury (or injuries) and how much your life has changed because of the accident. The amount is negotiated by your attorney and the insurance company or a judge and jury in court. Your attorney will use his or her prior experience, and past settlements, and jury verdicts when making settlement demands.
How Long Do I Have to File a Truck Accident Claim?
In the state of Illinois, you generally have two years from the date of the accident to file a truck accident lawsuit. If you fail to file your personal injury claim within this two-year window, you may be barred from seeking compensation for your injuries. It's essential to consult a qualified commercial truck accident attorney immediately to ensure you preserve your rights and understand any specific nuances or exceptions to this rule relative to your unique circumstances.
If You Have Been Injured in a Truck Accident, the Chicago Truck Accident Attorneys at Abels & Annes Can Help
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 fail to adhere to the rules and regulations that are there to keep the roads 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 lawyer in the Chicago area 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 experience to get results. The sad fact is that large truck accidents often involve very serious injuries, such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, 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 Chicago truck accident attorney who has the capability to fight large companies, large insurers, and the law firms that defend them. Our law firm has the resources to make detailed and timely inquiries into the facts and factors that apply to commercial trucking accident cases.
Commercial Insurance Policies with Higher Limits
Most commercial vehicles must carry insurance with limits that are significantly higher than passenger vehicle limits. Our truck crash attorneys in Chicago have experience working with and negotiating with commercial insurance carriers. We pursue claims so that our clients obtain all that they are entitled to.
Our law office does this no matter which insurance carrier and no matter who is representing them. We can help Chicago truck accident victims recover medical costs, loss of income, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and other direct losses. Further, if necessary, we will pursue punitive damages if the motor carrier has acted especially egregiously in ignoring public safety.
If you or someone you care about has been involved in an accident involving a large truck, contact us online or 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.