How Common Are Truck Crashes?
You probably see them every day: semi-trucks. They are on streets, roads, and in alleyways, driving on expressways and interstates, and hauling product to and from stores. Semi-trucks serve a vital role in the lives of Chicago residents yet they simultaneous pose a threat to safety. Semis are substantially larger and heavier than most other vehicles on the road, creating disproportion in these categories and a perilous situation should a collision occur.
How Common Are Tractor-Trailer Crashes in Illinois?
The Illinois Department of Transportation ("IDOT") follows the traffic crashes that occur in Illinois and compiles statistics regarding the totality of the collisions. According to IDOT, the follow statistics are true for 2018:
- There were 12,267 accidents involving semi-trucks;
- Of those collisions, 2,075 were the cause of injuries;
- Tractor-trailers were in 122 fatal accidents;
- In those fatal crashes, there were only 19 occupant deaths inside the semi-trucks. The rest of the victims were in another vehicle or were near the scene of the collision;
- Semi-trucks were in just under 4 percent of all traffic crashes in the state, about 3 percent of all traffic-related injuries, and more than 11 percent of all fatalities. This illustrates that while semi-trucks make up a small percentage of overall accidents, these collisions are responsible for a disproportionately large percentage of the fatalities.
How Frequently do Truck Accidents Occur Across the United States?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") follows truck collisions statistics on a national level as compiled by different local and state agencies. NHTSA groups these vehicles as large trucks and defines them as vehicles with a gross weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds. Among large trucks in the United States in 2012, the following statistics hold true:
- 333,000 large truck traffic accidents occurred;
- In those collisions, there were 3,921 deaths and 104,000 people with injuries;
- There were 697 large truck occupant fatalities. Of those, 424 deaths were in single vehicle collisions while 273 deaths were due to multiple vehicle crashes;
- 2,843 vehicle occupants outside of a large truck, i.e. deaths to those in passenger cars;
- 381 non-vehicular occupant fatalities, including bicyclists and pedestrians;
- 25,000 occupants of large trucks were injured with 9,000 being injured in single vehicle collisions and 17,000 being injured in multiple vehicle crashes;
- 76,000 occupants of vehicles other than a large truck, like a passenger car, were hurt;
- 3,000 non-vehicular occupants were injured in large truck collisions;
- Nationally, four percent of all registered vehicles were large trucks. Nine percent of all miles traveled were driver by large trucks;
- Large trucks were responsible for three percent of all injury and property-damage only collisions but eight percent of all fatal accidents, showing large trucks to be disproportionately responsible for traffic deaths in the country;
How do Most Truck Accidents Take Place?
Common belief may suggest an accident is most likely when a vehicle is turning. However, statistics do not support this conclusion when it comes to truck accidents. In fact, across the nation, 46 percent of all multiple-vehicle fatal collisions occurred when both a large truck and another vehicle involved were traveling in a straight direction. Of 12 percent of fatal accidents, either a truck or another vehicle was negotiating a turn. In nine percent of multiple-vehicle fatal collisions, the vehicle other than the truck was turning. Finally, in seven percent of fatal crashes, at least one vehicle was stationary in a traffic lane.
The majority of truck accidents involved an initial impact to the front of the truck, followed by the rear, the left side, and then the right side. But trucks are still at a significant risk of a rear-end accident. In fact, in 2012, large trucks were three times more likely to be in a rear-end collision in fatal accidents than other vehicles, including passenger cars. Experts believe that the elevated nature of trucks continue to lead to an increase in fatal accidents even though trucks are now outfitted with crossbars that prevent or eliminate a car's ability to become entrapped beneath the rear of a tractor trailer.
What if I’m Involved in a Truck Accident?
If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident, you may be experiencing extreme stress from your injuries and the debt you’ve started collecting because of medical care. While it can be hard to think about the future while everything is so chaotic, it’s important to remain optimistic. Experienced attorneys like the ones here at Abels & Annes can help you receive compensation for the damages associated with your injuries.
Obviously, you can only do the following things if you are able to stay at the scene of the accident. However, if your injuries are serious enough to need to go right to the hospital, then that should be your main focus. Your health and safety is always a priority.
The first thing you should do after a truck accident is to ensure that everyone is safe and doesn’t require immediate medical attention. If they do, call for help.
After the safety of the involved parties is addressed, you should file a police report. You shouldn’t let anyone talk you out of this decision. A police report can strengthen your claim immensely. Not contacting the police can be a huge risk, and may even cause your insurance company to deny your claim altogether.
Once you’ve made a police report, you should exchange information with all of the involved parties. You’ll want to make sure that you have the insurance and contact information of all drivers involved in the collision. You should also collect the contact information of surrounding witnesses and encourage them to stay and give a statement to the police. An independent witness in a police report that’s on your side can help your case.
Next, you’ll want to take pictures of the scene of the accident, including pictures of your injuries, your car, the truck involved, and other relevant areas like the intersection where the accident occurred.
After completing all of these steps, you should then seek medical attention. Even if you believe you’re not seriously injured or feel that your pain isn’t too bad, you should still get checked out. Adrenaline may sometimes mask serious pain and injuries.
Once you’ve received medical treatment, your next step should be to hire a truck accident attorney right away. You should not speak to any insurance adjusters until after you’ve hired an attorney. Your attorney will handle speaking to them on your behalf, as they may try to trick you into saying something that could damage your case or into taking a low settlement.
Common Injuries Associated with Truck Accidents
Truck versus car accidents often have more severe injuries in comparison to car versus car accidents. This is simply because of the amount of force involved and the size difference of the vehicles. Although any injury can occur during a semi-truck accident, there are some injuries that are more common.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injuries, or TBI, occur when the head is slammed into, struck by, or penetrated by an object with great force. Head and brain injuries are very common in truck accidents because of the amount of force in these types of collisions. Brain injuries can affect victims in many different ways, both physically and mentally, and can have a significant impact on the quality of one’s life. A traumatic brain injury can be as minor as a concussion or as severe as a coma or death. TBIs often cause victims to accumulate serious medical bills because of how expensive and complicated it can be to treat a brain injury. Likewise, a significant brain injury can cause an accident victim to have to take long periods of time off of work.
Neck and Back Injuries
Neck and back injuries can include protruding or herniated discs, fractured vertebrae, whiplash, and damage to the spinal cord. A neck or back injury can leave a person with significant pain that may last a life-time. It could necessitate multiple surgeries or injections. Serious injuries to the spine can cause disability or even full paralysis. Spinal cord injuries, like brain injuries, are not always apparent right away. Therefore, seeking medical attention immediately after your accident can help to find these injuries masked by adrenaline.
Internal injuries occur because of blunt trauma or penetrating trauma and are common during the severe impact of a passenger car versus commercial vehicle collision. Internal trauma can include internal bleeding or damage to the organs such as the bladder, kidneys, liver, pancreas or spleen. These injuries are often very costly to treat and can cause an innumerable amount of complications for the accident sufferer.
Broken bones can be easy to treat, often just requiring the use of a cast to set the bone back into place. However, the impact force involved in a semi-truck accident can cause not just broken bones, but crushed bones or numerous fractures throughout the body. When this is the case, broken bones go from a simple problem to a serious one. Broken bones may require surgery to repair and can have a significant risk of complications.
Truck Accident Liability
Determining liability in your truck accident is one of the first steps toward building your case. Because truck accidents can occur for many different reasons, it’s important to establish from the beginning who was at fault for your accident. Unlike a car accident, it isn’t always clear who is liable for a truck accident. There is a simple reason for this: car accidents are most often caused by a negligent driver, but truck accidents can be caused by the truck driver, the company that employs them, the truck manufacturer, the loading company, or the truck owner.
The truck driver would be liable for your accident if they were acting negligently while driving. This could mean that they were driving while distracted, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding, driving recklessly, or driving while fatigued or exhausted. Truck drivers are most often the party held liable for the accidents they cause, but it is possible for other parties to be liable or partially liable.
The company the trucker works for is most often held responsible for an accident when it comes to matters involving things the driver can’t control. These include not completing a proper safety inspection of the truck, not following safety guidelines, putting unrealistic route or time expectations on the driver, or failing to properly train the driver. These issues can be difficult to prove, but an experienced truck accident attorney can investigate these matters and expose them as a possible cause for your accident.
The manufacturer of the truck or a part of the truck could be at fault, if the accident occurs because of a malfunction. Truck parts are required to go through safety testing before they’re released to the market to ensure that they won’t break or cause any accidents. If the accident occurs because of a defective part, it could be the fault of the manufacturer.
Trucks need to be loaded properly to distribute the weight evenly and to properly secure the load. If the truck is loaded improperly and an accident occurs because of the improper weight distribution, the accident could be the fault of the company that loaded the truck. This can occur if the loader did not fully inspect the cargo and did not properly secure it
If the trucking company does not own the truck but instead leases the truck, the owner of the vehicle could be at fault for an accident. The truck owner may be responsible for an accident if they fail to inspect the vehicle, check the engine, maintain the tires and other elements of the truck, or if they knew something was wrong with the vehicle and did nothing about it. The company or person that owns the truck could be responsible for everything from the electronic systems to the brakes. Federal regulations outline what is required when it comes to the inspection and maintenance of a semi truck or commercial truck. Failure to follow these could mean liability.
Contact a Truck Crash Attorney in Chicago
The statistics surrounding semi-truck accidents in Illinois and across the United States reinforce the belief that, though trucks are a necessary means of transportation, the risk they pose to other motorists is real, and too often, deadly.
The victims of truck collisions in and around Chicago may have a right to legal relief for their damages. A personal injury claim brought with the help of a lawyer may enable a victim to recovery fair and adequate compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial damages that result from a collision. This includes medical bills, lost wages from work, and pain and suffering.
At Abels & Annes, P.C., we have a track record of helping the victims of truck accidents. Our Chicago truck accident lawyers seek and obtain relief for accident victims and we are ready to help you. We have a lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (312) 924-7575. We will provide you with a free and confidential case consultation without any obligation on your part.
If a truck accident has left you injured, make sure you know your legal rights. Call Abels & Annes, P.C. today for a free case consultation.
If you have been hurt in a truck accident, call Abels & Annes, P.C. now at (855) LAW-CHICAGO or Contact Us online for a free consultation.