In one recent year, 11,011 crashes involved tractor-trailers on Illinois roadways. While no definitive breakdown explores the causes of these crashes, they account for more than 3 percent of all accidents in the state.
While a small number, these accidents still resulted in more than 2,000 injuries and more than 100 fatalities.
Mechanical Failures in Tractor Trailers
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Large Truck Crash Causation Study, released in 2005, 10 percent of all truck accidents are caused by some form of mechanical failure. Unfortunately, there is no report available that provides more current data.
What we do know, however, is the form that mechanical failures take, including:
- Brake failures – The causes of brake failure are numerous, but certainly, failure to inspect brakes or improper inspection can contribute to brake failure. The distance required to stop a truck fully varies depending on the weight of the load that it is carrying. However, stopping rules apply to every tractor-trailer.
- Steering failures – Many of us have experienced difficulty in maneuvering our cars when the power steering fails. Imagine trying to steer a vehicle that weighs more than four times (or more) what a car weighs.
- Transmission failures – More than 25,000 trucks were recently recalled for transmission failures. Imagine if one of those drivers is unaware of this recall, and his or her transmission fails while traveling at high speed.
- Tire failures – Truck tires fail for many many reasons, and when they do, a driver can easily lose control of the vehicle, or debris from a tire unraveling on the roadway may strike another vehicle.
These are not the only reasons for truck failure; however, they are among the most common. Anyone who has suffered an injury in an accident resulting from a mechanical truck failure can suffer serious injuries that may take weeks or months to recover from.
Responsibility for Truck Maintenance
All commercial drivers are required to perform an inspection before leaving on a trip. They are also required to keep a copy of the report inside the vehicle to demonstrate that this inspection has been completed before leaving. There are certain items that drivers must include in this inspection, including:
- Engine area
- Test performance of brakes
- Check for proper tire inflation and ensure the tires are in good condition
- Check steering function
- Verify that trailer couplings are properly attached
- Verify that all lights and reflectors are working properly
- Ensure vehicle is properly loaded
Even if the driver has performed the proper inspection, it may not prevent mechanical failure, particularly if the truck is not receiving the maintenance required to keep it in good working order.
Truck accidents caused by mechanical issues may not always be the responsibility of the truck driver, assuming he or she has properly performed all pre-trip inspections. In some cases, accidents may be the fault of an employer, a maintenance company responsible for the upkeep of the vehicle, or whoever is responsible for the overall maintenance of the truck.
Victim Injuries and Understanding Insurance Rules
Victims of a mechanical truck failure can suffer traumatic injuries. Victims may include drivers or passengers in another vehicle, pedestrians, children on bicycles, or motorcycle operators. Injuries, including traumatic brain injury, back and neck injuries, burns, and crushing injuries, can result in long-term pain and suffering, scarring, and other life-altering issues.
After a truck accident, it is imperative a victim seek medical attention, even if you don’t feel any immediate pain. You may be feeling fine, but chances are you are still suffering some form of shock, and it is necessary to ensure that you are not suffering from an internal injury that is being masked by the adrenaline that surges through your system following any type of roadway collision.
Every state requires drivers on the road to maintain some form of liability insurance. However, truck drivers must abide by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines for insurance for all types of commercial vehicles. Since Illinois is an at-fault state, any driver involved in an accident with a truck will likely be contacted by the truck owner’s insurance company following an accident.
Victims must use great caution when discussing the accident with an insurance adjuster and should refrain from discussing liability and injuries. Victims should seek guidance from an experienced truck accident attorney ASAP. In all cases, victims should simply refer questions about the accident or their injuries directly to their attorney.
What Compensation Victims May Collect
As a victim of a truck accident, it may take you weeks to recover from your injuries. During that time, you may have to see numerous doctors, take prescription medication for pain and antibiotics to avoid infection, and you may be unable to return to work immediately.
You may be eligible to collect compensation from the responsible parties for these financial setbacks, as well as compensation for damages to your vehicle, pain and suffering, permanent scarring, and any costs associated with rehabilitation therapy that may be necessary before you return to work. Should your injuries be serious enough to result in your needing long-term nursing care, or you are unable to ever return to work, you may also be entitled to compensation.
Before you decide how to proceed, you should discuss your case with an experienced truck accident attorney. When searching for an attorney, you should find someone who has a proven track record of success.
Victims of accidents resulting from mechanical truck failures have natural concerns about seeking legal help because they are concerned about the costs of hiring an attorney. That is why it is a good idea to take advantage of the ability to get a free consultation and discuss the details of your case with an experienced lawyer.
When you or a loved one is a victim of a truck accident, you need to make sure you get your questions answered. The best way to do this is to find a truck accident attorney and let him or her explain how the law deals with these types of cases.
Abels & Annes, P.C.
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602