Truck Crash Attorney
Trucks and other large vehicles are capable of doing serious damage, especially to smaller cars and can potentially cause traumatic and even fatal injuries to those involved in truck collisions.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also highlighted the dangers that trucks present for drivers with smaller vehicles. It’s no surprise that trucks can cause major crashs on the road due to their size and weight, the loads that they carry, and also, the speeds at which they travel. Smaller vehicles are clearly susceptible to the dangers posed by the thousands of trucks traveling on the highways, and streets, across Chicago and Illinois. In the unfortunate event you’re involved in a truck collision, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately to discuss and preserve your rights.
Who is At Fault in Semi-Truck Wreck?
Fault in a semi-truck crash can be determined through diligent investigation and proper case management. The truck driver may be at fault, but so may the truck driver’s employer, the entity responsible for the truck’s maintenance, a manufacturer of a truck part, or even a municipality/government for improper road maintenance and road defects. An experienced truck wreck lawyer can determine and establish fault through a number of methods, such as crash reconstruction and expert witnesses.
What Causes Trucking Wrecks?
While most truck drivers are law-abiding workers who responsibly own and operate their vehicles, there are some who fail to follow proper standards and care while on the road. The unfortunate result is thousands of serious yet preventable crashs that often result in catastrophic injury or even death.
Truck crashes are commonly caused by
- Brake Failure – 18-wheelers, semi-trucks, etc. have a difficult time braking due to the sheer size of the vehicle, which makes them incredibly dangerous when the driver fails to notice an oncoming hazard. When those brakes fail completely, the runaway truck could easily cause a catastrophic crash. Far too often, this failure is the result of negligence on the part of the driver and/or the trucking company.
- Commercial Driver’s License Fraud – Commercial trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, but even smaller trucks can be incredibly dangerous when an inexperienced or untrained operator is behind the wheel. In order to operate these vehicles, drivers need to go through extensive training and pass a test to receive their commercial driver’s license. However, this doesn’t stop people from faking their credentials.
- Hours of Service Violation – Strict regulations are put on trucking companies in order to prevent overworked and overtired drivers from remaining on the road. When companies pressure their drivers to break the rules and keep driving past their limits, or when a driver chooses to continue driving beyond what the law allows, it can put everyone on the road’s health and safety at risk. Drivers are required to keep a log of their travels, and when the numbers don’t add up, it could mean that they violated hours of service regulations.
- Improperly Loaded & Overloaded Trucks – Trucks are incredibly valuable to our economy and society because of how much each vehicle can transport at once. As long as the cargo is properly secured and within the vehicle’s weight limit, the risk of a potential crash is far lower than when it’s not. Improperly secured goods can shift during transit and cause the unbalanced truck to flip, especially during a turn, and overloaded vehicles have considerably more trouble braking in time to avoid a crash.
- Truck Driver Cellphone Use – Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous hazards on the road, no matter what vehicle the preoccupied driver is in. Distracted truck drivers are exponentially more dangerous because the vehicles they operate take longer to complete any safety actions like changing lanes or braking, and adding extra seconds to their reaction time could be the line between a near-miss and a catastrophic crash.
- Truck Driver Negligence – Understanding the events and actions that led up to a truck crash is an important part of the legal process. In many cases, crashes were influenced, if not entirely caused, by negligent behavior including speeding, ignoring the rules of the road, failing to take into account dangerous road conditions, and more. Our attorneys will investigate these factors and collect evidence to help prove your case in court.
- Truck Driver Substance Abuse – Driving under the influence is an incredibly dangerous choice far too many drivers make every single day. While the legal blood alcohol content for drivers using passenger vehicles is 0.08 percent, commercial truck drivers’ limit is only 0.04 percent. In addition to alcohol use, drug use is also highly regulated, and in most cases expressly prohibited. Drivers who use or abuse drugs and/or alcohol dramatically increase the chances of causing a crash and seriously injuring those involved.
- Truck Regulation Violations – In addition to strictly regulated hours of service, trucks, truck drivers, and trucking companies are heavily regulated in order to ensure safety for everyone on the road. However, some trucking companies and truck drivers ignore these regulations in order to cut costs, hide violations, pack in extra cargo, etc. Any violation can lead to a serious safety risk and a catastrophic crash.
- Truck Tire Blowouts – Tire blowouts can cause a driver to completely lose control of their vehicle, which can lead to a serious crash. Tire manufacturers keep most data on what causes their products to burst, but some causes these companies have identified as significant factors include over-inflation, under-inflation, overloading with cargo, general wear and tear, and poor or dangerous road conditions. Many of these issues can be prevented through consistent maintenance while failing to keep up to date with these safety checks can lead to serious failures and potential crashes.
- Under-ride Crashes – These types of crashes are so dangerous that specialized safety equipment was developed for trucks in order to prevent vehicles from sliding under trailers in a crash. However, research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that this equipment is not actually strong enough to work as intended, even in low-speed crashes.
Violations of state or federal regulations. State and federal regulations govern nearly every aspect of trucking. Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules, for instance, control size and weight limits, driver qualifications, speed limits, inspections, maintenance, record-keeping and insurance requirements. Our lawyers have a thorough understanding of these regulations. We will determine whether a violation of these rules contributed to your crash.
What Damages Can You Recover for Your Injuries?
Many truck crash victims and their families are naturally worried about paying for expensive medical treatment. At Owaynat law, our truck wreck attorneys understand how these crashes typically cause severe injuries and trauma. We make it our mission to get you all the compensation you deserve, some of the compensation we will fight to get you includes:
- Past and future medical expenses – All medical costs related your crash, including emergency treatment, surgery, hospitalization, rehabilitation, assistive devices and medication.
- Lost income and diminished future earning capacity – All of the wages you have lost and will lose in the future due to your injuries, including benefits, bonuses, commissions and self-employment income.
- Pain and suffering – The physical pain and emotional anguish you have endured to date and will likely experience in the future. For instance, you may have lingering back pain that prevents you from enjoying life as you did before the crash. You may also experience post-traumatic stress disorder due to the horrific nature of the crash.
- Scarring and disfigurement – A crash may cause you to lose a limb or suffer severe scars due to cuts and burns. You have the right to seek just compensation for such harm.
Depending on the facts of your case, our team may seek punitive damages as well. These damages serve to punish and deter willful and wanton misconduct. For example, a mechanical defect may have caused your crash. If the trucking company had a long history of failing to conduct inspections that would have caught the defect, punitive damages may be warranted.
If a collision with an 18-wheeler caused you to lose a loved one, our attorneys can pursue a wrongful death claim on your behalf. The claim would seek a different set of damages, including compensation for funeral and burial expenses and the loss of money, goods and services that your loved one would have contributed if he or she had survived.
It will be important to identify all available insurance coverage for your damages. Many cases involve multiple insurance policies. For instance, the truck driver, trucking company and third-party vendors may all carry separate coverage. One policy may cover the truck, while another policy may cover the trailer. A manufacturer may carry special commercial liability coverage.
Generally, state and federal laws require commercial motor vehicles to carry a higher level of minimum liability insurance coverage than what the law requires for standard passenger motor vehicles. This coverage may range from $750,000 (for vehicles over 10,000 pounds carrying non-hazardous freight) to $5 million (for vehicles transporting hazardous materials).
If the amount of insurance coverage of the parties at fault in your crash fails to fully cover your losses, we may turn to your own underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Our goal will be to seek the maximum amount for you so that you can cover your medical expenses and experience the sense of security that you deserve.
Federal regulations preclude a truck driver from operating a truck when their ability or alertness is impaired or likely to become impaired due to fatigue, illness or other causes which make it unsafe for the driver to begin or continue to operate the truck.
Truck drivers are required to maintain a log book that provides a record of the number of hours that they have been driving and also the amount of rest that they have received.
Anyone driving a passenger car near a truck should be very careful. Understanding that trucks are less maneuverable and need a greater distance to stop can help avoid some crashs. But sometimes crashs happen because the truck driver operated the truck in an unsafe manner and caused the crash.
Crashs between a truck and a passenger car often result in serious injuries or even death to the driver of the car and their passengers because the trucks are so big and weigh so much more than the car.
Because of the added risk of injuries, federal law requires truck operators to carry large amounts of insurance to help compensate crash victims. Also, there may be several different parties that may be held responsible to the injuries caused by a truck crash.
The owner of the truck, the company who leased the truck, the party who loaded the cargo on the truck and also the truck driver may all be responsible for the injuries caused by a truck crash.
If a person is ever involved in a truck crash and also, believes the truck caused the crash, it is important that the crash victims hire a truck crash lawyer in Chicago experienced in handling truck crash cases and who will fight for their legal rights.