Truck Accident Attorney in Chicago, Illinois
Your average passenger vehicle weighs around a ton, but a fully loaded 18-wheeler – a commercial truck – could come in at 80,000 pounds, or 40 tons. Even an empty tractor-trailer, or semi, can weigh 35,000 pounds; in other words, no match for a smaller vehicle.
Needless to say, given the size and weight disparity between your average passenger vehicle and a large truck, drivers and passengers in four-wheelers are at a disadvantage if a collision occurs. There can be devastating injuries, even the loss of life, to say nothing of the property damage that can result.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a large truck – or worse, lost a loved one in such an accident – in or around Chicago, Illinois, contact the Law Office of Anselmo Duran P.C. for compassionate legal guidance. Let our personal injury/wrongful death attorney review your case and advise you of the best legal options to obtain the just compensation due you. Our firm also proudly serves clients in Lake County, McHenry, DuPage, Cook, Will, Kankakee, Kane, and Grundy, Illinois.
Laws Affecting Trucking Operations
As mentioned briefly above, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the trucking industry on a nationwide basis. It sets various standards. FMCSA regulations apply to all employers, employees, and commercial motor vehicles that transport goods or passengers in interstate commerce. It doesn’t matter whether the vehicles are owned, leased, rented, borrowed, loaded with cargo, or unloaded.
FMCSA regulations govern:
HOURS OF SERVICE: Drivers on interstate routes carrying property (cargo) instead of passengers are limited to driving 11 hours after having 10 hours off duty (10 hours after eight hours off for passengers). They must also be given a 30-minute break after driving for eight hours. They also cannot exceed 60 hours of driving in a seven-day stretch or 70 hours in an eight-day stretch.
MAINTENANCE: The vehicles must be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained as needed. Records must be kept and made available. The trucks cannot hit the road unless they are in good working order.
ALCOHOL AND DRUG TESTING: There are regulations in place for pre-employment testing, random testing, reasonable suspicion testing, and post-accident testing.
MARKINGS: The vehicle must bear the legal or trade name of the company operating it, along with an FMCSA identification number. All reflective markings and hazard warnings must be present to help prevent accidents.
Illinois follows the federal guidelines to a large degree but also regulates the maximum weight allowed for vehicles on the state’s highways according to what is called the Illinois Bridge Formula. There are also maximum dimensions for large trucks. An oversized or overweight vehicle must get a permit from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) before hitting the road.
Determining Fault in Truck Accidents
In a collision between two passenger vehicles, it’s not unusual to assume that one driver is at fault, or mostly at fault, so you would file a claim against that person’s insurance policy, initiate a personal injury claim, or a wrongful death lawsuit. In accidents with trucks, the truck driver can be the responsible party, but there can also be other parties at fault.
The first determination is who owns the vehicle – the driver or someone else, such as a trucking company for whom the driver works. The trucking company may be equally or even solely responsible if it failed to keep the truck in proper working condition if it rushed the driver into service before they had received the necessary training, or if it had pushed the driver to violate hours of service.
The truck’s maintenance crew, or company, also could be at fault if it failed to keep the vehicle in a safe operating condition. Brakes can be a huge factor in accidents, and if the maintenance people ignored problems or did poor work, they could be liable.
Even the cargo loaders can be responsible. If they load the truck in an uneven way, it can create a weight imbalance, making navigation difficult. Making a simple turn might cause the vehicle to swerve. An insecure cargo load can also lead to the contents spilling onto the road and causing crashes with trailing vehicles.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
All that being said, the number-one cause of large truck accidents is driver fatigue, which underpins the hours-of-service regulations. Distracted and intoxicated driving follow at two and three. Four is reckless driving, followed by maintenance problems at five, inclement weather at six, poor cargo loading at seven, and road hazards at eight. Lack of proper training and negligent hiring practices round out the top ten.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim – How an Attorney Can Help
As you can see from the above discussion, there can be many layers to a claim following an accident with a large truck. The driver and their insurance might be the starting point if they’re an independent contractor, but the trucking company can also be implicated if the driver is an employee. You need to consult with an experienced truck accident/personal injury attorney. If you’ve lost a loved one, you can initiate a wrongful death lawsuit.
Truck Accident Attorney Serving Chicago, Illinois
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a truck – or lost a loved one -- in or around Chicago, Illinois, reach out immediately to the Law Office of Anselmo Duran P.C. for legal assistance. Our truck accident/personal injury attorney will discuss the details of your accident, assess your legal options, and then fight aggressively for the just compensation due you.