Large trucks were involved in approximately 380,000 traffic accidents in the United States in 2008 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Approximately 90,000 people were injured and over 4,200 people were killed as a result. In the state of Illinois, there were over 100 fatalities and 2,200 injuries in trucking accidents in the same year. The vast majority of those injured or killed were occupants of other vehicles involved in the crash.
Driver fatigue and drowsiness are major contributing factors to large truck traffic accidents. Trucker exhaustion manifests in numerous ways including:
- Delayed reactions times
- Blurred and distorted vision
- Lane drifting
- Speeding fluctuations
- Inattentiveness to road conditions
- Failure to practice safety protocols
Trucker fatigue is of such concern that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has instituted a number of Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. These federal regulations stipulate that professional truck drivers may not:
- Drive more than 11 cumulative hours following 10 consecutive off-duty hours
- Drive beyond the 14th hour following 10 consecutive off-duty hours.
- Drive more than 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days.
- Restart a 7/8 consecutive day period without taking at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.
The state of Illinois has adopted these federal regulations with a couple exemptions.
Thousands of truck accidents occur on Illinois roads every year. Because of their large size and heavy weight (up to 90,000 lbs. on most highways), trucks, tractor-trailers, semis and 18-wheelers can do serious damage to smaller vehicles. Consequently, these accidents have a higher incidence of catastrophic injury and wrongful death than most other motor vehicle accidents. If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident that has resulted in a catastrophic injury or death, it is critically important to hire experienced legal counsel to represent your interests. The Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd., has the experience you need to fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.
There are many different types of truck accidents that can occur on the roadways. These include:
- Underride accidents
- Head-on collisions
- T-bone collisions
- Jackknife accidents
- Rollover accidents
- Pile-up accidents
- Lost load accidents
The circumstances of these accidents may differ, but all have the potential to cause devastating and life-altering injuries or wrongful death.
Types of Truck Accident Injuries
When someone is seriously injured in a truck accident, they often experience one of the following types of injuries:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Limb amputation
- Broken and crushed bones
Of these, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries are the most common and can have devastating consequences. Spinal cord injuries can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis. Traumatic brain injuries can have numerous grave effects such as loss of motor control, memory loss, severe headaches, speech problems, sight problems and many others. These injuries often require years of physical and occupation rehabilitation and therapy, which can come at significant expense.
Experienced Trucking Accident Attorneys in Illinois
Unlike other motor vehicle accidents in which an injured party is typically limited to recovering damages from the at-fault driver and the applicable insurer, accidents involving commercial trucks may have numerous avenues of recovery. Several parties may be held accountable for your accident. An experienced trucking accident lawyer like the ones at the Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. will identify as many potential defendants as possible in order to pursue maximum compensation. Potential defendants can include:
- The truck driver
- The driver’s employer
- The trucking company
- The truck owner
- The shipper of the truck’s cargo
- The truck’s manufacturer or servicer
- A parts manufacturer
In order to establish the liability of a third party, your lawyer must demonstrate that the third party contributed at least in part to the cause of the accident. For example, if the accident was caused by driver fatigue and the trucking company that employed the driver pushed the driver to drive beyond federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, the trucking company could be held liable.
There are strict federal and state regulations for how much a truck and its cargo can weigh. These regulations were established to protect the integrity of the roadways as well as the safety of other passenger vehicles on the road. Overweight trucks can be more difficult for drivers to control particularly in terms of stopping distance. As a result, truck overloading can be the cause of a trucking accident. Additionally, the heavier a truck is, the more damage it can do in a collision.
How cargo is loaded onto a truck can also make a difference in how safe it is to drive. An unbalanced trailer can cause both braking and turning problems for the driver. This can cause a very dangerous rollover accident.
Trucking Accident Involving Hazardous Cargo
Many of the trucks that share the Illinois highways are loaded with hazardous cargo. These trucks are subject to strict regulation by the federal government. These regulations include identification with a placard or label using the United Nations 4-digit numbering system and refrigeration for certain chemicals and gases. Additionally, trucks carrying hazardous materials must be certified by the Department of Transportation. Failure to meet these requirements is a grave offense. In an accident, exposure to hazardous cargo can cause such injuries as:
- Loss of sight
- Exposure to carcinogens
- Brain damage
- Lung damage
These injuries can be long-term and life threatening and they are not limited to victims inside other vehicles. Anyone in the vicinity of the crash may become a victim.
Experienced Network of Trucking Attorneys Serving Illinois
The goal of the trucking industry in Illinois and beyond is to transport as much freight as possible as quickly and inexpensively as possible. In order to meet that goal, trucking companies often cut corners and violate regulations in how they transport cargo. In doing so, safety of Indiana roadways and roadways throughout the country can be compromised.
If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a trucking accident in Illinois or beyond, it’s important to hire an attorney who is experienced with trucking cases to represent you. The attorneys at Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd, based in Chicago, Illinois, are experienced and knowledgeable about trucking laws and accidents. Our attorneys have seen numerous cases involving driver fatigue and other truck accident causes. We investigate all of our cases thoroughly to determine exactly what caused the accident, if state or federal regulations were violated and who should be held accountable. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and begin the process of getting the compensation you deserve.