Chicago Workers’ Compensation Lawyers & Illinois Injury Lawyers

Achieving Success in Your Illinois Truck Accident Case, Even if the Truck Driver Had the Right of Way

| May 29, 2024 | Automobile Accidents |

No one wants to think about the possibility of having their vehicle break down in the middle of the road, especially if that road is a major expressway. If your vehicle breaks down in the middle of the expressway, you are at a very real risk of injury or death, and that includes being struck by a semi-truck driven by someone who’s drowsy, distracted or otherwise not paying sufficient attention to the road. When you’re hurt because a truck slammed into your disabled vehicle, make sure you take the all the steps necessary to protect yourself and your rights, including retaining a skilled Chicago injury attorney.

In early December, that kind of accident resulted in a tragic loss of life. According to the Arlington Cardinal, a woman driving an SUV experienced a breakdown on Interstate 94 in Lake County. The SUV may have overheated (as the SUV’s front end had steam coming from it, according to the report.) Apparently unable to move to the shoulder, the woman remained with her broken-down SUV in the center travel lane of the interstate.

Less than four minutes after police received their first report of the vehicle breakdown, a semi-truck slammed into the SUV. When troopers arrived, they found the SUV’s driver dead.

You might look at an accident like this and assume that the semi driver did nothing wrong and that s/he and her/his employer couldn’t possibly be liable for the harm the crash caused. In reality, it’s not nearly as cut-and-dried as that.

The requirements of keeping a ‘proper lookout’ and using ‘due care’

In Illinois, all drivers, including those who have the right of way, have a legal obligation “to keep a proper lookout, observe due care… and drive as a prudent person would to avoid a collision when danger is discovered or… should have been discovered.” The importance of following this obligation is especially high for truckers, as the sheer size and weight of their vehicles make collisions involving these trucks very prone to causing serious injury or death, even at relatively low speeds.

Back in 2015, an Illinois appeals court allowed the estate of a deceased man to pursue a negligence case against a trucker and his employer, even though the trucker had evidence that the deceased man ran a stop sign at a “T” intersection. The deceased man’s estate had proof that the trucker was talking on a cell phone moments before the crash, and that he may have been going too fast. That was enough to give the deceased man’s family a case strong enough to survive summary judgment and get to trial.

If you’ve been hurt, or a loved one has been killed, in a disabled-vehicle-versus-semi-truck accident, the right legal team may be able to help you secure the evidence you need for a successful legal outcome, even if your vehicle was stopped in a travel lane when struck.

The evidence that may help you hold the truck driver responsible

Obtaining video footage of the trucker may provide key evidence if s/he was asleep, drowsy or distracted (such as by a cell phone.) Getting the trucker’s cell phone records may generate additional proof (such as evidence of phone calls or texts) that point to the trucker being distracted. The driver’s logbooks might show a driver who put in hours well in excess of federal truck driving limits, raising the distinct possibility of driver fatigue. Also, many semi-trucks have “black boxes” in them that could reveal whether or not the trucker was speeding, and whether or not the trucker braked before the crash. These pieces of evidence can be instrumental in showing that the trucker was negligent.

If you are armed with enough evidence, you may have a good case that, even if your car was stopped in a travel lane, the trucker who hit you failed to use the sort of reasonable care Illinois law requires, and was therefore liable.

Doing that, though, will require a lot of evidence and a great deal of in-depth understanding of Illinois law. For the knowledge and skill a case like this will require, rely on the diligent and zealous truck accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. Our commitment to serving injured people just like you drives us, and our experience equips us to be the powerful and effective advocate your case deserves. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 312-724-5846 or through our website.