According to the U.S. Department of Transportation statistics, more than 5,000 people died last year in accidents involving large trucks. Many factors contributed to those numbers, and some of those regrettably could have been (and should have been) avoided. If you’ve been hurt (or a loved one has been killed) in a crash with a commercial truck, you may be entitled to recover significant compensation, and you should reach out to an experienced Chicago truck accident attorney right away for the legal advice you need.
One of the ways in which you can succeed in a truck accident case is to show that the trucker and/or the trucking company violated the federal trucking regulations. According to a report from the Boston Globe, a group of advocates is hoping that the number and stringency of those federal regulations will be increasing.
The advocates reached out, according to the report, directly to President Biden, who has a personal connection to fatal truck crashes. A December 1972 crash involving a large truck and the Biden family station wagon killed the president’s 1-year-old daughter and his first wife.
The advocates who contacted President Biden are seeking his help in enacting rules that would mandate “automatic emergency braking” as standard equipment on new trucks, as well as requiring “stronger guards to prevent smaller vehicles from sliding below large trucks during a crash” and speed limiters, according to the Globe.
It’s a problem that has touched our area
The Chicagoland area is no stranger to these kinds of tragic crashes. In 2013, a state trooper died on the Tri-State Tollway after a trucker who allegedly was asleep at the wheel struck him. A year later, a trucker who allegedly had slept only 3.5 hours across the previous 37.5-hour period struck a toll booth worker and a state trooper on I-88, killing the worker and seriously injuring the trooper.
Further west, a 2019 crash involving an allegedly sleepy trucker killed a state trooper on Route 75 in Stevenson County.
Why may trucking regulations matter so much to my case?
If you have been harmed as a result of a commercial truck accident, trucking regulations may play a very important role in the legal action you take. Normally, in a vehicle accident lawsuit, the law requires you, as the injured person, to prove several things. You have to demonstrate that the people and entities you sued had a legal obligation toward you, that they failed to live up to the standards of that obligation, that the harm you incurred arose from that failure, and that you suffered actual damage.
However, if you have proof of a trucking regulation violation, then you may be able to bypass those hurdles. Instead of asserting that the people and entities you sued were liable due to “ordinary” negligence, you can argue that their liability arose from something the law calls “negligence per se.” Essentially, negligence per se is a legal concept that says that if you, as the plaintiff, have proof of the defendants’ violation of a law or regulation, then the defendants’ negligence may be inferred and you need not prove each element of negligence.
There are lots of trucking regulation violations that occur with frequency. These can include: improper truck maintenance, “hours of service” violations (which means the driver drove more in a day or a week than the regulations allow,) improper cargo overloading, or exceeding weight limits.
These things illustrate why it is so important to have the right legal advocate on your side. An experienced legal team will know how to go about investigating the accident site and the truck, which may reveal many possible violations, such as the truck showing signs of improper maintenance. The accident site may reveal exceptionally long skid marks that point to possible a potential speeding violation or it may have little to no skid marks at all, which could indicate that the driver was drowsy or asleep at the time of the crash.
Your attorney can also help you to obtain the truck’s maintenance records and the trucker’s logbooks. The maintenance records may further prove improper maintenance and the logbooks may possibly reveal hours of service violations by the trucker who hit you.
Laws and regulations governing truckers and trucking companies exist to keep everyone safe. When those truckers and trucking companies fail to abide by the rules, it creates a serious danger for everyone on the road. If you’ve been hurt in an accident involving a commercial truck, you need a skilled team experienced in getting the information necessary to build a winning case. Reach out to the knowledgeable Chicago truck accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca for that kind of powerful legal representation. Our attorneys have spent many years helping truck accident victims just like you to get the compensation they deserve. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.