Anytime you set out on Illinois’ roadways and expressways, there is an element of danger. That’s especially true if your vehicle comes into contact with a “big rig.” These truck accidents, due to trucks’ size and weight, have an elevated tendency to cause major damage, injuries and death. Getting the full amount you deserve in this type of situation may involve many different types of evidence to establish all the damage for which you are entitled to receive compensation, so be sure you have an experienced Chicago truck accident attorney handling your case from the very start.
Just a few weeks ago, the state Department of Transportation released its latest accident statistics report, which covers January – December 2018. During that year, the state logged more than 13,000 accidents involving tractor-trailers, with 2,235 causing injury and 122 causing death. These numbers represented a significant increase over 2017, when there were only 11,700 truck crashes, 1,949 of those causing injury and 107 fatal accidents. In each of those three categories, the year-to-year increase was more than 10%.
Recent news stories provide further examples of the problem. In early July, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on a motorcyclist who lost his life while traveling north on Lewis Avenue in Waukegan. The driver of the Freightliner that was immediately next to the motorcyclist switched lanes to the right… and right into the path of the Harley Davidson. The motorcyclist was declared dead at the scene.
Just five days later, a multi-vehicle chain-reaction crash shut down traffic on both sides of I-55 in Will County. According to NBC 5, “preliminary information” indicated that traffic had slowed along the interstate highway, but that the driver of a “truck tractor semi-trailer combination” was unable to stop his vehicle in time and crashed into the traffic in front of him. The impact was powerful enough to send the vehicle the semi rear-ended into the rear of the vehicle in front of them, that third into a fourth and the fourth into a fifth car. Two people were injured and taken to the hospital, according to NBC 5.
The ways in which truck driver negligence can lead to injury accidents
There are many different reasons why these accidents happen in such large numbers. One of those reasons is negligence by the truck drivers, and one of those areas of negligence is speeding. As truckers race to meet tight deadlines, they often exceed the posted limits. In 2018, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truckers racked up nearly 147,000 speeding citations. A speeding trucker is a trucker who, even if he/she has his/her undivided attention on the road, may not be able to bring that heavy load to a stop in time to avoid a crash.
Another frequent factor in truck accidents is truckers who are sleepy or fatigued. Truck drivers may push themselves (or may be pushed by their employers) beyond the limits of their endurance, including exceeding “hours of service” maximums established by federal safety regulations. The drowsiness or fatigue these drivers experience due to staying on the road too long may cause them to have both diminished attentiveness and slower reaction times, which can lead accidents where, for example, a trucker fails to slow down in time or fails to notice another vehicle (or vehicles) in the truck’s path.
There are several places you can look for evidence that the truck driver who hit you was at fault. For example, some commercial trucks have “black boxes,” which record certain data like the truck’s speed and whether the truck’s brakes were working (or were deployed) prior to a crash. This black box information can help you establish the trucker’s negligence and liability.
In a truck accident, getting a full recovery may mean holding accountable, not just the trucker, but his/her employer. There are several types of proof that may help you do that. A truck driver’s logbooks may be one place. If, for example, you have evidence that the trucker exceeded the regulatory hours-of-service maximum and then are able to prove that the employer knew about it (and allowed it to occur) or, more seriously, ordered the driver to exceed the caps, then that can be very helpful.
Additionally, if you can establish that the employer participated in “doctoring” the trucker’s logbooks to “paper over” hours-of-service violations, that proof may also help you get the judgment you need against both the driver and the entity, which will increase your chances of getting the full compensation you deserve.
To achieve the outcome you need in your truck accident case, you have to know what proof your case requires, and you have to know how to go about getting it, black box data included. For this knowledge and more, depend on the experienced injury attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.