Representing Victims of Trucking Accidents
Trucks have the potential to cause great harm. They're big, fast and heavy. All of us have responsibilities and we all have obligations. But the bigger the risk of harm, the greater the liability. Truck drivers, owners, and truck companies have a large responsibility that corresponds with the risk.
According to statistics compiled by the Illinois Department of Transportation, in 2017, there were over 11,000 truck accidents involving tractor trailers in Illinois. Out of those crashes over 1800 people were injured and 96 people lost their lives. Truck crashes accounted for 3.5 percent of all accidents. Our truck accident lawyers represent clients that have suffered personal injuries, loss of life or property damage as a result of a serious truck accident.
A driver of a large truck, because they sit up high, might not be able to see pedestrians, bicyclists, or small vehicles. They have a great potential for causing a collision, not because they are bad people, but just because they are driving what we call “large instrumentalities.” Because the size of those vehicles relative to people, bicycles, and cars, the potential for a big injury is there.
Luckily in Illinois, and in the rest of the country, we have regulations governing these trucking companies. If the collision is due to some kind of violation of the law, the required safety in care, you or someone you care about may be suffering right now. Those laws and regulations are designed to promote safety, regulate risk, and to allow for recovery in the event of someone being injured due to a commercial truck accident.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Defective trucking equipment
Companies have an obligation to provide their drivers with semi-trucks that are in proper working order, and drivers are expected to routinely inspect the trucks and their loads to ensure safety. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations require truck drivers to inspect their vehicles prior to driving for the following issues:
- Lighting devices and reflectors
- Steering mechanism
- Rear-vision mirrors
- Windshield wipers
- Parking brake
- Coupling devices
- Service brakes
At the end of a trip, drivers must re-examine these items, as well as the wheels, tires and emergency equipment. Any defects must be noted in the post-trip inspection report and promptly corrected by the trucking company. When unsafe equipment was a factor in the tractor trailer accident that caused your injuries, our lawyers will work to discover the lapse in protocol that allowed the defect to go unnoticed or unaddressed.
Truck driver fatigue
Companies often pay by the mile or the load, so drivers of 18 wheelers may drive to cover their routes quickly and unsafely. This aspect of trucking industry policy encourages dangerously excessive hours behind the wheel. Work hours are defined as on-duty time, which includes driving, loading and conducting maintenance—working with the semi-truck in any way.
Federal law establishes Hours-of-Service regulations for drivers of large trucks.
- 14-hour duty limit (10 hours of rest after 14 consecutive hours of on-duty time)
- 11-hour driving limit (10 hours of rest after 11 total driving hours)
- 60/70-hour duty limit (maximum of 60 on-duty hours in seven days or 70 on-duty hours in eight days)
Drivers who feel pressured to fulfill their company's shipping goals may choose to disregard these federal limits. When our 18 wheeler injury attorneys at the Blumenshine Law Group suspect driver fatigue has contributed to a trucking accident, we look for evidence of:
- Missing logbooks
- Falsified logbook entries
- Tampering with automated log systems
Our attorneys work swiftly to examine the driver log books, as they are only required to be kept for six months. When we find that a truck driver has exceeded the Hours-of-Service limits or misrepresented work hours in any way, we aggressively pursue compensation for injuries caused by the trailer truck accident.
Lack of Driver Training
18 wheelers and semi-trucks are not easy to operate. In fact, these metal behemoths require special training. To save money and time, trucking companies may fail to provide drivers with proper training, or worse yet, may hire inexperienced drivers. In the hands of an unskilled driver, an 18 wheeler can injure or even kill. We investigate the truck driver's training history to determine if this contributed to the accident.