Accidents involving commercial trucks can be much more devastating and complicated than a typical car accident. They may involve multiple people, serious or life-threatening injuries, and more than one liable party. If you have been seriously injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, you need to contact an Illinois truck accident lawyer at The Collins Law Firm today. Our attorneys have experience representing individuals and families who have suffered a serious injury or passed away as a result of an accident caused by the negligent behavior of a truck driver. We will fight to get you fair compensation for your injuries from all of the responsible parties. To learn more about your rights as a truck accident victim, please fill out our contact form.Frequently Asked Questions:
- Are Truck Accidents More Dangerous than Car Accidents?
- What Are The Major Factors in Truck Accidents?
- What Kinds of Truck Accident Cases Do We Handle?
- How Does the Law Affect Truck Accidents?
- What Should You Do After a Commercial Truck Accident?
- Why is it Critical to Hire an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer?
The simple answer to this question is yes. The sheer difference in the size of semi-trucks compared to cars makes them more likely to cause serious injury and even death when they collide with another vehicle. Moreover, it is much harder for trucks to stop in a short distance or react quickly to hazards on the road, making them more likely to be involved in a crash when something unusual occurs.
As a result, large truck crashes accounted for 4761 fatalities and 148,000 injuries nationally in 2017, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. Moreover, according to the latest statistics available in Illinois, truck accidents accounted for 13% of motor vehicle fatalities (120 fatalities) in the state, despite only being involved in 6.7% of crashes (19,945 crashes). And the majority of those injured and killed in these crashes are the occupants of the cars, not the occupants of the large trucks. In fact, 71% of fatalities in accidents involving a passenger car and a truck, are the occupants of the car. For non-fatal injuries, the driver and passengers in the car accounted for 74% of the injuries. Obviously, the size and weight of large commercial trucks make them a big threat to automobile passenger safety in a motor vehicle accident.
Unfortunately, the majority of truck accidents occur because of driver negligence. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reviewed the data and concluded that 87% of truck crashes were due to driver negligence, while only 10% involved vehicle defects or maintenance problems; and another 3% were related to bad weather. Drivers who are tired because of long hours on the road, drivers in a hurry to meet a deadline, drivers who speed or drive too close behind other vehicles, and distracted drivers can all cause serious accidents. According to the FMCSA study, truck crashes that are caused by the driver happen for several reasons. Those reasons can be divided into four categories:
- Recognition: The driver was distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle, was inattentive, or failed to observe the situation adequately.
- Decision: The driver made poor decisions such as driving too fast for conditions, following another vehicle too closely, or misjudging the speed of other vehicles.
- Non-Performance: In these cases, the truck driver did not perform: the driver either fell asleep, was disabled by a medical condition, or was physically impaired for some other reason.
- Performance: In these scenarios, the driver’s performance was the problem. He panicked, exercised poor control of the truck, or overcompensated in reacting to a situation.
When the crash is not the truck driver’s fault, a variety of other problems may be to blame. Truck malfunctions, poor weather conditions, and improper truck loading can all cause serious truck accidents. The following are some of the most common factors-involving driver error or other causes-associated with truck accidents:
- Brake problems
- An interruption in the flow of traffic
- Prescription drug use
- Illegal maneuver
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Driving on an unfamiliar roadway
- Poor road conditions
- Not being able to stop in time
- Over-the-counter drug use
- Inadequate surveillance
- Internal or external distraction
- False assumption about other vehicles’ actions
- Improperly loaded trucks
- Tire problems
- Following another vehicle too close
Some of these factors are unique to the commercial truck industry. And sadly, many of the truck crashes caused by these problems could have been prevented by adding crash avoidance technology to trucks. This technology can prevent more than 7 out of 10 rear-end truck collisions, but the government won’t require it, and many trucking companies don’t want to pay for the extra equipment.
At The Collins Law Firm, we handle all kinds of truck accident cases, including accidents involving big rigs, cargo trucks, delivery vans, commercial trucks, semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, fuel trucks, and 18 wheelers. Our truck accident attorneys represent all kinds of victims of truck driver negligence, whether they were walking, biking or driving in a car at the time of the accident. Our clients have been involved in the following kinds of accidents:
- Head-on Collisions – These accidents, usually involving a car or a truck crossing the median, are often caused by a trucker’s mistake. The force of the collision between the car and a truck is greater than for other crashes, so the resulting injuries may be more significant. Head-on collisions accounted for 18.5% of fatal crashes between a passenger vehicle and a truck.
- Intersection crashes – Intersections are common sites of vehicle accidents, but the dangers are greater when trucks are involved. According to NHTSA statistics, about 18.3% of fatal truck accidents occurred at four-way intersections, while 8% occurred at T-intersections. In truck accidents involving injuries, 21.2% were at four-way intersections and 9.2% were at T-intersections.
- Rear-end accidents – These accidents can be caused when the passenger car in front has to brake and the truck behind, either because the driver is not paying attention, is following too close, or is going too fast for the weather conditions, cannot brake quickly enough to avoid a crash. Data shows that rear-end collisions accounted for 20.8% of fatal crashes involving a car and a truck.
- Left-hand or right-hand turn accidents – When a commercial truck wants to make a right turn, it may start the turn in the left lane, crossing the right lane during the turn. When a semi wants to make a left turn, it may need to swing wide into the right lane. Sometimes a semi needs to swing into an oncoming lane of traffic on the road it is turning onto. These maneuvers can cause accidents if not handled properly.
Trucking is generally a business, so the industry is regulated by a series of laws. Truck drivers and trucking companies must abide by the rules in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Act as well as in a host of state laws. Laws govern everything from truck weight, maximum driver hours, insurance, and background checks to driving under the influence and more. Failure to abide by these laws may mean that a driver and his employer are liable for the crash. It is important that you work with a truck accident attorney who is familiar with the legal issues governing the trucking industry when you are considering a lawsuit.
After a crash with a commercial truck, there are several things you should do at the scene: First of all, remain calm and stay in your vehicle if it is safe to do so. Turn on your hazard lights and call 911. You must ensure that your health and the health of any passengers are taken care of. Go to the hospital for emergency medical care if necessary or see your doctor. If you can, collect evidence from the crash: names, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses, name and insurance information from any driver involved, names and badge number of any police officers at the scene, and photos of the vehicle, truck, and any injuries. Photographs can be especially helpful in determining what happened and who is at fault. Write down as soon as possible what you remember about the accident. You may forget details later on. See your doctor for any follow-up care and take their advice. Do not downplay or ignore any new or nagging health problems. All of these may be related to your accident. Do not discuss the accident with anyone other than the police and your insurance carrier. Then contact an experienced truck accident attorney to preserve your rights.
First of all, truck accidents may result in very serious accidents and involve multiple liable parties. In such cases, an attorney is essential for getting properly compensated. The trucking company will have attorneys and insurance adjusters on their side. Without a competent lawyer, you may be bullied into accepting an unfair settlement. Once hired, our truck accident attorneys can take witness statements, preserve evidence, secure the scene of the crash, take photographs and hire an expert to recreate the accident. This is important because if important evidence gets lost or destroyed, either by accident or on purpose, it can affect your chances of winning your case. Beyond that, we conduct a thorough fact-finding mission, looking through trucking logs, inspection records, maintenance records, employment records, certification of the driver, past driving violations, and more. Moreover, truck accident cases can be expensive to fight. We have the financial resources necessary to get the best expert witnesses to 1) prove which parties were at fault in your accident and 2) pursue every line of insurance coverage available to compensate you for any injuries.
Given the prevalence of trucks on our nation’s roads, it is not surprising that every 16 minutes, a truck accident occurs. If you have been injured in a truck accident, you need our team of experienced truck accident lawyers on your side. We represent pedestrians, bicyclist, passengers and drivers of cars or motorcycles who have been injured because of the reckless or dangerous behavior of a truck driver. We have the resources to build a successful case for you and a track record of success. Our tough, aggressive lawyers will get you the maximum compensation for your damages. Call us now at 630-527-1595 for a FREE EVALUATION of your case.