TRUCK ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS SERVING CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
While it’s undeniably true that car accidents cause countless injuries and property damage, it’s also unfortunately true that a semi-truck accident can result in even more devastating outcomes, from injury to even death. Because an 18-wheeler accident is in many ways unique compared with an auto accident, it should be handled by a seasoned truck accident attorney with specific experience litigating cases like yours.
If you’ve recently been involved in a commercial truck accident and want to learn more about your options for compensation, call us at Stiberth, Scarlati & Boudreau, LLC. From our offices in Chicago, Illinois, we represent clients throughout Cook County and the collar counties.
Laws Affecting Truck Accidents
Because semi-trucks can present more dangers on the roadway, there are specific laws that govern how and when they can be operated. On the federal level, this is done through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) that sets national standards for truck drivers, many of which stipulate the duration and frequency that drivers can work.
For example, if you’re a commercial vehicle driver, you can’t work more than 14 consecutive hours, and within this time period, you can only be driving for 11 hours. After this, drivers must be off the clock for at least 10 straight hours before they’re permitted to start driving again. The law also states that you can’t work more than 60 hours within seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days.
The state of Illinois also imposes regulations meant to increase the safety of commercial vehicles. For instance, to drive an 18-wheeler, you have to obtain and maintain a valid commercial driver’s license, which requires you to have specialized knowledge of large trucks and demonstrate your ability to operate one. There are also truck size and weight limitations to increase safety for everyone on the road.
Assessing who’s at fault in a truck accident can be more complicated than accidents that occur between two passenger vehicles. In some cases, fault will lie with one individual or party, while in others, it may be shared among two or more parties:
Truck driver: Oftentimes, fault lies directly with the driver of the semi-truck, and these cases can be somewhat more straightforward to pursue.
Truck company: In some instances, even if the driver was technically the one who caused the accident, it may not have been their fault. If the truck company allowed a driver to work who had inadequate training, or pressured them to drive over the hourly limits, it would be the employer who would hold liability.
Truck or parts manufacturer: If the accident occurred due to a faulty or defective component of the truck itself, it could be the truck manufacturer who’s held liable.
Person who loaded the cargo: When semi-trucks have an unbalanced load, they can tip over more easily on a tight turn. Therefore, if a truck was incorrectly packed, fault may lie with the person who loaded the cargo.
Maintenance personnel: Lastly, if maintenance personnel failed to fix or notice a problem with the truck, they could be held liable.
Factors in Determining Liability
When you begin working with your personal injury attorney, you’ll need to examine all the available evidence before you can pursue a claim. Central to this is understanding the various factors that go into determining liability in a commercial truck crash:
Truck Driver: If you’re trying to prove fault on the part of the truck driver, you’ll likely look for evidence of fatigue, inattentive driving, reckless driving, or inadequate training.
Vehicle Driver: In some semi-truck accidents, it may have been the fault of the vehicle driver (or they may share fault with the truck driver). The driver of the passenger vehicle may be liable if they didn’t signal a lane change or didn’t allow adequate space for a large truck to turn.
Road Conditions: There are also cases where fault won’t lie with an individual, but rather, the accident was due to circumstances beyond the control of either driver. Crashes can occur due to poor visibility from fog or rain, icy or snowy roads, or poorly maintained roadways.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
If you were the victim of a trucking accident, you can likely file a personal injury claim against the truck driver or the trucking company. However, because liability can be hard to pin down, it’s always a good idea to work with an attorney to ensure you have enough evidence. If you’re representing a loved one who was incapacitated or lost their life, you can file a wrongful death claim on their behalf and pursue damages such as funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, or pain and suffering. For either option, the state’s statute of limitations allows you two years from the date of injury or death to file your claim.
TRUCK ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS SERVING CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
If you’re in the Chicago, Illinois, area and have recently been involved in a semi-truck accident, contact our team of attorneys at Stiberth, Scarlati & Boudreau, LLC for help. We will defend your rights with dedication and fight for fair compensation for your damages.