Suffered an Injury Due to a Chicago Truck Accident?
Commercial trucking is essential to the United States and specifically, Illinois. As a central part of the midwest, the commercial transportation of goods is a bustling industry in Chicago as trucks cross through the city on trips coast to coast. Without the transportation of goods, our economy would be without the necessary supplies to sustain itself. But, while trucking is beneficial to the Windy City, Chicago truck accidents are common and often result in serious injuries and damages. If you have suffered from a commercial-trucking related accident in Chicago, you should consider seeking counsel from an experienced Chicago truck accident lawyer. A truck accident attorney Chicago can help with the legal responsibilities involved in constructing a strong claim to ensure that you receive the full compensation that you deserve.
Chicago Truck Accident Statistics
Truck accidents are extremely common in Illinois. According to the most recent statistics, there were 86 fatal truck accidents in 2014, representing more than 10 percent of fatal accidents in Illinois.
While Chicago truck accidents are less common than other auto accidents, they are more likely to result in serious injury or death. In 2014, there were 11,585 total truck accidents.
In a suburb of Chicago, a truck crashed and overturned on I-94 near IL-120 in the Gurnee / Libertyville area in October 2018. While the driver was not injured, hazmat crews were called out because the truck was believed to be leaking out thousands of pounds of corrosive materials, creating traffic backups for miles.
In late January 2019, two semi-trucks and one passenger vehicle were involved in an accident on I-80 eastbound, east of River Road. While it was undetermined exactly what caused the accident involving serious injuries, it was likely due to winter weather conditions that had caused previous crashes throughout the day.
The stories don’t lie. If you Google “semi-truck accident Chicago”, countless stories will populate the feed. Some of these result in damage to roadways and vehicles involved, dangerous chemicals spilled onto the roadways, traffic build-up for miles, or in the worst-case scenario, serious injuries or death of those involved. Truck accidents can cause numerous issues and injuries or death.
There are a number of reasons that Chicago trucking accidents are so prevalent. Chicago’s inclement weather, the crowded roadways, and the high frequency of road construction are just a few reasons that trucking accidents in Chicago occur so frequently.
Illinois Trucking Laws and Regulations
Congress passed the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act in 1986, setting minimum standards for the licensing of drivers of commercial motor vehicles. The Illinois Department of Transportation further expands on federal regulations by requiring drivers of commercial motor vehicles to meet certain minimum standards before driving on Illinois roadways, including oversize and overweight permits for semi-trucks. In addition to requiring a specific license, there are laws in Chicago regulating the trucking industry, including the transportation of hazardous materials.
Some Chicago trucking regulations include:
- All semi-trucks registered in the state of Illinois must undergo safety testing every 6 or 12 months, depending on the type of vehicle.
- Drivers must follow all signage regarding maximum truck width, length, height, and weight limits.
- Truckers may only drive for specific time frames, divided by work and duty periods. In a work period, the driver may work up to seven days in a row, up to 60 hours within those seven days, but they must take a 34-hour break prior to beginning the next work period. Duty periods are the time frames within a work period. Each duty period lasts for 14 hours, but drivers can only drive for up to 11 hours. At 8 hours, the driver must take a break.
- Distracted driving is strictly prohibited by all drivers in the State of Illinois.
Common Causes of Chicago Truck Accidents
Overloaded Trailers Causing Chicago Truck Accidents
When trailers are overloaded, the excess weight can make it more difficult for the driver to maneuver or stop.
Hazardous Weather Causing Chicago Truck Accidents
Chicago truck accidents are more likely to occur during times of inclement weather, especially the winter when snow and ice are common.
Heavy Traffic Causing Chicago Truck Accidents
Chicago truck accidents occur in areas of heavy traffic, such as the highways near downtown Chicago, especially during rush hour.
Tractor-Trailer Defects Causing Chicago Truck Accidents
Chicago truck accidents are not always due to driver error but can be caused by a defect or faulty equipment on the semi-truck.
Involvement in an accident with a semi-truck or tractor-trailer can result in a slew of injuries, often of a serious nature, because of the sheer size of the vehicle compared to a passenger vehicle such as a car. Broken bones, spinal injuries, back and neck injuries, lacerations, seat belt injuries, internal injuries such as damage to organs, paralysis, or even death are common when a commercial truck is involved. Some accidents are at no fault of either the driver nor any other parties, s not all Chicago trucking accidents have a viable liability claim. It is best to speak to a Chicago truck accident lawyer to see whether your case qualifies.
Who is Liable in a Chicago Truck Accident?
Commercial vehicles are much larger, and therefore much more destructive than normal vehicles. A “fender-bender” between two normal cars usually results in minimal damages and minor injuries. However, a fender-bender of the same magnitude involving a commercial truck is often disastrous and can result in severe injury or death due to the sheer magnitude of the truck compared to that of a typical passenger vehicle.
Accidents between commercial trucks and other vehicles can be caused by the negligence of either party, but road hazards and weather conditions make operating commercial trucks more difficult and are also common factors causing accidents, especially in the midwest where snow and ice storms are frequent. Chicago got its nickname, the Windy City, as a result of the near-constant weather conditions that can directly affect road conditions. Another increased danger is the cargo on board of commercial trucks. If the contents of the container are flammable or hazardous or not secured properly, they can create increased damages in an accident.
Chicago ruck accident lawsuit cases are similar to any other type of motor vehicle accident in that the theory of liability is negligence. In order to establish liability, you must prove that:
- The defendant had a duty of care to avoid injury for other drivers on the road.
- The defendant failed to fulfill that duty of care, breaching his/her obligation to other drivers.
- This breach of a duty of care was the cause of any damages that other drivers suffered.
- There is tangible evidence showing that damages did occur, and the damages can be linked to the defendant’s breach of duty.
Recognizing All Defendants in Chicago Trucking Accidents
In the case of trucking accidents, liability is not always limited to the driver. The trucking company, employers, and insurance providers can be held liable for damages as well. Truck drivers can operate as independent contractors, full-time employees operating for multiple companies, or full-time employees operating for a single company.
If the driver is operating independently: liability can be tricky. Depending on the truck driver’s insurance coverage and outstanding contracts with employers, compensation for damages can fall on the driver’s insurance provider or the company that he is driving for.
If the driver is operating for a trucking company: compensation for damages likely falls on that company or their insurance provider. There are certain circumstances in which the company may dispute their liability and may try to blame the manufacturer of the goods that the truck is carrying.
If the driver operates for a single corporation: compensation for damages likely falls on the company or their insurance provider. In order to hold the corporation liable, your accident injury attorney will need to prove that the driver was operating within the confines of the corporation’s rules and expectations for drivers.
It is best to discuss your case with a Chicago trucking accident lawyer who can properly assess the situation and determine which parties can be held liable in your Chicago trucking accident lawsuit.
Collecting Compensation For Your Chicago Trucking Accident
The injuries that you suffer and the loss that you incur in a Chicago truck accident are defined as damages. These damages include monetary costs for injuries, property damages, lost wages, future costs, pain, and suffering, and punitive costs. Depending on the specifics of your accident, you may choose to file for both punitive damages and compensatory damages. After establishing the liable party, your truck accident attorney Chicago can help you draft a list of these damages.
You will need to gather tangible evidence in order to acquire compensation for these damages. Follow our step-by-step guide to ensure that you handle the situation properly and collect the necessary evidence to support your claim.
- Keep a record of all injuries and medical care to treat those injuries.
- Track all billing records – costs of repairing your vehicle and bills incurred at medical facilities.
- Describe your injuries and any long-term conditions that will affect your ability to work in the future.
- Document all missed work to recuperate lost wages.
- Talk with an experienced Chicago trucking accident attorney to further discuss any other evidence needed.
Special Circumstances for Chicago Trucking Accidents
There are two types of accidents that are more common in Chicago commercial trucking accidents. Because they are more common, the courts sometimes give more leeway for truck drivers in these situations. Therefore, it is important to recognize these situations.
Wide-Angle Turning Truck Accidents: Large commercial trucks do not have the same turning capacity as normal vehicles. Especially on more narrow roads, it is common for commercial trucks to use multiple lanes when turning. In some situations, courts may not find truck drivers liable for turning accidents because they believe other drivers should recognize the difficulty for trucks to make turns and accommodate for the trucks.
Jackknifing Truck Accidents: Large commercial trucks are prone to “jackknifing”, a situation where the cab and detached trailer move into a bent, double-up position. Jackknifing is especially common when a commercial truck is forced to break unexpectedly or when the driver faces undesirable road conditions. But, there are always exceptions to the rules.
Hazardous Materials Involved in Chicago Trucking Accident
Many big rig trucks are carrying hazardous, corrosive, flammable, or otherwise toxic materials on roadways. While there are laws established both federally and in Illinois that regulate the delivery of these products, including Chicago commercial truck drivers required to hold a specialized license or endorsement in transporting hazardous materials. But, despite the laws, if one of these trucks is involved in a Chicago trucking accident, it can create a dangerous situation for the driver, other vehicles involved, and other drivers on the roads.
Precautions are taken before, during, and after the transport of hazardous materials, but accidents can occur and with destructive or fatal consequences. But, what are some of those dangerous consequences? If you were involved in a Chicago semi-truck accident involving hazardous materials such as oil or petroleum, pesticides, cleaning products, gasoline, or vehicle fluid, you could feel:
- Respiratory issues as a result of inhaling toxic fumes from chemicals
- Burns resulting from a chemical fire
- Broken bones from the initial crash
If you have suffered from any of the aforementioned conditions, it is important to immediately seek out medical treatment. Upon the arrival of emergency personnel, request to see an EMT – they will treat you for any injuries sustained as a result of the accident.
Contact a Chicago trucking accident lawyer who has experience in toxic tort and chemical exposure lawsuits.
Common Timeframe of a Chicago Trucking Accident Lawsuit
It is important to know that every case is different and subjective to the individual details of that specific accident. But, first, the Chicago trucking accident lawyer handling your case must establish the statute of limitations, which essentially means how long you have to file a claim before it is no longer valid. In the State of Illinois, a plaintiff has two years from the time of the accident to file a lawsuit. Each state has different statutes of limitations which makes it imperative you hire a Chicago trucking accident attorney to help you navigate the legal process specific to Illinois.
But, there are other factors that affect the timeline of a Chicago trucking accident lawsuit, too. Trucking accidents can take anywhere from 12 months to 2 years, depending on the circumstances. These circumstances can include determining who is at fault, the investigation process which comprises evaluating documents, reports, and medical records, negotiation between the parties involved, and a potential trial. If the negotiations between the parties fail, a trial will be the next option. In this case, it is up to the jury or judge to determine the outcome of your case.
While the timeframe may seem long, it is in your best interest for the process to be conducted in the most dedicated and diligent manner possible. By devoting time and resources, a truck accident attorney Chicago will be able to ensure you are awarded the maximum amount of compensation owed to you for lost wages, medical bills, injuries suffered, and emotional distress.
Chicago U-Haul Accidents
While in the category of a commercial vehicle, U-Haul, and other rental companies of the same nature, can pose an even greater risk than most realize. Drivers of semi-trucks must undergo a written and skills test before obtaining a special CDL license, but any individual can rent a U-Haul and drive it around the country. The risk? Inexperienced drivers are driving larger vehicles which can put others at risk on roadways.
The most common types of U-Haul accidents are a loss of trailer control, collisions as a result of a blind spot, truck rollover, or cargo shift throwing the vehicle off-balance.
While anyone can rent a U-Haul, it is important to take extra precautions before driving. Follow the speed limit and refrain from driving at too-fast speeds, be cautious of any blind spots and double-check before merging lanes, leave extra distance between yourself and others, and before hooking up a trailer to the U-Haul, have experience in driving a vehicle with one attached.
Filing a Chicago Trucking Accident Lawsuit
If you or a loved one has been involved in a Chicago truck accident, you may qualify to file a Chicago trucking accident lawsuit. You should contact a Chicago truck accident attorney right away to determine whether it is appropriate to take legal action.
The decision to select a Chicago truck accident lawyer is an important one. You should seek representation from an experienced personal injury lawyer. The Illinois laws and legal proceedings involved in these cases are vast and complex. There are many benefits to hiring a personal injury lawyer, especially when you are filing a Chicago trucking accident lawsuit. a Chicago trucking accident lawyer can help navigate this process so that you can focus on your recovery.
Before moving forward with your Chicago trucking accident lawsuit, you should familiarize yourself with the civil litigation process, so that you are aware of the steps involved in your lawsuit.
You should also attempt to mitigate injury as soon as possible following your Chicago trucking accident. Seek proper medical treatment, follow your doctor’s orders and ask your Chicago trucking accident lawyer how you can mitigate your injuries – it is an important step in making a strong case.
Truck Accident Attorney Chicago
Our team of experienced Chicago truck accident attorneys can answer any questions you may have about your potential Chicago truck accident lawsuit. Contact our team today for a free, no-obligation Chicago trucking accident lawsuit case consultation. At every step of the way, our legal team will be there to help you through the legal process and help you to get the full compensation that you deserve for your Chicago truck accident lawsuit.
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