Common Causes of Dangerous Truck Accidents

Web Admin - Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Schaumburg truck accident attorneyDriving is such a commonplace activity that many people do not consider the risks inherent in operating a vehicle. While modern automobiles have a wide variety of safety features, they can only do so much to protect drivers and passengers in a collision, especially when large vehicles such as semi-trailer trucks are involved.

Due to their massive size and weight, accidents involving tractor-trailer trucks can be especially deadly. Every year, there are an average of almost 4,000 deaths and 100,000 injuries in truck accidents in the United States. Many of these accidents are preventable, and people who have been injured in these types of collisions should be aware of the reasons these accidents can occur and understand their options for receiving compensation for their injuries.

Factors Leading to Truck Crashes

Drivers of commercial vehicles such as semi-trailer trucks must obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), and they must follow certain rules and procedures when operating their vehicles. Trucking companies must also meet certain requirements, including keeping equipment maintained and following proper safety procedures. When drivers or their employers fail to follow the correct procedures or act in violation of the law, they put other drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and anyone using the road in danger. 

Some of the most common reasons that truck accidents occur include:

  • - Driver fatigue - When truck drivers are on the road for over eight hours, their likelihood of becoming involved in an accident doubles. Unfortunately, many of these drivers regularly drive for longer than is safe, often due to encouragement or even requirements from their employers, and their fatigue can lead to deadly accidents.
  • - Equipment problems - Tractor-trailer trucks have a large amount of equipment that must be properly maintained, and failure to perform regular maintenance can lead to tire blowouts, engine failure, brake failure, detached trailers, or steering problems, all of which can cause accidents. Failure to properly secure loads can lead to shifting cargo that can cause a driver to lose control of their truck, and objects which fall from trucks can cause serious injuries to other drivers.
  • - Driver error - Truck drivers who drive at excessive speeds, follow too closely behind other vehicles, make improper or unsafe lane changes, fail to slow down or stop in time, run their vehicle off the road, or fail to properly account for road conditions or weather risk the safety of everyone around them.
  • - Distracted driving - Attempting to make a phone call or texting while driving is dangerous for any driver, but especially so for truck drivers. These drivers are often prone to distraction from a variety of sources, including radios or equipment used to log the time and distance they have driven.
  • - Intoxicated driving - The legal limit for blood alcohol content for commercial drivers is .04%, as opposed to .08% for other drivers. Truck drivers must take extra care to avoid impairment from alcohol, prescription medications, or other drugs. Unfortunately, these drivers often use stimulants or illicit drugs to combat fatigue, and impairment from these drugs can cause deadly collisions.

Contact a Palatine Truck Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in a truck accident, the attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can help you pursue compensation for the damages you have suffered, including the costs of medical care, lost income from missed work, and pain and suffering. Contact a Schaumburg personal injury lawyer by calling 847-934-6000 to schedule a personalized consultation.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.


Automated Cars, Legal Liability, and Trolley Problems

Web Admin - Tuesday, March 17, 2015

driverless car liability, Rolling Meadows car acciddent lawyerAlthough driverless cars were squarely in the realm of science fiction until recently, Google and other companies are moving towards making them a reality at a surprisingly rapid pace. As beneficial as these cars may prove to be, there are also concerns about them from a legal standpoint. One of the major issues is the question of who the law should hold responsible in the event of a traffic accident. There are also separate concerns about legal liability and ethics when driverless cars face difficult decisions, such as in the famous Trolley Problem.

General Liability Issues

One of the biggest legal issues related to driverless cars is the question of liability for accidents. With ordinary cars, liability is usually limited to one of the drivers, but that system would not work with driverless cars for obvious reasons. Many people's first instinct is to place liability on the company that makes the car. However, there are a variety of issues with that. First, it is possible that the accident with a driverless car was not the result of error by the manufacturer, but a problem with upkeep on the part of the owner. If the car's owner did not keep it properly maintained and that resulted in an accident, it would be unusual to put liability on the car's manufacturer. Beyond that, placing that much possible liability on the company could potentially cripple the development of the driverless cars.

The other competing theory is to treat driverless cars much like we treat cars now, and require people to insure them. This would remove liability from the possibly innocent owners, but it would come at the cost of increasing how expensive driverless cars are.

The Trolley Problem

A related issue is the question of how driverless cars would deal with the Trolley Problem. The Trolley Problem is an ethical dilemma in which a person is standing at a railroad switch, and they see a train coming. They know the train is going to hit five people on its current track, but the person at the switch has the option to throw the switch, sending it down a different track and only killing one person. Although it is an ethical dilemma, it may have important legal ramifications.

For instance, suppose a child darts out in front of a driverless car, and the car’s only option to avoid the child is to crash into something else, likely injuring the passengers. The car would need to make that decision, and definitely injure either the child or the passengers. The law would then need to determine whether the victim of the car's decision would have a claim against the manufacturer.

Although driverless car accidents are still a few years off, ordinary car accidents can still cause serious injuries. If you have recently been hurt in a car crash, contact an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney today. Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC serves clients in many northwest suburban towns, such as Rolling Meadows, Palatine, and Des Plaines. 

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

How Courts Determine Damages

Web Admin - Friday, February 27, 2015

personal injury damages, Schaumburg personal injury lawyerThe ultimate goal of personal injury law is to make injured victims whole again. In theory, the law would like to allow people who suffer injuries to collect full compensation for all of the physical, economic, and emotional harms that an accident imposes on them. Of course, there are practical difficulties with doing this, such as accurately measuring emotional harms. Still, the fact that full compensation is the goal of the law is helpful for people's understanding of what damages are available to them in personal injury lawsuits.

What Damages Are Available

The law makes a wide variety of damages available to injured parties. Some of the most straightforward ones to understand are special compensatory damages. These are damages related to specific, easily calculated harms that a person suffered as a result of an accident. For instance, in a case arising out of a car accident, a person could receive special compensatory damages from the person who caused the accident to cover their medical bills and the repair bills for their car. The damages can also work based on prospective harms. For instance, if a victim can prove that their injuries prevented them from returning to work or lowered their ability to earn money, then they can also recover for those sorts of losses.

Courts can also award victims general compensatory damages. Rather than being tied to specific, calculable harms, general compensatory damages are supposed to compensate victims for the emotional harms that they suffer. Theoretically, these damages should be related to a person's pain and suffering, but as a practical matter they tend to be related to the special compensatory damages that a jury awards.

Additionally, courts have the option of awarding punitive damages. These damages are a special class of damages that are only given out rarely. Rather than the other types of damages, which focus on ensuring that victims are paid back for the harm they suffered, punitive damages exist to punish the defendant. The idea is that courts may impose these extra damages to punish defendants for particularly heinous conduct.

Comparative Negligence

Once the court calculates the full amount of the damages, there is another step. The court must determine whether the injured victim was at all responsible for the harms that they suffered. Illinois law reduces the amount of money a victim can recover by the amount of responsibility that they bear for the accident. For instance, if a pedestrian is crossing against a light and gets struck by a drunk driver, the court may find them responsible for some amount of their own injuries. Suppose the court decides that the pedestrian was responsible for 10 percent of their harm; here they can only recover 90 percent of their total damages.

Traffic accidents can lead to life changing injuries. Fortunately, the law gives people options for how to handle these situations. If you were injured in a traffic accident and want to learn more about your rights, contact an Illinois personal injury attorney today. Our firm represents victims in many northwest suburban towns, including Schaumburg, Inverness, and Barrington.

Ken ApicellaAbout the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Recovering in a Hit and Run Accident

Web Admin - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

illinois hit and run lawyerAfter a car accident, people have a variety of duties that the law requires them to fulfill. Among these duties is the requirement that the drivers stop and exchange insurance information. This allows the parties the opportunity to recover from the insurance companies for the damages once fault has been decided. However, some drivers ignore this duty and instead flee the scene of an accident. In fact, these hit and run drivers are responsible for over 1,000 deaths every year, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

This trend of hit and run accidents is a particular problem because victims of these sorts of accidents can find it difficult to receive compensation from the driver who caused their injuries. Yet, such victims are not without recourse. People injured in hit and run accidents may be able to use a variety of resources to discover the identity of the other driver. Further, even if the other driver cannot be identified, the injured person may be able to file a claim with their own insurance company to help handle their medical costs and repairs.

Identifying the Driver

Hit and run accidents can be a chaotic experience, which makes it difficult for the victim to get any identifying information about the fleeing car. However, injured drivers do have some tools at their disposal. Oftentimes, there will be eyewitnesses on the scene who can help provide descriptions of the car or license plate numbers. Additionally, there may be video evidence of the accident from nearby traffic cameras that can help police determine the identity of the fleeing driver. Finally, some hit and run drivers experience remorse for leaving the scene. Drivers who flee the scene out of fear, especially those under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, have been known to turn themselves in to the police at a later date. All of these methods can help tie a person to the accident, and allow victims to receive full and fair compensation for their injuries.

Without an Identified Driver

In the event that the driver who perpetrated the hit and run cannot be identified, injured motorists may still have the ability to file a claim using their own insurance to receive help with their medical and repair bills. Many insurance policies include insurance for collisions with uninsured or underinsured motorists. These policies are mostly intended to come into use when the policyholder gets into an accident with someone without insurance or someone whose insurance will not cover all the damages. However, many of these policies count unidentified drivers as uninsured drivers, so it is possible that they would cover hit and run accidents.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a hit and run accident, contact a Palatine personal injury lawyer. Our team of experienced attorneys serves clients in towns like Deer Park, Inverness, and Des Plaines.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Uninsured Motorist Insurance Claims

Web Admin - Thursday, April 17, 2014

illinois uninsured motorist attorney

Driving is such a mundane part of many people's lives that they often take it for granted. However, because driving is so common, it is only a matter of time for most people before they end up in an auto accident. In fact, according to estimates done based on car insurance industry data, most people will experience three to four accidents over the course of their lives. That means that for the majority of drivers, car accidents are a matter of when, rather than a matter of if.

Consequently, carrying car insurance protection is not only a good idea, but it is actually legally required in Illinois. However, despite these laws, many motorists take to the roads without any insurance at all. Furthermore, even those who do carry state minimum coverage may not have enough to cover the injuries and property damage that often arises from more serious accidents. That means that drivers should take their security into their own hands by maximizing theiruninsured and underinsured motorist (UM or UIM) coverage.

What Is UM/UIM Coverage?

UM covers both your property damage and bodily injury in cases where the driver at fault for the accident either does not have insurance or has too little insurance to pay for the full cost of the crash. Many"full coverage" insurance policies in Illinois already have this sort of coverage built into them. It is important to read the policy carefully to understand whether they involve UM coverage, as well as the maximum amounts of property damage and personal injury that the plan will cover.  Ask you agent to maximize your UM/UIM coverage.

Using UM/UIM Coverage

UM coverage comes into play in two circumstances. The first circumstance occurs when there is no way to receive damages from the driver at fault for the accident. Often, that is because the driver at fault is illegally driving without insurance, but UM coverage may also protect against hit-and-run accidents where the driver at fault flees the scene.

The second circumstance occurs when a person ends up in an accident with a driver whose insurance will not cover the full cost of the accident. Suppose someone with $100,000 in personal injury UM coverage is hit by a driver with only $30,000 of personal injury insurance. If the accident is serious enough that the medical bills exceed $30,000, then the driver with UM insurance can pursue a claim against their own insurance company to make up the difference.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, seek help from a skilled Illinois personal injury attorney today. Filing UM insurance claims can be a complicated process, and our team of attorneys helps people across the northwest suburbs in towns like Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, and Crystal Lake. Our attorneys will help ensure that you receive the full protection provided in your insurance contracts.

About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.

Motorcycle Crashes in Illinois: How to Stay Safe and What to If You Can’t

Web Admin - Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Motorcycle crashes represent a particularly dangerous brand of traffic accident, often with far more serious injuries than a typical car wreck. A report issued by the Illinois Department of Transportation stated that, even though motorcycle accidents made up only 1.6 percent of total crashes in Illinois, the proportion of the total crashes that involved a fatality shoots up to 16.7 percent. With accidents that are so often so dangerous, riders should know what steps they can take to keep safe, as well what they should do in the unfortunate event that they end up involved in a serious accident.

How to Drive Safe

As with all motor vehicles, following the rules of the road, and practicing defensive driving are key to a safe, enjoyable ride. However, Illinois law places restrictions on riders beyond those of a normal car. Illinois law requires:

  • • The use of the bike’s headlights at all times, regardless of weather conditions or light levels;
  • • Motorcyclists to refrain from lane splitting, or driving between two lanes of traffic;
  • • Proper seats and footrests if the motorcycle is carrying a passenger;
  • • Insurance coverage similar to that required of automobiles.

  • Riders can also take further steps to ensure that they stay safe. Helmets, while not required by law in Illinois, can decrease the likelihood or severity of head trauma, a common cause of death in motorcycle accidents. Additionally, regular bike maintenance can decrease incidence of equipment failure mid-ride, which makes getting into an accident less likely.

    What to do After an Accident

    The steps to take after a motorcycle accident very much resemble those taken after a car crash:

    1. 1. Check on everyone involved in the crash to see if anyone needs immediate medical attention.
    2. 2. Call 9-1-1, to inform them of the accident; do this even if no one has been seriously hurt, since you should still report the accident to the police.
    3. 3. Collect as much contact information as you can from the other people involved in the crash, especially a phone number, license plate number, driver’s license number, and insurance information
    4. 4. Document the scene of the accident. If you have a camera or a camera-phone handy, get pictures of the scene, as well as the individual vehicles involved. If you don’t have a camera available, try to take some pictures of the damage to your bike once you get home.
    5. 5. After you have spoken with the police and made your report, contact your insurance company to report the accident. They may ask you for an interview to provide them with the details of the accident. Make sure not to provide this information without first consulting with an attorney.

    If you have recently been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact an experienced Schaumburg personal injury attorney today. Call 847-934-6000 to speak to a member our team today. We serve the northwest suburbs of Chicago including Rolling Meadows, Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, and other nearby communities.

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