Accidents Involving Large Trucks

Web Admin - Thursday, February 04, 2016

accidents involving large trucks, Illinois Personal Injury AttorneyFor many reasons, accidents involving very large trucks, such as semi-trailers or 18-wheelers, are unique. To begin, these accidents have a higher chance of serious injury when passenger vehicles are involved, which can lead to very important personal injury claims. Further, passenger vehicles are usually completely destroyed when hit by a semi-trailer. These accidents are also unique because there are special federal laws regulating the trucking industry. 

Serious Accidents 

A semi-trailer truck pulls one or more detachable trailers and are used to transport various goods and equipment. It is common for drivers of these trucks to travel great distances. As a result, along with the fact that accidents involving these trucks are so dangerous, the trucking industry is regulated by both state and federal law. 

Under the regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a driver of a commercial motor vehicle (such as a semi-trailer truck) is not permitted to drive when his or her ability to drive is impaired due to fatigue or illness to such an extent that it is unsafe to drive. Further, drivers can only be on the road for a limited number of hours. For example, an individual driving a truck carrying property can only drive a maximum of 11 hours after he or she has been off-duty for at least 10 consecutive hours. Some of the other issues that truck regulation addresses include retention of the driving log, the size and weight of the vehicle, and required maintenance of the truck. 

Despite the regulations placed on the trucking industry, accidents still occur. Some of the more common reasons why accidents occur are because the driver is under a tight deadline, the driver deprived of sleep, or the driver is distracted due to using a cellular phone or other device. When these accidents occur, there are many individuals or entities that potentially can be held liable and include the following: 

1. The driver;

2. Trucking company;

3. Owner of the truck;

4. Truck manufacturer; and

5. Parties responsible for inspection or maintenance. 

While the number of potential responsible parties may increase the chance of a successful claim by the plaintiff, it also introduces a greater level of complexity than accidents involving passenger vehicles. Another issue when making a claim for a truck accident is dealing with the truck company’s insurance claims adjuster. The levels of insurance that truck companies must carry are quite often significantly higher than what a driver of a passenger vehicle must carry. As a result, claims adjusters will work very hard to limit the liability of the company. 

Help for Victims 

If you have been injured in an accident involving a large truck or commercial vehicle, it is likely that you have significant medical costs. For more information related to the development of a claim against those responsible for your accident, please reach out to a skilled Illinois personal injury attorney today. Our firm provides help for individuals in the communities of Crystal Lake, Schaumburg, Palatine, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Arlington Heights, Inverness, and Deer Park. 

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.



Truck Accidents in Illinois: Understanding the Types of Collisions

Web Admin - Tuesday, May 06, 2014

illinois truck accident lawyerAccidents involving commercial trucks are a special type of traffic accident that differ from normal car wrecks in both practical and legal matters. From a practical standpoint, accidents that include a commercial truck can be especially dangerous. Even though truck accidents only account for three percent of all accidents in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Transportation reports that they make up nine percent of all accidents involving a fatality. Furthermore, nationwide statistics reveal the 83 percent of people killed in truck collisions are either pedestrians or occupants of other vehicles. Given the abnormally severe consequences of truck accidents, it can be important to understand the general law surrounding them, as well as the specific concerns that arise in truck accidents as opposed to other types of crashes.

The Law of Truck Accidents

Truck collisions are governed by the same law that governs most traffic accidents. This means that the lawsuit will most likely proceed under a theory of negligence. In order for the victim to succeed in showing that the defendant acted negligently, they will need to prove four things:

  • - That the defendant had the responsibility to use “reasonable care” to prevent harm from coming to the plaintiff (motorists almost always have this responsibility towards each other);
  • - That the defendant acted carelessly;
  • - That the defendant’s careless act caused the accident; and
  • - That the plaintiff suffered harm in the accident.

While these four things, often called the elements of negligence, arise in most traffic accident lawsuits, the fact that a commercial truck was involved creates unique considerations, especially because the truck driver may be an employee of a company.

Distinct Considerations for Trucks

Commercial trucking accidents differ from normal automobile crashes in a variety of ways. One of the most common changes is the fact that commercial truck drivers are often employees of a company. This means that the person whom the truck driver injured may be able to hold the corporation responsible for the acts of its employee. This could happen through two different methods.

First, the plaintiff could try to show that the trucking company was in some way negligent. Examples of negligent behavior on the part of companies might include improper maintenance of the trucks, insufficient training of the employees, or a failure to properly supervise employees. This last issue of improper supervision can be important since there are particular regulations related to the trucking industry that govern things like the amount of time that a driver may spend on the road consecutively. Failing to abide by these regulations could increase the chance of a serious accident.

Even if a corporation is not negligent in its own actions, the court may still hold it responsible for its driver’s actions under a doctrine known as “vicarious liability.” This doctrine states that employers may be held liable for their employees’ actions in situations where an employee is acting on behalf of the employer.

If you have recently been the victim of a truck collision, reach out to a skilled Illinois personal injury attorney today. Our experienced team helps clients in towns all over the northwest suburban area, including in Palatine, Arlington Heights, 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.

New Study Reveals High Amounts of Drug Use among Truck Drivers

Web Admin - Tuesday, November 26, 2013

By Ken Apicella

Truck drivers often experience difficult working conditions, such as long hours or strenuous physical demands. These conditions can lead to a temptation to abuse alcohol and other drugs while driving, which increases the likelihood of traffic accidents, endangering both themselves and others on the road.

Drug Use among Truck Drivers

A new study examined the prevalence of substance abuse in the worldwide trucking industry. The study used both self-reported surveys and data from drug tests to try to get the clearest picture possible. The results showed a disconcerting amount truckers using mind-altering substances on the job.  One of the sets of tests that the study examined showed a high rate of alcohol use among American truck drivers, showing that approximately one in every eight tests came back positive for alcohol.

The study also examined illegal drug use, most particularly marijuana, amphetamines, and cocaine. The study brought together survey data across the world that showed that 3 percent of truck drivers admit to using cocaine, 20 percent admit to using marijuana, and as many as 30 percent worldwide to using amphetamines while driving.

These drugs all cause different effects, and consequently are dangerous for different reasons. Some substances, like alcohol and marijuana, sedate users, causing drowsiness and decreased alertness. Conversely, drugs like cocaine and amphetamines are stimulants. While truckers often use them to stay awake on long trips, they can also alter reaction times and cause hallucinations.

Protecting Yourself

Drivers can take several steps to protect themselves, including maintaining an increased awareness of trucks on the road, and making proper signals when changing lanes or performing other maneuvers.

No one can truly ensure that they stay completely safe on the road. In the event that a driver does get injured in a trucking accident, they can benefit from the counsel and experience of an attorney who can help them recover both the medical and emotional costs of the accident.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, contact an Arlington Heights personal injury attorney today. We serve many northwest suburban areas including Crystal Lake, Chicago, Barrington, and other nearby communities.

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