For 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.
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.
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.